Salvador City Guide
Salvador is a city like no other; the well-preserved facades of its 17th century Portuguese old town, known as the Pelhourino, give away the essence of this city in their myriad of bright, beautiful colours. Salvador is a city of colour, music and most importantly cultural diversity. Salvador tourist information will tell you that it is considered the birthplace of Afro-Brazilian culture, and when the streets are raging with revellers at the yearly carnival you can see why! Famous for its capoeira, samba-reggae music and golden churches like the famous Igresa NS do Bonfim, you can see why Salvador is considered one of the most outgoing cities in the world. Any Salvador city guide will tell you that a holiday here won’t just be made special by the UNESCO world heritage city centre; rather your holiday will be lit up by one of the most vibrant cultures in the world.
Things to do in Salvador
The first stop for many in Salvador will be the Pelhourino, part of the city’s old Portuguese centre. With its array of brightly painted buildings, this square showcases how well-preserved its buildings are. Once you’re in the old town, a visit to the Igreja e Convento São Francisco is a must. This baroque church is one of the most impressive of its kind in Brazil, with fascinating gilt woodwork throughout. The Museum of Afro-Brazilian culture makes for a very interesting day out, as there is a good exhibition on the African roots of Brazilian Candomblé, a religion still widely practiced in Salvador. One of the things to do in Salvador that shouldn’t be missed is a visit to the beautiful Porto da Barra beach!
Things to see in Salvador
If you want to get away from Salvador’s busy town centre, the state-protected Abaeté Park is just ten miles out of town. It is famous for its lagoon, which has dark black waters and gleaming white sand. Solar do Unhão is an intriguing example of a well-preserved 18th century trading complex. The building now houses the Museum of Modern Art, holds concerts on Saturday evenings and is famous for its dazzling views of the bay at sunset. One of the things to see in Salvador that will take you by surprise is the Elevador Lacerda, a spectacular piece of Art Deco architecture. Its tall, white column is a way to travel from Salvador’s old town to the lower seafront of the city.
You can fly into Salvador’s Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães International Airport. Once you’re at the airport you will need to take a bus or taxi to Salvador’s centre, which is a 28km journey. Once you’re in Salvador transport can take some time to master. There are some areas of the city that is it not advisable to travel around on foot due to high crime rates. However, the old city centre is easily explored this way and safe. There are buses across town that are frequent if a little confusing, and efficient taxis, but be prepared to haggle for these!
There’s one event in Salvador that sets it apart from all other cities. The Carnival, traditionally held before Lent usually takes place in late February, and has been officially named as the largest party in the world. The six days of Carnival are a great time to visit if you really want to experience Afro-Brazilian culture and enjoy the samba rhythms and vibrant costumes late into the night! Other Salvador events that are worth visiting for are the Candomblé festivals of Lavagem do Bonfim in January and Festa de Iemanjá in early February and Festa de São João in June.
Restaurants in Salvador
Salvador restaurants are renowned throughout Brazil. The culturally diverse city is known for its exotic mixes of spice and seafood. Delicious acarajé – small bean and spicy shrimp fitters - are considered a local street food speciality. There are many good restaurants in Salvador near the Pelhourino, including buffets offered by local cooking schools. It’s also in the markets of the old town that you will some find some of the tastiest street food in the world, especially around Carnival time.