São Paulo

By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in São Paulo?

Do you need a car in São Paulo > Should you rent a car in São Paulo Brazil > São Paulo ( GRU )
Car: Do you need a car in 2? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 2? Slider: Should you rent a car in 2? Should you rent a car in 2?

São Paulo car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

90

 #90/300

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in São Paulo but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €

130

 65/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 575 - of which 132 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

23

%

231/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

São Paulo public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.

45%

#131/300

  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.

--%

#---/300

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in São Paulo good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around São Paulo

--%

#---/300

Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in São Paulo", "is it worth hiring a car in São Paulo", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in São Paulo?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in São Paulo?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in São Paulo?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Brazil’s economic powerhouse really isn’t the sort of city where a hire car is going to be either particularly useful or necessary. Unlike its rival Rio de Janeiro, which has numerous great driving roads as it spreads across the Guanabara Bay, São Paulo is situated inland, and the city is relatively circular in shape, with a well-developed urban rail network.

Do you need a car in São Paulo? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in São Paulo?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in São Paulo? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in São Paulo as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in São Paulo?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments


São Paulo is also famous for its massive (and of course hugely congested) skyscraper district, and even in the sweltering heat, it’s much easier to get around using the Metro or buses, and taxis are always an option – at least you can leave the driving to somebody else!

Why should you rent a car in São Paulo?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in São Paulo?


However, if there is one road trip which really must be taken from São Paulo, then it has to be a journey on the spectacular Immigrants’ Highway with its two huge reversible carriageway decks criss-crossing over themselves as they descend down towards the Atlantic coast. This is well regarded as being one of the world’s truly impressive pieces of roadway engineering as this toll motorway straddles across dense jungle below. This is the route taken by literally millions of São Paulo residents as they tend to evacuate the city at the weekends, and unsurprisingly, it is notorious for its congestion, hence why it has been built with reversible flows. Yet we still don’t really advise getting a hire car just to experience this road, when you might as well take the bus and let somebody else do the driving – it’s not exactly the sort of road where you can pull over and take holiday snaps anyway!

Why not? Visiting São Paulo without a car

What is public transport like in São Paulo? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in São Paulo?


So unless you have a particular itinerary in mind which involves heading further inland into the jungle, there is little really to gain from hiring a car in São Paulo. Some visitors think about doing a road trip between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but given the relative lack of places to see on the way, it’s a journey that’s also just as easily done by coach or internal flight.

São Paulo car hire summary – as a tourist, there’s very little reason to hire a car here.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in São Paulo?

Have you driven in São Paulo? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in São Paulo?

Do you need a car in São Paulo? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:


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