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  • Salvador, Brazil

    Salvador Info and Miniguide

    Salvador de Bahia is the oldest city in Brazil and its first capital. Salvador vibrant community of artists of all kinds draws from the region's African and Portuguese heritage, making the city the country’s soul and the birthplace of modern Brazilian culture. The local cuisine, music, dance and vibrant visual arts are all testaments to this pervasive African influence. As one of Brazil’s greatest historical destinations, the city is filled with colonial churches, homes and forts that reflect stunning Portuguese architecture from the Baroque period. Considered Brazil's most artistic city, Salvador has a lively art scene and its streets are filled with dance and music all year round, especially in Pelourinho, the city colonial core. Salvador is the capital of Bahia, the state known for its endless stretches of stunning beach along the Atlantic coast, dotted with charming resorts and inhabited by the most laid-back people in the country.

    Read More about Salvador

    Salvador

    Salvador, or Salvador da Bahia, is the third most populous city in Brazil. Renowned for its easy-going people and vibrant culture, Salvador has been bestowed with the epithet- “Brazil’s capital of happiness”. This sea-side town is a haven for all kinds of artisans with its inspiring combination of locations such as the stunning Porto da Barra beach; the beautiful Old Town and the scenic Solar do Unhão.

    History of Salvador

    First captured and named by the Portuguese in 1502, Salvador da Bahia was the first capital of Colonial Brazil. The large African population today in Salvador bears testimony to its role in Atlantic slave-trade back in the 1700s. The Portuguese influence is seen in abundance in the Baroque-esque architecture and colonial style housing. Salvador was Brazil’s main port and capital until 1763. Several parts of the city are now designated as World Heritage sites by the UNESCO.

    Getting to Salvador

    Salvador da Bahia being one of Brazil’s most popular cities is well connected to all parts of Brazil and the world. The Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães International Airport in Salvador has planes flying in from, and out to all Brazilian airports and abroad as well. Tourists usually take the 32 Km sea-side drive into the city from the airport. Buses from most parts of Brazil and nearby countries are also available to the city of Salvador. Being the major port town that it is, Salvador can also be reached by sea. Cruise ships and tourist boats have made Salvador a regular stop on their routes.

    Museums in Salvador

    A city of rich cultural heritage, Salvador has a number of museums that have documented the city’s long and interesting journey in time. The Museu de Arte da Bahia (MAB) is the oldest museum in the Bahia and has preserved art from the 18th and even 17th centuries. This historic city also houses the Arte Sacra and Abelardo Rodrigues museums which have the largest collection of stunning Sacra art. The Museu Náutico is another popular museum, one that is much newer than the others. Other museums that have preserved the cultural opulence of this city include the Museu da Cidade, Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia and Museu Costa Pinto.

    Solar do Unhao

    One of the most popular tourist destinations in Salvador, the Solar do Unhao is a beautiful culturally rich and esthetically spectacular spot. Most find the historically authentic allure of Solar do Unhao irresistible. With stone cottages, which were originally slave houses in the 18th century, and a beautiful garden, the Solar do Unhao is also the best place to watch the sunset in the city.

    The Porto da Barra Beach

    The Porto da Barra Beach has always been on the itinerary of every visiting tourist. With is calm water, it provides for an ideal place to go walking, socialize, surf or just relax on the sands. With its “barracas” (small eateries serving food and also beer) it does set up a nice place to socialize. Since this beach can get very crowded during the weekends, it might be wise to plan for a visit on a weekday. The Porto da Barra Beach was recently rated by the newspaper-The Guardian, as being the 3rd best beach in the world. Those not too keen to visit a crowded beach like Porto da Barra, may visit the less visited Flamengo and Stella Maris beaches.

    The Bahian Carnival

    Brazil’s reputation as being a carnival country has grown in recent times and it is not without reason. Salvador hosts the widely popular Carnaval of Salvador da Bahia. With an attendance of over 2 million people and over 16 hours of music a day, this week long carnival is deemed by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the biggest street party in the world. This eventful week of revelry is scheduled 40 days before easter.

    Capoeira

    Another popular art form in Salvador is the Capoeira. Combining the elegance of dance with the precision of martial arts, these unique Capoeira shows are performed throughout the city of Salvador. Several indigenous musical instruments may also be used in these performances. A number of theatres across Salvador feature Capoeira performances to packed audiences, audiences mainly comprising of tourists.

    Salvador Cuisine

    Like in most other things, the cuisine of Salvado da Bahia reflects the city’s African- Portuguese inheritance. Azeite-de-dendê, a palm extract, is a characteristic West African based ingredient used in Salvadorian cuisine. Being the sea-side city that it is sea food like Ensopados, Escabeche and Moquecas are very popular. The cuisine is often described as being spicy by tourists. Also, coconut milk, sugarcane and Portuguese stew are popular components of the cuisine in Salvador. The hundreds of local restaurants are great places to try out Salvador’s signature dishes like caruru, bobó-de-camarão, abará , vatapá, moqueca baiana, and the world famous acarajé. In Salvador, there are restaurants for all budgets; starting from an economical R$8 a dish to more expensive restaurants which offer dishes for R$25 and upwards.

    Shopping in Salvador

    Salvador has always offered tourists a great shopping experience. It is considered a “bargain-hunter’s paradise”. The old-age Mercado Modelo, with its many small stalls, is a great place not only to shop for souvenirs, but also to wander and soak in the strong historical relevance of the place. More modern malls like Shopping Center Iguatemi, Shopping Barra and Bahia Outlet Center offer a more contemporary shopping experience. The ability to bargain can be an asset while shopping in the city as there is almost always a ‘lower price’ that shopkeepers are willing to offer their goods for.

    Largo do Pelourinho Salvador

    Located in the oldest part of the city, Largo do Pelourinho is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Salvador. Back in the days when the slave trade was active in Salvador, Largo do Pelourinho was the site of public humiliation and punishment for the slaves by binding them to a pillory. Today, the Largo do Pelourinho graces the front of many postcards. Around this plaza are some of the most beautiful, baroque era influenced churches in the city.

    Getting Around In Salvador

    Salvador is quite easy to get around as it is a well connected city. Being Brazil’s second biggest tourist destination, the public transportation system is especially equipped to handle large numbers of tourists. City buses can cost anything between R$ 2.5 to R$ 4. The buses routes are well connected but some tourists might find it confusing. Major bus terminals include Estação Iguatemi, Lapa and Estação Mussurunga. Another option to explore the city is by taxis. Taxis are faster than buses and more flexible in terms of route. There are two main kinds of taxis in Salvador, the normal taxis and the executive taxis. While the normal taxis are cheaper than the executive ones, their drivers can sometimes refuse to use the fare meter. The executive taxis, identified by their blue and white color, charge commuters on a fixed rate basis which, though more expensive as compared to regular cabs, are often more comfortable. Few tourists choose to rent cars to look around. This can be done for around R$130 excluding fuel. The older, culturally and historically rich parts of the city are, however, best explored by foot. Apart from these means of transport, there is a cable car connecting the lower and upper parts of the city. This cable car, called the Elevador Lacerda, costs R$0.15 per-head. Of late, a lot of tourists are choosing to get away from the main city of Salvador by taking a ferry to the nearby islands of Itaparica, Boipeba, Morro de Sao Paulo, Massarandupió and Praia do Forte.

    Salvador's Climate

    Salvador da Bahia has a climate characterized by warm humid conditions typical of a tropical sea-side city. May and June are usually record the lowest annual temperatures with the months of January and February being the hottest. Average daily temperatures range from 25- 28 °C. The months May, June and July usually receive the highest levels of rainfall at around 21 cms.

    Safety tips for Salvador

    Although Salvador offers good security to tourists in most parts of the city and especially during carnival times, Salvador has, in the past, carried the reputation of being a city with social inequalities. Tourists may be targeted for muggings; therefore they must take some precautions. It is better to travel during night time by either bus or an executive cab. Tourists should avoid going to the beach at night. It is always considered safer to avoid staircases in the night and use the elevators instead. Certain parts of the Barra area should be avoided at night. It is also important to note that most other Salvador beaches have large portions of their shoreline unattended by life guards; therefore most tourists are advised to stay as close to the shore as possible and not to carelessly venture out into the ocean. Salvador is also notorious for its chaotic traffic. Tourists who rent cars must be careful and expect sudden overtaking maneuvers by other motorists. Pedestrians must also exercise caution while attempting to cross main roads.


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