Avenida Paulista: a day on this iconic São Paulo thoroughfare

Stretching for 1.7 miles [2.8 km], the avenue wins over travelers with its food and cultural options, synthetizing the energy of the biggest Brazilian city

Gabriel Bentley Leonardo Kayo, Getty Images

Published October 2019

Located in one of the highest and most privileged areas in São Paulo, Avenida Paulista is always reinventing itself. Built in the late 19th century, it was once home to ‘coffee barons’ and the São Paulo aristocracy, and also an important financial center, in the 20th century, where the headquarters of banks and multinational companies were located. In recent years, however, Avenida Paulista has discovered a new vocation: it has become a cultural corridor stretching for 1.7 miles [2.8 km] in the heart of the city.

One of the initiatives that helped to develop this new image for the avenue, which was already home to MASP, Centro Cultural FIESP, and Casa das Rosas (an old manor turned into a space to promote poetry and literature), was closing it off for cars on Sundays. Implemented in 2016, the initiative brought new life to the region on weekends. Residents and tourists share the sidewalks – and pavement – with artists, musicians, dancers, but also a lot of people on bikes, rollerblades, skateboards, and electric scooters.

The arrival of new cultural structures, like Sesc Paulista, Japan House, and the Moreira Salles Institute, has increased the possibilities on Avenida Paulista even more. For anyone who wants to explore the avenue, we’ve assembled an itinerary with food, cultural, and historical options. Check it out:

Ponto Chic + Japan House

Before you start the tour, have a traditional bauru at Ponto Chic. Created in 1937, the sandwich is made with roast beef, processed cheese, tomato, and homemade pickles. A few feet away is the Japan House, opened in 2017. The Japanese cultural center combines ancient traditions and technology to show modern Japan in exhibitions, performances, and the culinary arts at Aizomê, run by chef Telma Shiraishi.

Ponto Chic: Praça Oswaldo Cruz, 26, Paraíso

Japan House: Avenida Paulista, 52, Bela Vista


Casa das Rosas + Sesc Paulista + FIESP

On the odd side of Avenida Paulista is one of the last remaining historical structures there: Casa das Rosas. Built in 1930, it was turned into a museum dedicated to poetry and literature. Take advantage to visit Sesc Avenida Paulista. The space promotes exhibitions and spectacles; however, most people go there because of its overlook, which offers a panoramic view of the avenue. The FIESP building is home to a complete cultural center, including exhibition halls, a bookstore, gardens designed by Burle Marx, and a theater. On Sundays, you can watch shows and performances on the sidewalk of Avenida Paulista. The three spaces are free and offer paid attractions.

Casa das Rosas: Avenida Paulista, 37, Bela Vista

Sesc Paulista: Avenida Paulista, 119, Bela Vista

FIESP: Avenida Paulista, 1313, Cerqueira César


Parque Trianon + MASP + Mirante 9 de Julho

In the middle of Avenida Paulista is Parque Trianon, which is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has Atlantic Forest plant species, like pau-brasil, an endangered tree. Across the avenue, a building designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi, with a 243-foot [74 m] free span, is home to the city’s main museum, MASP. Its collection has approximately 10,000 items, including works by Anita Malfatti, Cândido Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Matisse, and Van Gogh. Admission is free on Tuesdays. When you leave the museum, go around it and stop by Mirante 9 de Julho – now called Mira. Reopened in 2015, the locale has an art gallery, movie theater, bar, and restaurant, in addition to a great view of the city.

Parque Trianon: Rua Peixoto Gomide, 949, Cerqueira César

MASP: Avenida Paulista, 1578, Bela Vista

Mirante 9 de Julho: Rua Carlos Comenale, Bela Vista


Conjunto Nacional + Rua Augusta

Opened in the mid-1950s with commercial center status, these days, Conjunto Nacional serves as a gallery, hosting art exhibitions, and is home to bookstores and movie theaters. Save some time to explore the historical structure and its aluminum geodesic dome, which reveals a privileged view – admission is free. Connecting the neighborhood of Jardins to the city center, Rua Augusta comes to life when the sun sets, being popular among the youth thanks to its many bars and nightclubs. While Jardins attracts visitors with its hip restaurants, the city center draws crowds looking for music and excitement – pop, funk, rock, and hip-hop hits blast from the speakers.

Conjunto Nacional: Avenida Paulista, 2073, Consolação


IMS + Balaio

The Moreira Salles Institute (IMS) hosts movie screenings and musical events, in addition to exhibitions of photography and works from its collection. There, take the time to stop by the restaurant Balaio. Run by Rodrigo Oliveira, one of the most renowned Brazilian chefs, the place serves natural, healthy food – with vegetarian options.

IMS: Avenida Paulista, 2424, Consolação


Riviera Bar

São Paulo’s bohemian stronghold since 1949, the bar on the ground floor of Edifício Anchieta closed its doors in 2006 and reopened, seven years later, under new management. Nostalgic, the bar maintains its Hollywood-style stairway, now combined with a red counter where you can order bartender Marco De la Roche’s authorial drinks. Anyone having a drink there will have the impression life goes slower at the bar – while watching the hustle and bustle at the intersection of Avenida Paulista and Rua da Consolação.

Riviera Bar: Avenida Paulista, 2584, Bela Vista


GETTING TO AVENIDA PAULISTA

The best way to get there is by taking the subway. Get off at station Paraíso (green and blue lines) for the beginning of the avenue, or at Paulista (yellow line), to start the tour at the end of the thoroughfare. Download the subway map.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

Avenida Paulista has many hotels, apartment hotels, and hostels. Some of São Paulo’s main luxury hotels are located in the region.

 

GETTING AROUND

On Sundays, Avenida Paulista transforms into a great park, with an antique market, musical performances, and several food options. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., it’s completely closed off for cars. Pedestrians, skateboarders, and cyclists can circulate freely.


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