Looking out at the city as the wind caresses your face, the sun or the rain, the cars underneath, and all around, at the reach of your eyesight, the buzz of the metropolis and its natural and built-up beauties. That is the idea behind a new option of leisure in São Paulo, Sightseeing SP, a special double-decker bus line that takes tourists out to see the city. The City Tour begins on the downtown city square Praça da República and proceeds to a two-hour ride with stops at eight different tourist spots. The route includes the Pacaembu Stadium, the São Paulo Museum of Art (Masp), Casa das Rosas, the Ibirapuera Park, the São Paulo Cultural Center, Praça da Liberdade, Pateo do Collegio and Theatro Municipal. At each stop, passengers can get off and on the bus.
“São Paulo is one of Brazil’s premier tourist destinations, welcoming 15 million visitors every year,” says Mauro Scarpinatti, the Marketing advisor to the city’s transportation department SP Trans. He mentions that city tours are available in numerous cities around the world, but São Paulo didn’t have such a service at regular intervals and offered by the municipality. “São Paulo had long wanted a tourist line of its own.”
No surveys have been done yet on who are the line’s users, but Scarpinatti has noticed that locals are in bigger numbers on weekends, while domestic and non-Brazilian tourists are the majority on weekdays. He recalls that in one of the times he took the tour, he spoke with people who were waiting for the bus at the stop. They were from the states of Acre, Santa Catarina, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. “The public is very diverse,” he says.
During the week, from Monday to Friday, when traffic is busier around town, the ride averages at two hours and a half, with three trips between the morning and the early afternoon. On weekends, the tour lasts roughly 1:40 h, with three trips on Saturday and five on Sundays and holidays. For the time being, there is only one bus on the line, but more vehicles are expected and then frequency should increase, according to Scarpinatti.
The ticket is sold on the bus upon boarding, costs 40 reais (approximately US$ 11.50 at current exchange rates), and is valid for 24 hours. If travelers wish to, they can go off at any given stop to see the sights and then get on the next bus, or even on the next day. The bus does not make stops for people to walk around long.
On the bus, explanatory audio is available in three languages: Portuguese, English and Spanish. The sound is activated via a GPS system every time the bus draws near the tourist spots. Travelers are also given a flyer with the route and facts about the history, architecture and culture of the city.
The only way to take the tour is by getting on the bus at one of the stops. No prior reservation is available and tickets are not sold by any agencies. The vehicle is a 60-seater. If it’s packed, you must wait for the next one or take the regular bus that’s offered. Scarpinatti explains that this does happen, but not at all often. He notes that the city tour is still being tested, suggestions are being accepted and adjustments are being made.
The advisor says the route was chosen on the basis of feasibility and of places that represent the city of São Paulo and get heavy rotation, as per polls conducted by São Paulo Turismo (SPTuris), the municipality’s tourism and events company. On Sundays, the bus does not stop at Masp or Casa das Rosas, since Paulista Avenue, where they are located, is closed for traffic.
Besides the ride, the ticket to the trip, which can be paid in cash or credit card, also includes entry to seven tourist spots. All drivers are women, to encourage female participation in the labor market, and there’s WiFi available for the tourists. At each stop, a totem with QR Code monitors the bus’ arrivals. The apps Moovit and Coletivo also can be used to track the buses.
City Tour is an initiative of the Department of Transport of the city of São Paulo carried out by São Paulo Transporte (SPTrans) in a partnership with SPTuris. The concessionaire responsible for it is Sambaíba.
See the City Tour tourist spots below:
Praça da República – historical downtown square
Pacaembu Stadium – the stadium also houses the Football Museum
Masp – a museum founded 1947 that hosts major art shows
Casa das Rosas – a culture house with a restaurant and gardens
Ibirapuera Park – a green park and leisure area spanning 1 million sqm
São Paulo Cultural Center – a center and venue for art and culture
Praça da Liberdade – a square in the Japanese neighborhood
Pateo do Collegio – the archaeological site where the city of São Paulo was founded
Theatro Municipal – a grand theater founded in 1911
Sightseeing SP (City Tour)
Departure: Praça da República
Mondays to Fridays: 9am, 11:20am and 2:10pm
Saturdays: 8am, 10:30am and 1:30pm
Sundays and holidays: 10am, 11:40am, 1:20pm, 3:30pm, 5:10pm
Price: BRL 40 (paid in credit/debit card or cash on boarding)
Find out more: www.cidadedesaopaulo.com/circularturismo