Free Walking Tour São Paulo Old Downtown

Free Walking Tour São Paulo

The Free Walking Tour São Paulo is a great and safe way to discover one of the biggest cities of the world. The local guides offer 3 different tours to choose from:

  • The Old historic town of São Paulo;
  • Paulista Ave – The Financial district
  • Vila Madalena – Beco do Batman

Since this post is one of our most popular ones, we decided to actualize our blog since our initial visit in January 2017. In all fairness, the temperature wasn’t great during our 2017 visit. Also, we wanted to take better pictures and this time record our experience so that we can make a Vlog. Stay tuned for that, we’ll add it to the blog once it’s complete.

Free Walking Tour SP Old Town
Freewalking Tour São Paulo Downtown – Historic Town


There are various tours such as this one in many countries. It’s exactly what it mean, a “FREE Walking Tour” is an opportunity to get to know a new city, for FREE. Well, based on the law of reciprocity, after you enjoy one of these tours, you will be happy to give back in the form of a tip.

It’s recommended to take extra precaution when visiting the Downtown core of São Paulo, and this tour offers additional safety so that you may enjoy yourselves a little more.

It’s IMPORTANT to say that “Free Walking Tours” are great opportunities to offer you an “OVERVIEW” of the main historic and touristic places. They are very practical because you are being guided by locals and really knowledgeable tour guides. Similar to ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus rides, the tours give you the opportunity to add sights to your itinerary. The Freewalking Tours won’t give you much time to visit sites, so it’s best to take notes so that you can return later.

FYI: Your guide will inform you about the process and ‘tip’ that you can offer them at the end, based on our enjoyment of the experience.

More about the tour

The Free Walking Tour in São Paulo, are offered in Portuguese and English. You have the option to choose from the Free Walking tour, Private tours and Audio tours. To date, we have done a few in São Paulo and feel they are really well organized! There are usually one or two guides following us, giving incredible tips on how to save money. Mainly this pertains to museum and other tourist entrances fees. However, the São Paulo Free Walking tour now has printed maps with coupons to select sites.

The tour also gives you an opportunity to discover a fun route with more than 15 places to see in the Old downtown of São Paulo. You’ll get a local’s eye view of sites, restaurants, typical food and snacks bars, drinks, etc.

As mentioned earlier, in the case of large cities like São Paulo, the Free Walking Tour is a safe way to get to know one of the largest cities in the world!


  • Check the meeting point and time of meetings on their Official websites, as per the Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour for example < Click HERE > .
  • Certain cities (like São Paulo) allow for walk ins, however we highly recommend that you prebook online.
  • Once you check in, you are paired with really knowledgeable guides that give out quality explanations, suggestions, and friendly service. The streets of São Paulo can get loud, so the guides are equipped with a microphone, making it easy to understand;
  • At the end of the Tour, if you liked your experience with the guides (and let’s say that we liked ours a lot), you can leave a tip of your choice. Although the tour is free, keep in mind this is their job and passion. So let’s be generous and leave them a nice one!


The Old Downtown Free Walking Tour tour takes around 3h30min. It starts at the Republic Square and usually ends at the São Bento church. The tour might change at some point, so please double check their direct site to be sure of any additional details.


As mentioned, it starts at “Praça da República” (Republic Square) in the morning. It’s a great opportunity to visit the great “Craft” exposition in the square.

The tour has more than 15 destinations listed in their personalized route, to name a few:

  • Italia Building;
  • Martinelli Building;
  • Chá Bridge;
  • Republic Square;
  • Municipal Theatre;
  • Sé Catedral
  • And others you can check in advance on their Official Website.

During the tour, the guide goes through the main streets of the São Paulo Old Town. It’s a great overview, stopping in front of the main tourist and historic destinations. There’s usually time for picture taking and enjoying the surroundings.

The São Paulo Free Walking Tour Old Downtown usually has a 20 minute break for a snack in a typical and traditional restaurant & bakery. The bakeries are called ‘Padarias’ and they are great placesto eat famous Brazilian snacks like “Coxinha”; “Pão de Queijo” etc.

Lower in the blog, we’ll list images and description of the sites we saw during the tour.

We highly encourage that you consult their Official website for the São Paulo Free Walking Tour. This way you will find up to date information about the tour time & details.


The starting point of the Free Walking Tour to visit the Historic Old Downtown of São Paulo is “Praça da República” or Republic Square in English. At the square, you will usually find artisans selling handcrafts from Brazilian artists. We recommend that you arrive in advance that way you can explore the market before going on the tour. Secondly, you’ll be in advance in case there’s a hiccup on your way over.

As described on the São Paulo Free Walking Tour website, the exact address is 143 Praça da República. Whether you arrive by Uber, Taxi or metro, you’ll quickly notice the Tour logo and guides with large red umbrellas.
The guides usually wear clothes with specific colors and are easy to find and have a “Free Walking Tour” sign for you to follow without getting lost.

Upon arrival, you will be asked to make a quick registration and confirm your name. At which point, the guides will introduce themselves before departure and explain the rules.

When we took the tour, there were two guides. A main guide at the front, and another who followed behind with the group, trying to prevent people from getting lost in the crowded city.


  • Subway “Republica” is indicated since it’s 10 minutes walking distance from the meeting point and you avoid traffic and looking for parking; (Metro Map Here)
  • Uber is another good option in São Paulo if you are not located near the metro since it’s cheaper than regular taxis; however always remember that “Traffic jam” in São Paulo can be challenging, so ask Uber in advance;
  • Buses can be another cheaper option, we would suggest you get further information about buses line at Google Maps from where you are to the meeting point;  < CLICK HERE > to check Official Website from SP Trans.
  • Taxis – If you prefer just to take a regular Taxi, try to get authorized taxis, usually indicated by hotels for example.
Tips Before your Tour
Tips for visiting São Paulo Old Town


Double check the preparation tips destined for you to enjoy your experience:

  • Comfortable shoes are highly recommended;
  • Wear light clothes are recommended;
  • We hope you are lucky to have a perfect sunny day, but don’t forget to pick up:
    • Sun hat;
    • Sun lotion;
    • Bottle of water (Preferably reusable, think about the environment);
  • However, if it’s raining:
    • Rain jackets are more practical than umbrellas

Important for your Security:

Although we felt very safe with the Group, it’s always recommended to walk in downtown São Paulo:

  • Wear simple clothes are recommended;
  • Try to not use fancy jewelry and watches that can call attention;
  • Take care of your Cameras, cell phones, and other valuable objects, because can call attention enough of thieves prowling the city, just to avoid headaches;
  • Avoid walking with lots of money. Credit Cards are usually well accepted in almost any commercial establishment in the city of São Paulo, if you want to get some local currency “Reais” it’s OK, however, do not overdo to avoid call attention.
  • If in doubt, send a DM to the São Paulo Free Walking Tour with your questions.


Below are some of the main points visited in the Historic town of São Paulo.

Remember: The places visited are usually seen from outside. There might be the odd time where you will enter the location (ex the Municipal Theatre or Sé Cathedral). There are great explanations of the landmarks, buildings and history of the place you visit. Again, take some notes because the guides will offer great tips in case you want to return to select locations. For instance if you want to visit inside of the place later on. Some of the tips include, how to get discounts, free days to visit, better time to visit, etc. So stay alert for all the tips!

Copan Building (Edifício Copan)
Copan Building (Edifício Copan)

1. Copan Building (Edifício Copan)

The Copan Building (Edifício Copan), that was designed by Oscar Niemeyer’s, one of the most famous architectures in Brazil. It is a landmark of São Paulo city and it’s famous because of the wave shape and for being one of the largest buildings in Brazil.

The Copan Building has inspired many artists, photographers and also took shape inside the traffic light during the World Cup. The lights have since been replaced back to the normal ones.

There is an option to visit the Top of the Place, which is Free admission, so check it with your tour guide too.

Consolação Church (Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolação)
Consolação Church (Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolação)

2. Consolação Church (Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Consolação)

We saw the “Consolação Church” when crossing the street, but it looks very beautiful from the outside and it would be a good option to return and visit with more time.

The church also is one of the oldest in São Paulo city, since was founded in 1799 and reformed in 1840.

Municipal Library (Biblioteca Municial de São Paulo)
Municipal Library (Biblioteca Municial de São Paulo)

3. Municipal Library (Biblioteca Municipal de São Paulo)

Passing in front of the Municipal Library of the City of São Paulo, the guide called our attention to the details of the sidewalk floor. The word “Biblioteca” or library is written in 12 different languages, for example in French, Korean and Hebrew to name a few.

It’s a simple detail that makes a great Picture!

Municipal Theater of São Paulo (Teatro Municipal de São Paulo)
Municipal Theater of São Paulo (Teatro Municipal de São Paulo)

4. Municipal Theater of São Paulo (Teatro Municipal de São Paulo)

The Municipal Theatre of São Paulo (Teatro Municipal de São Paulo) is one of the preserved landmarks of the city. You’ll no doubt notice the beautiful architecture inside and out. It’s a very important history of São Paulo.

This is one place we wanted to go back, however, we didn’t have time, so it’s on our list for a next visit to the city.

If you have the opportunity to go back and visit inside, ask your Guide about the days you can visit. Our guide told us there is one day of the week you can visit for Free. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket to watch one of the many events that they promote all year long.

Click here to check their OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Click here to check Wikipedia for history & further information.

Ramos Square (Praça Ramos)
Ramos Square (Praça Ramos)

5. Ramos Square (Praça Ramos)

The Ramos Square (Praça Ramos de Azevedo) is one of the main squares in São Paulo city. It’s famous because it’s where the “Municipal Theatre of São Paulo” is located. It was named by it’s architect Ramos de Azevedo.

The square was created in 1911. Since it’s arrival, it’s been surrounded by famous buildings from the city like the Esplanada Hotel, the Chá Bridge (Viaduto do Chá), the old and famous Mappin building. This last building was the biggest department store in old downtown until it closed down in 1999.

Sé Square (Praça da Sé)
Sé Square (Praça da Sé)

6. Sé Square (Praça da Sé)

The Sé Square (Praça da Sé) is considered the central point of São Paulo. You might have noticed the facade highlighted in your flight over to São Paulo. It’s the point from where the distance of all roads passing through São Paulo are connected.

The square was the location of many historic events in São Paulo’s history. Feel free to check Wikipedia for further information.

The square is really beautiful, surrounded by trees and it’s where the famous “Sé Cathedral” the main church of São Paulo is located.

The traffic lights around of the square represents the “Sé” Cathedral, it’s a cool detail in the city.

Sé Cathedral (Catedral da Sé)
Sé Cathedral (Catedral da Sé)

7. Sé Cathedral (Catedral da Sé)

The Sé Cathedral is the main church of São Paulo city and it started being built in 1913.

At this point, the guides usually let the group enter the Cathedral for few minutes depending on timing and circumstances. However if you have the chance to return with more time we recommend it, because the Church appears to be very beautiful. There is the Crypt that we didn’t have time to visit and other locals told us that it’s an unique place to visit.

Also, pay attention to the Guides explanation, since there are lots of hidden details that they mention during the tour.

This is the Official Website of the Church in case you want to take a look.

Santa Tereza Padaria & Confeitaria
Santa Tereza Padaria & Confeitaria

8. Santa Tereza Padaria & Confeitaria

In case you haven’t noticed, São Paulo is well know for its food. It stems from a variety of cultures, the most traditional being Portuguese, Italian and Japanese food.

In the Portuguese Bakeries, you will find the main Brazilian and Portuguese snacks, sweets and you can try the famous Brazilian Café.

During the tour, the guide will stop in one of the most famous “Padarias Portuguesas” (Portuguese Bakeries) in São Paulo. It’s the most traditional in the city, and it’s called the “Santa Tereza Padaria & Confeitaria” open since 1872.

If you don’t know what you will ask to eat or try, as Brazilian, Eli would recommend:

  • Coxinha: one of the famous Brazilian Snacks filled with Chicken and you have the option to eat with cream cheese, really delicious;
  • Coxa Crème: It’s the one in the picture. Chicken creamy, just trust us and try, you will love it!
  • Pão de Queijo: famous Brazilian cheese bread, where you can eat only the cheese bread, however Santa Tereza offers the option to eat with Cream Cheese, just ask them: Pão de Queijo na Chapa com Requeijão, totally delicious!
  • Churrasco sandwiches: They offer many sandwiches you can try, but Churrasco (Barbecue) is something you should try;
  • Bauru a Santa Tereza: Bauru is a special sandwich invented in São Paulo, really famous and delicious, you will love it!

They also offers some “Vegan” options as “Vegan Pão de Queijo”.

Check Santa Tereza Padaria Official Website for further information < CLICK HERE >

Streets of São Paulo
Streets of São Paulo

9. Streets of São Paulo

It’s difficult to remember all the places we passed, or the streets we walked along. Our one tip is for you to live the “Present Moment” and admire the entire structure of this city. Despite losing some of its historic buildings over the years, there still remains a large part of the initial infrastructure. This is when the European immigrants, (mainly Italians and Portuguese), started one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world. Furthermore, in 2016 had an Urban population of 11,967,825 according some research on the Internet.

“Largo de São Bento”
Largo de São Bento

10. Square “Largo de São Bento”

This is the last point of the Free Walking Tour, called the São Bento Square or “Largo de São Bento”. It’s near the “São Bento” Subway station where you can decide if you stay around and continue your visit.

We would recommend you visit the São Bento Monastery before leaving. It’s a beautiful church, where you can have peaceful moments after all this walk and also buy some of their famous “Home made Breads” in their Bakery. We were also indicated this time around that you can purchase beers made by the Monastery. Apparently the beer is blessed. The store was closed for a special occasion after our tour.


In sum, this is the list of 10 things we did during the Free Walking Tour in São Paulo Old Downtown. We hope this got you inspired to visit this amazing city.

As mentioned, you can visit the Official Website of the “São Paulo Free Walking Tour” where they give you further information on:

– The 3 different Free Walking Tours in São Paulo;
– Where it’s the Starts and Ending Point;
– List of sights;
– Tips about things to do “Before” and “After” the tour;
– Other Tours you can pay a feel, like the “São Paulo Food Tour” and “São Paulo Night Tour”;
– Meeting point;
– Hours and days of the week for each tour


This is also a quick summary of the “Pros and Cons” we see in order to help you to decide if you want to do the “Free Walking Tour” in São Paulo city or not.


  • It’s Free, Tip Based only;
  • iI’s a safe way to get to know São Paulo, you walk in Groups with the Guides where you will feel safe walking in the main streets of São Paulo;
  • English tour guides
  • You can meet new people from around the world during the walking tour;
  • Local Guides, that when we visited they were totally friendly and knowledgeable;
  • The tour also gives you an opportunity to discover a fun route with more than 15 places to see in the Old downtown of São Paulo, and to enjoy places that usually only locals know as restaurants, typical food and snacks bars, drinks, etc
  • No Booking need, you just show up in the place indicated in their Official Website 15 minutes in advance and have fun!


As mentioned, the Free Walking Tour gives you and “OVERVIEW” of the main historic and touristic places, then if you want you can go back and visit the places “Inside” again with more time.

Since it’s a “Walking” tour in the main streets of São Paulo, probably it won’t be ideal for those have some disability or issues to walking long distance.


We already talked a little about the “Praça da República” that is the “Start” point and you could visit before the Free Walking Tour starts.

Now we will suggest some places you could still visit while you are in the Old Town after the tour ends:

1-) São Bento Monastery;

2-) Get great views from São Paulo visiting:

  • Top of the City Hall (Matarazzo’s Palace)
  • Top of Martinelli Building;
  • Terraço Itália, where you can also have dinner up there or a drink if you have some good Budget to spend.


Almost all of them have “Free” entrance to the Top to see the view. Ask your Guide about it.

3-) Municipal FOOD MARKET !!!

We totally recommend you visit this amazing Food Market. It’s located in a historic building of São Paulo, less than 10min walking distance from the tour “Ending Point”. There you will find exotic fruits and food from many parts of Brazil and you can try other famous dishes like the “Cod Fish Pastel” and “Mortadela Sandwich”.

Just check their Official Website < CLICK HERE > before for the open hours, because looks like they closes around 6pm.

< CLICK HERE > Following their contact page:

Address Municipal Market SP

Rua Cantareira, 306 – Centro – São Paulo – Zip Code: 01103-200

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Hello from Discovering Destinations ! We are a couple, Eli and Serge, that love to travel and share our experiences with those want to discover the world with Great Tips!  CLICK TO KNOW MORE!

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