Inhotim: Is This the Best Outdoor Museum in the World?
Are you looking for the best things to do in Belo Horizonte in Brazil's state of Minas Gerais? Only 60 kilometers away you can find one of the world's largest outdoor museums with contemporary art, a botanic garden, turned into an open-air museum, Inhotim. Read our guide on how to get to Inhotim from Belo Horizonte, how to visit the museum, where to stay, and how much things cost.
Have you always thought you are not a museum type and wouldn't travel to a destination solely to visit a botanic garden which contains contemporary art?
So have we.
But then, when exploring Brazil, we found a mention about Inhotim in a guide book, it was a place we'd never heard about before, and decided that it is something we would like to see.
And it was everything we hoped for.
Extravagant, unforgettable, experiential, exotic, audacious.
Inhotim is located close to a large city Belo Horizonte, which is not very attractive, and the truth is not many international tourists were headed there in the past, but the exceptional museum of Inhotim has changed the game.
The number of visitors has grown steadily over the years (the museum was opened to the public in 2006), and nowadays more than 3 million visitors interested in contemporary art or simply those who want to admire one of the largest outdoor museums in the world arrive in Inhotim yearly.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN INHOTIM MUSEUM
Once we entered the site, we were immediately surrounded by greenery.
Do not forget that Inhotim is not a regular museum. It is a botanic garden which in combination with a display of many pieces of modern art creates an unusual space.
When walking around Inhotim for six or seven hours, we didn't have time to be bored for a single minute.
For a while we admired large palms, then we came to a pond mirroring a modern building, later we entered a gallery where we had to take off shoes to feel the art with all our senses only to emerge later in a room with an overwhelming number of red objects (was it blood on the ground?) or in a studio where we listened to the sound of Earth mixed with amazing views of the exotic species of plants.
Outside installations are tastefully set in the garden, and if we have read every single information board about what the installation represents or about every single artist behind the artwork, we would have needed two or three days, not only one.
Seriously. If you are a big fan of contemporary art and usually need more time to absorb the world around you, two days is a minimum amount of time to fully appreciate the beauty of Inhotim.
A large number of pavilions is scattered on the ground, and we strongly advise you to grab a map at the counter and make your way systematically around Inhotim.
We started our exploration on the pink path, and via yellow and orange route got back to the entrance gate six hours later.
Yeah, and last but not least, don't forget your swimsuit!
We won't describe everything you can see in Inhotim (there are usually around 23 exhibitions, some permanent, some not), as it is not possible, and we think no words do justice to Inhotim - rather have a look on our photo gallery.
Although all the art was interesting, some pieces of artwork made more sense to us than others, our favorite exhibition was a collection of photos and videos about the life of poor people in an area near the city of Salvador.
It was really moving, and we spent here more time than we probably should have, but this is also what Inhotim is about.
You can completely lose track of time here.
ENTRANCE FEE TO INHOTIM MUSEUM
Entrance fee to the Inhotim Museum is reasonable, R 44. You can pay cash or credit card, and in exchange, you will get a wrist band instead of a classic ticket.
All budget travelers should note that there is no entrance fee every Wednesday (except for when holidays fall on Wednesday), and you can wander around Inhotim for free.
HOW TO GET AROUND INHOTIM
Are you worried that you won't be able to cover 5000 acres of lush botanical gardens on foot?
Although we unquestionably recommend you to walk around Inhotim if you can, especially when the weather is fine, in case you don't have enough time or cannot walk long distances, you can get around the outdoor museum and between galleries by electric cart.
This service costs an additional R 28 per person, and you can get from one place to another quickly and easily.
There are designated paths within Inhotim with stops, so you only need wait at the small station for the next ride (you should not be waiting more than a couple of minutes).
Carts are great for elderly people, kids or people after injuries or with walking restrictions, so everyone can enjoy the museum.
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FOOD AND WATER
Inhotim museum covers large grounds, and you will most likely spend here most of your day - that's why you should bring enough water and food.
If you are used to traveling as light as possible and don't mind to spend a bit more on this one day trip, you can eat in one of many restaurants inside Inhotim museum.
WHEN TO VISIT INHOTIM MUSEUM
You can visit the Inhotim Museum all year round, but on Mondays when the museum is closed to the public.
Always check the current situation on how the museum is open during holidays, it usually operates except for December 24, 25, 31 and January 1.
HOW TO GET TO INHOTIM MUSEUM FROM BELO HORIZONTE
An hour to an hour and a half drive from Belo Horizonte (depending on your transport) lies Brumadinho, a town where you can find Inhotim Museum. Thankfully, there are several options on how to get to the museum, and the schedule of the transport is coordinated with opening hours of Inhotim, which makes it easier.
Rental car | If you don't want to rely on public transport, traveling by rental car is a great way how to visit Inhotim as you can arrive and leave the museum anytime you want. You can rent the car directly in Belo Horizonte only for a day, or travel, for example from Rio de Janeiro, which is not that far when you take into account how large the country of Brazil is.
Public transport | Every day (but Monday when Inhotim is closed), Saritour company sends a bus from Belo Horizonte to Inhotim from Rodoviaria Bus Terminal. We booked the round ticket one day in advance as soon as we arrived from Rio de Janeiro, but we think it is not necessary to reserve the ticket. Bus leaves Belo Horizonte at 8:15 AM, and returns from Inhotim at 4:30 PM on weekdays and at 5:30 PM on weekends and holidays. The ride was smooth, and even though you might have a feeling that more than six hours in the museum is too long, we can assure you that at the end we found this amount of time adequate to see everything on the grounds. Roundtrip ticket cost R 78 per person.
Van service | You can also opt for a service provided by Belvitour, but we recommend you to book it in advance via this email. The bus leaves from the Holiday Inn Hotel on Wednesday, weekends and holiday at 8:30 AM regularly, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the company must meet a minimum number of four people to run the service. The van returns back from Inhotim on the same schedule as a Saritour bus and is slightly cheaper, roundtrip costs R 66.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ONE-DAY TRIP TO INHOTIM
We visited Inhotim in March, and it was a hot and sweaty day, but the area can be colder with spring-like temperatures from May to August, and you can experience higher precipitation between October to March. As Inhotim is a combination of outside art and galleries where you can be inside, you need to pack the five following essential items.
Umbrella | In case it rains, bring along an umbrella, because the park is large, and you need to walk outside between the galleries.
Camera | You might think taking camera to the museum is not necessary. Well, make an exception when traveling to Inhotim.
WHERE TO STAY IN BELO HORIZONTE
Belo Horizonte is a big city 60 kilometers from Brumadinho. Since it is easily possible to visit Inhotim on a one-day trip from Belo Horizonte, we recommend you to stay there (unless you plan on to keep driving on the same day), because you will find here many accommodation options. We've handpicked three best places where to stay in Belo Horizonte for every budget.
Budget | Br Hostel - This popular hostel in Belo Horizonte offers both private rooms and dormitories, complimentary breakfast, fully equipped kitchen and a roof terrace where you can hang out.
Mid-range | Hotel Financial - Well-rated mid-range hotel is located in the center of Belo Horizonte, and offers a great value for money.
Luxury | Hotel Fasano Belo Horizonte - Perfectly designed rooms, rich buffet breakfast, top gastronomy, and a spa with wellness pool, sauna, and a fitness center are the main features why to stay in this hotel.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via HotelsCombined.
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