Central Belo Horizonte has a grid of large avenidas (avenues), with another smaller grid superimposed at a 45° angle. The boundaries of the original planned city are defined by the ring road called Av do Contorno. It’s a hilly town, so trips are sometimes less straightforward than they appear on the map.

The main drag is Av Afonso Pena, which runs diagonally from northwest to southeast, starting at the bus station at the northern end of downtown and running past leafy green Parque Municipal. From northwest to southeast, there are three pivotal praças (squares): bustling Praça Sete, just southeast of the bus station; serene Praça da Liberdade, heart of the government-turned-museum district; and trendy Praça da Savassi, the center of Belo nightlife and cafe society.

Outside of downtown, Pampulha (8km north) is the neighborhood with most cultural attractions.