A few tips on getting aroundSão Paulo is a big city. And the best way to realize how big it is, is to visit an observation deck at the Edifício Italia. Whenever I travel to such a big city for the first time, I am always a little bit worried how to get out of the airport, and how to get aroung in the city.
Let's start with airport – hotel route, which takes some time. After leaving a plane everybody rushes to immigration control, where there is always a pretty long queue. Passengers from Americas find the procedures similar to those back home, and they patiently wait for their turn. But travelers from Europe are usually surprised with the amount of time they have to spend there. And they are more anxious to get out of the airport after a long flight. Yet there is also customs clearance procedure which takes a couple more minutes.
If you do not have local currency with you, you need to find currency exchange or Cambio. Remember to have your passport ready to show at the counter. Next step is to get a taxi. Certainly there are some taxi drivers waiting and nagging travelers to use their services. But it is better to find a desk of licensed taxi companies outside arrival hall. They will assist you with information on price and direct you to taxi rank. You can pay by credit card over there or by cash to the taxi driver. Staff at the desk may not speak good English, and then it is good to have details of your destination written on a piece of paper. Keep that information with you and show it again to the taxi driver. Although the taxi service from Garulhos Airport is pretty expensive I always find reliable.
If you are arriving in São Paulo on Saturday evening, it is good to exchange at the airport more than just for a taxi ride. On Sundays all banks and exchange offices are closed. Moreover some hotels do not offer money exchange service. And instead of enjoying your time, you will have to look for an exchange office somewhere else. Of course there are credit cards. But using them for money withdrawal can be a challenge and not a cheap one. I have heard stories about ATM problems so I have never dared to try.
Taxis in the city are not so expensive as those from the airport. You can easily catch them on the street or ordered at the hotel reception. Getting around by taxi is comfortable and quick unless it rains. Then your journey may take at least twice as much time as usual because the city becomes one huge traffic jam. It may be very important to take it into account if you go to the airport.