Belo Horizonte is Brazil's sixth-largest city, the center of its third-largest urban area and the capital of the state of Minas Gerais. With its orderly grid plan and tree-lined avenues, it's a pleasant metropolis. For travelers, it's a good stopping point on the way to the beautiful colonial towns such as Ouro Preto and Tiradentes.
Belo Horizonte (or simply "BH" (beh-ah-GAH) to locals) is little over a century old. With a metropolitan population reaching more than 5 million (edging out Salvador), it was built as a planned city to take the place of Ouro Preto as the State's capital. Its layout features square sections drawn out by broad avenues, intersected diagonally by smaller streets.
The city lies in the center of the Minas Gerais state, and is intended to bring together the many parts of this very diverse state.
Confins (Aeroporto Internacional Tancredo Neves - CNF) - Rodovia MG 010 S/N, 40 km - Confins/MG. Phone: (31) 3689-2700. Direct flights to the USA, the Caribbean, Europe and to most major cities in Brazil. It's located about 40 km from downtown, to where there are frequent Conexão Aeroporto  express buses (50 minutes non-stop, traffic allowing, R$ 19,75). The same company also runs buses to Pampulha airport and the central bus station for R$ 8,70.
Pampulha (Aeroporto Carlos Drummond de Andrade - PLU). For some domestic flights, especially within the state of Minas Gerais. 9 km from downtown.
If you plan to get around the city center on foot, you might want to take a map. Because the city grid is laid out with both ordinals and diagonal streets, it is very easy to take a wrong turn. Also, the land where the city was build over has plenty of hills so one should wear comfortable shoes to go up and down the streets. At night, stay in the main Avenues and Streets for safety, because it can be dangerous.
The Metrô. snakes through the city, from Eldorado northeast to Vilarinho, tangential to the north side of downtown. Lagoinha Station is near the rodoviária (bus station), Gameleira Station is near the ExpoMinas Convention Center and Minas Shopping Station is near the Mall of the same name and Ouro Minas Palace Hotel. Unfortunately, unlike subways in developed countries or in São Paulo, the Metrô lines, even though connecting the two biggest cities in the metro area, Belo Horizonte and Contagem, do not cover most of the city and outside the stations can be dangerous (true for São Paulo's). New lines are been planned and when completed will connect downtown to Pampulha and Savassi, the two most visited neighborhoods.
The trains are useless for someone traveling. Take a taxi.
Belo Horizonte relies on a big and reliable taxi fleet - one of the best in Latin America. The service is also relatively inexpensive - a trip accross downtown costs around R$15 - ranking number 10 among the major Brazilian capitals .
The official color is white. Below is the fare table as of March 2013 :
Note that a lot of places including museums, the parque municipal and the Mangueira park are closed on mondays.
Pampulha - This 1940's neighborhood has some of the highlights of Brazil modern architecture, including the São Francisco de Assis Church. The building is not shocking by itself, until you realize it was meant to be a church. Not surprisingly, the Catholic Church refused to consecrate it for more than one decade. Next to the church, there's the Parque Guanabara, an amusement park that is small, but worth visiting. In Pampulha lies the world-famous Iate Tenis Clube, founded along with the Pampulha Architectural Complex designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Invitations to the club can be bought at the place (they are free if you know someone affiliated to the club).
Mangabeiras Park - This is an amazing place for nature lovers, a place where the Cerrado mixes with the Atlantic Forest, this is a great visit for children and family.
Praça da Liberdade - A beautiful palm tree-lined square, sidelined by interesting buildings from the 19th century, including the historic seat of the State Government, and a curvaceous (yes, you can use this word to describe an Oscar Niemeyer building) edifice from the 60s.
Museum of Arts and Crafts - Praça Rui Barbosa, Centro. (31) 3248-8600 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tue, Thu, Fri noon to 7pm. Wed, noon to 9pm. Sat, Sun, 11am to 5 pm. Groups: daily, from 9am-noon. The Museu de Artes e Ofícios is installed in the 19th Century buildings of the former Central Train Station. Its collection shows the richness of Brazilian popular work and professions before the country's industrialization. Admission: R$ 4. Saturday - free.
Alta Vila Tower - Located in the district of Nova Lima, (Belo Horizonte city Metro area), this tower offers a spectacular view of Belo Horizonte and its surrounding mountains. On the main floor is the Hard Rock Cafe - Belo Horizonte.
Nighttime view from the Alta Vila Tower
Parque Municipal -
Greenery in Parque Municipal
An oasis of green right in the centre of downtown. Based on French parks, it has small lagoons where you can rent a boat or feed the ducks. It has the Casa Maluca (Crazy House), the Casa dos Pneus and a small amusement park - three places where children always like to play.
Museu de Ciencias Naturais - Take the Metro to the Gameleira station, go NW to the PUC campus, and turn right. Diverse mollusks, whales, and Brazilian forest animals. A new exhibit is under construction. Admission: R$ 3.
Museu Histórico Abílio Barreto - Av Prudente de Morais, 135 - Cidade Jardim Neighborhood - (0xx)31 3342-1268 - This museum is dedicated to the history of the city and was created in the only standing farmhouse from the old Curral d'El Rey, farmland replaced by the new planned city.
BH Shopping. One of BH's oldest and biggest shopping centers, with shops, food, cinema and games. It's in Belvedere area and close to Nova Lima road.
Shopping Del Rey. Another of BH's oldest and biggest shopping centers, with shops, food, cinema and games.
Minas Shopping. Among the biggest shopping centers, with shops, food, cinema and games. Metrô station nearby.
Diamond Mall. A very refined (and usually expensive) shopping center.
Patio Savassi. Also very refined (and usually expensive) shopping center, in the heart of Savassi.
Mercado Central, Av. Augusto de Lima and R. Curitiba. Traditional market where you can find tofu, whole grains, cheese, meat, herbs, religious articles, fruit, live birds, pots, souvenirs and lots of other stuff. It's one the most visited places in the city.
Hippie Fair, Av. Afonso Pena in front of the Municipal Park. Opens every Sunday, from 8AM to 2PM. The fair is one of the biggest in the country and offers from crafts to jewelry, furniture to souvenir, clothing to food. Receives from up to 100,000 people every Sunday. Definitively worth the visit.
For a good sample of traditional mineira food, here are some options:
Dona Lucinha II, Rua Sergipe, 811; (31) 3261-5930, email@example.com. Mon-Fri 12PM-3PM and 8PM-midnight. Sat 12PM-5PM and 8PM-midnight. Sun 12PM-5PM. R$ 19-27.
Restaurante Xapuri, Rua Mandacaru, 260 - Pampulha, near the Pampulha Lake and the City Zoo, the restaurant is open Tue-Thu from 11AM to 11PM, Fri-Sat from 11AM to 2 AM and Sunday and holidays from 11AM to 6PM. It has live music from Wed-Sun (and Holidays)
For great brazilian food, here are some options:
Porcão, Avenida Raja Gabaglia, 2985, Cep:30350-540, Tel: (31) 3293-8604. One of the most famous restaurants in BH is the steakhouse chain Porcão. Considered to have the best meat in BH, it is also one of the most expensive in town. Some nights there are live performances by some of the more well-known performers in BH.
Fogo de chão, Rua Sergipe, 1208, Savassi, Tel: (31) 3227-2730. It's a restaurant chain similar to Porcão. Both offer the traditional Brazilian barbecue. They are a must go to any tourist who isn't familiar with the Brazilian way to prepare and serve meat. Fogo de chão started in Porto Alegre (Brazil) and now has subsidiaries in many other Brazilian cities and even in the United States.
For great international food, here are some options:
Hard Rock Cafe Belo Horizonte, Rua Senador Milton Campos - AltaVila Center Class - Tel: (31)3011-9511. Live music Friday and Saturday nights.
Applebee's Restaurant - Located at BH Shopping, the restaurant has a casual feel with an American Menu.
If your food tastes lean toward brown rice and tofu, try Bem Natural. This is both a snack bar with tuna and chicken sandwiches on whole wheat, and a por quilo buffet with stuffed tomatoes, vegetarian feijoada, and brown rice. There are four locations in BH:
Av. Afonso Pena 941, Centro, (31) 3224-1385.
Augusto de Lima 1652, Barro Preto, (31) 3295-2325.
BEWARE: Brazilian law has a ZERO tolerance for drinking and driving.
Recently, major cities such as BH started to heavily enforce these laws with daily random DUI checkpoints. The penalty is severe and the police does not need you to comply with the breath analyser (they may arrest you on suspicion alone). If caught, you will probably be taken to jail and have to pay a fine of about R$2,000 and this is just the best case scenario 
There are usually plenty of taxis in front of popular bars and nightclubs during all hours.
The state of Minas Gerais is famous for their cachaça. The price stars from R$1,00 to R$50,00 and above, for some high-end brands. It is the main ingredient of the famous "Caipirinha" cocktail, but Brazilians enjoy drinking it pure as well. Whenever you are at a classic local bar, ask the bartender for some options.
People from BH are famous for their love of bars. The Savassi neighborhood has dozens of bars. The city is widely known (although without any confirmation) as the city with most bars per capita in the world. There are too many great bars in town to list, you should ask the locals for suggestions for any given day and neighborhood. Below is a small sample list:
Andaluz Club Café - Rua Congonhas, 487 - Santo Antônio - Tel. 31 3296-5942 . GLBT Bar.
Bar do Careca, Rua Simão Tamn, 395 - Cachoeirinha, tel. 31 3421-3655. Great food! Winner of many Comida diButeco awards. Best tongue and best tripe ever.
Bolão, Praça Duque de Caxias, 288 - Santa Tereza, tel. 31 3463-0719 . Tradition mandates that a night out ends up with one Bolão famous pasta or the Rochedão (it is just asgreat during daytime). Also frequented by local celebrities.
Hostel Chalé MineiroRua Santa Luzia, 288 - Santa Efigênia. Tel.: +55 (31) 3467-1576 . This hostel is a member of Hostelling International and has a nice swimming pool for its guests. Prices from R$ 28. (From Rodoviaria take bus 9801 (Saudade-Santa Cruz), at Rua dos Caetés, or the subway to the Santa Tereza station)
Hostel Sossego da Pampulha - Av. Coronel Jose Dias Bicalho, 1258 - Pampulha. Tel.: +55 (31) 3439-3250 . Quite distant from downtown but really closer to Pampulha's Lake.
Hostel O Sorriso do Lagarto Rua Cristina, 791 - São Pedro. Tel.: +55 (31) 3283-9325  Located in Savassi, this hostel has the best location near restaurants, bars, concert venues, shopping, cinemas, markets and more! They have WiFi, table games and common areas, are child-friendly and can help you find anything you want around the city.
Hostel Pousadinha Mineira Rua Espirito Santo, 604 - Centro. Tel.: +55 (31) 3273-8156 . Basic, clean beds in large dorms. Excellent security. Close to everything, right in the center. Dorms R$ 16.00 (w/o breakfast), R$ 20.00 (incl. breakfast).
Hotel São Bento Rua dos Guaranis, 438 - Centro. Tel.: +55 (31) 3025-3399, +55 (31) 3271-3399 . (Located within walking distance of Mercado Central, Parque Municipal and Minascentro Exhibition Centre). Highlighted in the French guide "Le Guide du Routard" as the best cost-benefit in town in its category. Prices from R$46.
Lá em Casa Hostel-Pousada - Rua Eurita 30, Santa Tereza 31010-180 Belo Horizonte MG. tel.: +55 31 3653-9566 . I very relaxing and affordable place to stay in a relatively safe neighborhood. only a short distance from Savassi and centro, as well as several cool bars in santa tereza. Great facilities with good wifi. Hostel owner is wonderful. From R$35
Normandy Hotel, Rua dos Tamóios, 212 - City Centre (Located in the heart of Belo Horizonte, close to the commercial and financial center.), ☎ (31) 3201-6166, . checkin: 12:00; checkout: 12:00. The Normandy Hotel highlight is its great location, right at the cultural, commercial and financial hub of Belo Horizonte, making it a good option for travellers looking for commodity and agility when staying in town.Prices from R$ 119. edit
Le Flamboyant - Rua Rio Grande do Norte, 1007. Phone (31) 3261-5233 (fax (31) 3261-7370). Good value for money. The 80s décor may be a little out of date, but the flats are spacious and there is a swimming pool for guests. Besides, location is excellent: right in the middle of the lively Savassi neighborhood. Singles/doubles R$ 100-120.
To keep hydrated, drink bottled water or water from drinking fountains, usually located at malls.
Tap water provided by COPASA (sole provider for the city) is regarded as fully potable (filtered, sterilized, PH controlled and fluoridated), but it is important to note that due to historical unreliability of water supply in Brazil, the vast majority of buildings have water tanks, so even if it is provided by COPASA, if you are unsure of the sanitary conditions of the building water tank, you should avoid drinking it before filtering, boiling or ozonizing it.
Even though bottled water in Brazil is labeled as “mineral water”, you should be careful and use good sense when buying it. Cases of tap water and untreated water being bottled and labeled as “mineral” are not uncommon. Always check the color of the water, the general aspect of the bottle and the seal. Some Brazilians are used to untreated water but it is very likely that tourists will have serious issues with it, including diarrhea, vomits, fever, headaches and muscular pain. It is usually safer to drink COPASA tap water then bootleg bottled water.
Free healthcare is widely available, but waiting times may be long (even on minor emergencies), for non urgent cases go to the free “Posto de Saúde” near where you are staying (there are plenty all over the city). Private hospitals usually have faster service and better facilities and you can pay your treatment with either cash or with your insurance. Check with your insurance company the hospitals and clinics covered beforehand. If you have any allergies or known health problems, it is wise to learn some Portuguese words to describe it as it is very likely most of the hospital staff won’t speak English except for more qualified MDs, nurses and social workers. Although you might not see any initial difference, nurses are divided into “college nurses”, “technical nurses” and “auxiliary nurses”. You are more likely to find an English speaker amongst the college nurses (they are called Enfermeira or Enfermeiro and usually act as sector supervisors in a hospital).
Belo Horizonte can get very hot during summer, so avoid staying out in the sun for too long, specially between 10am and 3pm. Even though it is not on the coast, sunscreen is advisable, especially if you have light skin.
Public restrooms can be found at malls and public buildings. A small fee may apply. Also, bars and restaurants are required by law to have a restroom available to its customers, but even if you are not buying anything, just ask nicely and they will let you use it.
Smoking in Belo Horizonte is banned from closed buildings. This includes malls, restaurants, bars (except if you are sitting outside), clubs, public buildings, airports and others. Smoking has been increasingly regarded as a bad habit and even on the sidewalk people might get annoyed by it, so it is best to smoke privately or away from non smokers.
When crossing the street, watch for motorcycles, which can appear out of nowhere and sometimes ignore stop signs. At some intersections with divided streets, you can cross only one side at once.
Minas has both the military police (polícia militar) who are the enforcers of the law at street level, however not linked to the Brazilian Military and the civilian police (polícia civil) who conduct further investigations like the British CID. Note, though, that most officers don't even have a knowledge of basic English. The uniform of the Minas Gerais state military police is brown.
The emergency number (by which you can reach the military police) is 190.
The city has its own police, the Municipal Guard, the uniform is blue and officers are found in parks, near monuments, schools, hospitals.
The city has seen a recent surge on crime related to drugs. It is wise to 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. Despite Brazil's huge ethnic diversity, tourists can be easily identified by bad guys as people who carry electronics carelessly and seem to be always wondering where are they going. Be discreet.
If someone mugs you, don't react. Your life is worth more than a hundred dollars.
The area code for Belo Horizonte is 31. The code for Telemar, the phone company that runs most of the phone booths in the city, is also 31. So to call Belo from outside using Telemar, you dial 031 31 and the desired number, for example: from Sao Paulo to Belo, dial 03131 xxxx-xxxx. But to make a local call, you don't have to dial 31 at all, just the eight digits. Sometimes, it depends, because there are many other cities surrounding Belo, with the same area code, so you might be dialling the long distance code, using 31. Dialing from or to Ouro Preto, to or from Belo, you need to dial 03131 xxxx-xxxx.
There are other long distance companies codes available, which can be used to make calls, such as Embratel (21), Intelig (23), which provides long distance calls with suitable rates, to or from Brazil, and to other countries.
Belo Horizonte has a good network of hospitals. The main hospital area of the city is located downtown, close to the Municipal Park, where it is possible to find lots of healthcare institutions such as hospitals, clinics, and laboratories.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!