Belo Horizonte has been the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil since 1897. It’s famous for being an architecturally well-organised and developed city, however if you had visited the area a few years earlier you would have been greeted with an abundance of forest. The city was carved out of said forest and laid down on a grid modelled after Washington DC. Translated, Belo Horizonte means beautiful horizon and we can understand why they gave the city this name, as it’s surrounded by stunning mountains.
If you’re heading to the city and you’re wondering what to do, then read on as we’ve created the ultimate Belo Horizonte travel guide!
Things to do
Praça da Liberdade (Freedom Square)
This large plaza in the city centre is filled with greenery and trees lining a cobbled pathway that goes from one end of the plaza to the other. Much like the rest of the city, the plaza was inspired by the art-deco style and was designed to be the hub of state administration and power. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area, which means you can grab a coffee and people-watch in the afternoon.
Art & Museums
Belo Horizonte is renowned for its stunning architecture and collection of modern art. Most of the city’s buildings were inspired by art-deco and the theme runs through the skyline. Oscar Niemeyer, a Brazilian architect who was key in the development of modern architecture, built many of his first masterpieces here. If you’re wondering what to see in Belo Horizonte it’s worth visiting the museums, even if it’s just to admire the way they’ve been built. The very first building designed and built by Niemeyer in 1940 was the Museu de Arte which stands high above the lake in Pampulha, along with the church of Sao Francisco de Assis. It was converted in 1957 and is home to paintings, sculptures, ceramics and films.
Parque Mangabeiras and Parque Municipal
There are two main parks in the city and they should both be on your list of things to do in Belo Horizonte. Parque Mangabeiras is at the edge of the city and spreads across the steep slope of Serra do Curral. Inside the park you can expect to find a primeval forest, a lake, playing fields, kid’s rides, several springs, an open-air theatre and an amphitheatre. It’s so huge that buses leave from the entrance and loop through the park and stop at all of the main attractions. We would recommend stopping at Mirante da Mata, where there are stunning panoramic views of Belo Horizonte. On the north side of the city centre lies Parque Municipal, a large green space with loads of century-old trees, a lake where you can go on a boat ride, several gardens, playgrounds, tennis courts and a theatre. During the cooler months, from May to September, the Orchestra of Minas Gerais performs a Concerto no Parque (concert in the park) every Sunday morning.
Dining in Belo Horizonte
The state of Minas Gerais is known throughout Brazil for its unique fusion of African, Portuguese and indigenous food, which is known as “minieira” cuisine. Expect lots of beans, corn, fruit and beef as they are the dominant crops in this area, paired with rich spices. If you love coffee, make sure you try some of the locally-grown beans! In the state capital, Belo Horizonte, minieiran cuisine is served in farmhouse restaurants, used as inspiration in upscale restaurants and is even served in the thousands of bars over all over the city. If you decide to go to a bar, make sure you try the city’s signature drink, Cachaca, a distilled spirit that is the main ingredient in the world-famous Brazilian cocktail, caipirinhas. If you love these cocktails, then make sure you check out the caipirinhas festival in London!
When to visit Belo Horizonte
If you want to go on holiday to enjoy great weather in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, then you should visit the city in its driest months, which are between April and September. The weather is cooler but the humidity is lower. Summer in Brazil runs from December to March, it’s also the wet season so expect lots of downpours and high humidity.
If you want to experience local celebrations, then visit in April or May: Carnival is also particularly busy, it takes place between the Friday afternoon before Ash Wednesday and Ash Wednesday at noon, which then marks the beginning on Lent.
Have you ever been to Belo Horizonte in Brazil or are you planning a trip there? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and ask us any questions you may have, or give us your best tip for this spectacular destination!