Very few places on earth capture my romantic imagination or stimulate my memory like the colonial town of Minas Gerais. I will attempt to describe the scene as it unfolds in my head: The green valleys, the charming rustic homes and pousadas, the stunning churches, blossoming trees everywhere, the scent of fresh cakes and coffee, sipping tropical caipirinhas, walking along the cobblestone streets and the views of the hills dotted with colonial architecture.

We stayed at picturesque pousadas, those cozy little places where the staff meet every expectation and then surpasses them. We ate fresh pao de quieso and feijoada and delighted ourselves with fresh fruits and tropical drinks.

Where to go in Minas Gerais

Inhotim – a contemporary art museum and botanical garden located in Brumadinho. It features over 500 works of art spread across a vast outdoor space, as well as exotic plants and beautiful landscapes.

Ouro Preto – a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and gold mining history. The town is home to many beautiful churches and museums, such as the Museum of Inconfidência and the Museum of Aleijadinho.

Mariana – one of the first capitals of Brazil. You will see the beautiful Sé Basílica, Minas Gerais Square, São Francisco de Assis and Nossa Senhora do Carmo churches.

Congonhas – a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beautiful baroque sculptures and architecture. The town is home to the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, which features a series of twelve life-size sculptures depicting the passion of Christ.

Tiradentes – a very scenic town, ideal if you want to rest and eat well. It is simply comfortable and stylish. Visit the main historical spots of the city: Chafariz de São José, Museu de Arte Sacra, Padre Toledo’s house and the Church Matriz de Santo Antônio. The small shops craftworks are of the finest quality, Brazilian art being the result of a mixed colonial society. This aspect distinguished Brazilian baroque from the European one.

Sao Joao del Rei – a cute historic town located on hills. A must-see place in São João Del Rei is São Francisco de Assis Church, which is the first baroque church in the country and the only one in town designed by Aleijadinho.

Serro & Diamantina – theses cities are well known for the artisanal production of cheese, cachaça and sweets. The first people to settle here were adventurers, looking for gold and diamonds. This part of Minas Gerais has always been known for its precious stones, as the region always had potential for mining. But also gained fame for its personalities, like Chica da Silva, a slave woman who married a Portuguese, and Juscelino Kubitschek, former President of Brazil. Diamantina is also a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Should you go hiking in Minas Gerais?

Yes, absolutely. Minas Gerais is a great destination for hiking enthusiasts, with its beautiful landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and many trails of varying difficulty levels. If you enjoy spending time in nature, exploring new places, and getting some exercise, then hiking in Minas Gerais can be a fantastic experience.

There are many hiking trails throughout the region, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks. Some of the most popular trails include the Serra do Curral, Serra da Canastra, Serra do Espinhaço, and Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó, among others. These trails offer stunning views of waterfalls, mountains, and unique flora and fauna, including stunning birds, making them a great way to connect with nature and discover the beauty of Minas Gerais.

The easiest to access is Andorinhas Park, located 5 km from Ouro Preto. This is a protected area with very nice views, waterfalls and streams, surrounded by forest. Walk to see Mirante do Vermelhão, Pedra do Jacaré, Cachoeira do Veu da Noiva waterfall and maybe Cachoeira das Andorinhas which is a bit further on (a walk down the trail is needed).

It’s important to note that some of the hiking trails in Minas Gerais can be challenging, and it’s recommended that you have some level of fitness and experience before attempting them. It’s also important to bring appropriate gear, including sturdy hiking shoes, a backpack, sunscreen, and plenty of water and snacks.

Is Minas Gerais expensive?

The cost of traveling in Minas Gerais can vary depending on your travel style and budget. Some factors that can influence the cost of your trip include the time of year you plan to visit, the type of accommodation you choose, the mode of transportation you use, and the activities you plan to do.

Generally speaking, Minas Gerais is an affordable. Accommodations range from budget hostels to luxury hotels, and prices vary depending on location and season. As for food, Minas Gerais is known for its delicious cuisine, and there are many affordable options for dining out.

Recommended Tour: History & Food

What is the quintessential Minas Gerais experience?

The quintessential Minas Gerais experience is shaped by its history, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and stunning natural landscapes. Enjoy traditional Minas Gerais cuisine: pão de queijo (cheese bread), feijão tropeiro (bean stew), and tutu de feijão (a bean-based dish). Eat your way through the region and try different dishes. You will love the cheese! This region is a great place to learn about Brazil’s rich history and culture. Attend a cultural festival: Festival de Inverno de Ouro Preto e Mariana (Winter Festival of Ouro Preto and Mariana) and the Festival de Gastronomia de Tiradentes (Tiradentes Gastronomy Festival). It is a great way to experience the region’s art, music, and food scene.

Our favourite town in Minas Gerais is Tiradentes.  Stay at Solar da Ponte, even if it’s just for a meal and spending the night there. It’s worth it! Eat at the great places such as Tragaluz, Pau de Angu, Angatu or at Restaurante Tempero da Ângela. Take a Maria Fumaca train to Sao Joao del Rei on weekends.