If you’re off to Belo Horizonte for the Fifa World Cup 2014, then you’re in for a treat. Framed by the beautiful Serra do Curral mountains, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is easy to get around and offers plenty to do between matches.
The Mineirão Stadium is the second largest in Brazil and home to two of Brazil’s top teams – Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro. The 57,483 capacity stadium has been revamped before the tournament kicks off. Six matches will be played here, including a semi-final on Tuesday 8 July.
Food and drink
Belo Horizonte is known as the bar capital of Brazil – so there’s loads of choice when you fancy a drink to celebrate or commiserate.
Try to sample the local speciality cachaça, made from sugarcane, and used to make the refreshing Caipirinha, Brazil‘s national cocktail. Minais Gerais is famous for its cuisine so be sure to try the pão de queijo (cheese bread) and the doce de leite (sweet of the milk), a boiled version of condensed milk. It will sweeten any result!
Break up the football fever with some culture by stopping by a couple of Belo Horizonte’s excellent museums and galleries. The Memorial Vale Museum brings together the history of the state in one place, perfect for calming pre-match nerves.
And if your team is doing badly, then why not escape with a trip to the Tim UFMG Knowledge Space? Focusing on space and the universe, the free attraction has a planetarium and the chance for visitors to try out their telescope. You could be over the moon with the place.
Another way to deal with your team’s poor performance – retail therapy! Belo Horizonte has four large shopping centres, including the Diamond Mall and BH Shopping, plus the Mercado Central contains more than 400 stores.
Also don’t miss the Sunday morning art and crafts market along Alfonso Pena Avenue, one of the largest open-air markets in Latin America – known as Feira Hippie (the hippie fair). About 100,000 visitors go to get their bargain food, drinks, clothes, furniture – and almost anything you can think of.
Perhaps watching all those sweaty men has made you feel like a jog, a sprightly walk – or just a sit down and a relax? Head down to the Ecological Park of Pampulha. Set around a lagoon, it’s ideal for a bit of R&R.
Where to stay:
Hostelling International has four hostels ideal for the Belo Horizonte fixtures, each with their own individual style. Take your pick from:
This cosy hostel offers ceiling fans and a good pool for keeping cool. Offering reasonable prices, you’ll have plenty left to spend in all of Belo Horizonte’s clubs, bars and tours.
Centrally located, this high-quality hostel offers private rooms and suites for all sorts of visitors, from backpackers to families. With free Wi-Fi, bed linen and breakfast, this friendly hostel also arranges tours to see the best of Belo Horizonte and its surroundings.
Speaking French, English and Spanish – as well as Portuguese – the staff will give you a warm welcome to this charming hostel near the city centre. Free Wi-Fi, hammocks and film nights are on offer plus buses run direct to the shopping malls.
About an hour out of the city, this hostel has a real eco focus. With a delicious breakfast and a swimming pool, there are also lots of tours available to the beautiful Serra do Cipo National Park.
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