São Paulo at a Glance
Transportation and Leisure in São Paulo
The São Paulo subway system, the Metrô, is the largest rapid transport system in the country. Its lines cover most of the inner city. The suburban train service Companhia Paulista de Transporte Metropolitano (CPTM – website only in Portuguese) extends the transit system into the suburbs and peripheral regions of São Paulo.
Together, the Metrô and the CPTM transport more than five million passengers every day, which ranks them among the busiest metro systems worldwide. Despite this high number of passengers, the São Paulo transit system has retained its reputation as a reliable and fairly safe means of transport – especially when compared to its counterpart in Rio de Janeiro.
Another large chunk of São Paulo’s immense passenger traffic volume is handled by a fleet of more than 17,000 buses (2009 figures). The inner city’s bus lines are operated by SPTrans, while Empresa Metropolitana de Transportes Urbanos de São Paulo (EMTU) is responsible for buses within the Greater São Paulo Area. Both websites have schedules of all bus routes. However, quite a few expats currently living in São Paulo have reported that mastering the art of using the local bus system is not easy for foreigners. Maps of bus lines are rare, and bus stops are not always marked as such.
Taxis and Driving
Taxis are a relatively comfortable and safe way of getting around the city, too, and reasonably priced even for longer distances. A number of expats choose to rely entirely on taxis or hire their own driver to avoid having to drive themselves.
Although a number of expats drive their own car, this is only advisable for experienced drivers with strong nerves. São Paulo’s traffic jams are legendary, and the usually chaotic driving conditions are what some call “the last big adventure” for drivers from abroad.
As a lively metropolis, São Paulo has a lot to offer in terms of cultural events and entertainment opportunities. The city is home to many museums, including the renowned Paulista Museum and the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MASP), as well as dozens of theatres.
The Feira Bienal Internacional de Arte, São Paulo’s most popular art festival, which focuses increasingly on local art, takes place every other year, attracting more than one million visitors. And, although it is the rival metropolis of Rio de Janeiro which is most famous for the carnival, São Paulo also holds magnificent parades and celebrations during carnival season.
As about everywhere else in Brazil, soccer is by far the most popular sport in São Paulo. In addition to numerous amateur clubs, the city is home to three first-league soccer teams – Corinthians, Palmeiras, and the Sao Paulo FC. Currently, people are gearing up for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, when São Paulo will be one of the host cities.
Churrasco, a Brazilian barbeque, to which the entire family as well as friends are invited, is another favorite past-time. Most houses in São Paulo are equipped with a churrasqueira, a barbeque area. Many São Paulo families spend their weekends at apartments on the beach or in the nearby mountains. Especially on long weekends, endless lines of cars crowding the streets leaving the city are a very common sight.