Rent a Car for Travel in São Paulo

As the largest city in South America, São Paulo can be challenging to navigate. With heavy traffic congestion and vast urban sprawl, driving yourself by rental car is often the best way to efficiently access key attractions across the metro area. Follow this guide for tips on renting and driving in São Paulo.

Finding Rental Car Companies in São Paulo

There are rental car locations across São Paulo, including at airports and popular neighborhoods like Jardins and Paulista. Major international chains include:

  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Localiza
  • Unidas
  • Movida

Compare rates across companies. Booking in advance ensures car availability. Walk-in rentals are limited. Inspect cars thoroughly before accepting.

Documentation and Requirements

Typical documentation required:

  • Valid driver’s license from your country
  • Passport
  • International Driving Permit (recommended)
  • Major credit card for payment

Some companies have minimum age requirements. Verify insurance needs and fuel policies when booking.

Types of Rental Cars in São Paulo

Car TypeExamplesDescription
EconomyFiat Mobi, Renault KwidSmall, budget cars for 1-2 passengers
CompactVW Gol, Fiat ArgoGood balance of size and fuel efficiency
StandardToyota Corolla, Chevrolet CruzeMidsize sedans for 3-4 passengers
SUVJeep Compass, Hyundai TucsonFor families and luggage capacity
LuxuryBMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-ClassPremium vehicles with luxury features

Automatic transmission predominates but manual rentals are available. Consider fuel efficiency given high petrol prices.

Driving in São Paulo – Rules of the Road

  • Drive on the right side of the road
  • Seat belt use mandatory
  • Child seats required for kids under 7 years old
  • Keep headlights on day and night
  • Right turns permitted on red after full stop
  • Drunk driving laws strictly enforced
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • No cell phone use while driving
  • Traffic cameras enforce speed limits

São Paulo’s congested roads can be stressful. Drive defensively and keep your cool.

Useful Rental Car Tips in São Paulo

  • Reserve well in advance for availability
  • Inspect car thoroughly for dings, damages
  • Consider extra insurance for added protection
  • Ask about E-Z Pass transponders for tolls
  • Have maps downloaded offline on your phone
  • Be cautious when parking on streets
  • Add your local hosts as additional drivers if comfortable
  • Keep doors locked and valuables out of sight

Taking these precautions will provide peace of mind during your rental experience.

Top Destinations for Day Trips

Having your own rental car enables you to easily access attractions in the surrounding region. Here are some top day trips from São Paulo:

Campos do Jordão – Charming mountain town with Swiss-style architecture. Great hiking.

Parque Estadual Ilha do Cardoso – Pristine island park with amazing natural trails and beaches.

Guarujá – Relaxed beach town with great seafood and ocean vistas.

Paranapiacaba – Quaint historic railway village in the Serra do Mar.

Santos – Coastal city with beautiful port area, shopping, beaches.

Salto – See impressive waterfalls and stay in country inns.

Carefully follow GPS or maps when driving outside the city. Road signage is limited. Keep fuel tanks topped up.

FAQ About Renting a Car in São Paulo

What is the minimum age to rent a car in São Paulo?

The minimum age is typically 21, but some companies require drivers to be 23-25, especially for larger vehicle classes. Surcharges apply for younger drivers.

What side of the road do Brazilians drive on?

Traffic in Brazil keeps to the right side of the road, as in North America and mainland Europe.

Is an International Driving Permit required in São Paulo?

An IDP is not mandatory but highly recommended, as it provides standardized translations of your license info.

How expensive is car rental and fuel in São Paulo?

Economy cars can be rented for $20-30 USD per day. Fuel costs around $4-5 USD per gallon. Tolls and parking also add costs.


Renting a car enables you to fully experience São Paulo’s immense energy and regional attractions. Reserve early, inspect cars carefully, study local driving practices, and fuel up for excursions. While São Paulo’s roads can be intense, a rental car gives you flexibility to navigate this massive city and beyond at your own pace.


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