Belo Horizonte ('Beautiful Horizon') is the third-largest city of Brazil, after Sâo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Tourists usually skip the city, because there are few places of interest, but it's an important destination for business travelers (see Economy). Belo Horizonte is also the country's bar capital: local bars, where you mix with the Brazilians in a relaxed way.
Belo Horizonte has 2.5 million inhabitants, but the suburbs (including many slums, the favelas) have expanded tremendously in recent years. More than 5 million people live in the entire metropolitan area.
Not so long ago, Belo Horizonte was mainly an industrial center, where iron ore from the mines in the vicinity was processed by steel companies. Those steel products were mainly intended for local car manufacturers. The industry hasn't disappeared, but has since been outstripped by the services sector. Belo Horizonte has developed into an exhibition and conference city, where more than three thousand events are held annually.
Tancredo Neves International Airport is situated 45 kilometers north of the city center and is easily reachable by rental car. From Belo Horizonte's center you first take the MG-404 and then the MG-010 which leads directly to the airport. The way to the airport is clearly signposted.
The company BHTRANS exploits Belo Horizonte's extensive public bus system. Buses run for a large part on free bus lanes, ensuring a smooth journey. The city also has a subway line. The subway is being extended with two new lines.
Belo Horizonte was created on a drawing board and therefore has a regular street pattern. You will have little trouble finding your way around the city. Finding a free parking place in the street is another story. For security reasons it's also better to leave your rental car in one of the guarded parking garages.
Because of the many exhibitions and conferences there's no shortage of business hotels in the city, mainly concentrated along the Av. Afonso Pena in the Savassi district. Cheap accommodation and midrange hotels can be found near the train station.
For more information about Belo Horizonte, we recommend Google and the following sources: