An Ultimate Way to Visit São Paulo – Meet Locals & BossHouse B&B

Throughout our more-than-10-year journey we’ve met people in intriguing ways, which in some cases has led to a long-lasting friendship. We’ve had people stopping in the street to invite us to their house, or received an invitation through our website.

While we love the sightseeing and roaming-the-countryside aspect of traveling, our warmest memories are always related to people.

As happened in São Paulo

Going to São Paulo

São Paulo is South America’s largest metropolis and the place to go if you love international cuisine, entertainment and nightlife. Coen and I weren’t particularly attracted to it as its huge (17 million inhabitants!) and didn’t really have an image of being a safe place. There was no reason to visit it until we received an invitation from Milena.

In fact, our first contact with a Paulista (an inhabitant of São Paulo) had been months earlier. Matthias had found our website while we were in the process of shipping our Land Cruiser from Asia to South America and emailed us.

“Don’t ship to Brazil. I know it’s not nice to speak negatively about my own country, but it will give you a headache and cost you a fortune,” he warned us.

But not all was bad about Brazil. In fact, he encouraged us to do drive to Brazil, as it is a fantastic country that we would love.

As we approached Brazil we kept in contact and Matthias gave us tips on places to visit. “I can’t host you myself, but my friend Milena will. You have to come to São Paulo so we can meet,” he insisted in one of his emails.

Travel Guides for Brazil

(click on the images to look inside)

Exchanging travel info with Matthias
Exchanging travel info with Matthias
Family dinner
Family dinner

Brazilian Family Life

We arrived late in the evening at Milena’s house. Her father opened the door, stretched out his arms and with a broad smile said,

“Welcome! Fique a vondade!” (something like “Feel at home, my home is your home”).

And we hadn’t even been introduced yet. Wow was that for a welcome? We fell right into one of Brazil’s typical family dinners: a churrasco (BBQ) – and we were quickly made part of the family.

We love becoming part of families. It’s a great way to learn a lot about the local way of life, eating traditional dishes, having time for lengthy, in-depth conversations, getting to know the places they go for shopping, dinner, an ice-cream (check out São Paulo’s famous acai ice-cream with granola and banana!), entertainment, etc.

Staying with families is often a beautiful way to make friends, to feel you’ve become part of a country or culture, instead of looking at it from the outside which so often is the case most when you are traveling.

What to Visit in São Paulo

We had been warned a lot about the dangers of Brazil and Brazilian cities but now we encountered the interesting situation in which every single Paulista assured us that São Paulo is safe, except for a few areas (obviously, the problem for strangers is that they don’t know which are the areas concerned).

Despite these assurances we were happy that Milena showed us around.

Architecture in São Paulo (©photocoen)
Exploring São Paulo - strolling through a park

We visited a couple of places and my tips to visit in São Paulo:

  • The cathedral on Plaça Sé.
  • The Mercado Publico. Eat a mortadella sandwich here – it’s massive!
  • The Avenida Paulista with the modern art museum of MASP.
  • The Edificio Italia where we took in the view of the city from the 41th floor..
Have a bit of mortadella on your sandwich...
Have a bit of mortadella on your sandwich – Sanduíche de Mortadela
Downtown São Paulo (©photocoen)
Market in São Paulo (©photocoen)

BossHouse Bed & Breakfast

Milena and her family started a Bed & Breakfast: the Bosshouse, as we learned during our latest visit. It was beautifully set up.

Let me tell you a bit about it, as it could be really a nice play to stay if ever you go to São Paulo.

BossHouse is a Bed & Breakfast Stay in São Paulo. It is situated in the safe and green neighborhood of Paceambu. Among its features are a spacious room, a kitchenette as well as privacy since the room is set aside from the main house.

The spacious room lies behind the main house and has a separate entrance (accessible by stairs only), offering maximum privacy. The room is equipped with a double-sized bed, a desk, television and has ample storage space for luggage. It has a parquet floor and is blissfully uncluttered. On one side is a kitchenette with a cooktop and refrigerator.

Additional Reading about the Rio de Janeiro & São Paulo

BossHouse Bed & Breakfast in São Paulo (©BossHouse)
Bosshouse Bed & Breakfast in São Paulo, Kitchenette (©BossHouse)

Practical Information on Bosshouse B&B

  • The distance from the airport to Bosshouse B&B depends on the form of public transport (taxi, bus, metro). Find more info on their Airbnb Page.
  • Milena and her family speak English.

Ways to Meet Local People

We’ve been extremely fortunate. What started with a helpful and friendly email from a total stranger, Matthias, has evolved into a beautiful and long-lasting friendship. We hope our roads will cross once more in South America.

Apart from invitations from strangers, which does happen more often, we have other ways to meet local people:

  • We are a member of Couchsurfing.
  • We are invited by, or check out, local four-wheel-drive clubs as off-road driving is one of the things we love in our journey. But this could work for any hobby you have, or (professional) interest you take in. We know an overlander who used to work in an elderly home, likes to visit those places on her travels.

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Photos by Coen Wubbels. Follow our overland journey on or on Instagram.

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