Some people say that the concrete jungle of São Paulo pales in comparison to its beachy & sexy counterpart, Rio de Janeiro. I beg to differ! São Paulo is one of the best party cities I have ever been to, with friendly people, great nightlife, and a ton of things to do.
When I used to be a consultant, I was staffed in São Paulo for a couple months working for a bank. I worked with a bunch of young, single guys, so when we weren’t busy crunching numbers and making powerpoint presentations, we spent quite a lot of time exploring the bar and club scene.
Being the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere by population, São Paulo never disappointed in giving me exciting and random nights out. Here are some tips to get you started!
Nightlife Tips in Sao Paulo
What to drink:
Caipirinha: A cocktail made of lime, sugar, and cachaça, caipirinha is the Brazilian national drink. At a normal bar, it costs around around R$10 ($3 at the current exchange rate).
Cachaça: A strong sugar cane liquor that is the national liquor of Brazil. You can take shots of this, but be warned, they give the worst hangovers!
Beer: Brazilians like their beers ice-cold. Well-known brands are Skol, Brahma, Antartica. I’m not a beer drinker, but if I had to choose, I’d say Brahma is the best one.
When to go out in Sao Paulo:
Clubs generally open at midnight and close at 6am. People don’t go out to clubs until 1AM.
How to get around Sao Paulo:
Taxi is the safest and fastest way to get around at night in SP, since the train doesn’t run all night. You can use the taxi app Easy Taxi or Uber.
In most places, men have to pay more than women to get into clubs. Sorry boys!
The payment system can be a bit confusing, especially if you don’t speak Portuguese. In some clubs, sometimes you get to choose if you want “consumption” or not with your ticket.
For example, a ticket might be R$50 without drink credits (without consumption/sem consumação), or R$80 with R$50 of drink credits (with consumption/com consumação). In this case, if you plan on drinking at least R$30 worth of alcohol, it’s worth it to go for the with drink credits option.
Often when you go into a club, you’re then given a card which records every drink purchase you make, and then you pay when you leave the card. But beware: If you lose the card you will be fined a couple hundred reais, so have a glued to your body at all costs!
If this seems a bit confusing to you, never fear. Brazilians are a famously friendly bunch so they are always ready to help you out. If you talk to anyone on a night out, they will usually respond happily and with a smile. São Paulo doesn’t attract many foreign tourists, so locals are often especially excited to meet foreigners! Even though most people don’t speak good English, they still try. You can also use the Party with a Local app to find locals that want to take you out partying!
When out clubbing, women generally wear sexy clothing with heels, while men keep it casual with a t-shirt and tennis shoes.
Men are always expected to approach the women and never the other way around. They can be very persistent when chasing after a girl.
If you’re a girl, don’t be shocked if the man tries to kiss you after 2 minutes of talking to you. For Brazilians a kiss is like a handshake. If you reject the guy, he will just move on and find another lady to kiss.
Unlike in America, a man will probably never buy you a drink. It’s not you it’s them. It’s just that since a man usually hits on many women over the course of one night, it doesn’t make economical sense for him to dish out drinks. Especially since he can usually to get kisses from girls for free!
If you’re a guy and talking to a girl, she might get very frustrated at you if you don’t kiss her after a couple minutes. Even European male travelers I’ve met expressed shock about this, but it’s just the norm here.
It’s always helpful to have a local by your side to help you navigate the Brazilian clubbing jungle!
Best Bars in Sao Paulo
1. Bar Veloso
Bar Veloso serves the best caipirinhas in São Paulo, period. It’s a bit pricier than other bars, but their caipirinhas are worth it. Beyond the typical flavors, you should try their one-of-a-kind caipirinhas with exotic fruits from the Amazon like cajú and japudicaba. Their coxinhas – fried bar food with chicken filling – are also to die for.
2. Cervejaria Nacional
São Paulo hops onto the craft beer trend, and leading the way is Cervejaria Nacional. It’s a local brewery with 5 artisanal beers made in Brazil. Cervejaria Nacional attracts a young hip crowd and even has live DJ music on some nights. Besides beer, they also have beer based cocktails and yummy food accompaniment. For the indecisive ones, they got a five beer tasting set as well.
3. Skye Bar (Hotel Unique)
A luxury hotel in São Paulo shaped like a boat, Hotel Unique also houses the best rooftop bar in the city, Skye Bar. It offers a classy but relaxed atmosphere, and despite being only 8 stories high, has a phenomenal view of the cityscape.
4. Chopperia Liberdade (Karaoke Bar)
If you didn’t know, São Paulo is actually the largest Japanese colony outside of Japan. Japanese descendants have been living in Brazil for over 100 years. There are even Japanese nightclubs in São Paulo (balada japa).
The neighborhood of Liberdade known as the Japanese neighborhood, and here you can find tons of great Asian food and entertainment – including a rowdy karaoke bar! Chopperia Liberdade Karaoke Bar is a cheesy Japan-themed bar. With great temakis, pool tables, and a free-for-all karaoke, it’s impossible not to have fun here!
5. Vila Madalena (Bar Neighborhood)
If you want to go bar hopping, Vila Madalena neighborhood to be. It’s São Paulo’s bohemian and lively bar area. With bars like Vila Seu Justino, Quitandinha, and Armazém Piola, the venues can be so full that people stand on the streets. During important fûtbol games and especially during the World Cup, large screens are erected on the streets here and people just go wild.
Best Clubs in Sao Paulo
The premier, long-standing top dance music club of São Paulo, D-Edge is well known for its techno and house nights on the weekends. Top international underground talent come through all the time. If you like dance music, this is a must-visit. Besides dance music, Monday nights are famed for being a Rock night.
Wood’s is part of a successful chain of dance clubs in Brazil, known for being the best venue for Brazilian sertanejo music. Sertanejo arguably has been the most popular type of club music in Brazil for the past couple of years. Check out Wood’s to see what Brazilians are into!
3. The Week
The Week is the most well-known LGBT club in São Paulo, but also just a really big and gorgeous club in general, even with a nice outdoor patio and pool. There are several rooms and when I went, one room was playing typical Brazilian sertanejo music and the other was with upbeat electronic music. Whether or not you’re into the LGBT scene, it’s an awesome club to check out.
4. Casa 92
It’s in a big house (thus the “casa” in its name), and each quirky room has a different dancefloor, bar, or a place to chill out. There are so many different spaces to explore, and even a patio area. In Brazil, many clubs are filled with teenagers, but Casa 92 is an exception. It attracts a mixed, social crowd of all ages, primarily with people who are in the young professional age group.
Events in Sao Paulo
São Paulo is the heart of South America, so naturally it also hosts many big events. Festivals like Lollapolooza, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Tomorrowland all have editions there. Besides that, local events like the 24-hour street festival Virada Cultural (late May) and of course, Carnaval cannot be missed.
Visit São Paulo and experience for yourself why it’s one of my favorite cities to party in! Feel free to contact me with questions and if you know of any other great spots, let us know in the comments.