Belo Horizonte is located in the south east region of Brazil. The city is the country’s third largest, though surprisingly; it is rarely mentioned in travel guides. Whilst many tourists flock to Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, the lesser known charms of Belo Horizonte (literally ‘Beautiful Horizon’) attract a more in-the-know crowd who appreciate the unique offerings of this metropolitan city. If you are planning to visit, the following suggestions will point you in the right direction.
Enjoy the city’s bar culture
The New York Times has referred to Belo Horizonte as the bar capital of Brazil. There is rumoured to be over 12,000 bars in the city, which is more per person than anywhere else in the country. Most of these are in the form of informal spots where locals will drink beer, socialise and often enjoy a meal. The best time to take advantage of the bars is during April, when the annual Comida di Buteco competition takes place.
Fighting to win the accolades of best service, hygiene and culinary offerings, the bars pull out all the stops and it’s a great time to socialise with local Brazilians. Don’t worry though if you’re visiting outside of this period. You’d be hard pushed to pick a time when there isn’t a distinct party atmosphere in this city.
See the sights
If cultural excursions are top of your agenda, you’ll be well catered for in Belo Horizonte. Car rental facilities are available from the Belo Horizante Airport Pampulha and around the city.
Parque Municipal is a great place to kick back and spend some time relaxing. An enormous area of tropical greenery, featuring artificial lakes and winding footpaths, the Parque is especially interesting on a Sunday when it attracts locals and tourists alike.
Centro de Arte Contemporanea Inhotim is one of the city’s newest tourist attractions. Despite its short tenure, it’s a must see for visitors. This impressive and sprawling array of gardens house 16 modern art galleries and numerous outdoor sculptures. Lovers of the great outdoors will be enthralled by the 1600 species of plant which are on display, along with peacocks and swans. Visitors can explore the gardens alone if they wish, though there are daily scheduled walks guided by experts in natural arts and visual science.
Feira de Arte e Artesanato is a major community event in Belo Horizonte. This street market is a weekly event and attracts droves of shoppers looking for clothing, jewellery and much more. Stock up on souvenirs for friends and family back at home, or just enjoy soaking up the bustling atmosphere.
For something a bit out of the ordinary, pay a visit to Cafe com Letras. Attracting a hip crowd, this is the place to be if you’re interested in live music, DJ performances and books. Food and coffee are served throughout the day and evening, and it’s a great place to find out what other events are going on in the city.
Catch an event
Belo Horizonte plays host to a range of events throughout the year. If you’re planning to be in the city while these are running, try to include them in your itinerary.
The International Short Film Festival usually takes place during September or October and is a must see for film lovers.
If you enjoy running, why not take part in the Volta Da Pampulha? The annual race takes place around the lagoon and offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Football fans are well catered for too, and will enjoy a visit to the local stadium.
Belo Horizonte caters for travellers of all tastes, and you can be sure to find plenty of options for keeping you entertained on your travels.
Jane Freeman is a travel blogger and digital marketer based in the UK. Jane splits her time between London during the Spring/Summer and Asia in the winter.