The downtown district is one of the few places in São Paulo where a significant amount of pre-20th-century history remains visible. You can explore the areas where the city began and view examples of architecture, some of it beautifully restored, from the 19th century. Petty criminals operate in this area, so keep your wits about you while you tour. The best way to get here is by metro.
For an easy glimpse of Centro, start at the Anhangabaú metro station and head northwest along the valley (Vale do Anhangabaú). Pass under the historic Viaduto do Chá viaduct and take in the sight of the magnificent, baroque Theatro Municipal to your left. A bit farther along near the São Bento metro station, find your way to the monastery of the same name, uphill to the right. Then continue on over the hill, and make your way downhill, zigzagging through the crowded shopping streets towards Mercado Municipal.