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Belo Horizonte: A Vibrant City Guide for First-Time Visitors Part 2

Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte
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Belo Horizonte, often referred to as Beagá, is a bustling urban metropolis in Brazil. According to the 2010 IBGE Census, the city’s population was 2,258,096 people. The population was diverse, with the following breakdown:

  • 1,110,034 White people (46.7%)
  • 995,167 Pardo (Multiracial) people (41.9%)
  • 241,155 Black people (10.2%)
  • 25,270 Asian people (1.1%)
  • 3,477 Amerindian people (0.1%)

The population of the Belo Horizonte metropolitan area has continued to grow, reaching approximately 6,084,000 in 2020. The growth rate for the city is reported to be around 0.87%.

Belo Horizonte’s residents are called Belo-horizontinos and Belo-horizontinas. The city sits at an elevation of 2,720 feet on a wide plateau encircled by the Curral del Rey Mountains, adding to the area’s scenic beauty.

As a highly urbanized area, Belo Horizonte’s population density is relatively high. The city is well-known for its planned structure, having been designed with modern amenities and infrastructure. This planning has contributed to its growth as a vibrant and thriving metropolis in Brazil.

Education and Science

Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, is an important center for education and science. The city houses several renowned universities and research institutions, contributing to advancements in various fields of science and technology.

One of the most prestigious universities in the city is the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). Established in 1927, the university has a strong emphasis on research and innovation, offering undergraduate, graduate, and distance learning programs. It is home to more than 43,000 students, including over 900 international students. UFMG conducts research in many fields of study, ranking high globally for its research publications per year.

The University Center of Belo Horizonte (UniBH) is another important institution, offering a wide range of academic programs leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and MBA degrees. UniBH focuses on disciplines such as Biomedicine, Biological Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Nutrition, and various fields in Technology.

In addition to universities, Belo Horizonte has research and development centers that promote collaborations between academia, industry, and government institutions. These centers work in areas such as biotechnology, energy, mineral resources, and information technology.

Some notable research institutions in the city include:

  • The Biotechnology Innovation Center of Belo Horizonte (CBBH), which fosters research and development projects in the biotechnology sector.
  • The Center for Research in Mineral Resources (CPRM), which conducts research on the geological and hydrogeological resources of Brazil.
  • The Center for Innovation in Energy and Information Technology (CIIETEC), which promotes research in energy efficiency, renewable energy, smart grids, and advanced materials.

Belo Horizonte’s commitment to cultivating a culture of education and science paves the way for advancements in technology and boosts the city’s reputation as a hub for innovation.


Belo Horizonte offers various modes of transportation, making it easy for residents and visitors to navigate the city. One notable option is the Belo Horizonte Metro, which provides efficient and reliable service throughout the area. The metro operates from 5:15 am to 11:00 pm on weekdays, with trains running every 4-7 minutes during peak hours and 10-12 minutes during off-peak times. On weekends and holidays, train intervals vary from 8-15 minutes.

The city is also well-connected by several federal and state highways, which provide access to neighboring cities and states. Two significant airports serve Belo Horizonte: Confins International Airportand Pampulha Airport. Confins International Airport is the primary international gateway for flights coming in and out of the region, while Pampulha Airport mainly caters to domestic flights.

For ground transportation, Belo Horizonte features a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that operates along exclusive lanes and offers fast and convenient service throughout the city. Additionally, private transportation services are available in Belo Horizonte, including Teletrans, which provides chauffeured vehicles for a more personalized travel experience.

Postal services in Belo Horizonte are operated mainly through Brazil’s national postal service. The postal code system in the city follows the Brazilian standard, which consists of eight digits, including a five-digit base number and a three-digit extension. This system ensures efficient mail delivery within and outside the city.

In conclusion, Belo Horizonte’s transportation network is diverse and well-connected, offering a wide range of options for both residents and visitors alike. The city’s metro system, highways, airports, and ground transportation services provide efficient and convenient ways to explore the region.

Sports and Recreation

Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, is a thriving city when it comes to sports and recreation activities. The city has a strong sporting culture and offers a variety of options for locals and visitors alike.

One of the major highlights in the city’s sporting history was the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Belo Horizonte played host to several matches during the tournament, welcoming fans and athletes from around the world. The iconic Mineirão Stadium, which has a seating capacity of over 60,000, was the primary venue for these matches. The modernized structure has since then continued to host various national and international sporting events.

Apart from football, Belo Horizonte also played a significant role during the 2016 Summer Olympics. The city, along with Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and other locations, hosted the football matches for the prestigious event. The same Mineirão Stadium was again the focal point, showcasing the city’s passion for sports.

In addition to these high-profile events, Belo Horizonte is home to numerous sports clubs, including the Minas Tennis Club. This premier sports association offers advanced training facilities and has won several titles in the Brazilian Superleague of Volleyball, both in the male and female categories.

There are also plenty of other sports and recreation activities to be found in Belo Horizonte, such as fitness centers, public parks, and specialized clubs. These options cater to all ages and interests, ensuring a vibrant and active community.

In conclusion, Belo Horizonte’s rich sporting culture and diverse options make it an ideal destination for sports enthusiasts or anyone looking to stay active during their visit. The city’s impressive history, including its involvement in major international events like the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics, only adds to its appeal.

Cuisine and Nightlife

Belo Horizonte is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, where traditional flavors merge with innovative techniques. One of the city’s top gastronomic attractions is the Mercado Central, also known as Central Market. Here, visitors can find a wide range of local products, including fruits, cheeses, and, of course, the famous Brazilian liquor, cachaça.

  • Mercado Central: A must-visit spot in the city, the market has multiple food stalls and restaurants where guests can sample traditional dishes like tropeiro beans, chicken with okra, and Minas Gerais-style roasted meats. Don’t forget to try the locally-produced cachaça at one of the many market bars.

The Savassi neighborhood, a bustling area in Belo Horizonte, is known for its eclectic mix of entertainment, dining, and shopping options. With a variety of bars and restaurants, Savassi offers an exciting taste of the local nightlife.

  • Savassi: From trendy gastropubs to cozy cafes, Savassi’s culinary scene caters to a wide range of tastes. For beer enthusiasts, the Wäls microbrewery is a popular spot, offering creative craft brews and a lively atmosphere.

For those seeking a true taste of Belo Horizonte’s bar culture, the annual Comida di Buteco competition is a gastronomic event not to be missed. Local bars and restaurants create unique dishes to compete for the title of Best Buteco, showcasing the creativity and flavors of the city’s cuisine.

  • Comida di Buteco: The competition offers an opportunity for locals and tourists alike to indulge in a range of inventive dishes while enjoying the convivial atmosphere that characterizes Belo Horizonte’s vibrant nightlife.

As the sun sets, the city’s nightlife truly comes alive, and there is no shortage of exciting venues to explore. Some popular spots in Belo Horizonte are Clube Chalezinho, A Obra Bar Dançante, and Stonehenge Rock Bar.

With a wide range of bars, clubs, and live music venues, Belo Horizonte offers visitors an unforgettable experience, marrying its rich culinary traditions with an exciting and diverse nightlife scene.

Pope's Square, Belo Horizonte

Religion and Churches

Belo Horizonte is a city rich in religious history and architectural beauty. There are several noteworthy churches in the area that attract both local and international visitors who appreciate their significance.

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, also known as Igreja da Pampulha, is a prime example of organic modern style architecture. Designed by the renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, this chapel in the Pampulha region of Belo Horizonte is a symbol of Brazil’s religious and architectural identity.

Another prominent church in Belo Horizonte is the São José Church. Located in downtown Belo Horizonte, this eclectic-style church showcases Neo-Gothic influences and was built by the Redemptorist congregation.

In the city center, a variety of other churches and cathedrals cater to the spiritual needs of the diverse population. One such example is the Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem, a beautiful church located at R. Sergipe, 175 – Funcionários, Belo Horizonte, featured on Tripadvisor.

As a predominantly Catholic country, the Catholic Church plays a significant role in the religious and cultural landscape of Belo Horizonte. The aforementioned churches, along with several others, serve as places of worship and community gathering for believers in the city.

Whether a visitor or a local, the churches of Belo Horizonte are worth exploring for their historical, religious, and architectural significance.

Shopping and Crafts

Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, offers a diverse shopping experience, ranging from modern shopping centers to traditional crafts markets. One of the city’s most popular shopping destinations is Boulevard Shopping Belo Horizonte, known for its wide selection of shops, restaurants, and cinema.

In addition to the aforementioned shopping centers, Belo Horizonte’s central market is a bustling location showcasing food, drinks, and crafts from all over Brazil. Here, visitors can find a variety of traditional Minas Gerais treats, such as sweet caramelized doce de leite and goiabada jelly. The market also houses several no-frills bars, serving beer and allowing patrons to enjoy the lively atmosphere.

For those interested in art, the Palacio das Artes features an extensive collection of items with the largest and best-equipped theater in Belo Horizonte. It is an ideal destination for appreciating local creativity and craftsmanship while experiencing the city’s cultural scene.

Furthermore, visitors can explore the many shopping streets and areas in Belo Horizonte, such as Tom Jobim street market, which offers a range of flea and street markets, and Mercado Distrital do Cruzeiro, a farmers market where one can find fresh produce and local delicacies.

Whether you’re looking for designer brands, handmade crafts, or traditional Brazilian treats, Belo Horizonte’s diverse shopping scene ensures an enjoyable experience for all types of travelers.


Belo Horizonte, the third-largest city in Brazil, is known for its natural setting and beautiful views of nearby mountains. The city offers plenty of attractions for tourists, such as top landmarks, itineraries, and parks.

One famous neighborhood in Belo Horizonte is Lourdes, known for its upscale shops, fine dining restaurants, and historic architecture. Visitors can explore the area while enjoying the combination of modern and traditional elements that make Lourdes a unique destination within the city.

Parque das Mangabeiras, also known as Mangabeiras Park, is another popular tourist attraction. This vast park is located at the foot of the Serra do Curral mountain range, offering stunning views and plenty of recreational activities. Some popular activities at Mengabeiras Park include:

  • Hiking trails
  • Picnic areas
  • Lookout points
  • Children’s playgrounds
  • Outdoor sports facilities

While exploring Belo Horizonte, tourists are recommended to visit some of the top landmarks and attractions in the city, such as:

For nature enthusiasts, the Belo Horizonte area offers several waterfalls worth visiting, such as the Serra do Cipó National Park, which features trekking tours and attracts adventure seekers.

Finally, those interested in politics and Brazilian history may want to include a visit to the Tancredo Neves Memorial on their itinerary. The memorial honors the first civilian president elected after Brazil’s military dictatorship, paying tribute to his life and contributions to the country.

Tourism in Belo Horizonte encompasses a wide range of attractions, from lush parks to historical landmarks and unique cultural experiences, ensuring visitors have an unforgettable trip.

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