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'Treasures of the Royal Road'

What makes this trip special?

Brazil's third largest city

Brazil's third largest city

Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte (or "BH" as it is known to locals) is a large, bustling metropolis encircled by the Serra do Espinhaço mountain range. With its skyscrapers and sprawling industrial suburbs, it bears a resemblance to São Paulo, similarly on an economic and cultural level, with a lively arts and music scene.

Stunning Baroque architecture

Stunning Baroque architecture

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto, meaning 'Black Gold' is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most beautiful and atmospheric historical cities. It represents the largest homogeneous collection of Baroque art in the world.

Aleijadinho's masterpiece

Aleijadinho's masterpiece

Conghonas

Congonhas is best known for the presence of sculptor Aleijadinho's extraordinary twelve soapstone prophets, which reside at the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Matosinhos, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

Colonial charm meets modernity

Colonial charm meets modernity

Sao Joao del Rei

Sao Joao del Rei is one of the largest historical cities, a prosperous market town with some lovely churches, old mansions and good museums. Be sure to ride the 19th century Maria Fumaça steam train to Tiradentes.

Picturesque colonial charm

Picturesque colonial charm

Tiradentes

Nestled in the Serra de São Jose mountains, Tiradentes is the most charming and well preserved of the historical cities. It was named after the ‘martyr’ Tiradentes, who led an unsuccessful attempt for independence uprising against the Portuguese Crown .

The Imperial City

The Imperial City

Petropolis

Petropolis was the summer residence of Portuguese Emperor Dom Pedro II. Its Imperial Museum, with a collection of tapestries, colonial furnishings and portraits as well as the Imperial Crown is a must-see

The marvellous city

The marvellous city

Rio de Janeiro

Known to Brazilians as 'the marvellous city', Rio de Janeiro has undeniably the most beautiful setting of any city in the world. Rio also has style, culture, spirit, and an irrepressible thirst for life as it should be lived.

Itinerary map for Brazil 'Treasures of the Royal Road' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Belo Horizonte
  • 2 Ouro Preto
  • 3 Ouro Preto
  • 4 Ouro Preto
  • 5 Tiradentes
  • 6 Tiradentes
  • 7 Tiradentes
  • 8 Petropolis
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Treasures of the Royal Road'

DAY 1

Belo Horizonte

You are met on arrival at Belo Horizonte airport (which has frequent connections to Sao Paulo) by your English speaking local guide and transferred to a nearby hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax, assuming you have just arrived in Brazil after a long flight. Alternatively we can arrange an excursion to visit the suburb of Pampulha, where the brilliant modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer created one of his first significant buildings, a museum of contemporary art, in collaboration with landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx. The sensuous curves of the building stand on a promontory over a manmade lake.

DAY 2
B

Sabará - Ouro Preto

You are collected from your hotel, having rested and found your feet, and driven to the airport where you pick up your hire car and say goodbye to your guide. From here you are on your own, but with a detailed driving guide, maps, a guide book and plenty of support available by telephone if you need it. Your first stop is the little town of Sabara, the oldest of the historic towns on the Estrada Real. It's a sweet little community built on a hill, around a handful of cobbled streets and small squares. There is a fascinating early theatre dating from 1770 (seemingly little changed since then), a small 'gold museum' and a small church - your first example of the baroque style of which you will soon see so much more. Sabara's steep cobbled streets, like the other towns, need walking shoes. You continue to Ouro Preto, the most important of the historic towns, where you stay for three nights at a characterful restored historic property in the centre of town, with parking facilities.

DAY 3
B

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto's historic buildings represent the largest homogeneous collection of baroque art in the world. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Ouro Preto is built over numerous steep hills. Its narrow, winding cobble streets are lined by grand, two-storey townhouses some with elaborately carved soapstone facades. Among Ouro Preto's many splendours are the Igreja Sao Francisco de Assis - one of the most important examples of Brazilian colonial art, Igreja Matriz NS da Conceicao and Museo Aleijadinho, the Igreja do Carmo, the Municipal Palace, the Museo da Inconfidencia and the Casa dos Contos.

DAY 4
B

Second full day based in Ouro Preto. Perhaps make a sight trip to visit the nearby town of Mariana, the oldest city in Minas Gerais.

DAY 5
B

Congonhas and Sao Joao del Rei

Today you drive south on the Royal Road through a countryside of low mountains and wide vistas, first to Congonhas then onwards to Tiradentes - a total of about three and a half hours in the car. Congonhas holds the undoubted masterpiece of the baroque era in Brazil: the Basilica do Senhor Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. A succession of chapels marking the stations of the cross line a long approach to the church itself, in front of which stand stone statues of the 12 apostles, each carved by Aleijadinho at the height of his artistic power. Within each of the twelve chapels is a wooden tableau carved by Aleijadinho and painted by Ataid. Taken together as a single whole, the conception and execution of this work is intensely dramatic and exceptionally moving, especially in its context - remote from Europe in a lawless land of impossible hardship, with the artist in an advanced stage of a progressively deforming illness - his own cross. Your next stop is the gorgeous but cheery and humble little town of Tiradentes. This part of the journey can be broken at Sao Joao del Rei where it is fun to visit the steam engine station. We would also recommend the Church of Sao Francisco de Assis with its elegant lyre-shaped plaza with palm trees. Tancredo Neves is buried here, the first elected president of Brazil after the military dictatorship of the 1960s-1980s.

DAY 6
B

Tiradentes

Two days in Tiradentes, exploring its arty gift shops, antique shops, and small cafes. Tranquil during the week, Tirdentes fills up at weekends with second-homers and visitors - many brought by the steam train from Sao Joao del Rei, known as 'Maria Fumaca', or Smoking Mary. Tiradentes has an honoured place in the history of Brazil as the home of Padre Toledo, the leader of the conspirators against Portugese rule.

DAY 7
B

Second full day to just relax and enjoy Tiradentes. Perhaps take a walk in the surrounding countryside, read a book or potter in the arty shops.

DAY 8
B

Petropolis

Leaving Tiradentes, you continue on the Estrada Real to the small city of Petropolis. Petropolis is set high in the cool forested mountains inland from Rio. Here in 1843 Emperor Pedro II built a sumptuous palace away from the muggy heat of Rio below. Soon the city became an important summer retreat for up to six months of the year. We suggest you visit the very splendid Imperial Museum (unless today is a Monday; if so then you could fit in a visit early tomorrow if your onward connection permits). You could also take a self-guided walking tour of the city's finest buildings (we will supply a route for you to follow if you wish).

DAY 9
B

Rio de Janeiro

The modern highway from Petropolis down to Rio de Janeiro is the worst of this trip, with some tight bends in the mountains and numbers of heavy trucks. Allow plenty of time and take it slowly. When you are getting close to Rio the international airport is well signed. You drop off your hire car at the company's office and either catch their shuttle to Departures for an onwards flight, or take a taxi to the hotel of your choice if you are going to stay on in Rio. (We can pre-book an airport transfer into Rio if you prefer.)

Guide prices for 'Treasures of the Royal Road'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Selfdrive 2 people sharing £1,175
Guided 2 people sharing £2,095
Prices are per person and include:
  • all accommodation
  • all land transport in Brazil including hire car with full insurance from days 2 to 9
  • meals as indicated: B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally
  • car-hire: refundable deposit
  • car-hire: additional driver insurance

Customer reviews for 'Treasures of the Royal Road'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Treasures of the Royal Road'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Belo Horizonte 28°C rainfall 277mm
2 Ouro Preto 26°C rainfall 273mm
3 Ouro Preto 26°C rainfall 273mm
4 Ouro Preto 26°C rainfall 273mm
5 Tiradentes 28°C rainfall 251mm
6 Tiradentes 28°C rainfall 251mm
7 Tiradentes 28°C rainfall 251mm
8 Petropolis 28°C rainfall 285mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Treasures of the Royal Road'

Days 2 - 4

Pousada Clássica

Pousada Clássica
Days 5 - 7

Pousada Mãe d'agua

Pousada Mãe d'agua
Day 8

Casablanca Imperial

Petropolis

Casablanca Imperial