It's safe to say that Brasilia, capital of our beautiful country, is by far the most unique city in Brazil. It was born of a dream, almost literally, and became a Brazilian utopia. Brasilia is one of the most important chapters in our recent history when, in the 1960's, the government was transferred from Rio de Janeiro to the middle of the country, to a brand new city that was built from scratch in just a few years.
Many words come to mind when you think about Brasilia: politics, architecture, Oscar Niemeyer, urbanism, power, concrete. And all these make a lot of sense, as the city is really a mix of all that. But it's also so much more: a lot of culture (with its many palaces and museums), music (the city is considered an important hub of Brazilian rock), art and even nautical sports and ecotourism. It's also another host-city of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and a place I am proud to invite all visitors, both Brazilians and foreigners to discover.
When you tour around Brasilia you are immediately drawn to its unique feel and look. First of all, it is a very horizontal city (with just a few tall buildings in the middle) making it free from the typical oppression you feel with other "traditional" metropolises around the world. Another curious aspect about the city is its shape (like an airplane), with commercial and residential areas on the "wings" and the political core in the middle.
And since it was a planned city, don't expect to find names and dates on its "streets" and "avenues", because you won't find them (as a matter of fact, we don't even have streets and avenues in Brasilia); try combinations of codes (almost like coordinates) and you'll get anywhere without ever getting lost. And this is just one of the many, many perks of this beautifully strange place, this open air museum, this epitome of our ambition as a nation, this incredible place that appeared in the middle of nowhere - almost like magic - and attracted Brazilians from all over the country into a melting pot of cultures and accents.
Some tips to make the most out of your visit beyond the stadiums:
1- An open air museum
Being the capital of the country, Brasilia harbors the political core with its many palaces and iconic landmarks designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Civil tourism is one of its strongest products and some places should not be missed: the government palaces (Planalto and Alvorada), the National Cathedral, the Congress, the 3 Powers Square, the Esplanade of Ministries and the JK Memorial (to name a few). The Republic Museum, with its curved shape that resembles a UFO is a clear example of what makes the architecture in Brasilia so unique. The place is always open to the public and usually harbors interesting modern art exhibitions.
The TV Tower (where visitors glance at the city as if it was a mockup) is also a must. And it's just some steps away from the Brasilia National Stadium, which was built for the 2014 World Cup. The project respected Brasilia's aesthetics and just fits the landscape perfectly.
2- A strong gastronomic scene
Brasilia offers a lot of great restaurants, from ethnic, to traditional Brazilian (all regions), to international - it's difficult to go wrong. The South Wing offers many interesting restaurants, pubs and nightclubs and there are many great places at the Paranoá Lake (along its southern and northern margins). The South Lake, also, is where most of the embassies are located, which gives the place a very international, cosmopolitan feel. And there are many traditional hotspots, like Beirute, a restaurant that has been open since the 1960s and specializes in Middle-Eastern dishes and snacks (it is also a popular place where locals like to hang out and have some drinks after work).
3- It's always about the music
Brasilia has developed a strong musical scene (famous for many pop and rock bands) and when it comes to music, there are many places to go. Among the various options are the Clube do Choro, Funarte and the CCBB (which always offers interesting exhibitions).
4- Sports and ecotourism
Another great place to go is the beautiful City Park (the biggest urban park in the world and even bigger than Central Park), where people go everyday (especially on weekends) for running, skating, sunbathing or just a casual time under the shade of a tree drinking some coconut water. Another place locals usually go is the Água Mineral Park, which is near the city, and offers a natural swimming pool with crystal clear waters.
Brasilia is just a couple of hours away from so many other interesting places. The charming, colonial city of Pirenopolis is one example, where it's possible to experience some of the tranquility of Brazil's countryside in a place filled with breathtaking waterfalls. Besides Pirenopolis, Chapada dos Veadeiros is another great spot for those seeking adrenaline, adventure and breathtaking scenery.