Let us be honest: When you think about Brazil, you do not immediately think about the capital, Brasília. You think about samba and beaches in Rio, perhaps you think about the huge city of São Paulo, you think about wildlife and river-boats along the Amazon, and maybe you think about the lively northeastern region, with lush beaches and palm trees. But the somewhat strange capital that we (the Norwegian participants in Say HI to Sustainability) are living in seem to fall under people’s radar when thinking about Brazil. As I explained in an earlier post (https://hihostels.no/no/pages/651), Brasília is different from other cities in many ways. However, being different does not mean that Brasília is not an interesting, beautiful, lively, and exciting city. For example, did you know that the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987? And did you know that Brasília is much safer than many other big cities in Latin America? This makes being a foreigner and/or a tourist here very pleasant! If you still have any doubts about Brasília, I am here to help you get rid of these, and let you know why it is more than worthwhile a visit!
Let us start with some of the sights you can visit in the city center. You can start your Brasília experience by going to the national museum. Like most of the famous buildings in Brasília, the museum was designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer. The museum was inaugurated in 2006, and the white building is impressive by itself, with a dome that measures 80 meter in diameter. The museum has temporary exhibitions (both national and international), and the entrance is free!
Just a short walk from the museum, you will find the Metropolitan Cathedral, also designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The temple was inaugurated in 1970, after 12 years of construction, and was listed as a National Historic and Artistic Heritage already in 1967 (yes, that is right, three years before the cathedral was finished). The architectural structure of the cathedral itself is almost breathtaking, but in my opinion the inside of the cathedral is even more stunning – with its colored glass ceiling.
After contemplating the beauty of the cathedral, you can continue along the Esplanada, where all the government buildings are situated, and you can stroll down to the Three Powers Square. The square got its name because it lies in the center of the legislative (the National Congress), the executive (Planalto Palace) and the judiciary (Supreme Court of Justice) powers. A little further along the same street as the government buildings are on, you find the TV Tower Complex. The iconic TV tower is 230 meters high and is visible from almost everywhere in Brasília. Near the base of the tower, you will find a lively and colorful handcrafts fair, where you can buy all sorts of handicrafts, like clothes, shoes, jewelries and souvenirs. There are also small stores selling traditional food from different parts of Brazil.
Brasília also offers several options if you are more inclined towards getting a nature experience. Firstly, the city has a big lake which is accessible from many different spots in the city. On lake Paranoá you can go for a kayak ride, you can do stand-up paddle, or you can simply enjoy some food or a drink in one of the many restaurants alongside the lake. If you are in the mood for more activities, you can head over to the beautiful Olhos D’ Água park for a walk or a run. The nature in this park is worth the visit itself, and on Sundays free yoga lessons are held here.
Yet another option is to visit the city’s botanical garden, where there are a range of different trails to walk along, and many beautiful plants and flowers to observe. If you are lucky you might also get to see different wild animals. Lastly, Água Mineral is worth a visit (this is one of my favorite spots in Brasília). Água Mineral is located inside Brasília’s national park. Also here you can go for walks, or you can simply chill out by one of the swilling pools. If you go to Água Mineral, you are almost guaranteed to see monkeys (hold on to your food though, if not they will come for it!).
Seeing as the title of this post is “sustainable tourism in Brazil’s capital”, you might at this point wonder what happened to the sustainability part. No, I have not forgotten about it. One very sustainable thing you can do as a tourist in Brasilia is to get around in the city by bike, using the city’s many bike paths. And if you do not have a bike yourself, you can download the application “Yellow”, which lets you rent bikes for as short or long as you want (you only pay for the time spent on the bike). You can leave the bike anywhere you want – you just close it with the app. But enough Yellow advertising. Another sustainable initiative that Brasília has is that one of the city’s longest roads, the Eixão, is closed for motorized vehicles every Sunday from 7AM to 7PM. This road is 13,5 kilometers long and runs through both the north and the south wing of Brasilia. This means that on Sundays, people who find themselves in Brasília can use this long road for walking, running, biking, roller-skating, etcetera. Not a bad way to round off the week!
And talking about rounding off. My suggestion on how to finish off your perfect Brasília day is to watch the sun setting over the Paranoá lake, from the beautiful location Ermida Dom Bosco. If you were ever in doubt about Brasilia´s opportunities as a tourist city, I hope that you are a bit more inclined towards giving this crazy city a chance after reading this post!
Written by: Ane Omland