Fall in love with these destinations in Minas Gerais and get inspired to plan your trip to the state!
What comes to your mind when we talk about Minas Gerais? Perhaps the statues of Aleijadinho, the sweets of Poços de Caldas or the charming streets of Tiradentes, which are the most remembered. But there are many places to travel in Minas Gerais for cheap, just take a look. And that's what we did for you.
There are many destinations within the national territory that can be considered curious, but this southeastern state has an advantage: the impressive variety. The list presented below proves that the places to spend the weekend in Minas Gerais are an unmissable spectacle that will satisfy all tastes.
Minas Gerais is the second most populous state, the third in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and the fourth largest in terms of area in the country. Its capital and largest city, Belo Horizonte, is an important urban and financial center in Latin America, and the sixth largest municipality in Brazil, after the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasília and Fortaleza, but its metropolitan area is the third largest in the country with just over 5,800,000 inhabitants, after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Nine Brazilian presidents were born there, it concentrates 10.1% of the Brazilian population and is responsible for 8.7% of the Brazilian GDP.
With an area of 586,528 square kilometers, larger than metropolitan France, it is the fourth largest state. Main producer of coffee and milk, it is known for its heritage of colonial architecture and art in historic cities such as São João del Rei, Congonhas, Ouro Preto, Diamantina, Tiradentes and Mariana.
Places to travel in Minas Gerais include, in the south of the state, spas such as Caxambu, Lambari, São Lourenço, Poços de Caldas, São Thomé das Letras, Monte Verde and the national parks of Caparaó and Canastra. The landscape is marked by mountains, valleys and large areas of fertile land. In Serra do Cipó, Sete Lagoas, Cordisburgo and Lagoa Santa, the caves and waterfalls are the attractions and some of the most famous national caves are located there.
Best destinations to visit in Minas Gerais
With so much to offer, nothing better than to present a selection of the best that can be found in that state. Prepare your luggage and find striking landscapes in historic settings that will delight the most demanding. The cities of Minas Gerais will, from now on, show all the tourist potential to please your pocket.
A list of destinations in Minas Gerais would be incomplete without at least mentioning Belo Horizonte, the sixth largest city in Brazil, with a population of around 2.7 million and a metropolitan area of 6 million people. It is the 13th largest city in South America and the 18th largest in the Americas. The metropolis is the anchor of the metropolitan area, ranked as the third most populous in the country and the 17th most populous in the Americas. It was the first modern planned city.
The region was colonized in the early 18th century, but the city as it is known today was planned and built in the 1890s to replace Ouro Preto as the capital. It features a mix of contemporary and classic buildings, and houses several icons of modern Brazilian architecture, with emphasis on the Pampulha Complex. In city planning, Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho drew inspiration from Washington DC's urban planning. The city employed remarkable urban revitalization and food security programs, for which it received international acclaim.
It has several museums, including the Mineiro Museum, the Abílio Barreto Historical Museum, the Arts and Works Museum, a Natural History Museum and the UFMG Botanical Garden, a Telephone Museum, the Pampulha Art Museum, the Professor Mineralogy Museum Taylor Gramke and UFMG Conservatory. The Giramundo puppet theater group was founded here in 1970 and continues to maintain a puppet museum with a collection of their creations.
The Praça da Liberdade Cultural Circuit, located in the central region, is the largest national cultural circuit. Altogether, there are eleven museums and cultural spaces in operation, with another three spaces in the process of implementation.
Municipality in the southwest of the state, with 8,663 people living in a total area of 522 km². It belongs to the South and Southwest mesoregions of Minas and to the Passos microregions. It became a municipality in 1948. Its slogan is “Queen of Lagos”, in reference to its proximity to Albufeira das Furnas. With the flooding of the lake, part of the old town of Capitol was submerged; when the water drops more than 10 meters you can see the old church in the ruins of the village of Guapé.
Tourism is very important and there are several hotels in the city, the best known being the Hotel Balneário do Lago, the Hotel Cyrilos Palace, the Hotel Capitólio, the Hotel Escarpas do Lago, the Hotel Fazenda Engenho da Serra, the Hotel Minastur and the Hotel Lara.
Among the places to visit are Lagoa das Furnas, formed by the dam of the same name, with an area of 1,440 km²; the Artificial Beach of Capitólio is of the artificial type and is located on the city limits, opened in 1988; the Lagoa Azul Waterfall is 31 kilometers from the urban area and has clear waters with natural pools; Morro do Chapéu is a mountain with an altitude of 1,293 meters with a plateau with tropical vegetation and water springs that form waterfalls as they descend the slopes and animals such as wolves, armadillos and anteaters.
Discovered in the late 17th century, Black gold was originally called Vila Rica, the focal point of the 18th century gold rush. Between 1695 and 1696, an auriferous stream was discovered in Itacolomi, which would later be called Gualacho do Sul. In 1711, several small villages were united in a municipality, Villa Rica. The name Ouro Preto was adopted on May 20, 1823, when the old village was elevated to a city. The “black gold” comes from the valuable metal covered in a layer of iron oxide found in the city.
The city center contains well-preserved Portuguese colonial architecture, with few signs of modern urban development. The new constructions must follow the historic aesthetics of the city. Churches from the 18th and 19th centuries decorated with gold and Aleijadinho's sculptures make Ouro Preto a tourist destination, with churches, museums, old mines and street carnival.
Municipality with an area of 83.5 square kilometers and a maximum elevation above sea level of 927 meters. The original village was founded in 1702 and became a city on January 19, 1718. In 1889 the city was renamed Vila de São José do Rio das Mortes in honor of the national hero who was born nearby. It is known as an immaculate example of Portuguese colonial architecture.
It has several tourist points of interest, such as the Bom Jesus da Poverty Chapel, the Casa do Padre Toledo Museum, the Oeste de Minas Railroad, the Gabriel Passos Bathhouse, the Santíssima Trindade Sanctuary and the Igreja Matriz de Santo Antonio, built in 1710 and the second gold church in Brazil (the first is in Slavador, Bahia).
Municipality with an estimated population of 47,825 in 2020 in a total area of 3,870 square kilometers. Arraial do Tijuco (its initial name) was built in the colonial era, at the beginning of the 18th century. As its name suggests, it was a diamond mining center in the 18th and 19th centuries. A well-preserved example of Brazilian Baroque architecture, it is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also considered a twin city to Daytona, Florida, United States.
Despite the large number of tourists, the infrastructure to receive visitors is considered inferior to that of Ouro Preto and Belo Horizonte. It is also known for its serenades and the vesperata, an event in which musicians perform at night, outdoors, from the windows and balconies of old mansions, while the public watches in the streets. A famous tourist attraction is the Biribiri State Park, where there are popular waterfalls such as Cachoeira das Fadas and Cachoeira do Telesforo, in the Mata district. The Historic Center keeps memories of colonial times, highlighted by its large and beautiful colonial mansions and churches that portray a bit of the 18th century.
Call of Congonhas do Campo until 1948, is located 90 kilometers south of Belo Horizonte along the BR-040 highway. It is a well-preserved historic city and retains the characteristics of a baroque city, with its churches, buildings and museums.
In 1941, the architectural and urban ensemble of the city was listed by IPHAN (Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional), where at the time there was only the Basilica-Matrix axis. Over the years, the main monuments of the city were also individually listed nationally. The churches of Nossa Senhora da Ajuda in Alto Maranhão and Nossa Senhora da Soledade and the Pilgrimage are listed at the state level by the IEPHA (State Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage of Minas Gerais). The Matriz de São José Operário (1817) and the church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos are listed in the municipal sphere.
In 2015, after many years of debates between IPHAN, the Catholic Church, public authorities and society, the Congonhas Museum was inaugurated. One of the most modern in the country, it has also become the only museum within a historic site in Brazil, with a main focus on the devotion to Bom Jesus de Matosinhos.
Located in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte, it received worldwide attention in 2019 when a tailings dam at the Córrego do Feijão iron mine, operated by Vale SA and located in the city, burst.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Inhotim, one of the most important art rooms in Brazil, is located in the city. Founded by former mining magnate Bernardo Paz in 2004 to house his personal art collection, it opened to the public a few years later.
Municipality whose local economy depends mainly on tourism and mining. It was the first village, city and state capital. In the 18th century it was one of the biggest gold producing cities for the Portuguese Empire. It is also the first Minas Gerais capital to participate in a dispute where whoever collected the most gold would be elevated to the category of city.
It has a prominent economic position because its GDP is one of the largest in the state.
It has a huge architectural heritage of the Baroque produced during Colonial Brazil. Ecological tourism also had an important expansion, making it one of the cities in Minas with the largest number of practitioners of extreme sports, such as mountaineering and mountain biking. It receives a good part of the flow of tourists from Ouro Preto, due to the short distance between them (only 12 kilometers). It also has several waterfalls, such as Brumado (in the district of the same name), Serrinha (in Passagem de Mariana), Cristal and Prainha (in the Santo Antônio neighborhood). On the outskirts of the city there are also several caves and natural grottos, as well as a mountain suitable for skydiving, Pico da Cartuxa.
Located in the immediate region of Itajubá, Gonçalves is one of the tourist centers in strong development in Serra da Mantiqueira, as part of the Serras Verdes do Sul de Minas tourist circuit. It exists since 1878, but its official date of foundation is the political and administrative emancipation, March 1, 1963. It used to be a district of the neighboring municipality of Paraisópolis.
The population is basically rural, with only 25% of them living in urban areas. There is a predominance of men over the number of women, which is explained by the fact that they leave to study abroad and do not return. The growth of local tourism offered jobs, but also attracted former tourists who chose to stay there.
Located in the extreme southwest of the state, in Serra da Mantiqueira, 484 kilometers from Belo Horizonte. It is famous for its extremely popular trails such as Pedra Redonda, which leads to one of the four highest “stones” in the mountain range that adorns the city. Another popular trail is Pedra Partida, a little further away from Pedra Redonda, which stands out for allowing the visualization of Pedra do Baú, in São Bento do Sapucaí, on more open days.
With a tourist vocation, it has inns highly recommended by tourist guides. The exuberant nature and the cold in the winter season make the city the Switzerland of the state of Minas Gerais, having received a significant influx of European immigrants.
São João del Rei
Founded in 1713 in honor of King João V of Portugal, the city is famous for its historic Portuguese colonial architecture. Today it is a university city, with the campus of the Federal University of São João del-Rei (UFSJ) and several other educational institutions present in the city.
The city has many famous religious festivals throughout the year, most of them preserving the way it was celebrated at the time of its foundation, with baroque music and special celebrations that attract tourists from all over the world, especially during Holy Week, when the city welcomes the largest flow of visitors.
Located in the Alto Jequitinhonha region, close to the source of this river. It was a village created at the beginning of the 18th century, originating from the mining of precious minerals by Manuel Rodrigues Milho Verde, born in the Province of Minho, in Portugal. It housed an entry and exit inspection post in the Diamantino District.
With a traditional appearance and way of life, the city has become one of the postcards of Minas Gerais, being highly targeted by tourist activity and attracting a large number of new residents, with different impacts on the local population. A few kilometers away from Diamantina, it integrates tourist itineraries of a historical, cultural and ecological nature.
São Roque de Minas (Serra da Canastra)
A city with cultural traits influenced by Portuguese and Italians, perceived in its religiosity, cuisine, architecture, agriculture and in the way the locals speak. It has several stories told by the local population. The most famous is Lenda da Zagaia, an old farm located on the plateau of the same name where drovers who passed by driving their herds stayed there to spend the night. In the middle of the night, they were surprised by a trap made of wood and iron spikes that was hidden in the ceiling of the house, falling down and killing those who slept on the spot.
In tourism, the highlight is one of the entrances to the Serra da Canastra National Park, where the Casca d'Anta Waterfall is located, with a 186-meter drop. Other attractions are the Antônio Ricardo Waterfalls and the Poço das Orquídeas. In the district of São José do Barreiro, close to Cachoeira Casca d'Anta, visitors take trails and look for the pools of the São Francisco River.
Municipality whose headquarters are located at an altitude of 989 meters, at the foot of Pico do Papagaio, a mountain that is a symbol of the city in a region with a very rugged topography. Its name comes from the Tupi-Guarani language and means “House of the Purple Breasted Parrot”.
It is part of the Terras Altas da Mantiqueira tourist circuit, with access via the AMG-1035 highway from the junction with the BR-267. It has several peaks with altitudes ranging from 1,300 to 2,357 meters. For nature lovers, it has more than 85 waterfalls, around 40 of which are constantly visited and impress with their beauty.
Municipality that has become a tourist center, with a wide variety of waterfalls, wells, caves and mountains. It was elected in 2008 by the magazine Encontro de Belo Horizonte the fourth Wonder of Minas Gerais. It was used as the setting for several Globo soap operas, such as O Fim do Mundo (1996), Alma Gêmea (2005), Paraíso (2009) and Amor Eterno Amor (2012).
It is much sought after by tourists from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and by those who want a good rest from the big cities. The source of the Capivari River is in Serra das Carrancas, connected to the Zilda Complex. This ecological complex is included in the priority areas for conservation of the Biodiversitas Foundation and is located in the Atlantic Forest/Cerrado ecotone.
Municipality whose origin dates back to 1702, when the Portuguese explorer Domingos Borges discovered rich gold mines on the eastern slope of Serra do Caraça. He would have founded the village 1703, but only emancipated himself on December 21, 1995. It is located at the foot of Serra do Caraça, just 120 kilometers from Belo Horizonte.
Iron mining is the main economic activity, even with great damage to the environment, as environmental control is quite recent. With the exhaustion of the mines, the city was abandoned and in ruins and the inhabitants began to dedicate themselves to the cultivation of small subsistence gardens. The baroque architectural ensemble formed not only by the Igreja da Matriz, but also by old houses around Praça Monsenhor Mendes, among other buildings, brings to the present the history of the past of this small and bucolic town in Minas Gerais.
Located in the center-northeast of the state, in the central region of Serra do Espinhaço. It is 325 kilometers from Belo Horizonte and is part of the Caminho dos Diamantes and the Royal Road, a legacy of the mines that attracted the pioneers from São Paulo and Northeast in the 18th century. Surrounded by mountains, hills, rivers and waterfalls, it is a destination for lovers of historical and ecological tourism.
The city is part of the Diamonds tourist circuit. In addition to the historical attractions, the region is rich in waterfalls and is home to part of the Pico do Itambé State Park, cradle of cerrado vegetation.
Conceição de Ibitipoca
District of the municipality of Lima Duarte, in the interior of the state. Three kilometers from the center of the village is the Ibitipoca State Park, the main destination for tourists visiting the region. Canon Manoel Rodrigues da Costa was born there, an important figure in the Inconfidência Mineira.
The first reports about the region date back to 1692. The “Monte de Ebitipoca” was mentioned by Father João de Faria Fialho and, in the following century, the region had more than five thousand inhabitants as a result of the search for gold. After the discovery of the precious metal in what is now Ouro Preto, there was a great exodus from the region and only the humblest population remained.
Serra do Cipo
Geological formation located between the municipalities of Itambé do Mato Dentro, Jaboticatubas, Morro do Pilar, Nova União and Santana do Riacho. It is part of the geological province of Serra do Espinhaço. Its geological history dates back to the Precambrian period, with its sandy rocks that were formed by marine deposits over 1.7 billion years ago.
It is considered a natural divider of the São Francisco and Doce river basins. Its vegetation diversity is very high, and many species are found only there. The fauna is representative and shelters several endangered species. To preserve this natural heritage, the Serra do Cipó National Park was created, with 100,000 hectares of savannahs, rupestrian fields and forests, in addition to rivers, waterfalls, canyons, caves and preserved archaeological sites.
District of Ouro Preto, 19 kilometers away, with origins in 1716. It has a mostly black community and is surrounded by mountainous landscapes. It was discovered by tourists in the 1990s and since then the population has increased sixfold during holidays. It was also the setting for a short story by Bernardo Guimarães, called “A Garganta do Inferno”.
Poços de Caldas
Founded in 1872 in a region once inhabited by Cataguases Indians, expelled from their lands by Bandeiras Unidas Paulistas in search of gold. The place was initially called Parish of Nossa Senhora da Saúde das Águas de Caldas. In 1874 it became a district, then in 1875 it was elevated to the category of city. It became famous after the discovery of the hot springs, and many important people began to visit the spa in search of the healing provided by the water.
The city is very well maintained, with several green areas, between parks, squares, gardens and the São Domingos mountain range, which has hiking trails. The sulfur water is the main attraction and can be consumed in several fountains and in the Antônio Carlos Thermal Baths. There is an aerial tram to reach the Christ the Redeemer statue. At the top of the mountain there is a beautiful view of the nearby mountains. The city also offers options such as a Japanese tea garden, a theme park, museums, theaters and other cultural events, including the annual Music in the Mountains Festival.
São Thomé das Letras
City 35 kilometers from Três Corações. The name was based on the legend of a black slave running away from the plantation of the powerful Barão de Alfenas. He found a statue of St. Thomas with a letter perfectly written in excellent calligraphy in a grotto. Very amazed by the story, the Baron freed the slave and then had a church built next to the grotto in what is now the center of São Thomé das Letras.
The construction of the Cathedral of São Thomé das Letras began in 1785. It ended up being decorated with paintings in the Brazilian Baroque style by Joaquim José da Natividade. In the 19th century, farmers in the region built houses in São Thomé das Letras to use during the holidays, leaving them empty for the rest of the year.
Some believe that the city is one of the seven energy points on Earth, a main attraction for mystics, spiritualists, scientific and alternative societies. All these elements give the village the title of “mystic”. The city's most famous legend involves a mystical character named Chico Taquara, believed to be in control of the animals, who disappeared in the Carimbado cave a long time ago.
Municipality constituted by the districts of Carvalho de Brito, Ravena and Mestre Caetano, in addition to the headquarters district. It has its origins in a village of pioneers that appeared at the end of the 17th century. The village grew and the parish was then created in 1707, later elevated to town and municipality in 1711, with the name of Vila Real de Nossa Senhora da Conceição do Sabará. It has been a city since 1838.
It has some preserved historical sections, especially in the city center. On Rua Pedro II, formerly Rua Direita, there are some mansions, especially from the 18th and 19th century. The most important street in the old town has its architectural ensemble listed by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN).
The current Opera House, also known as the Municipal Theater, was built in 1819 through an immense effort by the local population. It was inaugurated on June 2, 1819, the birthday of Infanta Dona Maria da Gloria, Princess of Beira.
Village near Tiradentes. It is a district of Prados, a neighboring town. In recent years it has become increasingly sought after by tourists who appreciate art, restaurants and inns, in addition to having several scenarios to take pictures.
According to the inhabitants, the official name of the village is Vitoriano Veloso, an ensign who was born in the region and participated in the Inconfidência Mineira. This was the only black man in the movement and was a messenger, covering 240 kilometers in just three days. His nickname was Bichinho.
Sunflower Fields in the Triângulo Mineiro
Located on Highway 050, the fields are only available during the Expo Zebu fair, which takes place between the end of April and May. The plants reach almost two meters in height and are the attraction for tourists who always want a photo with the giants of green.
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