Farol Santander (Banespa Tower)
At completion in 1947, the 528-foot-tall (161-meter) tower was not only the city’s tallest building but also the tallest reinforced concrete structure and tallest building outside of the United States. Inspired by New York City’s Empire State Building, the tower exhibits Art Deco styling, both inside and out. Despite being the third tallest building in the city, the Farol Santander, which is also known as the Santander Lighthouse (farol means lighthouse in Portuguese), is situated on the highest point in downtown São Paulo, giving it the appearance of being even taller than the Mirante do Vale, which measures 558 feet (170 meters).
Panoramic, 360-degree views of the city from its lookout deck on the 26th floor encompass all of downtown and even the verdant Serra da Cantareira mountain range to the city’s north. Guided city tours of São Paulo typically included a stop at the skyscraper but you can also book tickets and schedule a visit through the website.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The building now boasts a skate park designed by Brazilian pro skater Bob Burnquist.
- To avoid long lines, purchase your tickets ahead of time and choose the day and time of your visit.
- The building offers several dining spaces including a rooftop restaurant and a “safe bar,” an underground venue inside a large vault.
- Different ticket packages are available; a full visit includes the permanent and temporary exhibitions and access to the lookout floor.
How to Get There
You can access the Farol Santander via the Sé or Sao Bento subway stations along Line 1 (blue); it’s a short walk from both stations. It’s about 40 minutes by car from the Sao Paulo International Airport. Since the streets of São Paulo are chaotic and crowded, driving is not recommended. Taxis can be found at taxi stations at main intersections.
When to Get There
The Farol Santander is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9am–8pm, and on Sunday, 9am–7pm. Travelers suggest visiting during the day and during the week rather than a weekend when it is busier. Overall, you can expect to run into the biggest crowds from June to September, which is São Paulo’s winter months and high season.
Visit Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park)
After you visit São Paulo’s version of the Empire State Building, take a stroll through the city’s Central Park. The Parque do Ibirapuera is a vibrant green respite from the towering skyscrapers. Travel along the park’s winding pathways; you can rent a bike from one of the vendors. You can also visit the Museu Afro Brasil, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, and Museu de Arte Moderna located within the park.
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- Monastery of Sao Bento (Mosteiro de Sao Bento)
- Pateo do Collegio Church
- Sé Cathedral (Catedral da Sé)
- Sao Paulo Municipal Theater (Theatro Municipal)
- Republic Square (Praça da República)
- Italian Building
- Martinelli Building (Edifício Martinelli)
- Liberdade (Bairro da Liberdade)
- Art Gallery of the State of Sao Paulo (Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo)
- Estaçao Pinacoteca (Pina_Estaçao)
- Sao Paulo Museum of Sacred Art (Museu de Arte Sacra)
- Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo (Museu da Imigração)
- Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP)
- Paulista Avenue (Avenida Paulista)
- Sao Paulo Football Museum (Museu do Futebol)