20. July 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Brazil
Welcome to Minas Gerais.

Welcome to Minas Gerais.

I have been 17 times to Brazil. And I consider Minas Gerais the prettiest state in Brazil. It’s the perfect combination of nature and culture put together in a fantastic blend.

I absolutely love Brazil and the Brazilian people. Especially the Brazilians in the northeastern part of Brazil. And northeast Brazil is where I most hang out. But when people ask what is the prettiest place in Brazil, I have to say Minas Gerais.

Where is Minas Gerais.

Minas Gerais is located north of the state of Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of the most mountainous parts of Brazil. And the mountains are full of gem stones. Because of that, the state quickly became very important when the Portuguese discovered Brazil in 1502. There was a huge demand for gold and gem stones in Europe and Portugal quickly realised that they could make a fortune in Brazil.

Mountain town in Minas Gerais.

Minas Gerais has lot’s of old mountain towns.

So Minas Gerais was the main reason why the Portuguese decided to colonise Brazil.

Minas Gerais does not have any coastline though. The gold and the gem stones were transported from the mountains down to Rio de Janeiro and Paraty.

Everyone knows Rio de Janeiro these days, as it grew to become the second biggest city in brazil and was the capitol for a while. You should also visit Paraty, a little south of Rio de Janeiro Though. As this is a really nice town too.

But Minas Gerais quickly became wealthy too. And because of that, many towns were build. These towns are still standing today and has some fantastic colonial architecture that has been really well preserved, as the towns never grew to any big size.

Horse parking in Minas Gerais.

Park your horse and go for a beer in Minas Gerais.

Ouro Preto takes the price as the nicest town in Minas Gerais.

Ouro Preto.

The old town Ouro Preto is fantastic.

The most pleasant town to visit in Minas Gerais has to be Ouro Preto. It’s a perfect example of Portuguese colinial architecture, combined with being set in a really pretty mountain scenery. The town is also a university town. So it has not become some dead museum town, even if it has become famous for tourists. Most surprisingly, the place is not overrun by tourists either. Ouro Preto is not near any airport. and the drive to town is on winding mountain roads. That keeps the jetset and the big tour groups away. And the rest of us are really happy about that.

Student bar Ouro Preto.

Visiting a student bar in Ouro Preto.

Take the train from Ouro Preto to Mariana.

There is an old train going from Ouro Preto to a town called Mariana. This has to be one of the most scenic train rides I have ever taken. The train is with old wooden carriages. And the tracks are on a steep mountainside. The views from the train are stunning. As long as you are not too afraid of heights.

Trin to Mariana.

Getting ready to board the train to Mariana.

Tiradentes is another place that you must visit.

Just outside Sao Joao del Rei, you have a village called Tiradentes. It’s a small artist village that is a combination of old architecture that meets modern and traditional art. Tiradentes is really a cool place to just wander around and stick your head in to all the little work shops that you have all around town. Even if lot’s of artists are there, it’s still not visited by the crowds. there are tourists, but it’s just a few individual tourists so far. Go there before the masses discover the place.

Art in Tiradentes.

Window art in Tiradentes.


Pretty lady in a Tiradentes window,

Congonhas probably has the best artwork in Brazil.

The town of Congonhas is also a big must, when visiting Minas Gerais. Congonhas has a fantastic baroque Church there that has 12 fantastic statues of the 12 prophets. These statues are some of the best I have ever seen myself. They are really incredible. The church itself is also a baroque masterpiece. It’s quite possibly the most impressive baroque building in the world. The stone work was done by an artist called Aleijadinho. Aleijadinho was a son of a Portuguese carpenter and an African slave. He developed leprosy at a young age, but kept working anyway, with tools strapped to his hands. He is considered the best sculptor in Brazil, ever.



Most people who visit Brazil leave Minas Gerais out. Either because they do not know about it. Or because It’s a little hard to get to the old mining towns. The capital of Minas Gerais is Belo Horizonte by the way. It’s a large city and not the most interesting place in my opinion. But if you take a plane or a bus to Belo Horizonte, then you are not far from what I consider the prettiest place in Brazil.

Minas Gerais.

Minas Gerais.

Sao Joao del Rei.

Sao Joao del Rei.

Dancing Ouro Preto.

Dancing in the streets of Ouro Preto.

So get yourself up the mountains to Minas Gerais if you are about to visit Brazil.


  1. Hi Claus,
    Thank you for a very interesting article. I once chatted with a woman from Brazil that told me about these places. I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind.
    1. Do you base yourself in Belo Horizonte and do day trips out of there?
    2. Did you ride your bike, or hire a driver when there?
    3. Is it safe to walk around there? Are there places to avoid?

    On a side note, I have always wanted to cycle the coastal road from Sao Paolo to Rio, then on up to Buzios. Is this possible and safe?

    Thank you,


    • Hi’ Neil. I DO NOT recommending using Belo Horizonte as a base. It’s simply too time consuming to get in and out of the city. And a town like Ouro Preto is much prettier and more practical to use as a base. From Ouro Preto, you can use many of the nicest places on a day trip. And I used public transport to get around in Minas Gerais. And it worked very fine. I mostly used busses, which are of a good quality in Brazil. And they are very cheap and safe to use. Walking around these towns during daylight should give you no problems whatsoever. But at night, you will be better off taking a taxi, I would say. And for cycling from Sao Paulo to Buzious, you can do that. I have cycled that route myself. Getting out of Sao Paulo will pose the biggest challenge, as the outskirts of the city can be quite unsafe. Cycling in and out of Rio de Janeiro is a little tricke too. But once you are away from the big cities, then it’s really nice to cycle up along the coast.I never felt unsafe anywhere in Brazil, as long as I was out of the big cities, which is where you have the street crime in Brazil.

  2. Pingback: Paraty is one of the prettiest small towns in all South America. – Travelling Claus

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