Brasilia is Brazil's hidden gem of a capital; a modern, purpose-built city in the heart of the country. It's known for its unique layout that looks like an aeroplane from above. The city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 because of its futuristic urban planning and architecture. But a stay in Brasilia is just as much about tasting local foods around the superquadra blocks as it is about building-gazing.
You'll find most hostels in Brasilia in the central section of the city's planned layout, in the 'body' of the aeroplane, and therefore close to the city centre. For a homely experience, book a stay in a Brasilia hostel decorated like a traditional Brazilian farmhouse, with dark wooden panelling and exposed brick. Some have spacious communal areas with pool tables, or large gardens with cosy terraces (and even a hammock or two). Flop into your comfy bunk at the end of the day, or book a double room for a little extra privacy.
Away from the modernist Eixo Monumental (the central area), Asa Norte and Asa Sul stretch out as the city's bustling residential wings. These are made up of superquadra blocks, with carefully designed clusters of homes, green squares, restaurants and shopping areas. Just outside the Asa Sul wing you'll find City Park, which at 420 hectares is one of the biggest in the world. The Ermida Dom Bosco – a shrine across the Paranoá Lake – is the perfect place to watch the sun go down.
You can't pass through Brasilia without seeing a few Oscar Niemeyer buildings. This Brazilian architect designed more than his fair share of the city, including the columned Itamaraty Palace, the dome-like Museu Nacional (a gallery and cultural centre) and even the futuristic crown-topped cathedral. Once you get peckish, head away from the Eixo Monumental to the superquadras, where you'll find bars and restaurants selling steaming bowls of feijoada (a traditional pork and bean stew) and caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail.
With its big six-lane boulevards that rarely see traffic jams, Brasilia is easy to explore by bus. The city also has a metro system, but this only covers Asa Sul at the moment, although an Asa Norte line is in the works. If you're flying into Brasilia's international airport, you can either hop on one of the several public buses or take an Ônibus Executivo Aeroporto to reach the centre in 20 minutes.