Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte © Marcus Desimoni
Known to locals as Beagá, Belo Horizonte (Beautiful Horizon) was named for its view of the region's mountains. Today, this huge city is better known for skyscrapers than any natural beauty. Still, it remains popular, filled as it is with plenty of charm and character.

It is the capital of Minas Gerais state in south-eastern Brazil and has some very picturesque neighbourhoods. Visitors will delight in the wide avenues, parks and lakes that provide respite from the urban sprawl. Mangabeiras Park, one of Belo Horizonte's biggest and most beautiful green spaces, affords wonderful views of the city.

Beagá is also home to a number of interesting architectural gems, many of which can be found in Pampulha, the stately neighbourhood surrounding the man-made lake of the same name. It houses a complex of buildings designed by the legendary Oscar Niemeyer.

Along with its bustling markets and booming restaurant scene, Belo Horizonte offers a wonderful calendar of events and festivals. Comida di Buteco festival is a particular favourite. It sees hundreds of neighbourhood bars compete to see who makes the best bar food.

Otherwise, the locals have a reputation for friendliness.