Brasilia On a Budget
SightsThe Monumental Axis is the central avenue of the city and is the site of many important government buildings, monuments, and memorials, all with interesting buildings. For more information about this, check out this guide to architecture in Brasilia. At the eastern end of the Axis is what is known as the Three Powers Square (or Praça dos Tres Poderes), where the country's three highest authorities are located-the Congress, the Presidential Palace (called Palacio do Planalto), and the Supreme Court. Other attractions lining this central avenue are the Television Tower right in the middle of the Axis, the Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial and museum on the western part of the Axis, and the modern Cathedral of Brasilia designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1970. The President's official residence Palacio da Alvorada (Palace of Dawn) is located on Paranoa Lake, though it is not open to visitors.
Brasilia is also a hub for art and entertainment. Its main theatre, the National Theater Claudio Santoro, features three main halls for plays and concerts, art galleries, and temporary art exhibitions. There are also many public works of art around the city featured in architecture, landscape designs, and sculptures by many famous Brazilian artists. Another center for the arts is the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, which houses contemporary art galleries, a cinema, and a cafe.
NeighborhoodsThe city is designed in the shape of a giant bird or airplane, with various separated zones assigned for specific functions such as housing, commerce, hospitals, and banking. The Eixo Monumental (or "Monumental Axis") runs down the center of the city between the two "wings," with government buildings stationed at the end. The Monumental Axis divides the city into north and south sectors. The zones are usually referred to by acronyms; those ending in N refer to sectors on the northern side of the axis, while those ending in S are on the south. The city is divided as follows:
SHS/SHN - Hotel sectors (Setor Hoteleiro)
SCS/SCN - Commercial sectors (Setor Comercial)
SQS/SQN - Residential sectors (Superquadras)
CLS/CLN (or SCLS/SCLN) - Local commerce sectors (Comercio Local) along the wings.
SES/SEN - Embassies sector (Setor de Embaixadas)
The arched "wings" of the city are mainly residential zones, with several rows of medium-rise apartment blocks and several small commercial districts. The intersection is the commercial and cultural hub, with stores, hotels, museums, and the Cathedral of Brasilia. The "nose" of the city faces Paranoa Lake.
ActivitiesVisitors can spend days in Brasilia admiring the treasure trove of modern architecture-each unique building designed by world-renowned architects, and each housing important government facilities, cultural venues, art, and more.
For something a little different, go lakeside at Paranoa Lake and watch the sunset over the city, or visit Brasilia National Park which offers an array of indigenous plant and bird species as well as a natural swimming hole.
Food and DiningCuisine of Brazil varies greatly by region, usually a mix of indigenous, European, and African influences. As the capital city of Brazil, Brasilia has a full range of flavors from traditional dishes to international fare. Brasilia itself does not have a typical, regional cuisine; however, restaurants do serve food from many Brazilian states. Rice and beans are central to traditional Brazilian cooking, as are root vegetables like cassava and yams, as well as fruits including acai, cupuaçu, mango, papaya, guava, orange, passion fruit, and pineapple.
Brazilian feijoada is considered to be the national dish, a kind of black bean and meat stew typically served with rice and oranges. It is occasionally topped with vegetables such as cabbage, kale, potatoes, carrots, okra, pumpkin, chayote, and sometimes banana. The national beverage is coffee. Another popular tradition in Brazil are salgadinhos, or small savory snacks similar to Spanish tapas. Some of the more popular small bites include a kind of cheese bread called pao de queijo, a chicken croquette called coxinha, and a Lebanese-inspired snack called kibe/quibe made from cracked wheat, minced onions, and finely ground meat that can be served baked, fried, or raw.
TransportationAs a national air travel hub, Brasilia is host to flights to and from many destinations. The primary airport serving the city is Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport, located about 11 kilometers from the city center. Most flights are domestic, however several non-stop international flights operate to and from Orlando, Buenos Aires, Paris, Lisbon, Lima, Bogota, Miami, Panama City, Montevideo, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Atlanta, Punta Cana, and seasonal to Santiago and Aruba.
The city can be reached from the airport by bus or taxi. Brasilia is also well-connected by bus to the rest of Brazil. Travel times are about 15 hours from São Paulo, 18 hours from Rio, 10 hours from Belo Horizonte, and 3 hours from Goiania.