10 Best Things To Do In Belo Horizonte, Brazil - Updated 2024

| 5 min read

Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest of Brazil’s cities, a sprawling metropolis with a wealth of culture dating back to the early 18th-century. The city as you see it today was planned and constructed in the 1890s, based on the gold-diggers settlement of Curral del Rei, to replace Ouro Preto as the capital of Minas Gerais.

The new city’s name translates as beautiful horizon, named both for the surrounding ring of mountains and its own incredible mixture of architectural delights. Designed to be both functional, with a modern grid system of roads and avenues, and beautiful, with architects embracing Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles of building. The architectural heritage of the city as a place for the finest contemporary architecture continued into the 20th-century, with famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designing several of his first buildings in Belo Horizonte in the 40s.

A truly beautiful and fascinating South American city, embracing modernity whilst never forgetting its heritage, there are many amazing sights and so many incredible things to do in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Here we present our guide to 10 of the best.

1. Natural History Museum and the UFMG Botanic Gardens

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrevruas used under CC BY 3.0

The Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) is a must visit for any traveller wanting to experience the rich cultural heritage of the city. The Natural History Museum will delight all visitors young and old, and the beautiful green space will give you peace and quiet in glorious surroundings.

The Natural History Museum contains a very important treasure of folk art – the Nativity of Pipiripau. Created in the 20th-century, this artwork, across 45 scenes and with 586 figures, tells the story of Jesus to incredible effect.

Natural History Museum and the UFMG Botanic Gardens

Price: Free

Address: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Website: Natural History Museum and the UFMG Botanic Gardens

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2. Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade

O MM Gerdau - Museu das Minas e do Metal recebe neste sábado, das 11 às 17h, a primeira edição da Feira Quintal. A feira...

Posted by Circuito Liberdade on Friday, 4 August 2017

Posted by Circuito Liberdade on Monday, 24 July 2017

Found in the heart of Belo Horizonte, the Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade is an absolute cultural highlight of the city, containing eleven museums and cultural spaces, celebrating the history, art, architecture and history of the city. There’s something for everyone here, including the Minas Gerais Public Archive, Luiz de Bessa State Public Library, Cemig Center of Popular Art, UFMG Knowledge Space, Minas Gerais Memorial, Mines and Metal Museum, Minas Gerais Museum and Liberty Palace.

Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade

Price: Free or small admission charges

Address: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Website: Circuito Cultural Praça da Liberdade

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3. Pampulha Modern Ensemble

Olhar sobre a Lagoa da Pampulha
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daniel Raposo used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This incredible architectural project became a World Cultural Heritage Site in July 2016. It is part of the garden city project first imagined in 1940, and holds four beautiful buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, collaborating with innovative artists, all arranged around an artificial lake.

The buildings are the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Casino (now the Pampulha Art Museum), the Casa do Baile (now Center of Reference in Urbanism, Architecture and Design of Belo Horizonte) and the Yacht Golf Club (today Yacht Tennis Club). The entire ensemble creates a beautiful and stunning landscape of bold architecture and natural surroundings in the city’s Pampulha region.

Pampulha Modern Ensemble

Price: Free

Address: Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Website: Pampulha Modern Ensemble

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4. Pampulha Art Museum

Funcionando como museu há 60 anos, o MAP hoje conta com cerca de 1.400 obras em seu acervo, dentre elas mostras da Arte...

Posted by Museu de Arte da Pampulha on Monday, 20 March 2017

Criado em 1957, o Museu de Arte da Pampulha possui um importante acervo de arte moderna e contemporânea, com cerca de...

Posted by Museu de Arte da Pampulha on Friday, 24 March 2017

Part of the Pampulha Modern Ensemble, the Pampulha Art Museum is a perfect location to relax, unwind and take in some of the best in art from Brazil and around the world. The building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, with the beautiful grounds designed by landscaper Roberto Burle Marx. You’ll find sculptures by Ceschiatti, Zamoiski and José Pedrosa, and over 1,400 works by artists such as Guignard, Burle Marx, Volpi, Iberê Camargo, Portinari, Amilcar de Castro, Rivane Neuenschwander, Eder Santos, Ernesto Neto, Vik Muniz among many others.

Pampulha Art Museum

Price: Free

Address: Av. Otacílio Negrão de Lima, 16585, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Facebook page: Pampulha Art Museum

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5. Abilio Barreto Historical Museum (Museu Histórico Abílio Barreto)

Abilio Barreto Historical Museum
Source: Viator

The Abilio Barreto Historical Museum allows visitors a glimpse into the past of Belo Horizonte. Local journalist Abilio Barreto was commissioned in the 1940s to gather together and organize the city archives and through centuries of historical artifacts, paintings, photos, and documents, he developed this museum telling the story of the city through fascinating exhibits and archive documents. The museum is housed in the Fazendo do Leitão, itself a restored piece of Belo Horizonte’s history, the colonial farmhouse building is the sort of building erected by the first settles of the city.

The museum offers an oasis of calm in the bustling city, with extensive grounds holding a stagecoach, cable car and 19th-century steam train in a beautiful tropical garden.

Belo Horizonte City Tour in Pampulha 2017

Price: Free

Address: Avenida Prudente de Morais, 202 in the Cidade Jardim neighborhood, Belo Horizonte, Brazil


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6. The International Theater Festival of Belo Horizonte

Praça da Estação FIT-BH 2010
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cid Costa Neto used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Taking place every two years, in January and February, FIT BH, The International Theater Festival of Belo Horizonte, is a fabulous celebration of theatre attracting artists from Brazil and worldwide. The festival includes shows large and small, seminars, workshops and courses. Over 50% of the activities involved are held free in the open air spaces of the city.

The International Theater Festival of Belo Horizonte

Price: Variable depending on event, but over 50% of events are free

Address: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Website: Sceneweb

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7. Private Tour: Discover Belo Horizonte City (from USD 85.0)

Private tour of Belo Horizonte
Source: Viator

This more intimate tour has your knowledgable local guide leading you through the city for five hours of discovery. Taking in all of the main sights including Liberty Palace and Pope Plaza this tour also takes you into the less known parts of the city. You’ll learn about the local culture, art, cuisine, and history as you visit the architectural complex of Oscar Niemeyer and Casa do Baile, the church of São Francisco, Mineirão Stadium, Casa de JK, the ex-president of Brazil, and the Museum of Modern Arts. The tour finishes at the cultural delight of the central market, where you’ll be spoilt for choice for souvenirs and food. This morning or afternoon tour includes 1pm lunch at a local restaurant.

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Belo Horizonte Private Half-Day City Tour with Liberty Place

Duration: 240 to 360 minutes

10 reviews

8. Congonhas City Tour (from USD 200.0)

Congonhas City Tour
Source: Viator

Taking you out of Belo Horizonte, this 5-hour trip to nearby Congonhas will give you an insight into this city full of artistic and architectural delights.

The tour takes you via air-conditioned tour bus to Congonhas, just 90 km (56 miles) from Belo Horizonte. First stop is the spectacular Twelve Prophets, a collection of 18th-century sculptural masterpieces by Aleijadinho, one of the most famous Baroque style artists in the world. Made from soapstone and multicolored woodwork, these twelve sculptures of the old testament prophets are his finest work. After this, you move to the Congonhas Basilica, the Santuário do Bom Jesus do Matosinhos, also created by Aleijadinho.

Lunch is included in the tour, where you can relax in one of the local restaurants.

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Belo Horizonte to Congonhas Sightseeing Tour Including Lunch

Duration: 4 hours

3 reviews

9. National Park Serra do Cipo Trekking-Tour (from USD 143.0)

National Park Serra do Cipo
Source: Viator

An eight hour, fully guided trekking tour through the spectacular and beautiful natural surroundings, that have been described as “The Garden of Brazil”, this is an adventure that will bring you back to nature after the experiences of Belo Horizonte the city.

Accessible on paved roads from either Confins Tancredo Neves International Airport or Belo Horizonte, this trekking tour takes you to the most beautiful landscapes Brazil has to offer, part of the “Espinhaço - Biosphere Reserve” by UNESCO. The trekking tour will include spectacular scenery, waterfalls, rivers, canyons, caves, and a perfect beach to relax on during the day.

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Serra do Cipó National Park Trekking Tour

Duration: 8 hours

6 reviews

10. Belo Horizonte City Tour in Pampulha (from USD 200.0)

Source: Viator

This five hour tour concentrates on the beautiful Pamphula district of the city, where you’ll discover much of the city’s cultural highlights. Your professional tour guide will introduce you to the city’s best known landmarks including the Church of St Francis of Assisi, Museum of Modern Art and the Mineirão stadium and educate you along the way in the unique Brazilian architectural style. This includes some of the first works of the internationally aclaimed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Transportation to Pampulha is provided in an air-conditioned vehicle from your hotel.

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Pampulha Belo Horizonte City Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

Duration: 4 hours

5 reviews

Belo Horizonte - a truly unique Brazilian city, full of architectural delights

With its stunning contemporary architecture nestling in delightful green spaces, Belo Horizonte is a city you’ll fall in love with.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Richard Bruton was born in Dudley, England, but gave up the Midlands for Yorkshire many years ago. His love of travel was born many years ago with a first trip to the USA with just $30 a day to...Read more

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