Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, or Sampa as called by locals, is the largest city in Brazil with a population of more than 20 million people. At the heart of Brazil’s economy, it is often forgotten by tourists who prefer the beaches of Salvador de Bahia or Rio de Janeiro. However, Sao Paulo is surely Brazil’s most vibrant city, with its captivating museums, delicious restaurants or exciting nightlife.

As explained in the safety review of Brazil, the country has some unsolved issues with crime; however Sao Paulo’s crime rate has been decreasing steadily since the 1980’s and hit an all-time low in 2011. Still, some areas are very dangerous for travelers at all times of the day, while central areas tend to be safe during the day and much more dangerous at night.

SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip while in Sao Paulo, and be aware of all potential dangers.


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Central Sao Paulo (“Sé”)

The area around Praça de Sé is the old city center, with the Neo-Byzantine Catedral de Sé, the nearby Municipal Market and the Lebanese shops street of 25 de Março. During the day, this area is safe – though be aggressive homeless people and pickpockets, but there is a police presence. There is an area called “Crackland” near the Parque de la Luz that is to be completely avoided by tourists (see the map) because of a high number of drug addicts, prostitutes and criminals.


The West

The West side of Sao Paulo is home to the State Government and is a center of business, nightlife, education (it is where the University of Sao Paulo is located). The area is one of the city’s richest, and its skyscrapers hosts c. 30% of the city’s workforce. The area is safer than other parts, although the wealthiness attracts criminals know for “express kidnappings” : prefer taking cabs than expensive cars. There have been reports of muggings around the University of Sao Paulo.

Warnings & Dangers

Mid Priority-96 OVERALL RISK : HIGH

Sao Paulo is an averagely safe city – some parts should be avoided, and the risk is much higher at night. With a rating of 51% Brazil, is ranked 81th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.

Mid Priority-96 PICKPOCKETS RISK : N/A

There is some pickpocket-related risk in Sao Paulo. Be careful around Praca de Sé, Lines 1 and 3 of the metro and bus/train terminals. A few common sense precautions will minimize your chances of being pickpocketed.

Mid Priority-96 MUGGING RISK : N/A

Sao Paulo is a dangerous city regarding risks of mugging and kidnapping, central urban areas are better avoided late at night, and it is recommended to travel in private cars.

Mid Priority-96 SCAMS RISK : N/A

As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you in Sao Paulo. Be extremely cautious around ATMs – particularly at night. Be also aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.

Mid Priority-96 TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : N/A

There might be some risk while taking public transport in Sao Paulo. The metro and buses are generally safe, but many buses stops are dangerous at night.


There can be some occasional natural hazards in Sao Paulo (see the page about Brazil for more advice).

Mid Priority-96 TERRORISM RISK : N/A

Sao Paulo is a very safe city in respect to terrorist threats. There can be some protests in city center.


Sao Paulo is generally safe for women travelers.


Useful Information

Brazil has a reciprocity standard for its visas : whatever restriction or visa prices applied to Brazilians going abroad are applied to foreigners of this country (eg: US citizens need to pay a 160$ fee). This means that many countries (including EU and MercoSur) do not require visas for stays under 90 days. is a useful website that can help you know if you need a visa or not based on your nationality and the country you’re visiting.
The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real (R$). As of June 2016, 1 Us Dollar= 3.48 R$. Brazil is a relatively cheap destination to visit, but one of the most expensive in South America. Expect to pay from 200 R$ to 300 R$ per day, and more for tours and excursions.
The weather in Brazil varies from region to region. High season is from December to March (Summer) and when the prices are generally higher. Rio, Sao Paulo and Salvador can be visited all year long.
The main international airports are in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio and Belo Horizonte; although they are many smaller airports connecting secluded areas to the cities. If you’re looking for cheap flight deals, you can find some on JetRadar
As in any country, we advise travelers to get a travel insurance that covers not only medical problems but also theft and loss of personal items. Learn more on our travel insurance page