By Car -- From Belo Horizonte take the BR-040 for some 30km (19 miles), then turn onto the BR-356 to Ouro Preto. From Rio de Janeiro take the BR-040 highway as far as Conselheiro Lafaiete, then follow the Estrada Real to Ouro Preto. From São Paulo follow the BR-381 to Lavras and then take the BR-265 to Barbacena. In Barbacena take the BR-040 in the direction of Belo Horizonte.
From Belo Horizonte's Pampulha or Confins airport (Pampulha is about 40km/25 miles closer to Ouro Preto than Confins airport), it's possible to negotiate with a taxi to take you straight to Ouro Preto for a set fee (expect to pay around R$150-R$200, depending on your bargaining skills) or you can take the bus.
By Bus -- Regular buses connect from Rio (7 hr.), São Paulo (11 hr.), and Belo Horizonte (2 hr.) to Ouro Preto. Util runs a nightly 11:30pm bus from Rio to Ouro Preto, arriving first thing in the morning (tel. 021/2518-1133 in Rio, or 031/3551-3166 in Ouro Preto); tickets cost R$71 for a regular seat and R$115 for a comfortable almost bedlike seat (leito). Cristo Rei has three daily departures between São Paulo Bresser Station (tel. 011/3692-4073) and Ouro Preto (tel. 031/3551-1777). Passaro Verde runs at least 20 buses a day between Belo Horizonte and Ouro Preto (tel. 031/3073-7575). Tickets cost R$22. The Ouro Preto bus station is a R$10 taxi ride from the historic core.
Ouro Preto Tourist Information is at Rua Claudio Manuel 61 (tel. 031/3559-3544; daily 8am-6pm). For tour guides, contact the Ouro Preto Tour Guide Association at tel. 031/3551-2655. A 4-hour English-language tour of Ouro Preto (with up to 10 people) costs R$100.
Fast Facts -- Banco do Brasil, Rua São José 189 (tel. 031/3551-2663), has a 24-hour ATM. This branch will also exchange U.S. dollars. Almost next door, the HSBC, Rua São José 201 (tel. 031/3551-2048), also has ATMs. Cyber House, Rua Conde Bobadela 109 (tel. 031/3552-2048), is open daily from 10am to 8pm.
When to Go to Ouro Preto & Mariana
Avoid visiting Ouro Preto and Mariana on Monday, as the majority of churches, museums, and attractions are closed. To take advantage of lower room rates in either town, visit Tuesday through Friday. Everything is open but not as busy as on the weekends.
A Taxi Tour
Many of the city's taxi drivers will also agree to a full- or half-day sightseeing rate. This is an ideal option for visiting Mariana or getting out into the countryside.