Things to do in Brasilia

Brasília residents and Brazilians are proud of their capital city and with just cause; it’s a stunning realisation of urban planning and modern architecture that’s just 52 years old! What the city lacks in major museums it makes up for with cultural centres, public structures and sculptures by some of Brazil’s best artists. The city itself is a functioning art gallery that’s been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its architecture. Most of the architectural marvels are conveniently located on the eastern side of the Monumental Axis. Must-see structures include the buildings within the Three Powers Square, Palace of Justice, Itamaraty Palace, Cathedral of Brasilia and the Television Tower for a great view of the city.

Brasília’s manmade lake, Lake Paranóa, is another popular site where you can also see the President’s official residence, Palácio da Alvorada (Palace of Dawn) and the striking Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge – named for the former President and visionary of the planned city. On the western side of the Axis is the underground Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial, where the former President lies amid displays dedicated to his accomplishments and life. Another structural must-see is the Dom Bosco Church of blue stained glass and concrete, which is dedicated to the 19th century Italian priest whose writings are said to have foretold of the conception of Brasília.

Away from the art and architecture, Brasília also has green spaces with its Parque da Cidade (City Park), just a tad bigger than Central Park in New York and the place for runners, cyclists and other land-based outdoor activities. Brasília National Park, located 10 kilometres from the city centre, is the largest park in an urban area in the world with natural water pools and hiking trails through the cerrado savannah, the main drawcard.

Here’s our pick of the must-see sights in Brasília.

Cathedral of Brasília

One of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s iconic structures, the Municipal Cathedral of Brasília is a work of art both inside and out. With a distinctive exterior and amazing attention to detail inside the building, this church is a must-see and the city’s most popular sight.

Itamaraty Palace

Another of Oscar Niemeyer’s masterpieces, this impressive building is the home of the Brazilian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Modernist-style palace features elegant pillars framing a rectangular glass box with exquisite landscaped gardens that add to the floating effect.

Itiquira Falls

A natural sight northeast of Brasília, Itiquira Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Brazil and certainly its most accessible. Take the two-hour hike to the top to be rewarded with cooling pools and rapids, or marvel at the rainbow effect of light dancing on the water from below.

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge and Paranóa Lake

Spanning two sights in one, the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge is a stunning structure with striking asymmetrical arches that straddles Brasília’s artificial lake, Lake Paranóa. The thoroughly modern bridge and recreational lake are two of Brasília’s most popular sites.

Palacio do Planalto

The administrative home of the Brazilian President, Planalto Palace is situated in the Three Powers Square in Brasília along with the Congress and Supreme Court buildings. The palace was also designed by Oscar Niemeyer and features an impressive ramp for presidential speeches.