Michael Heffernan

Minas Gerais

For those seeking a tangible sense of Brazilian history, no state compares with Minas Gerais. The tortuous cobblestone streets and baroque monuments of colonial mining towns like Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Diamantina have seen it all, from the horrors of enslaved people to the fervor of Brazil's 18th-century independence movement.

Minas is also a place of magnificent natural wonders. The Serra do Espinhaço, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve running the length of the state, is just one of many refuges providing exhilarating outdoor recreation opportunities and critical habitat for endangered species from the maned wolf to the woolly spider monkey.

Add to this the cosmopolitan charms of Belo Horizonte, the fabulous flavors of comida mineira (the region's characteristic cuisine, cooked over a wood-fired stove), the intoxicating effects of Brazil's best cachaça (sugarcane alcohol) and the locals’ legendary hospitality, and it's hard to resist Minas’ seductive spell.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Minas Gerais.