In São Paulo, the carnival-like Gay Pride Parade draws nearly four million people who crowd onto the main boulevard of Paulista Avenue and the surrounding streets. The country’s love of festivals, its move to the left politically, and an explosion in awareness of gay issues paved the way for the June event that is so massive it is now noted in Guinness World Records as the largest of it's kind in the world. Other important annual gay events include November’s Mix Brazil Festival, of gay film and video.
Gay nightclubs feature a wide variety of shows, with drag, male strip-tease, singers, performances and some of the best DJs anywhere. There are plenty of bathhouses and sex clubs too, often with bars and show nights as well. Some allow escorts to circulate, others do not. In May 2011 Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court recognized same-sex partnerships in their unanimous vote of 10 (one abstention). The church continues to oppose such rights, in this country with the world’s largest population of Roman Catholics.
São Paulo is a fascinating city, with colonial-era buildings side-by-side with towering skyscrapers. It has some of the region’s most eye-catching modern architecture. With a population of 11 million, it’s the largest city in the Americas. There are the attending problems — traffic, pollution, crime — but city planners have been dealing with them effectively. Although this is the country’s business center, it also has dozens of museums, (the São Paulo Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art among them); also plenty of parks, and natural wonders just outside its borders. Teatro de Cultura Artística has classical music, dance recitals and theater performances; and for ballet, opera, music and popular international singers and performers, check out what's on at the Teatro Municipal.
The upscale Jardins district has many bars, clubs and restaurants ranking high in popularity with the Paulista gay community, along with expensive fashion brand name stores. The nearby Consolação, with its theaters, cinemas, restaurants, bars, clubs, saunas, shops, and gathering places such as the Frei Caneca mall, recently took off in popularity with gay men, lesbians and hip young straights. In Higienópolis/Consolação, the three-sided Praça Vilaboim is a pleasant tree-shaded square with several exceptional but inexpensive restaurants. Locals dine late by North American standards, but coming early will at least get you a table most anywhere in town, before the rush begins at 9:30 or 10pm.
Bela Vista, another attractive neighborhood for gay people, has several clubs and saunas, along with the Italian restaurants that recall the wave of immigrants during the 1800s. Pinheiros with cafés, antique shops and art galerias, also has saunas, clubs, restaurants and an open-air market, along with several social places for women. Among the old warehouses, Bara Funda is home to several of the city's biggest nightclubs, attracting some of the hottest gay circuit party nights in the world, often with afterhours extending well into the next day.
Be cautiously street-smart In the Arouche / Praça de Republica gay district, or have a local with you, and avoid being a target for thieves. The local hookers and hustlers may be less problematic, and the street life can be lively and full of the sounds of Samba music. Lower rents mean less expensive nights at bars and restaurants here, and there are saunas and porn cinemas too. Demographics of age, race and class are more mixed here as well. Check out the area on and around Largo do Arouche, where google map seaches are now a lot better than they were --but a local friend is still good to have along.
Parque Ibirapuera, the central park of the city, has a planetarium, museums, the Legislative Assembly building, bicycle/motorcycle routes, and the iconic Bandeirantes monument to the pioneers who first settled São Paulo.
São Paulo has two airports: the São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport; and the Congonhas/São Paulo Airport, for domestic and regional flights - just 5 miles from the center of town. Buses depart from Guarulhos for Congonhas Airport, Republic Square, the Tietê Bus Terminal; and city districts of Barra Funda, Itaim Bibi, the Paulista / Augusta Hotels Circuit and Tatuapé Metro Station. See the airport websites for schedules and routes. Taxis can also take you to your hotel.
You can get around the city on the metro system, which is modern and speedy, or by bus. The Metrô has 59 stations on 5 lines, and the CPTM runs a suburban commuter rail system of another 6 lines. Around 17,000 buses and trollies are color-coded by destination, with (for example) light green for those going North West, and dark blue for Northern destinations. With many nearby towns and beaches worth seeing, you might also want to rent a car for day trips --but driving the streets of this giant city can be stressful.
For getting out even further, coaches go to all parts of Brazil and beyond to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay from the Tietê Bus Terminal. Other coastal cities have service out of the Jabaquara metro station, the last stop on the blue line.
Currency and Money
The Brazillian real (meaning “royal”) is the local currency. The coins are divided into the same denominations as most currencies, so getting to know the local money is easy. Before leaving home notify your local bank so that credit card transactions move smoothly. Also ask if your bank has a local partner to save on ATM withdrawal charges, and for 24-hour bank phone numbers -- just in case.
Local media & resources
GuiaGay Sao Paulo has an online guide to LGBT bars, clubs, saunas, sex clubs, parties and events; also restaurants, shops, entertainment and other places of interest around town.
Mix Brazil has information on the gay scene all over the country. Revista Junior (magazine) is a national gay glossy, also with website. ABRAT, the gay tourist association of Brazil, has website listings -- many of which can also be found in the City of Sao Paulo English-language website, along with pdf maps.
Projeto Dois Terços LGBTQ social/political activist group promotes social campaigns, and volunteer work, sponsoring interviews, debates and meetings concerning issues of homosexuality in Brazilian society today.
For popular culture try the Terra website, or the mainline national news source, O Globo. The Guia São Paulo, in the Friday edition of the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, has good listings, especially for the many restaurants in the city.
Getting around the city with only English? See the website AngloInfo-Sao Paulo, written by and for local expats. The Rio Times is an English language newspaper published in Rio de Janeiro. The International Herald Tribune and USA Today, along with some British newspapers, can be found at hotels and kiosks at the center.
Most popular culture websites are in Portuguese only, but google can translate. For the most fun in a trip to Brazil a bit of local lingo goes a long way, as the use of English, or even Spanish, will elicit blank expressions outside tourist areas.
Frei Caneca is a gay-popular budget shopping mall with inexpensive options at the food court, in the Consolação district, at Rua Frei Caneca, 569.
Bars and Clubs
We list around 50 of the most accessible bars, nightclubs and saunas below, and on our map pages. From upscale Jardins neighborhood boutique bars and restaurants, to the mix of bathhouses, dance clubs and tiny dive bars around República Metro station, these are only half of what the city offers. Local guides typically list well over a hundred gay-popular establishments, and locals can surely turn you on to more.
00 - Zero Zero São Paulo (Alameda Itú, 1466), haute cuisine restaurant and lounge in Jardins; good music, sophisticated, sociable pre-clubs mixed crowd relax over cocktails.
A Loca (Rua Frei Caneca. 916), long-time nightly gay dance/party bar in Consolação, casual mix of mostly younger men and women.
ABC Bailão (Rua Marquês de Itu 182, Vila Buarque), older gay men and their admirers, buffet spreads; dancing to pop, sertanejo, axé, and retro music.
Bar da Dida (Rua Dr Melo Alves 98, Jardins), popular, simple boteco bar, cold beer and food, women and men, artsy/professional crowd.
Bar Fama (Rua Frederico Abranches, 29, Santa Cecília), small gay dive bar, pool table, drag shows, male revues, erotic shower shows, go-go dancers, dark room rent boys.
Bar Queen (Rua Vitória, 826, República), Largo do Arouche gay party bar, drag cabaret shows and male strippers, theme parties.
Blue Space Sao Paulo (Rua Brigadeiro Galvão, 723), Barra Funda nightclub, musical and drag Vegas-style shows, beefy male strippers, comedy routines.
Bubu Disco Lounge (Rua dos Pinheiros, 791), big gay dance club and lounge in Pinheiros; mostly men, shows, sexy go-go dancers.
Café Piu Piu (Rua Treze de Maio, 134), long-time Bela Vista live music performance club, rock classics, mixed crowd.
Cantho Dance Club (Largo do Arouche, 32), Central nightclub, gay mixed crowd, weekend dancing, stage shows, male go-go dancers, afterhours.
Danger Dance Club (Rua Rego Freitas, 470, República), gay dance club, Sunday sexy go-go dancers/ erotic strippers, Friday/Saturday drag shows, singers/entertainment, with diva emcees.
D-Edge (Alameda Olga, 170, Barra Funda), gay-friendly high-tech dance club, 3 dance floors, mixed crowd, rooftop deck.
Flexx Club (Avenida Marques de São Vicente, 1767), Saturday night house music dances in Barra Funda; top DJs, singer/entertainment, shirtless guys, sexy male go-gos.
Freedom Club (Largo do Arouche, 6, Republica), gay dance boite, strippers/go-go boys, drag shows, young mixed, mostly male crowd.
Hot Hot Club (Rua Santo Antônio, 570, Bela Vista), does Gala Gay LGBT party nights from time to time, with blackouts, guest performers, go-go dancers.
Le Rêve (Rua Marquês de Paranaguá, 329, Consolação), upscale weekend cocktail lounge with dancing, good sound and lights, mixed gay-friendly crowd.
Lions Night Club (Avenida Brigadeiro Luis Antonio 277, upstairs), opulent gay party bar and trendy dance club at city center; hot guys and great city vistas.
Trash 80s (Rua Álvaro de Carvalho, 40, Bela Vista), Friday/Saturday nights mixed dance parties, still going strong after 11 years; Brazilian/International hits of yesteryear.
Tunnel (Rue dos Ingleses 355), longtime Bela Vista gay-friendly nightclub, camp drag shows, DJ sets, go-go boys, young mixed men/women crowd.
Vermont Itaim Bar & Restaurant (Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1192, Itaim Bibi/Pinheiros), restaurant and cocktail bar, shows, DJ sets, Samba music; gayest on Sundays.
Volt (Rua Haddock Lobo, 40, Consolacao), vibrant neon decor, cocktails, food, music; pretty Paulista mix.
Week SP (Rua Guaicurus, 324, Lapa), hottest gay dance and show club in town, 2 dance floors, shows, performers, go-gos, garden, pool, cafe.
Yacht Club (Rua Treze de Maio, 703, Bela Vista), gay dance club, young mostly male crowd, more mixed on Saturdays and for special monthly parties.
CLOSED: Playground Bar (Rua Augusta 765), men-only leather/bear cruise bar, sex shop, maze, dark room; Planet G Club (Rua Rego Freitas, 56, Republica), gay dance/ party club, drag, naked go-go/ erotic shows.
Sex Clubs & Cinemas
Black Out Sex Club (Largo do Arouche, 205; República), men-only sex club, naked, fetish, student and bear nights.
Cine Arouche (Largo do Arouche 426; República), 24-hour straight porn cinema, sex in the seats.
RG Bar (Rua Rio Grande 33; Vila Mariana), naturalist/naked "masculine" men's sex club/bar, massage services.
Stud G Cine Gay (Rua Aurora, 706; República), 24-hour 5-floor sex club for men, porn videos, dark room, bar.
UpGrade (Rua Santa Isabel, 198; República), 2-level cruise/sex bar/club, naked/underwear nights, nude barman, sex shows, porn videos, internet access.
CLOSED: Gladiators Club (Bela Vista), Peep Lounge (República), and Station (Pinheiros).
Champion Club (Largo do Arouche, 336; República), dry/steam saunas, cabins, pool, bar, video lounge, bar; popular with bears.
Chilli Pepper Single Hotel (Largo do Arouche 610; República), area, 24/7 men's bathhouse and hotel rooms/suites, 6,12 or 24-hour rentals; dry and steam saunas, hot tub.
Labirinttu's Club (Rua Frei Caneca, 328; Higienopolis), 24-hour sauna never closes, American bar, porn video lounge, private cabins.
Men's Club (Rua Aurora, 710; República), 24-hour dry and steam saunas, pool, DJ, go-go boys, porn videos, glory holes, food and bar drinks.
NewHouse Club (Alameda Ribeirão Preto, 245; Bela Vista), steam/sauna, Jacuzzi, dark room, bar, WiFi, porn cinema, erotic shows and sex parties.
Sauna Thermas 484 (Rua Jaguaribe, 484; Consolação), men's dry and steam sauna, pool, dark room, private cabins, video room, massage services.
Sauna Très Chic (Avenida Doutor Ricardo Jafet, 493; Ipiranga), men's steam and dry sauna, private cabins, darkroom, video lounge, solarium, bar.
Sauna XINGU (Rua Dr João Batista de Lacerda, 229; Moóca), mixed sauna, pools, solarium, TV lounge, snacks/ drinks bar, massage; top floor cruising.
Termas Fragata (Rua Francisco Leitao 71; Pinheiros), popular men's sauna, cabaret shows, events/parties, buffets, erotic strippers, rent boys.
Thermas Hórus (Rua Passos Ourique, 94; Tatuapé), daytime men's dry sauna and steam room, many cruise and play areas, cabins, go-go boys, bar and lounge; open until 4am on weekends.
Thermas Lagoa (Rua Borges Lagoa, 287), dry/steam sauna, heated whirlpool, professional masseurs, young guy mix, erotic stripper shows, party events, videoke.
Thermas Le Rouge (Rua Arruda Alvim 175), Sumare men's bathhouse, steam/sauna, pool, bar, massage, bar, hustler-free play area.
Wild Thermas Club (Rua Dr Veiga Filho, 802; Higienópolis), dry/steam saunas, pool, dark rooms, cabins, massage and waxing, porn video lounge, naked-optional night, bar, Big Cock naked orgy parties.