Discover the incredible historic cities of Estrada Real, one of the most interesting tourist itineraries in Brazil, which connects the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro

The term Royal Road refers to the paths taken by the colonizers during the discovery of gold in the state of Minas Gerais. In order to preserve this historical heritage, a project was created in 2001 to transform this road into a tourist spot. There are 1512 km formed by 177 municipalities, 162 of which are in Minas Gerais, 8 in Rio de Janeiro and 7 in Sao Paulo.

know the Royal Road cities is to relive history discovering unforgettable places. Surrounded by mountains and a lot of culture, the complex brings together a series of attractions for tourists who pass through the region. THE Royal Road consists of four paths:

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Royal Road Paths

old path

The old path was the first route officially opened by the Portuguese Crown between the coast of Rio de Janeiro and the mining region, it is 710 km from Paraty, passing through Serra da Mantiqueira, through the water circuit and some villages that today have become medium and large size, until arriving in Ouro Preto.

New Path

Open to be an alternative to the old way of Royal Road, this route was created to improve the accessibility of new workers and equipment for the extraction of gold and diamond. Tunnels, fountains and some farms that today have been transformed into lodging facilities are found along the way. This is a great way for tourists to learn a little more about the buildings and customs of the 18th and 19th century.

Path of Diamonds

The road that connects Diamantina to Ouro preto is 350 km long and became important after 1729, when the precious stones of Diamantina gained prominence in the Brazilian and Portuguese economies. On the way, it is possible to visit the Serra do Cipó National Park, a Serra do Espinhaço reserve with many waterfalls and walls that allow activities such as rafting, mountaineering, mountain biking, trekking and a great trip by car passing between small towns and villages.

Sabarabuçu path

The shortest path of Royal Road was created with an alternative route between the Caminho dos Diamantes and the city of Ouro Preto, 160 km that are home to places with a lot of history, the route continues along the river das Velhas and has the Serra da Piedade as one of the main attractions.

royal road ways

Map with the paths of the Estrada Real. Photo: Publicity map Estrada Real

Cities on the Royal Road

Ouro Preto – Minas Gerais

The most famous historic city in the state of Minas Gerais, it has an important well-preserved architectural ensemble and was the first Brazilian city on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city is made up of cobblestone slopes that cut through the historic part of the city, housing fountains, churches, museums and colonial mansions that keep and tell a little of the history of Brazil during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Cities on the Royal Road

Photo: Pedro Vilela / MTur

Diamantina – Minas Gerais

The municipality of Diamantina, as its name implies, was built in a region that was once very rich because it contains many precious stones in its soil. Filled with stories, the city of Diamantina was once home to illustrious figures such as Chica da Silva, the slave who lived like a queen when she married a Portuguese contractor and former president Juscelino Kubsticheck.

In 1999 Diamantina also received the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, revealing to the world a well-preserved destination with scenarios formed by baroque churches and charming colonial houses.

Cities on the Royal Road

Photo: Pedro Vilela / MTur

Sao Joao del Rei – Minas Gerais

Just 187 km from Belo Horizonte, the city of São João del Rei has a charming historic center with important state buildings such as Solar dos Neves, which belongs to the family of former president Tancredo Neves, and the church of Nossa Senhora do Pilar. , with numerous gold-plated details.

Cities on the Royal Road

Photo: Pedro Vilela / MTur

Paraty – Rio de Janeiro

The historic city of Paraty is famous for its charming historic center erected in front of a wonderful bay that houses enchanting beaches. Paraty is also home to the preserved Caminho do Ouro road, built by slaves in the 17th and 19th centuries and connecting the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Photo: Rogério Cassimiro / MTUR

Tabuleiro Waterfall – Serra do Cipó – Minas Gerias

The area considered a national reserve, has rugged topography and brings together a large number of springs that form several rivers, waterfalls, canyons and caves protected by the mountains of Minas Gerais. Among the attractions is the imposing Cachoeira do Tabuleiro, the third largest in the country.

Photo: Rafael dos Reis Pereira / Wikimedia Commons

Serro – Minas Gerais

Famous for the cheese produced in the region, which even had its recipe listed as Intangible Heritage by IEPHA, the friendly city of Serro is located on the banks of the Jequitinhonha River surrounded by mountains, hills, rivers and waterfalls.

Cities on the Royal Road

Photo: Sérgio Mourão / Wikimedia Commons

Other attractions to visit on Estrada Real:

  • Mariana – Minas Gerais
  • Tiradentes – Minas Gerais
  • Inhotim Institute – Minas Gerais
  • Caxambu – Minas Gerais
  • Congonhas – Minas Gerais
  • Carrancas – Minas Gerais
  • Caxambu – Minas Gerais
  • Travessão Canyon – Minas Gerais
  • Serra do Rola Moça State Park – Minas Gerais
  • Petropolis – Rio de Janeiro
  • Guaratingueta – Sao Paulo
  • Cunha – Sao Paulo

When to go

The rainy season in the region is between October and March.


  • Diamond Road: Bike: 8 days / Walking: 27 days / Car 4×4: 4 days
  • Old Path: Bike: 15 days / Walking: 48 days / Car 4×4: 8 days
  • New Path: Bike: 11 days / Walking: 35 days / Car 4×4: 6 days
  • Sabarabuçu Road: Bike: 4 days / Walking: 11 days / Car 4×4: 2 days

Source: (Royal Tur Road)

Read too:

» Places to visit in Belo Horizonte
» 5 quick itineraries to do from Belo Horizonte
» Places to visit in Ouro Preto
» Places to visit in Diamantina

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