A state well known by nature lovers and its outdoor activities, not to mention that it holds a huge part of the country’s history. A whole state suitable for everyone’s taste with destinations good for mountains, waterfalls, rivers, trails, caves, museums and – drum rolls – the best homemade style food in Brazil.
Its capital is Belo Horizonte, located about 500 km from Sao Paulo and 400 km from Rio de Janeiro with easy access by bus, usually takes between 6-10 hours although it will make you save a whole bunch of money (night buses are highly recommended). When looking up closely for cities to spend a weekend or so, you might find over 20 different options spreaded all over the state, and if you ask 20 different people they might say 20 different options to go chasing waterfalls or just a quiet country side hotel to get in touch with nature.
Thinking of helping out anyone who reads this text and wants to save time, I am doing your hard work and will leave down here the 5 best not-so-famous-but equally-amazing cities in Minas gerais, according to someone who has spent 32 years visiting the state: me!
1. Capitolio – City of Canyons
Located in middle of a Hidroeletric damn, 150 km away from Belo Horizonte this city is the resort of canyons in Brazil. A speed boat tour with a group of turist is the most recomended tour allowing you to visit the main spots, however it is also possible to book the boat all for yourself for higher price, obviously.
Main Activities are the canyons by speed boat, waterfalls, viewpoints, hikes and even a helicopter tour.
2. Sao Thome das Letras – Peace and Love, bro
It is considered the main hippie destination in Brazil, located 350 km from Sao Paulo and hosting the best peace and love vibe possible the place is perfect for camping lovers even though the structures are not best, but set you in contact with nature from within.
Cutting right to the chase, waterfalls and food are the top things here. Over 20 waterfalls spreaded all over the city that you hardly take more than 15 minutes to get to most of them. I recommend the waterfalls Cachoeira da Lua and Cachoeira das Borboletas.
For a dazzling gastronomic experience do not miss the restaurante O Alquimista and nice stone built pizza house called Ser Criativo Pizzaria.
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3. Passa Quatro – up the moutain down the mountain
That city is mostly neglected by the majority of people mainly for being a destination not well developped for conventional turism. The city is famous for its trails and hikings which professional mountaineers come to train in all diferent levels or only enjoy and get away from the cities.The nearest capital is both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo having about 250 km ride to cover although it is easilly reached from Belo Horizonte with 440 km distance.
The most famous route to go for is the one name Capim Amarelo and can be done by enthusiasts and professionals, being also the first day of the Serra Fina Traverse that takes about 4 days and 34 km. I advise only a little training even for the one day hike once the elevation during the trail is about 1.000 meters.
4. Colonial Tour – Ouro Preto, Mariana e Tiradentes
A tour throughout Brazil’s colonization history is what it is. A nice cultural trip packed with nice archtecture, old gold mines and tasty food. Take a deep look into the heart of the past where you get to visit not only a bunch of cool museums but also get in touch with actual sites where history was made.
Apart from the museums, I strongly recommend paying a visit to the old exploration mines in Ouro Preto and Mariana. It is possible to safely walk for hundreds of meters into the mines while the tour guide explains everything you need to know that led the place to be what it is and its important place in the contemporary history researches.
5. Inhotim – Open air contemporary art museum
At last but not least Inhotim offers 20 km² of a National Reserve that was turned into an miscelanium of all sort of contemporary art, from instalations buried down to 200 meters into the earth just to hear the sound of the tectonic plates moving around to a sensorial sound experience in a barn or even a simple a botanical garden.
The museum is placed in Brumadinho city, 60 km to the capital of the state, Belo Horizonte and the best way to pay a visit is renting a car for a day trip in the capital, leave early, spend a full day having fun and return at night to deliver the car.
Hope you enjoy and feel inspired to pay my favorite place a visit!!!