São Paulo is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere; more than eleven-million people live within the city limits, and another ten-million live in the surrounding areas. Over a quarter of these residents are of Italian ancestry. The city also has large Japanese, African, Korean, Jewish and Arabic communities.
Most visitors, arriving by air, are awed by the city's endless forest of skyscrapers. Although it is enormous, the city is surprisingly accessible. For multi-day visits, the Paulista Avenue, Jardins and Parque Ibirapuera sectors are ideal; the city's famous "design" hotels, boutiques, performing-arts venues, restaurants and nightclubs are within easy reach.
Sao Paulo's museums rival the best in Latin America. The Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP) houses one of the world's greatest collections of Latin American art, with works by Diego Rivera, Bruno Giorgi and Ernesto de Fiori. European masters (such as Botticceli, Degas, Renoir, Modigliani and Picasso) are also represented. Other worthwhile museums include the Museu da Imagem e do Som (photography, cinema and music); the Museu de Zoologia da USP (taxidermy); the Museu de Arte Moderna; and the Museu do Ipiranga (cultural artifacts).
During off-peak hours, visitors to Sao Paulo can reach the Atlantic coast in about an hour. The best beaches, however, lie another sixty miles northeast near Ubatuba and on Ilhabela and Ilha Anchieta. Having traveled that far, it is only a little farther to the beautiful colonial port of Paraty.
Sao Paulo is served by Guarulhos International Airport, Brazil's primary arrival point for international flights. Overnight flights from most US departure points reach Guarulhos in ten hours or less. The city's other large airport, Congonhas, is mostly for domestic flights.
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