São Paulo

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Transportation and Leisure in São Paulo

Living in São Paulo can be quite challenging: We’ll take you through important facts concerning healthcare, education, and safety in the city. After all, São Paulo is Brazil’s major economic and financial center. For many expatriates in Brazil, living in São Paulo is their first choice.

Public Transportation

The São Paulo subway system, the Metrô, is the largest rapid transportation 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 almost 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 15,000 buses (2014 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 Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), as well as dozens of theaters.

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.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Francois Bertrand

"What a thrilling city São Paulo is. With a great international expat community that keeps in touch on InterNations."

Elin Gustavson

"As I already met several expat women on InterNations online, it was great to meet offline and get to know each other in real life."

Global Expat Guide