Tancredo Neves International Airport (IATA, CNF, ICAO, SBCF) is the largest and busiest airport in the state of Minas Gerais. Also known as Confins International Airport, it is situated 37 km from the Belo Horizonte city centre. The airport is located in the municipalities of Lagoa Santa and Confins, both of which are part of the metropolitan area of the capital city. It is considered to be one of the most well equipped airports in Latin America.
Although it was once one of Brazil's least used airports, today it is one of the busiest in the country. This is because in 2005 all the flights to and from Minas Gerais were transferred to this airport from the Pampulha Regional Airport, which is located much closer to the city. An excellent network of taxis, shuttles and busses service the Confins International Airport. Bus transfers are possible at Belo Horizonte's subway.
Aeroporto Carlos Drummond de Andrade, more popularly known as Pampulha Airport, is located about 9km from the city centre. It is much smaller than the International Airport and is usually used only for flights within Minas Gerais
Several roads connect Belo Horizonte to the rest of the state and the country. The last few years have seen the start of many road rebuilding projects, which have improved the otherwise rather poor condition of most roads.
Minas Gerais has Brazil's biggest federal highway network. The most prominent of them are listed here.
- Highway BR-040 connects the capital city to Rio de Janeiro in the south and Brasília in the northwest. It also connects other cities of Minas such as Conselheiro Lafaiete, Juiz de Fora, Paracatu, Santos Dumont, and Sete Lagoas.
- Highway BR-262 cuts through the state in an east west direction, connecting Espírito Santo and Mato Grosso do Sul. It connects Belo Horizonte with Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo state, and with Araxá, Manhuaçu, Pará de Minas, and Uberaba.
- Highway BR-381 connects São Paulo, the largest and wealthiest city in Brazil.
- Highway MG-010, a state highway, is the link between Belo Horizonte and Confins International Airport. The highway is being expanded to accommodate the growing traffic on the road. MG-020, MG-030, MG-050 and MG-433 are other state highways in Minas.
An east-west expressway connects Belo Horizonte to several industrial towns nearby such as Betim, Contagem and Anel Rodoviário. This expressway is a link between many highways, allowing cars and trucks to avoid the city centre if required. It is like a beltway though not circumferential
Buses can be taken to reach most of the cities and towns of Minas Gerais besides several major destinations such as Brasília, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The place to catch the buses is the Rodoviária, located at Praça Rio Branco, which is north of the Avenida Afonso Pena.
Getting Around Belo Horizonte
The BHTRANS runs the large and well-managed city bus system. All parts of the city are well connected by bus. The integration of the metro and the bus lines is a major project in the pipeline.
To reach the Confins Airport, there is a very frequent bus from the station. For a more luxurious ride, there is a less frequent and more expensive express or executivo bus that leaves from Terminal Turístico (Tel: 3271 4522; Rua dos Guajajaras). It is located just southwest of Praça Raul Soares.
There are numerous local buses to get around the city and its suburbs. The buses are colour coded to differentiate between the routes they run. Blue buses run in the city centre, they go up and down the main avenues there. White buses are express buses, stopping only at a few select points. Red buses provide the link between the favelas or shanty towns, the city suburbs and the downtown area. Yellow buses run in circular routes throughout the city.
One of the oldest urban railway systems in Brazil, the Belo Horizonte metro has been running since the late 1970s. Two lines extend from the city railway station on Praça da Estação. One line goes north to the Minas shopping areas via Santa Teresa, while the other line goes via Estação Lagoinha, near the bus station, to the western suburbs of the city.
Belo Horizonte is situated at the very centre of Minas Gerais, making it easily accessible. There are four main highways connecting the city to the administrative and economic centres of the nation. Moving around the city is very easy with sufficient bus and taxi services. There is a metro line too, connecting the north and west of the city.
The Confins Airport, or the Tancredo Neves Airport, lies to the north of the city centre at a distance of around 38km. The Pampulha Airport also operates flights to and from Belo Horizonte, most of the flights being regional flights. An executive bus line links both airports to the city centre.
A massive road project, called the Linha Verde or Green Line, undertaken to improve the flow of traffic between the city and three of the main roads going north, was recently completed. It consists of a high speed highway, which makes it possible for travellers to reach the airport from the city centre within half an hour!
Transportation in Belo Horizonte
A huge fleet of 6050 vehicles comprises Belo Horizonte's taxi service. The oldest vehicle is about 2.5 years. To guarantee the right to equality to all its citizens, a percentage of the taxis are set aside to be driven by persons with physical deficiencies.
The city's taxi drivers are trained to administer first aid, are well versed in defensive driving, are well informed about the city and are trained to handle all sorts of passengers and their requirements. This ensures the safety and comfort of the passengers.
White taxis run inside the city. An initial fee of R$3.30 must be paid, after that the taxi fare is R$1.84/ km between 6am and 10pm. On Sundays, holidays and weekdays between 10pm and 6am, the fare is R$2.20/km. For a taxi to Tancredo Neves Airport, you have to pay a fixed fare of R$70.00. Other than these taxis, there is another service called the ‘Taxi Lotação'. These taxis have coloured arrows on each side of the taxi, they run along some selected routes and have fixed fares.
Driving in Belo Horizonte
While in Belo Horizonte, you must drive on the right side of the road. Signs on the road are colour coded. Regulation signs are in red and white, warning signs in yellow and black, information signs in blue and while tourist signs are in brown and white. The speed limit within the city is 80 km/hr (49.7 miles/hr), while speed limit on the highways is 110 km/hr (68.3 miles/hr).
Rotativos are pay-and-park parking lots where you can leave your car for a specific time and fee. There are other parking lots throughout the city. There are gas stations all over the city. While most of them operate from 7am to 10pm, a few operate round the clock.
Renting a car in Belo Horizonte is quite easy with car rentals located all over the city. If required, you can hire a driver too. The drivers usually speak English reasonably well. For the traveller seeking a more luxurious ride, there are Limousine services too.
The city of Belo Horizonte has a 2874 strong bus fleet operating in and around the city. No vehicle is older than about 5.5 years. All buses are colour coded to differentiate between the routes they operate. The bus service is run very efficiently and is the most practical mode of transport in the city.
Blue buses pass through the main avenues of the downtown area. Green buses pass through the main streets and connect the bus stations to the city centre. Red buses are the link between the city centre and the city suburbs. Yellow buses operate circular routes within the city and connect neighbourhoods. There are red and white buses that are part of the inter-municipal bus line.
The bus fares vary from R$0.50 to R$2.10. You can pay in cash or by using the bus card. Using a bus card is more economical since fares sometimes work out to be discounted by 50% when compared to regular fares paid by cash.
The city bus station is housed in a grand building built in the downtown area in the 70's and marked by its bold architecture. Many services are available in the bus depot, such as internet wireless service, snack bars, stores, restaurants and 24-hour bank machines. The bus service is being improved further with some of the newer projects concentrating on the integration of the metro and the bus lines.
The metro services only a few areas of the city and cannot be considered as the main mode of transport. A metro line that goes through the downtown area connects the north and west; in fact it is the best way to reach the Museu de Artes e Ofícios or the Arts and Crafts Museum, and the Natural History Museum.
The Estação Central or Central Station was an old train station that has been restored to its former beauty and converted into a museum. There is a train that heads out of Central Station and goes to Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo. It is a wonderful way to travel through the picturesque mountains and valleys of Minas Gerais before reaching the coast.