Look beyond the hustle and bustle of South America’s largest city and you will find impressive cuisine and culture.
Peoples of the world
The estimated 22m people who call São Paulo home are a diverse community. Following the arrival of Japanese immigrants to work in São Paulo state’s coffee plantations more than a century ago, the city’s population includes about 400,000 Japanese descendants.
The world’s largest Japanese community outside Japan can be found in the Liberdade neighbourhood, while it has been suggested that 3m inhabitants of the greater São Paulo area have Italian family names.
After Tokyo, New Delhi and Shanghai, São Paulo is the world’s fourth most populous city, according to the UN, and it claims to host the world’s largest annual pride parade.
The megacity’s ethnic diversity is reflected in a vibrant gastronomic scene, serving up food from around the globe. Diners can savour local flavours at D.O.M., which has two Michelin stars; the city has 13 other restaurants with at least one star. Chef Alex Atala promotes local ingredients such as priprioca, a root from the Amazon region, in his contemporary cuisine.
Calling the cultural tune
Sampa, as the city is nicknamed, is widely regarded as Brazil’s cultural capital. It has more than 100 museums, including São Paulo Museum of Art, which holds the most important collection of European art in Latin America, not to mention 300 cinemas and an annual international film festival. Marin Alsop, one of the world’s leading conductors, is music director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.
National financial hub
Brazil’s largest city is also its financial centre. The business hub of São Paulo state, which accounts for about a third of Brazil’s GDP, is the base of the country’s stock exchange, bank headquarters and many multinationals.
Homebuyers can get more property for their buck in São Paulo than Rio de Janeiro, which has Brazil’s most expensive residential prices. In June, property in São Paulo had an average listing price of R$8,774 ($2,200) per square metre compared with R$9,556 in Rio.
Sampa is home to 22 billionaires, putting it 16th on Forbes’ list of cities with the most billionaires — ahead of Los Angeles. The Brazilian city is the only South American entry in the top 20.
Rooftop to rooftop service
Those billionaires might have their own helicopters but other paulistanos, as locals are known, can beat the city’s notorious traffic jams by using on-demand helicopter-booking platform Voom, part of Airbus Helicopters. The service, which connects passengers with licensed operators, chose São Paulo as its launch city last year, before expanding into Mexico City earlier this year.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; AFP/Getty Images