Last week, I got back from a whirlwind of a trip throughout Brazil for the World Cup. I flew into Sao Paulo and spent a few days in the city before the World Cup home opener game between Brazil and Croatia. Afterwards, I flew from Sao Paulo to Curitiba and spent one night. Then, I flew from Curitiba to Belo Horizonte and spent three nights. I’ve never been to Belo Horizonte before and I didn’t know what to expect. Here are 10 things I learned from my recent trip to Belo Horizonte during the World Cup in Brazil.
1. You can get from CNF airport to the city-center for R$21.00 – A bus company called Conexao Aeroporto can get you from Belo Horizonte International Airport (CNF) to the city center for R$21.00 reais ~ $9.41 USD. It’s air conditioned and doesn’t make any stops. Make sure you get the one that goes to Avenida Cabral. Otherwise, a cab can cost up to $70 USD since it takes 45 minutes to get into the city center with no traffic. With traffic, it can take almost up to 1 and a half hours to get into the city.
2. The best cheese bread is from Minas – Belo Horizonte is located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais where the famous pao de queijo (cheese bread) was born. Pao de queijo is my absolute favorite snack food from Brazil and the best is definitely from the Minas state. The cheese bread is inexpensive and was the biggest pao de queijo I’ve ever seen!
3. The World Cup match at Estadio Mineirao was surreal – I attended my first ever World Cup match at Mineirao Stadium watching Colombia v. Greece play.
4. FIFA Fan Fest is not open every day – I took the metro light rail from Central to Gameleira station to get to the FIFA Fan Fest area called Expominas. I found out the hard way when I assumed the FIFA Fan Fest in Belo Horizonte would be open every single day for fans. FIFA Fan Fest at Expominas is open whenever the national Team of Brazil is playing and the other only times are weekends on Saturday and Sundays.
5. A visit to the Mercado Central is a must – The Mercado Central in Belo Horizonte is located in Centro, the city-center of town. You can buy pretty much anything here and there are some great local restaurants inside.
6. A day trip to Ouro Preto is a must – I took a bus from Belo Horizonte to Ouro Preto which took two hours since the bus kept stopping to drop and pick people up along the day. I used a company called Passaro Verde and the cost was R$27.25 ~ $12.21 USD one-way. Ouro Preto is a UNESCO heritage site in the state of Minas Gerais. It’s absolutely gorgeous with plenty of neo-gothic architecture and colorful buildings.
7. Food from Minas is the best – The food from Minas Gerias is most famous for feijao tropeiro and I had plenty of it.
8. Savassi is the best place to hang out – The neighborhood of Savassi in Belo Horizonte is the best place for a tourist. It’s full of shops and restaurants within a one mile radius. The whole nightlife and bar scene also seems to be in this area.
9. The Belo Horizonte Metro is not extensive – I love using public transportation to get around, but the metro system in Belo Horizonte leaves much to be desired. There’s only one line and it’s not very extensive. The good news is that there are plans for two additional metro lines that will venture south of Belo Horizonte.
10. I attended my first ever anti World Cup protest – I just happened to be nearby and saw the special riot police unit called CHOQUE lined up in a formation. There were protesters taking over Praca Sete de Setembro in Centro Belo Horizonte and they eventually marched to Praca de Estacao.