A trip to Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto
You’ve already heard the good news: the United States Dollar is strong against Brazil’s Real and flight costs are at a record low! So now you have to decide where you’d like to go – will it be Rio de Janeiro? Foz de Iguazu? Salvador? Let me make a suggestion, visit two of the highlights of Minas Gerais: Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto!
With direct flights to Belo Horizonte from the United States, the province of Minas Gerais is easier than ever to visit. This city of 5 million people is filled with amazing traditional “mineras” food, the biggest outdoor art museum in the world, a historic soccer stadium and museums with the famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Neiermeyer. From Belo Horizonte, you can easily add on a side trip to the UNESCO heritage site of Ouro Preto, the starting point of the Portuguese gold rush in South America.
Authentic Lunch at Dona Lucinha in Belo Horizonte
Start with a lunch at the famous Dona Lucinha’s restaurant and taste traditional dishes that are special to this area. This food is so delicious that it inspired a Samba school to create their Carnival theme around the owner, Dona Luchina! The food is set up in a sort of buffet style with big black pots holding mouthwatering mixes of meats and vegetables. The desert table includes fruits that are prepared in different ways from sugared figs to guava made into a hard jelly.
Estadio Minerao – Belo Horizonte
From Dona Lucinha, take a quick drive to the Estadio Minerao, home to two of three soccer teams in Belo Horizonte. Go on a stadium tour and learn about the history of the stadium and futbol in Brazil. On the tour you can visit the field where many of the world’s greatest players have played. In fact, this stadium hosted the 2014 World Cup!
Inhotim Museum – Belo Horizonte
Settle in for the night because in the morning you’ll have a full day visiting Inhotim, 5000 acres of botanical gardens and contemporary art. Designed by Roberto Burle Marx it has permanent and changing exhibitions as well as the world’s largest collection of palm Trees. Most of the exhibits are participatory rather than passive viewing. Even for people not incredibly interested in art will find this museum entertaining and thought provoking. Most of the museum is visited by foot along pathways lined with bright tropical flowers and the occasional animal, golf carts are also available for people with mobility issues.
Ouro Preto – UNESCO World Heritage Site
From Inhotim, take the winding road to Ouro Preto, a UNESCO world heritage site in the beautiful hills of Minas Gerais. The road just outside of Belo Horizonte that runs through Ouro Preto to Rio de Janeiro and Paraty is known as the Route of Gold. This is one of the most important sites in Brazil because the hills were rich with gold. This is where the Portuguese settled to mine the precious metal. Today, the town is filled with 20 churches, cobblestone streets, and colorful homes still made in the traditional baroque architecture style. Laws have been passed in Brazil to conserve the historical architecture and no new buildings can be constructed. For this reason, you truly feel like you are taking a step back into time. After a day or so of exploring Ouro Preto, you can continue on to a few other small colonial towns like Sao Joao del Rei or Tiradentes. If you have the time, make a stop in Petropolis, the former palace of one of Brazil’s emperors.
Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto – Historic Route of Gold Tour
If you are interested in visiting Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto, take a look at our Historic Route of Gold tour. This is the perfect tour that combines nature and culture. The tour takes you from the port of Vitoria into the region of the gold rush to Ouro Preto and ends in the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro.