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31 Monumental Things to do in Brasília on a Business Trip

Planning a business trip to Brasília? Make the most of your visit to Brazil's capital with these things to do in Brasília that I've personally tested.
Vou ter saudades de Brasília! I'm going to miss Brasília

I had the opportunity to visit Brasília on a business trip and that week in Brazil's modern capital city totally exceeded my expectations. My motto in life is: Work to Live, Live to Travel, Travel for Work

I was able to do just that when I was invited to give a keynote at a large tech conference in Brasília (including an introduction in Portuguese in front of about 5000 people! 😅) 

Business trips mean there are lots of opportunities to get recommendations from locals. My colleagues and new friends had plenty of opinions about what I should do and I appreciated all the advice. 

What did I do in Brasília? Read on and discover 31 monumental things to do when you visit Brasília for work.

Things to do in Brasília: Brasília Cathedral

Brasília Facts and History

Let's start with a bit about Brasília's history. I learned a lot about Brasília on my business trip both from colleagues and new friends and by visiting local museums and other attractions.

Brasilia has been the capital of Brazil since April of 1960 when the seat of power transitioned here from Rio de Janeiro. The idea of a capital in the geographic center of Brazil dates back to the end of the 19th century when the Cruls Expedition (Missão Cruls) specced out the site that would one day become Brasília. 

Brasília was an entirely planned city, and was quickly constructed in the late 1950s under the leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek (aka JK), who envisioned a centralized capital that would foster unity and development in the vast nation. JK led Brazil through a period of unparalleled economic and cultural prosperity. 

Office buildings and Portuguese mosaic sidewalks in Brasília Brazil

Why was the decision made to move Brazil's capital to the interior of the country? Originally, moving away from the coast was a security decision. 

Many capitals attacked in the past (around the world) were on the coast and it was believed that a coastal location was more vulnerable. Over time, the rationale shifted to one of putting Brazil's center on equal footing with the more popular and populated coastal cities. 

Statues outside Brasilia Cathedral

It was a symbolic gesture: moving the political and administrative center of Brazil closer to the geographic heart of the country.

Today, Brasília is a vibrant city. The metro area is home to more than 5 million people. The mid-century modern architecture, including numerous landmark buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, defines the city's identity. 

One especially fun fact that I learned about Brasília that captured my imagination as I was preparing for my trip is that the Brazilian capital has a very unique design. 

The city resembles an airplane from above, a concept for which the city can thank urban planner Lúcio Costa. I quickly learned that residents of Brasília orient themselves relative to the Monumental Axis (the body of the plane) and the north and south "wings".

Screenshot of Google Maps satellite view showing the airplane shape of Brasilia

Things to do in Brasília at a Glance

Let's explore some things to do in Brasília on your business trip. I tried all of these activities on my trip and can personally recommend them. Click on each item to jump to that section of the post.

Table of Contents

Things to do in Brasília in Detail

Now let's explore all of Brasília's attractions in depth to give you a better feel for the city and how to make the most of your business trip.

1. Watch the Sunset at Bar 16 on the Rooftop of the B Hotel

During a business trip to Brasília, you'll likely be busy during the daytime during the week. Head to Bar 16 on the Rooftop of the B Hotel for a sunset drink after work. 

Cocktail at Bar 16 Rooftop Bar in Brasilia

If you're not staying at the hotel, no problem! The rooftop bar is open to the public after 5 pm as long as you are willing to spend 120 BRL (about 20 EUR at the time of writing). I ordered a couple of their signature cocktails and some delicious sliders for a light dinner and easily met the minimum spend.

View of Torre de TV from Bar 16 Rooftop Bar in Brasilia

From Bar 16, you can watch the sunset over Brasília's monumental axis with great views of the Torre de TV; Convention Center Ulysses Guimarães (where I gave my conference keynote); and Arena BRB Mané Garrincha, a huge soccer stadium built for the World Cup. 

Sunset view from Bar 16 at B Hotel in Brasilia

I visited Brasília in late November and a number of the nearby buildings were decorated for Christmas.

Storm over commercial buildings in Brasilia

You can see my seat on the plane, so to speak, at Bar 16 here:

Screenshot from Google Maps showing Brasilia's airplane shape and the location of Bar 16

2. Take a Sunday Stroll Wing to Wing on Eixo

I learned from my colleague that Eixo is a road that runs "wing to wing". You can drive end to end on this road in Brasília in about 15 minutes, but these 14 km of asphalt are closed to traffic on Sunday and turned into a cycleway and running route. 

When I visited Brasília, the Brasília Marathon was taking place and I got to see some of the runners pass as we ambled along.

The Brazilian presidents personal lane on Eixo in Brasilia

Another interesting thing that I learned from my colleague on this business trip was that the yellow lane in the center of Eixo has a special purpose. This used to be the Brazilian president's personal lane for getting around the city. 

Today, this lane is a mark of Brasília's history but is no longer used for this purpose. The president gets around by helicopter now.

3. Find Tranquility at Templo Da Boa Vontade

One of my colleague's friends recommended an unusual thing to do in Brasília: visiting Templo da boa Vontade, the Temple of Good Will. I'm not a religious person or even really a spiritual person, but I decided to check it out anyway.

Things to do in Brasilia - Temple of Good Will
The Temple of Good Will is a giant pyramid with a special crystal in the roof. The main attraction involves walking a spiral until you arrive at the very center of the pyramid under the crystal. 

Spiral pathway inside the Temple of Good Will in Brasilia

The path into the center is black and the path out is white. This seems to symbolize shedding anything dark and bad that you may be feeling and filling yourself with energy from the crystal. You can leave a message of gratitude in the bowl when you arrive at the altar as you exit the spiral.

The Temple of Good Will in Brasília is free, but if you want to access the special Egyptian Room, you'll have to pay 3 BRL. I was curious and decided it was worth this small fee to check it out. 

Egyptian artifacts at the Temple of Good Will in Brasilia

Pictures are not allowed in the Egyptian Room, but a docent explained to me that there were 7 seating areas, 7 sections of the ceiling, 7 carpets, and more. 7 is considered to be an auspicious number in this temple. 

I also learned that the motifs of the Temple of Good Will have one thing in common: they are based on religions that believe that life doesn't end when you die. Whether it's worshipping a sun god in Egypt or the Christian God, there is a common belief that the spirit lives on after death. 

I took a moment to sit in a deep blue chair apholstered in rich velvet with gold accents to contemplate this revelation.

Before leaving Templo da Boa Vontade, I wandered through the gallery of religious art.

Walking the spiral pathway at the Temple of Good Will in Brasilia

One important thing to note: you must dress modestly when you visit the temple. I didn't realize when I went that I wouldn't be admit in shorts or a skirt above the knees. Fortunately, the temple will lend you a skirt to cover your legs so at least my trip over here was not a bust.

Location of the Temple of Good Will in Brasilia on Google Maps

4. Visit Santuário São João Bosco

Since I live in Lisbon, I am trying to learn Portuguese. I took the opportunity afforded by my visit to Brasília to practice my Portuguese with everyone that I met. 

Things to do in Brasilia - Interior of Santuário São João Bosco

I was telling a taxi driver about my adventures and he asked if I had been to the igreja azul. I assumed he meant the Brasília Cathedral which is covered in amazing stained glass. 

I looked up the name that the driver had referenced and realized that he was talking about Santuário São João Bosco, a completely different blue church. 

From the outside, the church resembles a mid-20th century concrete block. Inside, however, is another story. 

I think Santuário São João Bosco is probably one of the most Instagrammable places in Brasília. The church features floor to ceiling panels of bright blue stained glass and an amazing crystal chandelier. 

Things to do in Brasilia - Interior of Santuário São João Bosco

If you enjoy photography, I think Santuário São João Bosco is definitely worth adding to your list of things to do in Brasília. 

5. Learn about Brasília's History at Memorial JK

Memorial JK is a must visit Brasília attraction if you are interested in history. Above ground, you'll find a large white monolithic building with an iconic sculpture rising from it. 

Memorial JK in Brasilia

Descend the steps and go inside to learn more about President Juscelino Kubitschek, the much beloved public figure who brought Brazil's capital to Brasília.

On most days, the museum at Memorial JK costs 10 BRL (cash only). When I visited on a Sunday morning, entry was free (not sure if it's free every week or just once a month). 

I enjoyed walking through JK's library which was filled with artifacts from his presidency as well as pictures of two American presidents (JFK and Eisenhower) who visited Brasília. 

Library inside Memorial JK in Brasilia

Upstairs you'll find an array of photos, artifacts, and some of the clothing worn by President JK and his wife Sarah Kubitschek.

I learned during my visit that JK was killed in a tragic car accident in 1976 and that his wife and family fought tirelessly for this memorial which was opened in 1981.

Location of Memorial JK in Brasilia on Google Maps

6. Walk Along the Lake at Pontão do Lago Sul

At least 5 people: colleagues, their friends, and my taxi drivers told me that I must visit Pontão do Lago Sul for o pôr do sol (sunset). In November in Brasília, I found that it rained like clockwork around 5 pm each day. 

Gran Bier at Pontão do Lago Sul

I got into a cab in the pouring rain hedging my bets that it would clear in time for sunset. Unfortunately, that was not the case. 

I arrived in Pontão do Lago Sul to find people huddled inside bars waiting out the weather. The lake was choppy and there was even a small tourist vessel partially submerged. This was one heck of a storm!
View of the bridge over Lago Sul in Brasilia

I decided not to stay for the sunset since I was worried that more rain was on the way, but I did take a short walk along the lake during a break in the rain. Pontão do Lago Sul is lined with winding paths connecting the bars and restaurants in this area. 

Walking path along Lago Sul at Pontão in Brasilia

Despite the inclement weather, I could easily see why Pontão is a popular Brasília attraction.

7. Ascend to the Mirante at the Torre de TV de Brasília

My colleagues two daughters described the Torre de TV as the Eiffel Tower of Brasília. Torre de TV is the tallest structure for miles around and is a useful point of orientation along Brasília's Monument Axis. The TV tower is a popular thing to do in Brasília for both locals and visitors alike. 
View from the platform at Torre de TV de Brasilia

During the day, you can take an elevator ride to a viewing platform for spectacular views over the city. Best of all, the visit is free. Visitors are asked to spend no more than 10 minutes on the viewing platform before coming back down.

Location of Torre de TV de Brasilia on Google Maps

8. Shop the Feira da Torre de TV

On weekends, there is a local handicrafts and furniture market in the shadow of Torre de TV. Feira da Torre de TV is a great place to go to shop for local souvenirs. 

Feira da Torre de TV in Brasilia viewed from above

I browsed for about an hour and picked up high quality t-shirts featuring the iconic airplane shape of Brasília and a small bag featuring the famous ipê trees of Brasília. 

I learned from my colleague that ipê trees are one of the things that Brasília is famous for. In June each year, for a few days only, trees erupt in spectacularly colorful blooms across a wide spectrum. 

Feira da Torre de TV in Brasilia

This is another great thing about visiting Brasília for work. When you encounter anything you are unsure about, you have colleagues to ask and you can get an insiders perspective on the city you are visiting.

I love artisans sign at Feira da Torre de TV de Brasilia

9. Shop Conjunto Nacional

I stayed near Centro do Comércio Conjunto Nacional and found that this large mall was useful for picking up supplies including a local SIM card, souvenirs, and a bite to eat. As an added bonus, if you step out the front side of the mall, you'll find the National Theatre looming in front of you.

View of the National Theatre from Centro do Comercio Conjunto Nacional

10. Check out Brasília's Commercial Strips

Brasília is a planned city organized around the concept of residential blocks interspersed with commercial strips. Take an Uber to one of these commercial strips to get a sense of how locals live and shop. 

Colorful cafe on one of Brasilia's commercial streets

I went to a supermarket called Oba that my colleague recommended and used the opportunity to quickly walk among the shops along about a two block stretch.

11. Look for Cultural Events

My colleague suggested that we go to a small cultural festival in Brasília. Apparently, some of the government agencies had money to burn before the end of the year and set up some local music performances, activities for children, and a variety of food trucks. 

Tent and jazz stage in Brasilia

If you are visiting Brasília on a business trip like I was, ask your colleagues who are in the know about unique activities. I got to hang out with my colleague and his family as we listened to jazz, sampled poke from Aloha Ni Hao (his friend's restaurant), sipped craft beers, and enjoyed sticky sweet passion fruit popsicles for sobremesa (dessert).

12. Circle Fonte da Torre

The cultural festival that I just described took place near Torre de TV. In front of Brasília's TV tower, you'll find Fonte da Torre. 

While my colleague recommended staying on your guard in this area, especially around dusk, I found this area to be a beautiful place to take a walk and some pictures. 

Fonte da Torre in Brasilia
The fountain comes alive and looks really nice against the backdrop of the surrounding skyscrapers of the hotel districts flanking Brasília's Monumental Axis.

Windsor Hotel viewed through the waters of Fonte da Torre in Brasilia

Dar uma volta (take a walk; give a turn) and do a lap around the fountain for a bit of exercise and some great photo-ops.

13. Visit Brasília's Buddhist Temple

As we've seen, Brasília features a number of buildings dedicated to various religions and spiritual causes. Templo Shin Budista Terra Pura Brasília, the local Buddhist Temple is a peaceful place to visit. 

Templo Shin Budista Terra Pura Brasília

If the temple is open, go inside to see the beautiful golden Buddha. If not, have a walk around the peaceful grounds.

14. Check out Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima and Brasília's Superblocks

Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima is a tiny church covered in blue tiles. Built in 1958, this modest church was designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Paying a visit to this small Catholic church also affords the opportunity to check out one of Brasília's residential superblocks. 
Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima in Brasilia
Each neighborhood unit is made up of four residential superblocks which are home to about 3000 people. The buildings are 6 stories tall. 

My colleague told me they were designed not to exceed this height so that parents could easily shout out the window to call their kids in from outside for dinner. 

Each neighborhood unit also includes commercial streets, a church, schools, health center, and places of entertainment (e.g., library and movie theatre).

Interior of Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima in Brasilia

15. Visit Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida

While Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima is modest and tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida is at the other end of the spectrum. This cathedral may very well be the most iconic building in all of Brasília.
Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brasilia

Not surprisingly, the church was designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The architecture of the church seems to invoke open hands reaching up and praying to God. 

Interior of Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brasilia
The Brasília cathedral is even more impressive inside. Visitors descend into the church via a dark ramp. Once inside, my jaw-dropped as I looked up at three angels and absolutely stunning stained glass shining in the sun. 
Stained glass inside of Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida in Brasilia
The interior of this church is one of the most beautiful I've seen in the world. The closest comparison I can make is to the Rock Church in Helsinki, Finland.

If you enjoy photography like I do, make sure to pay a visit to Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida.

Location of Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida on Google Maps

16. Catch a Slice of Life at Museu Nacional da República

Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida is a good starting point for a walking tour of Brasília's monumental axis. Next door, you'll find Museu Nacional da República, a giant white dome that reminded me of planet Saturn.

Museu Nacional da República, one of Brasilia architectural attractions

I discovered free art exhibits and locals taking a yoga class when I visited. I think it's definitely worth stopping by Museu Nacional da República for 30 minutes to experience an unexpected slice of local life.

Inside Museu Nacional da República, one of Brasilia architectural attractions

17. Pop into Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília Leonel de Moura Brizola

Next to Museu Nacional da República, you'll find Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília Leonel de Moura Brizola. I found that Brasília's National Library is more impressive on the outside than inside. However, it is a great place to visit if you need a quiet break or to cool off.

Exterior of Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília

The biggest issue that I had with exploring Brasília is that it gets very hot here, especially in Austral summer and there is very little shade for a respite from the heat. The library is a nice air-conditioned sanctuary.

18. Appreciate the Architecture of the Government Buildings

It took me about 20 minutes to walk from Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília down the monumental axis toward Brazil's government buildings. Note: the sidewalks in this area can be a little spotty and there are relatively few places to cross the street here. I recommend walking down the central Esplanada dos Ministérios.

I walked in this area on the weekend and the traffic was light. I was able to dash back and forth across the street as needed to see some of the buildings up close. Be careful though! The streets are wide and traffic may be faster than you think.

Waterfall on the exterior of the Palace of Justice in Brasilia

Itamaraty Palace (home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the Palace of Justice are two must-see buildings in this area. 

Exterior of Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia

19. Tour Congresso Nacional

Anchoring one end of the Monumental Axis of Brasília is Congresso Nacional which houses Brazil's two legislative chambers: Câmara dos Deputados and Senado Federal.

Brasilia Attractions: Congresso Nacional

I visited on Saturday and noticed that the gates were open and people were going inside. I had read that you can take a tour of the Congress so I joined the queue. I went through airport-style security, showed my passport and nabbed a ticket for the 11 am tour.

I had arrived around 10:30, but was able to keep myself occupied and entertained writing postcards to friends and family. Pick up free postcards at the ticket desk, fill them out, and mail them for free anywhere in the world if you drop your completed cards in the collection box. 

Free postcards at Congresso Nacional in Brasilia

If you have the chance to tour Congresso Nacional, I do recommend going on the weekend. Since the legislature is not in session, we were able to go inside both chambers. Also, the dress code in more relaxed on the weekend: you can wear shorts. During the week, that's not the case. 

Câmara dos Deputados at Congresso Nacional in Brasilia

The tour is in Portuguese, but the guy at reception gave me a sheet with English information to accompany the tour. Make sure to bring your passport or other national ID. You'll be turned away if you don't have the original with you.

Chamber of Senado Federal at the National Congress in Brasilia

Overall, I learned a ton about the Brazilian system of government and the history of the country on this free one hour guided tour. Touring Congress turned out to be one of my favorite things to do in Brasília.

Location of Congresso Nacional in Brasilia on Google Maps

20. Walk Praça dos Três Poderes

Praça dos Três Poderes is located just behind Congresso National. This impressive square with the Brazilian flag flying proudly about it is flanked by all three pillars of government.

Flagpole flying the Brazilian flag on Praça dos Três Poderes in Brasilia

This includes Palácio do Planalto (official workplace of the president of Brazil), Supremo Tribunal Federal (Brazil's highest court), and Congresso National. 

Palácio do Planalto in Brasilia Brazil

One of my colleague's friends noted that this is one of very few places in the world where all three branches of government are homed within 100 meters of each other.

Location of the Three Powers Plaza in Brasilia

21. Step Inside Panteão da Pátria e da Liberdade - Memorial Tancredo Neves

On the fourth side of Praça dos Três Poderes, I discovered Panteão da Pátria e da Liberdade, an architecturally interesting hall (once again designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer) dedicated to honouring Brazil's national heroes. 

Panteão da Pátria e da Liberdade in Brasilia

Enter for free and have a look around. Most of the information is in Portuguese, but I still think it's worth stopping in for 10 minutes to get a feel for Brazil's history. As an added bonus, it's cool and dark inside this building making this a great place to escape the Brazilian heat.

22. See a Model of the City at Espaço Lucio Costa

I stumbled upon a staircase in Praça dos Três Poderes leading down to Espaço Lucio Costa. Here you'll find a scaled model of Brasília to capture your imagination.

Scale model of Brasilia at Espaço Lucio Costa

23. Admire Brasília's Business Buildings

Whether on foot or driving by in an Uber, Brasília's business buildings are also iconic. I learned from my colleague that Caixa Econômica Federal looks like a stack of coins and that Banco Central do Brasil looks like stacks of cash.

Brasilia Architecture: Caixa Federal and Central Bank of Brazil

I spent a fair amount of time during my business trip at a coworking space between Eixo L, Via S2 and Via S3. From here, I was also able to admire some modern glassy towers and a Banco do Brasil building with the company's logo on the side. 

Garden surrounded by skyscrapers in Brasilia

Once again, the architecture of Brasília is the real tourist attraction.

Location of some of Brasilia's iconic office buildings

24. Grab a Drink at Mezanino

Now let's take a look at some things to do in Brasília that involve eating and drinking. Torre de TV in Brasília has a posh restaurant and bar that is great to visit after dark for great views of the city. 

Collage of pictures from Mezanino at Torre de TV in Brasilia

I sipped a Macunaíma cocktail made with cachaça and Fernet-Branca while enjoying the buzz of Mezanino on a Friday night.

25. Eat Lunch at Asa Gaúcha

Another fantastic thing about traveling for work if that I often get to try restaurants I never would have discovered on my own. After I gave my conference keynote, I was invited to join a group heading to lunch. We ended up as Asa Gaúcha, a by-the-kg, restaurant featuring a wide selection of meats and side dishes. 

Where to eat in Brasilia: Restaurant Asa Gaúcha

Grab a plate, add items that catch your eye from the buffet and then head up to the grill. Select some different cuts of meats and then head to the weighing station where you'll get a card programmed with what you've bought so far. 

At the table, order drinks and add them to your card. If you have room, you can go back for a plate of desserts. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I had absolutely no room for anything else. 

Collage of pictures from the buffet at Asa Gaúcha in Brasilia

Once you're done, scan your card at the cashier, pay up, and be on your way.

I really appreciated going to this place with a group. They were able to help me navigate the process of selecting and ordering meats. I took my cue from the locals on what to try.

26. Sample a Mega Buffet at Mangai

On a different day, I went for lunch at a restaurant close to O Lago do Sul called Mangai. 

I've never seen a buffet so large! There were two incredibly long banquets and every dish was different. In addition, there was a meat station and a crazy array of desserts. 

Mega buffet at Mangai in Brasilia

Similar to Asa Gaúcha, you pay by the kilogram. Mangai, however, specializes in dishes from the Northeast part of Brazil. 

I also recommend trying some of the exotic juices that you'll find in Brazil. With a little help from my colleague, I selected acerola juice which tasted a lot like sour cherries (my favorite!). 

Mangai even has a small store where you can buy products from Northeast Brazil. My colleague suggested that I try the hard brown sugar sweets that this part of Brazil is known for.

Make sure to take a moment to enjoy the views of the lake before heading back to work after lunch.

27. Enjoy Feijoada at Amigão Bar e Restaurante

I was told that feijoada is a Saturday tradition in Brazil. I felt fortunate that I was able to join my colleague and his family for feijoada at a local restaurant that I never would have discovered on my own. 

We were ushered to a table and served a round of drinks: for me a nice, tart lemonade. 

We were served a plate of potato chips, known locally as batatas portuguesas (Portuguese potatoes!). Soon, a steaming hot clay pot filled with beans and all manner of pork arrived at the table. This was served alongside rice, farofa, and fried pork skin.

I even got to try Amigão's homemade hot sauce which gave the feijoada a nice kick.

Collage of pictures from Amigão in Brasilia

Delicious! While the restaurant was modest, the prices were not. My colleague told me that the meal cost about 200 BRL (about 40 EUR). 

28. Sample Açai

I was told that there are two iconic dishes in Brazil that I needed to try: feijoada and açai. I ticked that second box at lunch one day at a local cafe. 

I ordered a dish of açai which is made from the berry of the açai palm tree. There were an array of toppings to choose from. 

I chose to try crushed peanuts which made for a nice flavor combination. The açai was tart and refreshing (not to mention loaded with anti-oxidants).

29. Indulge in Sweet Treats at Casa Doce

Another fun thing to do in Brasília is go to Casa Doce for ice cream or a slice of cake. Located in one of the commercial streets between residential superblocks, this place is definitely worth a stop if you have a sweet tooth.

Payment card at Casa Doce in Brasilia

30. Eat Steak on a Sword at Steak Bull

Another typical Brazilian food experience is to eat at a Rodízio-style restaurant. My colleague and I visited Steak Bull and were treated to an array of meat dishes brought to our table and served on swords. I'd tried something similar when we visited Rio de Janeiro and it was fun to reprise that experience.

Steak on a sword in Brasilia

31. Taste Local Craft Beers

I enjoy tasting local craft beers and in Brazil the beers are even more local than in other places. Brazil is a big country and it's expensive to ship beer around. 

Wine beer from Gont's Cervejaria in Brasilia

Therefore, micro-breweries have popped up in the major cities of Brazil and Brasília is no exception. I tried a chopp (cup) of wine beer (a type of grape ale that I'm told is becoming more popular in Brazil) from Gont's Cervejeria and a hoppy American Pale Ale from Crul's Cervejaria. 

Getting to Brasília

I was surprised to find that even though Brasília is the capital of Brazil, there are relatively limited direct international flights outside of South America. It's possible to fly direct to Brasília from the United States via Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale in Florida. 

If you plan to visit Brasília from Europe like I did, you'll need to fly via Lisbon. I live in Portugal so it was convenient for me to take the direct 9-10 hour flight on TAP Portugal. 

Departures hall at Brasilia Airport

Alternatively, connect to Brasília via other destinations in Brazil like São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

On the bright side, Brasil is just +2 hours ahead of U.S. East timezone and -3 hours behind Portugal, UK, and Ireland for half of the year and +1, -4 hours during the other half of the year because Brasil does not change the clocks to observe daylight savings time. All of this is great news from a jetlag perspective.

Where to Stay in Brasília

Brasília has two hotel districts flanking the Monumental Axis, one on the North Wing and one on the South Wing. I stayed in the North Hotel Sector at Windsor Brasilia Hotel for 366 BRL per night (about 60 EUR at the time of writing). 

The Windsor Brasília is listed as a 4-star hotel. I found the hotel to be comfortable with decent sized rooms. If you get a room on a higher floor, you can appreciate views over Brasília. 

View from the 15th floor of the Windsor Brasilia Hotel

Breakfast was included in my rate and featured an outstanding hot and cold buffet. I ate mango and papaya every day along with Brazil's famous Pão de queijo and an assortment of breads and sweet treats.

Breads and sweets on the breakfast buffet at the Windsor Brasilia Hotel in Brasilia

In the evening, sit in the modest lobby bar for a quick bite and a caipirinha. 

The Windsor Brasília also offers reasonably priced laundry service if you're staying long enough on your business trip and want to pack light. I paid the equivalent of about 10 EUR to laundry a full outfit to wear on the plane home.

caipirinha at the lobby bar of the Windsor Brasilia Hotel

In Brasil, you'll want to drink bottled water and I was disappointed that the only bottled water available was in the mini-bar. It wasn't particularly expensive, but it wasn't available in copious amounts. 

The hotel is in a convenient location next to the Conjunto Nacional Shopping Centre, but unfortunately there is no supermarket in the mall. 

View of Conjunto Nacional Mall decorated for Christmas from the Windsor Brasilia Hotel

In a pinch, you can grab a few 500 mL bottles of water from one one of the cafes in the mall, but your best bet is to go to a nearby Carrefour for provisions.

Location of the Windsor Brasilia Hotel on Google Maps

Getting Around Brasília

My colleague told me that the best and safest way to get around in Brasília is with Uber Black. He said to choose Uber Black because the cars are nicer. Rides of about 10 minutes cost less than 20 BRL (about 4 EUR at the time of writing). 

Of course, to avail of Uber, you'll need to ensure that your mobile phone works. It can be challenging to get a local SIM in Brazil without a CPF number (Brazilian fiscal number). 

If you're traveling on business, perhaps there is a colleague who will let you use their CPF. Otherwise, you'll either need to activate a roaming plan on your home network or use an option that works internationally like Google Fi.

Street art on an underpass in Brasilia

Brasília has a metro and bus network, but foreigners are advised to avoid these modes of transportation.

Getting around Brasília is pretty easy since most points of interest are less than a 15 min drive. In fact, to drive wingtip to wingtip (14 km) takes about 15 minutes.

One of the biggest challenges in getting around Brasília is the language. English is not widely spoken in Brasília so it is helpful to know some Portuguese or download offline access to Google Translate so you're never caught without the ability to communicate.

I found that Brasília was mostly a cashless culture and that I could tap and pay for most things. It can be helpful to get some reais for emergencies and for smaller vendors like those at the Feira da Torre de TV.

Is Brasília Safe to Visit

You may be wondering, is Brasília a safe city to visit. I used common sense and felt relaxed and safe for my entire visit. 

Don't wear expensive jewelry or walk around with a camera around your neck. Be careful where and when you take out your phone. 

Default to Uber Black to get around. It's possible to take a walk in some places during the day (e.g., around the government buildings), but ask a local first before taking a walk. 

View of Congresso Nacional in Brasilia from the side

For example, I was starting to feel quite comfortable in the city after a few days. I noticed that the B Hotel and rooftop bar was only a 10 minute walk from where I was staying. 

I asked my colleague if it was safe to walk and he told me during the day, yes, but don't walk after 6 pm (around the time that it gets dark). It was 6:15 at the time so I took an Uber Black instead.

Brasília is generally regarded as one of the safer cities in Brazil (e.g., compared to São Paulo). Still, make sure you don't let your guard down completely.

Is Brasília Worth Visiting? 

Brasília is a city that I probably would not have visited without this invitation to speak at a conference. It's a business city and a government city. It's less of a tourist city. 

That said, I think every place is worth visiting at least once and I made the most of my time here and I think you can too.

For me, Brasília was full of delightful surprises, like an impromptu fireworks display of unknown origin that felt like it was put on just for me. 

With this in mind, I was not surprised to see Brasília had made the New York Times list of 52 places to go in 2024.

If you have the chance to visit Brasília for work, I recommend that you jump at the chance. I personally appreciated the opportunity to meet a wide array of people and experience a slice of life in the Brazilian capital. 

Want to read more about Sidewalk Safari travels in Brazil? Head on over to my post about visiting Rio and the amazing Rio de Janeiro activities you'll find in this vibrant city.

Palace of Justice and the Brazilian flag flying above it in Brasilia

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 31 Monumental Things to do in Brasília on a Business Trip
31 Monumental Things to do in Brasília on a Business Trip
Planning a business trip to Brasília? Make the most of your visit to Brazil's capital with these things to do in Brasília that I've personally tested.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog