There really isn’t too much to see in Belo Horizonte, but I was pleasantly surprised by this city. It was clean, friendly, organized, and in a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. This capital city of Minas Gerais is usually a stopover point for visitors to nearby Ouro Preto, Mariana, or Congonhas, but it deserves a day of exploration. After being in São Paulo for a few days, Belo Horizonte seemed like paradise.
My friend Mike and I arrived at Tancredo Neves International Airport after midnight. We didn’t have the opportunity to take the airport bus into the city center, so we took a taxi. The airport is very far from the city center, over 40km, and the taxi ride cost us BRA$140.
For our first night we stayed at AllBags Hostel (now Hostel 300). It was very nice, clean, and the staff was friendly and helpful. It’s also located very near the metro. I would highly recommend staying there, however, I had a problem with the price we were being charged for the World Cup. I was originally quoted BRA$150 per night per bed on my reservation from Booking.com. When I checked a week before the World Cup, the price had dropped to about BRA$80, almost half! I cancelled and booked a hotel for the exact same price as the original reservation at the hostel. The manager said it was Booking.com’s fault and he never intended to charge that much, which is very dishonest if you know Booking.com’s policies. World Cup aside, it’s a great place to stay.
For the rest of our stay, we were at the Toronto Tower Residence. It’s located in one of the main entertainment districts of Savassi, just a five minute walk to Praça da Savassi and several restaurants and bars. The hotel was clean, the staff was very helpful (although they didn’t speak any English), and breakfast was very good.
In Pampulha, there are a few restaurants that we came across. We tried Feijuada, which was hidden away down a small path off the main road. Its specialty is, shockingly, feijoada, the national dish of Brazil. We started with pastelzinho de feijoada (empanada filled with feijoada) and for our main course, we had a seafood feijoada. Instead of the typical meat and black beans, it was fish, calamari, shrimp, and crab with white beans. It was excellent. The very friendly and talkative owner recommended we share a portion for one person. It ended up being so much food we could barely finish. Completely off subject, the bathroom had the most amazing urinal I have ever seen. I can’t describe it.
Another great meal we had was at Baiana do Acarajé in Savassi. Every place we walked by was packed with people watching the World Cup, but we spotted an empty table at this restaurant and grabbed it. We split the camarão no abacaxi (shrimp in pineapple). Besides an excellent presentation, it was a unique and very delicious meal. The shrimp were served in a cheese and pineapple sauce with rice on the side.
Our best meal during our entire time in Brazil was at a branch of the world-famous churrascaria Fogo de Chão, located in Savassi. Both of us had been to branches in the US, and both of us agreed that our experience in Belo Horizonte was far and above our experience in the US. The service was incredible and the cuts of meat were arguably the best we had ever had. The picanha, fraldinha, and filet were our favorites. We also loved the salad bar, especially the mushrooms and cheeses. It was a perfect dining experience.