500km inland from Rio, the colonial glory of Minas Gerais state was founded upon gold, precious gems and minerals and boasts more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in Brazil. Across the state, beautiful towns dot the hillsides awash with cobbled streets, soaring spires and some of the finest Baroque architecture in the Americas. Explore the mansions, museums and elaborate churches of Ouro Preto, the centre of the 18th century gold rush and best preserved of the towns. Close by, Tiradentes is steeped in old-world charm and famous for its art museums, boutique hotels and local gastronomy. Head into the countryside and you can visit the old mines or explore the wildlife, caves and waterfalls of the Serra do Cipo National Park. For hikers, you can even set off along tracts of the famous “Caminho do Oro” the famous trade route which linked Minas Gerais with the colonial port of Paraty just south of Rio.