With a population of over 11 million São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil (and up there in global rankings). It's the financial and business center of the nation, and its museums, theaters, and large immigrant population make it a cultural epicenter. While several important matches will be played at the Arena de São Paulo (including the opening match - Brazil vs Croatia on June 12th), there is plenty more to do and experience here. So if you're a US soccer fan visiting São Paulo, here's what you need to know to enjoy the city outside the stadium:Sao Paulo — Photo courtesy of nataliejorge/iStock
Getting There and Around
São Paolo has three airports: Guarulhos International Airport, Congonhas Airport, and Viracopos International Airport. If you're arriving from the U.S. you'll probably land in Guarulhos International Airport, which is located about 25 miles from the city center.
You may arrive through Viracopos International, located further afield at 62 miles from the city center, as it's used as an alternate port in case weather conditions permit landing closer. If you're visiting as a part of a multi-stop trip to Brazil, Viracopos and Congonhas, located only 9 miles from downtown, are both used for domestic flights.
The city is infamous for its horrible traffic. If you can, purchase a Bilhete Único card - it will you give you discounts on public transportation and can be charged to pay for buses, subways, and the train. Though buses are often overcrowded, they go to neighborhoods that the rail doesn't go to. But with all forms of transport in this megacity, just be prepared for a wait.
What to See and Do
Downtown Sao Paulo — Photo courtesy of Diego Torres SilvestreAvenida Paulista, the central road, bridges the old and new parts of the city. It's the business and cultural hub surrounded by art galleries, theaters, bookstores, and cafes. The city also contains a profusion of museums.
The Latin America Memorial, designed Oscar Neimeyer (a key figure in modernist architecture), is a complex portraying the social and economic importance of Latin America, including displays of folk art, music and dance performances. And if you just can't get enough of the game, the Pacaembu Stadium contains its very own soccer museum, with hands-on exhibits detailing the history of the sport.
Where to Eat
Mercado Municipal - Sao Paulo — Photo courtesy of thalita mariaWith one of the largest immigrant populations in the country, São Paulo is a cultural melting pot. You'll find Japanese (it's the largest Japenese population outside of Japan), Korean, Italian, Chinese and Arabic influences in the restaurants of the city. And though you'll find an impressive array, from ultra high-end international restaurants to neighborhood per-kilo buffets and churrascaria stands, food tours offer a different way to see swaths of São Paulo.
Taste of São Paulo take visitors on several tours, from the main market to the historic city center and trendy neighborhoods. Guides describe the heritage and history while you sample the food, and they'll even offer further suggestions for places to visit so that you can continue your gastronomic exploration.
Where to Watch the Game
FIFA Fan Fest — Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola South AfricaFIFA offers "Fan Fests" - areas at each host city that are free, where "both local and international fans can watch FIFA World CUP matches in a unique FIFA World Cup environment." São Paulo's Fan Fest site is at Vale do Anhangabaú, where musical performances will accompany matches shown on large state-of-the-art screens.
O’Malley’s is in Irish-style pub serving up imported ales and favorites like fish and chips in addition to playing sports of all types on 13 large screen TVs spread throughout its two story building. Though not as local, Hooters may be the best private establishment to catch a game during the World Cup. The spacious Vila Olímpia location contains around 20 42-inch TVs displaying national and international football games in addition to sports like golf tournaments, basketball, and UFC.