Find out what to do in Belo Horizonte with this 2 day itinerary!
Until recently, when someone talked to me about Belo Horizonte, all I could think of was cheese bread and dulce de leche. Even though I have a travel blog, I couldn’t mention a famous attraction of the city.
For years I had heard about the churches of Minas Gerais, and I confess that visiting this kind of attraction is one of the things I hate the most when I am sightseeing.
Fortunately, this year I was able to discover how wrong I was.
I had the opportunity to visit the capital of Minas Gerais in the company of two bloggers that I love, Débora from Foco do Mundo and Matheus from O Baú do Viajante, and I was surprised by a city that goes far beyond its religious landmarks. The only one of my preconceptions that was correct is that the food is delicious (I miss the real cheese bread !!!!!).
I was very lucky to have a private guide (my friend Débora) who lived her whole life in the region, and who introduced me to the best tourist spots. After that, I created an itinerary of what to do in Belo Horizonte for those who will visit the city for the first time. You could do it all in two days, but to enjoy it calmly I believe that the ideal would be at least three.
In case you have even more time, you can explore nearby places, such as the Inhotim Institute. There is already a post with several tips on how to visit this incredible open-air museum.
WHAT TO DO IN BELO HORIZONTE
Day 1 – Municipal Park, Central Market and Liberdade Square
For the first day, the suggestion is to visit the city center, a neighborhood that houses many of the tourist points of the capital.
Start the morning at the Parque Municipal Américo Renné Giannett, a green oasis in the middle of Avenida Afonso Pena. With 180 thousand square meters, the space is reminiscent of the famous French gardens, and has a tennis court, playground for children, skating rink, artificial lakes with boats and even a theater with capacity for more than 500 people.
Débora and I spent a lot of time sitting on the benches eating dulce de leche (I couldn’t resist, lol) and taking pictures, and I didn’t feel insecure at any moment. I saw many comments online saying that the place was abandoned by the city, but this was not my impression.
Around lunch time, take a 15 minute walk to the Central Market (Mercado Central). With more than 400 stands, there you can find some of the specialties for which the state is known, such as cheese, cachaça, and doce de leite. There are also many restaurants and bars, where you can try the famous liver with onions and giló, have a tira gosto or just drink a cold beer. The price was very attractive, less than R$3 each, and two of them were enough to replace a more elaborate meal.
After eating, walk about 20 minutes and go to the Praça da Liberdade. This is the region where the cultural circuit is located, a cluster of museums and knowledge spaces, such as the state public library and the Academia Mineira de Letras. You can check out all 15 places that are part of this attraction on the official website.
I visited the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center and the UFMG’s Knowledge Space. The latter has an exhibit about human life and its trajectory, an astronomy terrace, and a planetarium whose technology was produced in Germany and projects 360° movies. If you want to visit the CCBB, I recommend finding out in advance what is being exhibited during your trip, to see if it interests you. For those who like history, other interesting places on the circuit are the Museu Mineiro and the Museu das Minas e dos Metais.
To finish the first day of our itinerary through Belo Horizonte, there is nothing better than to enjoy one of the typical bars of the region. We went to Chopp da Fábrica, where the drink was super cold and the portions very well served.
Day 2 – Pampulha and Mangabeiras
Principal postcard of the city, the architectural complex of Pampulha was elected a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2016. It is the ideal tour for those who want to use the day to relax and enjoy nature, as well as for those who enjoy cultural programs.
Along the lagoon there are several places to bike, walk and even have a picnic. Those who want to keep up their physical activities during the trip can go for a run or a bike ride. There are also other attractions around the lagoon such as the famous São Francisco Church and the Modern Art Museum, which operates where one of the largest casinos in Brazil used to be. I went to the Kubitschek House (former president) and loved the experience!
The complete tour around the lagoon is around 18km, so it is not an easy walk. My suggestion is to either choose some specific points nearby or else rent a car during your stay in the city. With Rentcars I could find rates around R$90 reais in Belo Horizonte, which is around US$20 per day. Super cheap!
Because it is an extensive tour (many people suggest reserving more than one day to visit only Pampulha), the ideal is to start early in the morning and explore until early afternoon, before moving on to the next part of the itinerary. A little over half an hour away by car is the Mangabeiras Municipal Park, on the slope of the Serra do Curral.
With trails, courts, playground, kiosks and other attractions, it’s another incredible ride for those who enjoy nature. As it closes early, at 4pm, you can take advantage of its proximity to Amendoim Street, and see the phenomenon that makes the car, even in neutral, go up while it is on a small slope.
To finish the day, visit one of the most famous neighborhoods in the city and go to Savassi Square, where you can find several bars, perfect for a happy hour.
More time in Belo Horizonte?
If you can fit more time into your itinerary, I suggest visiting Pampulha and Mangabeiras Park on different days. In this case, after exploring the best corners of the lagoon, the Fleming Avenue is a nice option to end the night.
You can also take a trip to Brumadinho and visit the famous Inhotim Institute, an open-air museum of modern art. There is already a post on the blog talking about the museum and with several tips for your visit, from how to get there to the best exhibitions.
And you, have you already been to Belo Horizonte? What did you think of the city? Let me know in the comments!