Although not the most luminous city and certainly not the safest, Brazil's self-proclaimed cultural capital Sampa – as the locals affectionately call it – often feels more like a chatty village than a monstrous sprawling metropolis of cutting-edge fashion and industry. São Paulo has it all: Coffee moguls and penniless peddlers, international auto shows and experimental theatre, block parties, chorinho music and mouth-watering multi-ethnic cuisine – amidst a legacy of signature Niemeyer architecture.
The casual Juventude Park used to be the site of Carandiru Penitentiary where 111 inmates were killed in a riot in 1992.
Join the antique market frenzy on Av. Paulista or browse the gallery scene in the artsy Vila Madalena neighbourhood. Thrift shop in Bom Retiro, sip cool coconut water under the palm trees of Ibirapuera Park and club all through the night in classy Vila Olímpia. Paulista is upbeat and open-hearted, not so daunting after all.