The busiest airport in all of Brazil, and second-busiest in Latin America, Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport (more commonly known as Cumbica, after the suburb in which it is found) offers a surprisingly easy, smooth and hassle-free entry into the country.
The airport first opened in 1985 and was built alongside an existing Air Force Base. Within mere months, it overtook the Congonhas Airport (the busiest city airport at the time) in terms of passenger number and has literally never looked back. Sao Paulo and its surrounding area is served by four airports, with Guarulhos being the main international gateway and the one most foreign visitors will invariable transit through. It is also common to fly on/from Rio through Congonhas, which is just south of the city centre.
Sao Paulo International Airport comprises three terminals (T1, T2, T3). T1 is the smallest of the three and serves domestic flights only, T2 serves flights departing and arriving from all over the continent and T3, is the main international and domestic hub. T1 is connected to T2 via shuttle bus, with a walkway connecting T2 to T3.
International Airlines to/from Sao Paulo
- Aerolinas Argentinas
- Air Mexico
- Air Canada
- Air Europa
- Air France
- American Airlines
- Avianca (Brazil & Peru)
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- LATAM (Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, peru)
- United Airlines
The most popular connection to Sao Paulo, from outside of Brazil, are Buenos Aires, Santiago and Miami. Internationally, the most popular flights into the city depart from Madrid, Frankfurt, Paris and London. But if you’re a citizen of Brazil and would want to tour the States, then you’d first have, unlike for Brazil, to esta aanvragen and only then go outside.
National airlines offering connections all over Brazil:
- Avianca Brazil
- Gol Transportes Aereos
- LATAM Brazil
- Passaredo Linhas Aereas
Info counters can be found both at the departures and arrivals’ halls of all terminals.
Getting to/from the airport
The airport is only 25km from the centre of Sao Paulo, making a stopover visit convenient, easy and rewarding. Brazil’s largest and most populated city may be often overlooked by foreign visitors, in favour of more popular Rio, yet it is a very interesting and vibrant city to experience for a few days, and the ease of navigating the city’s international airport makes Sao Paulo even more enticing.
TAXI – Guarucoop is the official taxi company which serves Sao Paulo International Airport. They offer fixed rates depending on which area of the city you wish to reach.
BUS – There is an extensive bus network which connects the airport to all corners of the city. However, considering Sao Paulo is expansive, traffic considerable and availability of English-speaking staff limited, we don’t recommend this option to foreign travellers, especially if they are on a first visit to Brazil.
PRIVATE TRANSFERS – By far the fastest and most convenient method for reaching the city centre.
Please note that if you have a connecting flight to take at Sao Paulo, you will be required to go through immigration, pick up your luggage, and then check in again, so factor in an extra hour to your transit time.
If you wish to find a hotel close to the airport due to inconvenient flight times, these will be your best accommodation options:
- Sao Paulo Airport Marriott Hotel
- Matiz Hotel Aereoporto
- Bristol International Airport Hotel
- Pullman Sao Paulo international Airport
- Mercure Guarulhos Aeroporto Hotel
All three are within n easy 5-7 minute drive from the airport, and all offer free shuttle pick up and drop off directly from the terminals. A transit hotel is also found attached to T3, however you will need to have an international onward boarding pass/connection to stay here.
Exchange booths are located outside the arrivals hall of T2 and T3, all operating 24 hours a day. The Brazilian currency is the Real. You can check here for updates exchange rates.
Medical Centres are located on the Mezzanine Level of T1 and T2, and a pharmacy is found on the Mezzanine level of T3 and in the departures area of T1.
Brazilian cuisine is delectable, varied and regional, and the extensive food options at Sao Paulo International Airport do a good job of continuing the trend. Albeit a little more internationally. From 24hr Pizza Hut, Subway and Starbucks outlets to Italian cafés and an assortment of local bakeries, there’s plenty of refreshments to be enjoyed here. But if you can, spend a day in Sao Paulo at the very least and check out the amazing Municipal Markets!
Half a dozen airport lounges offer rest, refreshment and respite to those with a few hours to spare. These can be accessed either through airline membership programs, or by purchasing passes online prior to arriving.
- GOL Premium Lounge– Location: Terminal 2, Airside, International Departures. Showers are available. Hours: open 24 hours. Lounge Access: Buy a lounge pass (£35.00 – 24 hour advance purchase is required)
- GOL Premium Lounge– Location: Terminal 2, Airside. Hours: 6:00AM – 12:00AM (Daily).
- GRU Lounge– Closed for renovations – Location: Terminal 2, Airside, International Departures. Hours: open 24 hours.
- American Airlines Admirals Club– Location: Terminal 2, Airside, Wing D, Mezzanine Level. Showers are available. Lounge Access: Pay at the Door (US$ 59) • Admirals Club Membership.
- Smiles VIP Lounge– Location: Terminal 2, Airside, Wing C, 2nd Floor. Showers are available. Hours: open 24 hours. .
- Executive Lounge GRU Airport– Location: Terminal 3, Airside. Showers are available ($). Hours: 7:00AM – 12:00PM (Daily). Lounge Access: Pay at the Door ($28) • Buy a lounge pass (£29.00 – 24 hour advance purchase is required)
- Star Alliance Lounge– Location: Terminal 3, Airside, Mezzanine Level, above the Duty Free Shopping Area. Showers are available. Hours: 12:00PM – 3:00AM (Daily).
Free Wifi is offered at Sao Paulo International Airport, with a one-hour time limit.
A row of ATMs is located outside the arrivals hall of T2 and T1.
Luggage Locker services are found in both T2 (arrivals, east) and T3 (arrivals), operating 24 hours.
With three collective floors of shopping outlets, your retail therapy needs will be nicely met, in all three terminals. Most duty free outlets operate 24 hours a day.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”