São Paulo is not just Brazil's largest city, it's also the most-populated city in the southern hemisphere. For some visitors, heaving and heady São Paulo is the ugly sister of Rio de Janeiro. But look beyond its concrete towers, the traffic on the Avenida Paulista and vast outlying favelas and there is much to admire about this booming and creative metropolis - the luxury boutiques and fine restaurants in the upmarket neighbourhood of Jardins being just one example of the ‘other' São Paulo.
Waves of immigrants from across Brazil and around the world have taken the population of the city to more than 20 million. They have also contributed to São Paulo's tremendous cultural diversity, which is reflected in its fabulous music, festivals and gastronomy. Live music, dance clubs, theatre, ballet and other popular entertainment is better here than anywhere else in the country. The Museu de Arte de São Paulo and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea are other cultural gems.
São Paulo also hosts South America's most important fashion weeks, in January and June, when leading designers, famous models and other celebrities from Brazil and around the world descend on the city, generating a great buzz.