The Capital of Minas Gerais
by Fernanda Fortes De Lena
Belo Horizonte is the city I grew up in and one of the best cities to visit in Brazil in my opinion. Ok, I know what you’re thinking: She’s just saying that because that’s where she’s from. Well, that’s partially true but I’m going to show you what this city has to offer and then you can decide whether I was right or not.
First of all, Belo Horizonte (BH) is a great place for people that enjoy good food, nice people and a bar to sit and have a drink or more. What you have to understand about BH is that it’s located in a mountainous place. So it has a lot of high peaks where it’s possible to have a beautiful view of the city for free. One of the most famous peaks to go is called “Praça do Papa” which is near “Parque das Mangabeiras” which is a beautiful park to visit.
Minas Gerais, the state where BH is located, is famous for its homemade meals. There are a variety of dishes which are traditional of the region the one’s I would recommend are “Frango ao molho pardo” and “Feijão tropeiro”. There’s a traditional restaurant that serves the first dish, which is called “Maria das Tranças”. The second dish can be found in almost any restaurant that serves traditional food from Minas Gerais. There are two restaurants which are famous for serving this kind of food: Xapuri and Bolão.
If you’re a market enthusiast then you cannot leave without going to “Mercado Central” it’s a really famous market place that sales all sorts of things like fruit, vegetables, spices, cheese and many other things to eat. It has a couple of good restaurants as well and some bars where you can have some beers and some snacks. The most famous snack hat can be found in every corner of Belo Horizonte is the famous “Pão de queijo”. The translation of the term would be cheese bread but this literal translation doesn’t make justice to the flavour of this local recipe.
The nightlife of Belo Horizonte
At night, there are many options and it depends on what you like to do. If you’re one of those people that enjoy going to a bar to have some drinks and maybe eat something you can go to “Maletta”. It’ an old building located in the city center and at night the second floor has many different kinds of bars for you to choose from.
Now if you’re looking for some place to dance and listen to some music then you have to go to a neighborhood called Savassi. That’s where you can find a lot of options from live rock bands to electronic music and even some forró depending on the day of the week. There are about three options of rock bars that are close to one another: Lord Pub, Jack Rock Bar, and Amsterdam Pub. They are all located in Savassi so if you want you can first sit at a bar in the Savassi Square preferably at the “Baiana do Acarajé” where you drink some beer and eat some snacks. I recommend eating the meat and fries that go very well with beer. Afterwards, you can choose where to go. If you like electronic music or maybe just a place to dance there are places nearby in Savassi like Dduck, Royalty and Fifty.
Another neighborhood that I recommend is Santa Tereza. It’s one of the most traditional neighborhood’s in Belo Horizonte. At night, it’s a great place to go for some drinks and some good food. In Santa Tereza, there’s a great Creperie, which is awesome. The food is not expensive and the size of the crepe is pretty big.
So maybe you’re wondering where should you stay in the city to enjoy all these things. Well, that’s a great query and it all depends on how much you’re willing to spend. If you’re on a low budget I recommend you find a hostel or a hotel maybe even a room in Airbnb within the limits of Av. do Contorno. If you look at the map of BH you can see the there is an avenue that outlines some neighborhoods. This avenue is called Av. do Contorno. Decades ago Belo Horizonte didn’t have much beyond this avenue. Now the city has grown and has spread far more than was imagined.
I would like to point out that BH has one of the best Carnivals in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is known worldwide for it’s Carnival, but it has grown so much that for me it has become too big if you know what I mean. In Belo Horizonte Carnival has lots of street bands and isn’t that big so you can enjoy it more. I mean you can actually get near the “blocos” and have space to dance.
Every Sunday there’s a marketplace at Afonso Pena Avenue, one of the main avenues in the city center of Belo Horizonte. It’s one of the biggest open markets in Brazil. It has many options from clothing to craftwork and, of course, lots of food. This market goes on from really early in the morning like 6 o’clock to 3 pm.
If you like football then you are in a great city to watch a football match. Belo Horizonte has one of the best rivalries between Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro. And both team supporters are fanatics so if you happen to be in town and there’s a match you should definitely go. It’s probably best to look up the matches in anticipation because depending on the tournament it gets really hard to find tickets.
If you are into museums then you have to check out “Inhotim“. It’s a museum of modern art located really close to BH in a city called Brumadinho. It’s a 40 min drive to get there. Inhotim is very famous for its gardens and collection of art pieces. If you want to visit the museum I recommend you go early because there’s a lot of things to see and it will probably take you all day. The good thing is that there’s a pretty good restaurant in the museum so no worries.
Another advantage of visiting Belo Horizonte is the closeness to some beautiful waterfalls in Serra do Cipó about 40 min by car and historic cities like Ouro Preto (1h30 by car) and Mariana (2 hours by car).
As you can see, there are many things that can be done in Belo Horizonte. You should definitely come visit. I’m sure you’ll find something that hits the core with you. I mean there are a lot of options and the people are as diverse as the places.