A must-see if you travel to Belo Horizonte, the central market (Mercado Central, map) has been a meeting point for residents and tourists for over 80 years. There you will find a mix of popular culture, typical products and ingredients (from medicinal herbs to cheeses and cachaça), as well as bars and cafés with traditional dishes.
It’s already been considered the 3rd best market in the world. The best way to explore the market is to get lost among the aisles and get confused with over 400 stores while tasting some of its great food.
São Francisco de Assis Church (map). The building is not shocking by itself, until you realize it was meant to be a church. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church refused to consecrate it for more than one decade.
Praça da Liberdade (map). A beautiful palm tree-lined square, sidelined by interesting buildings from the 19th century, including the seat of the State Government.
Alta Vila Tower (map). This tower offers a spectacular view of Belo Horizonte and its surrounding mountains. On the main floor is the Hard Rock Cafe.
If you have a few days available on your trip, visit Serra do Cipó National Park (map). 100km from BH, it is a great place for camping, mountaineering, trekking, caving and other extreme activities. With a good tourist infrastructure, it is also suitable for those who like to rest close to nature.
Major high-rise hotels are generally on Av. Afonso Pena or at Savassi neighborhood, while mid-range and budget accommodations are clustered around the train station.
! The city suffers from crime related to drugs. Avoid walking alone at night or carrying expensive electronics such as cameras, notebooks, iPods or jewelry. It is not uncommon to be mugged at traffic lights or walking during the day or night.
If you stay in the City Center, avoid the area around the bus station and Praça Sete. Very crowded during the day and not so safe at night.