Top 10 things to do in Belo Horizonte

Visiting Belo Horizonte: what to do and see in this city of superb landscapes? Discover our must-sees!

Known locally as « Beagá » (Portuguese for BH), Belo Horizonte was named for its magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. Today, it’s more difficult to appreciate the view due to burgeoning urbanism, but Brazil’s third-largest city still has plenty of charm to reveal to its visitors.

Both modern and contemporary, Belo Horizonte is a city full of surprises, promising a colorful journey to those who pass through its doors. But what is there to do in Belo Horizonte, a discreet yet promising destination? From its panoramic views and exceptional heritage to its traditional addresses and nightlife, discover the must-sees of a city you won’t soon forget.

Also read in the Belo Horizonte guide :

1. Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (Igreja de São Francisco de Assis)

Eglise Saint-François d'Assise, Belo Horizonte

Photo credit: Flickr – Rosino

On the shores of the artificial lake of Pampulha, Oscar Niemeyer’s remarkablemodernist church is a true architectural marvel to visit in Belo Horizonte. Inside, the tiles and paintings by Cândido Portinari are just as striking, so make the most of your discovery to appreciate the detail of this monument to Belo Horizonte’s success.

Stay in the area to admire other monuments and buildings from the 1940s designed by Niemeyer. The Pampulha architectural complex boasts some of the city’s finest symbols. Nearby, you’ll find the city’s famous Mineirão stadium. There’s also the Museu de Arte, an art museum with a beautiful garden designed by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, which originally served as a casino and shows Le Corbusier’s obvious modernist influence.

2. Parque Municipal

One of the most attractive places to visit in Belo Horizonte is without doubt the Parque Municipal. Situated 10 minutes south-east of the bus station, this huge tropical green space is home to artificial lakes and winding lanes that make for pleasant strolls. It’s especially nice on Sundays, when everyone’s out and about: ideal for getting to know the locals!

3. Museu de Artes e Ofícios

A visit to Belo Horizonte also includes a historical, economic, political and artistic interlude, told in the city’s various museums. Located in the city’s former main railway station, which was built in the 19th century, the Museum of Arts and Crafts offers a good overview of the wealth of Brazilian trades prior to the country’s industrialization. The best part? Free admission on Saturdays all day and on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5pm to 9pm (the rest of the week, admission is R$4).

4. Museu Histórico Abílio Barreto

To keep up the momentum of museums to do in Belo Horizonte, head southwest to the Savassi district. This is the home of the Abílio Barreto Historical Museum, which enjoys particular success thanks to its centerpiece: the renovated former colonial farmhouse(Fazenda do Leitão), the only remnant of Curral del Rey, the small village destroyed in the 1890s to make way for the present-day city of Belo. The adjacent building houses temporary exhibitions focusing on the culture of Belo Horizonte, providing further insight into the origins of the city’s heritage.

5. Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim

The Inhotim arts center is Belo’s newest tourist attraction. Opened in 2006, this impressive sprawling garden complex, dotted with 16 modern art galleries and numerous outdoor sculptures, is one of the world’s largest open-air museums. Despite its location (50 km west of the city, near Brumadinho), it’s one of Belo Horizonte’s must-see attractions – just take a tour and you’ll understand.

Many of the international works on display are monumental in scale. The gardens are constantly expanding, with 1,600 different plant species (including 200 types of palm), peacocks and swan lakes. You can stroll as you wish, or join one of the programmed tours presented by a guide trained in the visual arts and natural sciences. The on-site restaurant and café also enjoy an excellent reputation.

6. Praça da Liberdade

This beautiful palm-lined square is typical of the beauty of Bello Horizonte. Bordered by flower-filled government buildings, Praça da Liberdade is the perfect place to relax before attending a festival, for example. Here, you can admire the Memorial Minas Gerais Vale or another of Niemeyer’s curvaceous buildings.

7. Alta Vila Tower

Tour Alta Vila, Belo Horizonte

Photo credit : Wikipedia

Wondering what to do in Belo Horizonte to take advantage of its superb views? Head for the Alta Vila Tower in the Nova Lima district: very popular with tourists, it offers a spectacular panorama of the Belo Horizonte region and its mountainous setting. Take a moment to appreciate the view and snap a few shots to illustrate your travel memories.

8. Local nightlife

Vie nocturne à Belo Horizonte

Photo credit: Flickr – upslon

What to do in Belo to sample the local fever? Belo Horizonte is known as the bar capital of Brazil, and rumor has it that the city has the highest concentration of bars per capita in the world! With a wide choice of places to go out and have a drink, it’s hard to deny that a visit to Belo Horizonte is all about celebrating!

The Savassi district has dozens and dozens of bars, but if you’re looking for more traditional pubs, head for Floresta. Don’t forget that Minais Gerais is famous for its cachaças, but you’ll also find beers from all over the world served very cold.

For nightclubs, Savassi is again a good place. More exclusive and expensive clubs can be found in the Raja Baglia district.

9. Mercado Central

Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte

Photo credit: Flickr – Felipe Tofani

Right in the heart of the city, in this covered market of everything, you’ll find local specialties such as pão de queijo, salted meat and cachaça (sugarcane brandy). Tasting these delicious regional products is like visiting Belo Horizonte in a different way, while immersing yourself in the culinary culture: mingle with the locals in one of the bars, or simply stroll the aisles of the market. For a bite to eat, you can also visit one of the many restaurants in the Lourdes district.

10. The Belo Horizonte area

Bello Horizonte is the perfect base for visiting some of Brazil’s most famous colonial towns. These sleepy colonial towns and villages, listed as World Heritage Sites, boast some of the finest Baroque buildings in Latin America and are a major tourist attraction in the region. The most famous of these are in the south(Ouro Preto, Mariana, Congonhas do Campo, São João del Rei and Tiradentes), north(Diamantina and Serro) and east (Sabará and Caeté).

The town is also the gateway to some of Brazil’s most important national parks, such as Serra do Cipó National Park and Serra da Canastra National Park.

How to get to Belo Horizonte

Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice… Several cities offer flights to Belo Horizonte. As there are no direct flights to Belo Horizonte, you can expect to make an average of one stopover (Lisbon, Guarulhos or Brasilia, depending on the airline) for a ten-hour flight. Latam Airlines and AirPortugal are the two main airlines operating flights to Belo Horizonte: you’ll find the best fares on the website of our partner Skyscanner, which lists the most attractive offers.

If you’re travelling from another city in Brazil, there are a number of ways to get to Belo Horizonte. For example, from São Paulo, you can choose to travel by plane (the most expensive option) or by bus: in this case, it’s an average 8-hour drive to one of Belo Horizonte’s two train stations, costing around 30 euros each way.

Where to stay in Belo Horizonte?

As Belo Horizonte is more « used » as a base camp for discovering the Minas Gerais region, it’s worthwhile renting an apartment. This has several advantages: firstly, it’s less expensive, but you’ll also have the chance to meet your host or even neighbors, who’ll be happy to show you nice places to visit off the beaten track. The best areas to stay are Savassi, Lourdes and Gutierrez, to be as close as possible to BH’s best sites, and Serra and Pampulha for those on a smaller budget.

Use vacation rental sites like Airbnb to find your apartment. You can also stay in a hotel, for which you’ll find the best prices on our hotel comparator.

Now you know what to do in Belo Horizonte during your stay! Have you visited the capital of Minas Gerais state?

Hotel and accommodation map – Belo Horizonte,br