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  • Cityscape Art deco decadence
  • City life Miami vices

Miami is a particularly colourful swirl in the great American melting pot; few cities are more diverse and cosmopolitan, and even fewer can boast white-sand beaches and endless days of perfect sunshine, too.

Half of Miami’s population is Hispanic, including a sizeable community of Cuban exiles, which gives the city a fast-paced rhythm and Latin swagger that is as much a part of the Caribbean and South America as it is Florida. Districts such as Coral Gables, Little Havana and Coconut Grove offer the kind of sultry indulgences their names suggest, but it is South Beach (SoBe) that’s the heart of the party scene in a city that takes its hedonism, ostentation and extravagance very seriously. The wide sweep of SoBe sand between the famous candy-coloured art deco beachfront of Ocean Drive and the Atlantic surf is both Miami’s playground and its catwalk. Beyond the bling and bikinis lies a city of stylish restaurants, decadent lounge bars and a burgeoning arts scene offering irresistible Miami virtues and vices in equal measure.

Do go/Don’t go

Winter (December to March) is the peak season here, particularly with US tourists, so you’ll need to book well in advance; same goes for the fortnight around Carnival weekend in October. Miami is in the most southerly state, and enjoys year-round sunshine, so there’s no bad time to go unless you can’t take the heat: summer temperatures usually hover around 30º Celsius and it can feel very humid. June to November is hurricane season, so keep an ear out for any warnings during this time.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes You’re more likely to arrive at the busier Miami International Airport | 12 miles west of Downtown | rather than Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport | which lies 30 miles north of the city. SuperShuttle minivans (+1 305 871 2000; www.supershuttle.com) and taxis can take you into town from MIA for upwards of $20.
  • Trains Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) connects Miami to other US cities. Within the Downtown area, the efficient Metromover is a free, driverless, mass-transit system. The Tri-Rail commuter line that runs along the coast to Palm Beach is also a good way to get around.
  • Automobiles In the land where the car is king | there really is no substitute unless you plan to spend most of your time in one part of the city.
  • Taxis Taxis are relatively cheap and readily available. There are fixed rates for journeys to the airport. If you really want to travel in style, hire a chauffeur-driven vintage Rolls Royce, from $90 an hour at Vintage Limousines of Coral Gables (+1 305 444 7657; www.vintagelimosonline.com).