Is São Paulo Safe? 6 Tips for Travelers

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Don’t let São Paulo’s size and reputation deter you from visiting the city. Here's how to stay safe and alert while discovering one of Brazil's most alluring destinations.

Sao Paulo city from above Photo © Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

Is São Paulo Safe?

São Paulo can be safe and it can be dangerous.

Make sure you keep everything in a closed purse close to your body or in the front pocket at all times.

Do not keep valuable things in sight. Don’t hold your cell phone, money or documents in your hand – that’s inviting a snatch-and-grab theft.

Keep in mind that places with a lot of travelers are perfect for thieves and pickpockets, so downtown, Paulista Avenue, Oscar Freire St. and Vila Madalena are places where you should pay extra attention in Sao Paulo.

The thieves come in many forms, but usually it’s young people. They are sneaky, so it is hard to spot them. Be especially cautious if you see a group of them. One indicator is they way they dress, which reflects the poverty and disadvantage of where they come from.

Places to Be More Aware or Avoid

Downtown is not a good place to walk alone at night, Sé, Santa Efigênia and Consolação are neighborhoods to avoid during the late hours.

Places far from the city center, like Pari, Perdizes and Lapa and most of the poorer neighborhoods, like Campo Limpo, Vila Clementino and Capão Redondo should be avoided because they can be dangerous.

Just like the neighborhoods, some subway stations are a little dangerous. The green line is the safest and cleanest one to travel on. The red line and the blue line have some stops take should be avoided at night, such as Carandiru, Parada Inglesa, Carrão, Corithians-Itaquera, Sé, Barra Funda, Tatuapé and República.

When you are driving - the cross between Av. Rebouças and Pedroso de Morais st. is known for robberies, so make sure you pay attention when crossing.

Consolação can be dangerous, and also Giovanni Gronchi and Morumbi Avenue. 

Police in São Paulo

The police are not what you can call totally trustworthy, but they can help. The number you need to call when anything happens is 190.

They have police stations in each neighborhood and also some vans spread around the city where you can ask for help. For emergencies, call 128.

Women’s Safety in São Paulo

Women are safe here and can walk alone in the city. But there is still a high level of violence, so it is always good to avoid empty and dark streets.

Walking in pairs or groups is also a good way to stay safer. For any emergency you can call 180, which is the police unit dedicated to women.

Transport in and Around São Paulo

Most of the inhabitants of São Paulo have cars, Avoid the peak times (meaning 6-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.), since they are always very crowded, and Brazilians don’t really know what personal space means.

Despite that, getting around town is easy. Public transportation all cost R$ 3.50.


The subway is fast and covers most part of the city. The only problem is, it closes at midnight during the week and at 1 a.m. on Saturdays. 


The subway is integrated with the train, which is also a good way to move around, especially if you are staying a bit further from the center of the city. The train can take you to Vila Olimpia and the subway will leave you at Augusta Street and Vila Madalena.


Buses run all night long and have their own corridors, therefore they can be fast, avoiding some of the traffic. The buses can take you all over town, and to the furthest areas like Serra da Cantareira, or close like Consolação Street.


Finally, there is always the option of taking a cab. 99taxi and easytaxi are the apps you can download to find one and there are loads of taxis in town. The fare after 6 p.m. and on weekends starts at R$4.50. Cabs are the safest choice after a night out.

Is São Paulo Expensive?

São Paulo is not a cheap city, but there are places where prices are fair and good value.

Expect to buy R$ 10.00 for a bottle of good beer and R$ 25.00 for a good burger or a nice sized portion of fries. Sodas will be around R$ 5.00 and you can get your coffee for R$ 2.00 in some places, but most of them will charge you R$ 3.50 or higher. Water is usually paid for in restaurants and it is usually around R$ 3.00.

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  • anjo said

    Ask if the restaurant serves "agua da casa" for free water :)


  • VIP Transportation said

    Great article! Thank you for all the information shared here.
    If you want a stress-free travel to São Paulo, The best bet option when it comes to transportation is to hire a private driver. But even though it's safer, it's important to choose a reliable company.


  • John said

    Perdizes is not far from the center. Nor is it particularly dangerous. Also most people in Sao Paulo do NOT own a car.


  • Kevin said

    “Places far from the city center, like Pari, Perdizes and Lapa and most of the poorer neighborhoods, like Campo Limpo, Vila Clementino and Capão Redondo should be avoided because they can be dangerous.”

    I wonder how well you know São Paulo lol. Perdizes and Vila Clementino are among the nicets neighborhoods in the city and they’re very safe for everyone. You mjst be crazy!


  • Daniel said

    "...which reflects the poverty and disadvantage of where they come from": awful careless statement. Poverty does not equal crime. I agree they can be related, but you cannot use poverty and disadvantage as a sign of crime.


  • Marcel said

    I agree with you but I don´t blame them. São Paulo can be unsafe if you don´t have the basic information (just ask for it) to walk throught the city and they have difficulties (and don´t want) to learn portuguese. We got more poverty that´s true but we know the large maiority is inoffensive.


  • Marcel said

    The great opportunity to understand what I´m talking about Brazil is to come as soon as possible to see how great we are in terms of work, happiness, social responsability and globalization.
    We´ll be glad to receive them with our know receptivity.


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