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Salvador is the capital of the state of Bahia, Brazil. With a charming Old Town (a World Heritage Site), a vibrant musical scene and popular Carnival celebrations, it is considered one of the birthplaces of Brazilian culture.


Founded in 1549, Salvador was the capital in the heyday of the slave trade. The legacy remains today in its large black population, and the resulting culture in many ways outshines the rest of Brazil -- in music, many of the greatest names from the mid-20th century to the present hail from here, such as Dorival Caymmi, Gilberto Gil, and Caetano Veloso. In literature, the late Jorge Amado was also from the region. It's a vibrant, exciting city, and its people are quite friendly.


Salvador is located on a peninsula which shields the large Baía de Todos os Santos ("Bay of All Saints") from the Atlantic Ocean. The city is the third largest in Brazil, sprawling for dozens of kilometers inland from the coast. Most visitors head for the coastal neighborhoods that cluster around where the bay meets the ocean.

A 100m cliff runs along the entire bayshore, dividing the city into Cidade Alta, up on the cliff, and the Cidade Baixa down by the bay. The former features Pelourinho, the old city center that packs historical sites, colonial architecture, museums, restaurants, bars, hostels, artesanal shops, and music/dance/capoeira academies into a convenient, if tourist-swarmed, set of winding cobblestone streets. The latter features a commercial center with lots of bus traffic coming in from all over Salvador.

Outside of this area, there are many beach districts that stretch from the tip of the peninsula northeast along the Atlantic coast. The Barra neighborhood at the tip of the peninsula is the main alternative jumping-off point to Pelourinho, and a little further to the northeast are the hip neighborhoods of Rio Vermelho and Amaralina, which feature a nightlife less geared to the foreign tourism industry. A decent bus ride beyond these is the neighborhood of Itapuã, which has an energetic beachside nightlife and relatively few foreign visitors. Northward from there are kilometers and kilometers of gorgeous beaches, all accessible by bus.

The bayshore coast north beyond Pelourinho features a more tranquil
atmosphere and a locally patronized, though less scenic, beach life. The interior of Salvador is where the "new city" has developed, full of residential neighborhoods, shopping megaplexes, and knotted highways--all of which can be quite alienating without actually having a friend to show you around.

Get in

By plane

The Salvador's Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães Int'l Airport is one of Brazil's main airports, all biggest Brazilian airlines have flights to the Bahia capital city. The city also receives flights from the main hubs of Europe, South America and United States;

Scheduled Airlines:
- TAM (All Brazil, Paris, Miami and Buenos Aires) - Gol (All Brazil and Montevideo) - Ocean Air (All Brazil) - BRA (All Brazil and Lisbon) - Web Jet (Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Curitiba) - Passaredo (Vitória da Conquista, Barreiras, Brasília and Ribeirão Preto) - Abaeté (Bom Jesus da Lapa, Guanambi and Barreiras) - TAP (Lisbon) - Condor (Frankfurt) - Air Europa (Madrid) - Livingston (Milan) - Iberworld (Madrid)

The airport is 28km from the city centre (via Paralela express way) or 32km (via seaside). Two kinds of taxis are available in the airport, the executive taxis (Coometas and Comtas) has a table of prices and is operated by executive cars,they are pre-paid, the boxes are inside the airport terminal. The another option are the normal taxis with meters. Executive minibuses goes every 20minutes to the Praça da Sé, in downtown near Pelourinho, and goes via the seaside, stopping in famous beachs like Ondina, Pituba, Amaralina and Itapoã.

The fare is 4 reais (+/- US$2). Another option is the urban buses that goes to many parts of the city, to the touris the single options are Lapa, Campo Grande and São Joaquim buses, the best thing is ask before take a urban bus, the fare is 2 reais (+/-US$1). Linha Verde executive buses goes to Praia do Forte in many options of departures;

By bus

Salvador's long-distance bus station is in the middle of the new city, 14km from downtown. Salvador receive scheduled buses from all the country and from Paraguay. Inside the bus stations there are taxis (local taxis and executive taxis) and a urban bus stations with local buses to many places in Salvador and Metropolitan Area. Executive buses in the Iguatemi Station and in the entrance of Iguatemi Mall linked to the bus station by a busy walkbridge.

By boat

Salvador is on the agenda for some cruise ships, including the Queen Elizabeth II. Note that the docks area can be dangerous. This area is linked to Historic Centre Pelourinho by Elevador Lacerda, and to all the city by urban buses and executives buses to Iguatemi.

Get around

By foot

The Carlos Lacerda Elevator
The Carlos Lacerda 
The old city center can be easily explored on foot. To get between the upper and lower sections, take the Elevador Lacerda or the cable car, remember to take small change as the fare is just R$0,05. The streets between the two are considered dangerous even during the day.

By bus

City buses, as in other Brazilian cities, are constant and confusing. Fares are normally R$2.00, with air-con "expresses" (really no more express than any other bus!) charging R$3 or R$4. Remember to board in the back!

Know your landmarks and neighborhood names. Any large shopping will have a complimentary frequented bus stop, and the major intracity terminal, Lapa, is next to Shopping Lapa. If you are trying to make your way out of Pelourinho, you can either take the Elevador Lacerda down to the Comercio and find buses for just about every route, or walk to the Praca da Sé bus stop just south of the elevator, which has a much smaller selection of buses passing through, and many options of executive buses.
Buses are safe to ride at night, as long as you are on a frequented (i.e. coastal) route and dress/act inconspicuously. Service stops at midnight and begins again around 4:30 or 5AM. There are few lines in a night service from 12PM and 4AM.

By taxi

Salvador cab drivers must be competing with those in Rio for spots on Formula 1 racing teams. They will certainly get you where you're going quicker than the bus! However, as buses stop running after midnight, do be prepared to haggle quite a bit with taxistas who refuse to use the meter, especially if you've decided to explore far from your bed. Executive taxis (white and blue) don't have meters, and the prices is on a table, it's more expensive than city taxis, but are more comfortable, they are in stops in the main shopping malls, the airport, bus station, ferry-boat station and big hotels.


  • At the center of the Cidade Alta, the two large squares of Praça da Sé and the Terreiro de Jesus are connected at the corner by the cathedral. The latter is probably the most lively part of town, with food carts and stalls through the day and revelers in the evening hours.
  • The Museu Afro-Brasileiro documents the slave trade and subsequent development of the city.
  • Largo do Pelourinho, a fairly small triangular plaza, is among the oldest parts of town. You can guess from its name meaning "plaza of the pillory" what went on around here.
  • Mercado Modelo in the lower town is the city's main market, and a good place for crafts and other souvenirs. In the adjacent square you can often see young men performing capoeira, the famous martial arts dance which originates from the area.
  • Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, a small church located in a neighborhood to the north, is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in all of Brazil. [1] The colorful votive ribbons or fitas of Bonfim are an easily recognizable item throughout Brazil and even beyond. Children outside the church will (for a small fee) tie them around your wrist and tell you to make a wish for each one. If the ribbon wears off naturally, the wish will come true; if you cut it off before then, it won't. You can get to Bonfim by city bus in about fifteen minutes.
  • Abaeté Park, a protected state park around the lake with same name. The lake is famous because its dark water in contrast with the very white sand dunes. There is a entertainment area with a lot of bars with live music.
  • Solar do Unhão, place of the most beautiful sunset of Salvador. It is an old style house located at the Baía de Todos os Santos. Inside there is a small museum (Museu de Arte Moderna) with local art pieces. Sometimes it happens jam sessions at saturday afternoon.


  • Salvador's giant Carnival lasts for one week and is extremely popular with Brazilians and tourists alike.


Mercado Modelo
Mercado Modelo

If you plan to buy popular art, crafts and clothing, check the small stores at the Old Town or head to the Mercado Modelo (Model Market). Locals like to shop at American-style shopping malls.
  • Shopping Center Iguatemi
  • Salvador Shopping
  • Shopping Barra
  • Shopping Itaigara
  • Shopping Center Lapa
  • Shopping Piedade
  • Bahia Outlet Center
  • Aeroclube Shopping & Office


The Terreiro de Jesus is a great place to sample the local cuisine from street stalls, served by Afro-Brazilian baianas in their traditional white dresses. In Salvador you will find many fast-food places like Burger King, Mc Donald's, Subway or Pizza Hut.
  • acarajé - small fritters made from black-eyed peas and onion fried in palm oil slathered with spicy vatapá (shrimp paste)


  • Acarajé da Cira, Largo de Itapuã, tel. 3249-4170. Fresh acarajé daily from 10 am to 11 pm. There is also another location on the Largo do Mariquito in Rio Vermelho.
  • Acarajé da Dica, Rua J. Castro Rabelo, Pelourinho. Tuesday to Saturday 3 pm to 11 pm, and Sunday from 10 am to 1 am.
  • Health Valley Brasil, Rua Direita da Piedade, in the city center. Vegetarian restaurant run by an African couple. Serving typical dishes based around ginger. Very popular with the local alternative crowd. Buffet including fruit juice and desert costs R$8.
  • Quiosque de Amaralina, Av. Otávio Mangabeira, Amaralina. Serving acarajé near the beach from 4 to midnight.


  • Bistrô PortoSol, on a cross-street near Porto da Barra. Small, cozy Austrian-Hungarian restaurant run by an Austrian and his wife. Simple accommodations decorated with posters of classic Hollywood movies. Quite delicious.
  • Companhia da Pizza, Rio Vermelho, on a cross-street near the Pestana Bahia and Blue Tree Towers hotels. One of the city's most popular pizza restaurants.
  • La Figa - Rua das Laranjeiras 17 - Pelourinho (near Terreiro de Jesus). Italian restaurante with fresh pastas around R$35 for two people, appetizers around R$10, and deserts. The new owner changed the name in June 2007 (It was previously known as La Lupa), but the high quality, good service and good atmosphere remain the same.
  • Maria Mata Mouro, Pelourinho (near São Francisco church). Small, with only twelve tables but the service is great. Try the shrimp.
  • Meridiano, in front of the Casa do Comércio building, on Av. Tanc. Neve. Gourmet cuisine at moderate prices. Excellent service.
  • São Salvador, on the grounds of the Salvador Trade Center. Buffet with a refined atmosphere.


  • Amado, Avenida Contorno. Contemporary cuisine.
  • Barbacoa, Avenida Tancredo Neves. Fine meat dishes and some of Salvador's best feijoada in a refined atmosphere.
  • Boi Preto, Boca do Rio, in front of Aeroclube Plaza Show near the Convention Center. One of the best churrascarias in town. Full buffet and salad bar plus unlimited fine cuts of meat.
  • Casa do Comércio, Av. Tancredo Neves, 11F. (in the heart of the financial district). A good place to eat well and take in a panoramic view of Salvador.
  • Marc Le Dantec, Pier Sul Apartment Service, Ondina. The best French restaurant in the city.
  • Mistura, Itapoã. Specializing in fish and international cuisine.
  • Trapiche Adelaide, Comércia. Voted among the best fine dining in the city, with a fine view of the Bay of All-Saints.
  • Yemanjá, Av. Otávio Mangabeira 9292, Pitubá, tel. 231-5570. Long held nationally and internationally as the standard in typical Bahian cuisine.



  • Bar da Ponta, beside the Trapiche Adelaide. A place to see and be seen, drink, and have a fantastic view of the bay.
  • Beco dos Artistas, near Campo Grande. One of the gay and lesbian areas of the city, with a diversified crowd. The areas has various bars, a nightclub, and a restaurant.
  • Bohemia Music Bar, Jardim Brasil. The comfortable atmosphere, live music, and a varied menu make this a popular pick-up spot.
  • Chuleta, Vale do Canela, near the UFB campus and the neighborhoods of Graça and Vitória. Boteco frequented by university students, famous for its cheap beer and for the meat snack from which the bar takes its name. Open air, plastic tables.
  • Largo de Santana, Rio Vermelho. This busy street has various bars and restaurants, and some of the best acarajé in town.
  • Mercado do Peixe, Rio Vermelho, at the seaside in front of the Blue Tree Towers Hotel. One of the best afterhours spots, Mercado do Peixe is a real Salvador institution. It starts to get busy after 3 in the morning when everywhere else is closing. With simple accommodations and plastic tables, various stands stay open offering moquecas and regional appetizers, in addition to drinks. During the day it is, as its name suggests, a traditional seafood market.


  • Dolce, on the first floor of Shopping Boulevard 161 - Itaigara. Very busy club, attracting a somewhat older crowd.
  • Fashion Club, Av. Octávio Mangabeira, 2.471 - Pituba, tel. 71 3346-0012. Once the most vibrant nightclub in Salvador, Fashion Club has taken somewhat of a backseat since the opening of Lotus. Prices, however, are around half of what you would pay at Lotus.
  • Lotus - Without a doubt, the most popular nightclub in Salvador. Attracts mostly upper class locals, due to its elevated prices. This is where the beautiful people of Salvador go. Lotus is the sister location of the homonymous New York club.
  • Off Clube, Rua Dias Dávila, 33 - Barra, tel. 71 3267-6215. The main gay and lesbian club in town. A variety of events attracts local of all social classes.
  • Rock in Rio Café - Now considered the third best nightclub in town. The major attraction here is the pagode bands that play.
  • Zauber Multicultura, Ladeira da Misericórdia, 11 - Edifício Taveira - Comércio, tel. 71 3326-2964. Combining music and visual arts in one of the most important historic areas of the city. The space bridges between the old (architecture) and the new (decoration). Find out what is going on before you go, and take a taxi, as the location is in a rather dangerous and prostitution-plagued area of the city.


Salvador's lodging options are basically divided between the hotels in the Cidade Alta and those in the beach districts. There are also hostels in Pelourinho that are reasonably priced, but noisy at night.
  • Sao Jorge [2], in Pelourinho, charges 50 Real a night for a double room (May 2006).
  • Amaralina Praia, Av. Otavio Mangabeira 197, 248-9998. Located in the southernmost beach district, so you'll need to take a taxi to get into the old town. Not the best choice for a good night's sleep, as the open-air bar next door can be noisy.
  • Hotel Cocoon, rua Haeckel José de Almeida, 46, Jaguaribe. [3] Very nice hotel with interesting architecture. The receptionists speak fluent English, and there is free Internet access. Just meters away from the beach, 5-6 minutes from the Conventions Center or shops at Iguatemi, and 25 minutes away from historic Pelourinho. There is a bus stop close to the hotel on the main road along the beach, so it is easy to reach Pelourinho from the hotel without using a taxi.


  • Ibis Salvador Rio Vermelho, Rua Fonte do Boi, 215 - Rio Vermelho, tel. 71 3172-4100, (fax 71 3172-4101), [4].
  • Hotel Ondimar, Av. Oceânica, 1843 - Ondina, tel. 71 3245-0366, [5].
  • Sol Plaza Sleep, Av. Otávio Mangabeira, 4581 - Praia de Armação, tel. 71 3461-4018, [6].
  • Praia da Sereia, Av. Dorival Caymmi, 14 - Itapoã (near the airport), tel. 71 3285-8100, [7].
There are 3 hostels affiliated with Hostelling International, 2 situated in Barra and 1 in Pelourinho. All are quality youth hostels.
  • Albergue do Porto, Rua Barão de Sergy, 197/207 - Barra, tel. 71 3264-6600 / 3264-6452, [8].
  • Hostel Barra, Rua Artur Neiva, 04 (near Morro do Cristo) - Barra, tel. 71 3245-2600, [9].
  • Laranjeiras Hostel, Rua da Ordem Terceira 13, Pelourinho, tel. 71 3321-1366, [10].


  • Mercure Salvador Rio Vermelho, Rua Fonte do Boi, 215 - Rio Vermelho, tel. 71 3172-9200, (fax 71 3172-9201), [11].
  • Iguatemi Business Flat, Rua das Alfazemas, 761 - Caminho das Árvores, tel. 71 2101-1300, [12].
  • Portobello Ondina, Av. Oceânica, 2.275 - Ondina, tel. 71 2203-6000 / 2203-6700, Toll Free: 0800-707-1033, (fax 71 3245 3742), [13].
  • Sol Vitória Marina, Av. Sete de Setembro, 2068 - Vitória, tel. 71 3336-7736, (fax 71 3336-0507), [14].
  • Holiday Inn, Rua Dr. Augusto Lopes Pontes, 1207, Costa Azul, tel. 71 4009-4488, [15]
  • Ondina Apart, Av. Oceânica, 2400, Praia de Ondina, tel. 71 3203-8000, [16]
  • Pisa Plaza, Av. Prof. Manoel Ribeiro, Jardim Armação, tel. 71 3272-0615, (fax 71 3341-3345), [17].
  • Monte Pascoal Praia, Av. Oceânica, 591, Praia do Farol da Barra, tel. 71 3203-4000, Toll Free: 0800-71-4871, (fax 71 3245-4436), [18].


  • Pousada Convento do Carmo, Rua do Carmo, Santo Antônio, tel. 71 3327-8400 (fax 3327-8401;, [19]. Set in a restored former convent near Pelourinho, this is one of the most expensive and elegant hotels in Salvador.
  • Pestana Bahia Hotel, [20]. Located in the bohemian neighborhood of Rio Vermelho, the modern building is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city, with an excellent location.
  • Fiesta, [21]. Because it is close to the commercial and financial centers of the city, the Fiesta has one of the best locations for luxury hotels in the city. It is within easy reach of shopping centers, businesses and medical complexes, yet not far from the beach, around halfway between the airport and the historic center of town.
  • Sofitel Salvador, [22]. Though a bit far from the center of the city, it is within convenient reach of the airport.
  • A Casa das Portas Velhas, [23]. Perfect for the history buff, this pleasantly-designed hotel is located in the tranquil historic neighborhood of Mouraria, near Pelourinho and the city center.
  • Vila Galé Salvador, Ondina, tel. 0800-2848818, (, [24]. 5-star hotel located right on the seaside, close to tourist attractions.
  • Blue Tree Towers Premium, [25]. This charming hotel is located next to the Pestana in the bohemian district of Rio Vermelho, the hotel is perched on a hill with one of the best views of the city.
  • Bahia Othon Palace, Ondina, [26]. This hotel looms over the seaside in one of the city's most agreeable neighborhoods. The Othon Palace has a modern convention center. Currently being expanded.

Stay safe

As with other large Brazilian cities, Salvador is notorious for street crime; muggings and knifings are rife. Avoid travelling through the city by yourself at night. Salvador is particularly bad, and is notorious as a tourist trap.

Even though you think it might be safe, the sun is out and there is people about, you can still get mugged. When you go to the police they are pretty lax, so it is best to avoid the possibility altogether.
Peoples with a darker complexions will have an advantage over those with pale skin- blacks are likely to blend in well, darker peoples (like arabs) may be able to pass off in many places but whites are particularly targeted. AVOID carrying any kind of satchel or bags, as this is a mugger magnet! When you go to the beach, best to go in slippers and shorts, or bikini + light clothing- it might look ok, but chances are you will get robbed at some point if carrying anything that could be of any value.

Often there is heavily police guarded areas, but just outside of that area is the muggers waiting for the tourists.
If you come to this city, try to find a host who can also help serve as a guide on how to conduct yourself to stay on top.
  • Never ever go to downtown alone.
  • These days the Pelourinho, formerly one of the most dangerous areas, is heavily patrolled by police. Remember they're there for a reason, though. But also other areas, which are strongly frequented by foreigners, can become dangerous, especially at night, i.e. the Barra harbour area. Avoid dark and lonely places at night, i.e. the Jesus Christ Statue at Barra. N E V E R, N E V E R go to the beach at night!!!!!
  • The long sloping road leading from the old town to the harbor should be avoided even during the day. ALWAYS take the elevator.
  • If you are staying in the touristic Barra area, beware of the favela near Shopping Barra, especially at night. The area just to the east toward the beach can be dangerous as well.

Get out

For a nice day trip, catch the ferry to the laid-back island of Itaparica. Salvador is also the gateway to many other nearby attractions such as:
  • Praia do Forte - Beach town with the "Project Tamar" turtle sanctuary.
  • Boipeba - A beautiful and very pleasent island
  • Morro de Sao Paulo - Very visited island, plenty of restaurants, hostels and bars. It has four beaches with tranlucent water.
  • Massarandupió - At 90 Km from Salvador, it's a true paradise, a semi-desert beach, with a small river. Walking by the beach you can reach a naturist area.

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