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.
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!
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!
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.