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An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ São Paulo


Danilo Valisserra Hortenci, Sao Paulo tour guide.
Hi, I'm Lauren!

Lauren is a Mexico City–based writer, editor, and translator from Yorkshire with bylines at CNN, BBC Travel, and Al Jazeera. She’s currently working on her first full-length literary translation in between harassing her cat, drinking smuggled Yorkshire Tea, and blogging about Latin American literature at leyendolatam.com.

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Born and raised in São Paulo, Danilo Valisserra Hortenci has been a tour guide for more than 15 years, and he's led Gregtur Turismo's LGBTQ tour of São Paulo since 2016.

On one of Danilo's tours, you can learn about São Paulo's LGBTQ past and present, while seeing key city landmarks, such as Farol Santander and the Sé Cathedral, and exploring neighborhoods like Liberdade or Vila Madalena.

São Paulo is "a city where you can be your true self," Danilo says, "The feeling of freedom is huge. It's a city where you can enjoy every moment of life." And, as home to the world's largest and most extravagant Pride parade (alongside New York), São Paulo makes an excellent LGBTQ travel destination.

Unsurprisingly then, whether you want to know about Pride and Avenida Paulista or the city’s best LGBTQ nightlife, Danilo’s the person to ask.


A participant walks down Avenida Paulista in São Paulo during Pride.
São Paulo Pride is one of the best in the world. Photo: Daniella cronemberger / Shutterstock

Your guide to LGBTQ São Paulo

São Paulo’s LGBTQ neighborhoods

Danilo recommends the Vila Madalena and Jardins neighborhoods in São Paulo. “These two districts are awesome; full of cultural life, discos, restaurants,” he says, adding that: “Bela Vista and Avenida Paulista are also famous for their museums, bars, and restaurants … these [neighborhoods] are all must-visits in São Paulo.”

Continue on down Avenida Paulista and you’ll hit Frei Caneca Street, one of the city’s key LGBTQ destinations lined with close to 100 official gay-friendly saunas, stores, cafés, and nightclubs. And, of course, if you’re a first-time visitor, you can always get your bearings with Danilo on his private walking tour.

Where to learn about São Paulo’s LGBTQ+ history

For LGBTQ history in Sao Paulo, you can’t go wrong at the Museu da Diversidade Sexual (Museum of Sexual Diversity), the first of its kind in Latin America. Per Danilo, the museum “tells the story of the LGBTQ+ community and its progress in the country,” by way of both digital and in-person exhibitions and displays.

The best places to get a drink and meet others

São Paulo’s LGBTQ nightlife is world-renowned and with good reason. Not only is the city home to one of the biggest gay clubs in the Americas—The Week—it has a number of smaller, local favorite bars such as Espeto Bambu and Galeria Café in the Pinheiros neighborhood.

However, the pandemic hit the LGBTQ scene in São Paulo hard. “Most of the places are closed and some of them closed for good, even the big discos that we're famous for. [Even so], O Varanda Estaiada [an open-air restaurant] is still open, as is Athenas Café e Restaurante,” according to Danilo. You can also check out the LGBTQ book selection at Blooks Livraria in Frei Caneca Shopping or grab caipirinhas at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s rooftop bar while looking out over the city.

An aerial shot of São Paulo, Brazil.
São Paulo comes alive after dark. Photo: Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock

All about São Paulo Pride

A brief history of São Paulo Pride

Known as La Parada do Orgulho GLBT de São Paulo in Portuguese, São Paulo Pride started back in 1997 and has been organized by the APOGLBT (Associação da Parada do Orgulho de Gays, Lesbicas, Bissexuais e Travestis e Transexuais) ever since. Now, it’s officially recognized as one of the biggest Pride parades in the world. Unofficially, many also consider it the best. This year will mark its 26th edition.

But what shaped São Paulo into one of the most LGBTQ-friendly destinations in the world? “I think because we were one of the first cities in the southern hemisphere to introduce a law to protect our gay citizens (it's considered a crime to discriminate against gay citizens for showing affection in public places) people feel encouraged to be themselves,” Danilo says.

How São Paulo celebrates Pride

Brazil doesn’t take partying lightly and Pride is no exception. São Paulo Pride typically kicks off weeks before the main parade works its way down Avenida Paulista. Look out for debates, concerts, plays, dance, street markets, and more, before snagging a spot on the march route to watch dancers, drag queens, and participants take over downtown São Paulo with their trio elétricos (themed floats).

The importance of Pride

Growing up alongside LGBTQ friends who were taught that being gay was wrong or something to be embarrassed about, Danilo has thought a lot about the importance of Pride over the years: “Pride means showing the world that it’s OK to be gay. It doesn’t change you as a person. It doesn’t make you less or more. It means you deserve the same respect as anyone else. Being gay is being who you are.”

Meet Danilo on the LGBTI+ Private Tour of São Paulo


LGBTQIA+ Private Tour: Explore São Paulo With A Local Gay-Friendly Guide

LGBTQIA+ Private Tour: Explore São Paulo With A Local Gay-Friendly Guide

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São Paulo is known for making the biggest LGBTI+ Parade in the WORLD and is at the forefront when it comes to gay-friendly tourism. In addition, the city is a pioneer in many affirmative actions that brought it an excellent reputation being recognized as one of the 30 cities in the world with the Rainbow City seal, for being friendly to the LGBTI+ population. The city is friendly not only during gay pride parade, but also throughout the whole year, especially in alternative city areas, gay bars, clubs, attractions, and open-minded establishments. There is nothing more pleasant than being welcomed well in the destination. Much better if it's by an expert local gay-friendly guide who will ensure you have an exciting and safe experience. This tour is designed to be totally flexible. Take full advantage of the one-on-one experience customizing your day or nighttime on a private tour. Explore the local gay scene or just visit São Paulo’s major attractions having an overview of it.
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  • 6 hours
  • iconEnglish
  • Free Cancellation
From
$161.00
Price varies by group size
From
$161.00
Price varies by group size

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Hi, I'm Lauren!

Lauren is a Mexico City–based writer, editor, and translator from Yorkshire with bylines at CNN, BBC Travel, and Al Jazeera. She’s currently working on her first full-length literary translation in between harassing her cat, drinking smuggled Yorkshire Tea, and blogging about Latin American literature at leyendolatam.com.

Keep exploring
See all Sao Paulo tours
308 tours & tickets
Hidden Gems Around the World | Viator.com
Hidden Gems Around the World
6 Must-See Museums in São Paulo
6 Must-See Museums in São Paulo