Weeks before leaving for study abroad, my computer was overflowing with internet tabs all relating to learning more about what the city of São Paulo had to offer, from touristy family websites to travel blogs, and google reviews on São Paulo’s nightlife and multiple restaurants. As any other study abroad student, I was incredibly nervous and excited to spend my semester in São Paulo, hence my research binge into kinds of museums, parks, clubs and bars, and other must do tourist activities I should experience during my time in Brazil. One of the greatest sources I came across that provided greater insights than the travel blogs and websites I read in preparation for my semester abroad was Youtube. There are many travel vlogs that showcase different parts of São Paulo, the tourist attractions content creators visit, and interactions with locals. I even came across other students who studied and posted about their time abroad in Brazil, which is always helpful to learn about things you can do in Brazil outside of the city you’re in and the nuances of Brazilian culture. I learned about many of São Paulo’s main tourist attraction sites through Youtube, from biking through the city’s beautiful Ibirapuera located in São Paulo’s downtown area, touring Liberdade, the biggest Japanese community outside of Japan, and spending Sunday afternoons walking through Avenida Paulista, one of São Paulo’s most important street avenues.
Avenida Paulista particularly interested me because I had read about it in travel websites and watched numerous videos where content creators would record their experiences on Avenida Paulista and the sights they saw. From the videos I watched, I could see various street vendors selling all kinds of different products like clothing and jewelry, luxurious shopping malls on the sides of Avenida Paulista, and the crowds of people on the street walking in all different directions. “A must for any person visiting São Paulo” was constantly echoed at the end of every video I watched and after weeks of watching and rewatching multiple São Paulo travel vlogs, I made it a goal to visit Avenida Paulista as soon as I got settled in.
The first time I went to Avenida Paulista was on my first Sunday being in Brazil. From the videos I watched about Avenida Paulista, I learned that the city blocked off cars from entering the street during the first half of Sunday to allow people to walk all throughout Avenida. There are numerous ways to get to Avenida Paulista and back, you can always take the bus which takes you to the street directly or Uber, though sometimes the Uber will drop you off to a nearby location so you can walk to Avenida Paulista. My housemates and I would always take Ubers to Avenida Paulista (you can split the cost of Ubers on the app!) because it would be easiest for us especially if there was a specific location we wanted to go to first. The first time we went we stopped at MASP, the São Paulo Art Museum located right on Avenida Paulista. Outside, there were hundreds of street vendors selling paintings, jewelry, vintage clothing, souvenirs, almost anything you can think of. Food trucks selling Brazilian pasteis, sugar cane juice, street meat, and other delicious Brazilian foods can be found as well, which is the perfect opportunity for those who haven’t tried Brazilian cuisine to indulge themselves in authentic, tasty, and affordable Brazilian food.
Beyond all the shopping you can do on Avenida Paulista, there is always some concert or music event happening on Sundays and sometimes even on the weekends. Avenida Paulista was one of the places I frequently visited during my time in Brazil and whenever I went, there were always various local bands playing in different spots on Avenida. People walk around to enjoy all the different kinds of music playing, sometimes buy beer from local street vendors, and overall hang out with their loved ones. I’m also sure that Avenida Paulista might have a couple social media accounts that promote free music events during the week– in my case, I was able to see Ludmilla live in concert just two days before she was performing at Lollapalooza at no cost. Even if you weren’t planning on walking into a concert, Avenida Paulista almost always has live music playing throughout the week (especially on Sundays) and it was a great way for me to learn more about the music scene in São Paulo.
Overall, I would highly recommend Avenida Paulista as an important site to visit if studying abroad in São Paulo, especially if you aren’t sure of what activity to do first in your first couple days in the city. I would be careful with your personal belongings on Avenida Paulista because it’s a crowded street, but make sure to enjoy the beautiful music, food, culture, and have fun!