4 Best Places To See Street Art In São Paulo

Table of Contents

Introduction

If you’ve spent any time at all in Brazil’s largest city, you’ll know that street art in São Paulo is seriously impressive.

As we’ve mentioned in other posts, São Paulo is not a city hailed as a main tourist hub. On the contrary, it’s a city built for and empowered by the local people. It may seem at first glance that it is devoid of ‘things to do’ because it lacks the traditional tourist monuments and sights you might find in many cities, but this absolutely does not mean it can’t be enjoyed as a visitor!

One of the things it has become best known for is its seriously impressive array of street art, which makes sense as it’s home to some of the most famous street artists in the world, including Os Gemeos and Kobra. Here are four of the best spots to find it.

Edouardo Kobra was one of the first people to make street art in São Paulo, and he is one of the artists responsible for the boom in popularity that the art form has experienced in recent years. During the pandemic in particular, graffiti and street art in São Paulo absolutely exploded, and many of the murals now depict scenes reminiscent of that time. Local artists view it as a form of self-expression, political resistance and public feeling. Here were our favourite spots!

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Safety in São Paulo

Many visitors to Brazil’s big cities (Rio, São Paulo, Brasilia etc.) worry for their safety and we can definitely understand this. They don’t have a great reputation when it comes to safety, even for tourists. We have spent quite a lot of time in a few cities including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Manaus, and have had a few unsettling incidents, but for the most part the interactions have been very positive. The advice we’d give is as follows:

  • Don’t go out alone at night, try to stay in large groups and in well-lit, busy areas. If you do go out at night, don’t take valuables out with you, or keep them very well hidden
  • Be sensible, and don’t flash valuables around, even during the daytime. This is really important in busy areas – keep things you care about close about your person and only take them out when you are somewhere safe
  • If it’s your first time in the city and you’re a little nervous, stick to taxis (apps like Uber are helpful for tracking your whereabouts) instead of public transport
  • Choose a nice, well-reviewed hotel that lots of travellers say good things about
  • Have great travel insurance, just in case anything goes wrong

Insurance for travelling through South America

Of course it’s natural to hope nothing ever goes wrong on your trip, but the fact is that it can do. We use SafetyWing for our travel insurance and we love them. They also have an electronics add-on you can purchase to cover your valuables.

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Best places to see street art in São Paulo

An overpass walking street in Sao Paulo. There are high rise building on either side of it covered in huge wall murals of graffiti and street art.
Minhocão

Minhocão

Minhocão isn’t somewhere you’ll find in most São Paulo city guides but, in our opinion, this is a huge oversight. It’s hard to describe, but put simply, it’s an overpass. Doesn’t sound super exciting, we know, but on Sundays, this overpass is closed off completely for cars and becomes a 30 minute long walking street.

Towering over you on either side are high-rise apartment buildings, the sides of which are covered with beautiful graffiti and gigantic street art murals. It’s essentially a completely free open air art gallery, and really is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Though this is a 30 minute walk end to end, we’d suggest leaving yourself plenty of time to stop and take photos, and walking back the other way too, since the graffiti is on both sides of the buildings.

A very colourful wall mural in Beco de Batman, one of the best places to see street art in Sao Paulo
Vila Madalena (Beco de Batman)
A very colourful wall mural in Sao Paulo
Vila Madalena (Beco de Batman)

Vila Madalena (Beco de Batman)

Beco de Batman is probably the most famous graffiti spot in São Paulo and honestly, with good reason. Every corner of these pedestrianised streets is covered in beautiful street art and murals from various artists, and is a photo opportunity waiting to happen. Not only is the art impressive, but this is a great spot for souvenir shopping, as the street is lined with stalls from independent local artists and artisans looking to sell their wares. There’s even a few little bars/pubs, where you can grab a drink as you walk around. Remember to bring a reusable cup with you, as most of the beers are served in plastics.

A high rise building behind another rooftop showing a wall mural of a Venus de milo statue
Pinheiros

Pinheiros

Pinheiros is an edgy, hipster-style, up and coming district of São Paulo, best known for its trendy art galleries, off-beat music events and a lively restaurant scene, of which our favourite had to be Fitó. It’s a different vibe from Vila Madelena, since the graffiti is scattered around in different places and can be found around various back streets as well as the main square, but it’s equally worth a visit and has some seriously impressive murals. Pinheiros is definitely worth a visit in its own right, as you’re bound to find something cool going on, plus it’s a great place to see a city-scape sunset.

An anime, Japanese art style wall mural leading down into a subway in Liberdade
Graffiti in Liberdade

Liberdade

Liberdade is a must-visit. It’s known as the Japan-town of São Paulo, with the largest community of Japanese inhabitants in the world outside of Japan (!), it’s obviously the place to be for Japanese and (to a certain extent) pan-Asian cuisine. Add to that a healthy dose of Japanese culture (anime/manga shops, Asian grocery stores, Japanese book shops, the list goes on!) and you’ve got a fun cultural day out.

A huge part of that too is the street art, and what’s really interesting is that a lot of it is in a Japanese style, which is totally different from the rest of the city. The street art in Liberdade tends to be found in somewhat unusual places, such as round the side of shops or on lampposts, as well as the typical huge wall murals, but that only adds to its uniqueness! Our number 1 tip with Liberdade is: avoid it like the plague on weekends – stick to weekdays and have a less crowded visit.

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    Written by Emma

    Emma

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