Salvador da Bahia is mostly known as a destination for carnival. The truth is, however, as far as history is concerned, beyond Rio de Janeiro, this is the most important city in Brazil; and many people might argue that this coastal town, pulsating with atmosphere, may actually have a more deeply entrenched historical past. Regardless of where you stand on the argument, what can’t be denied is that Salvador da Bahia has a vibrant lifestyle that plays out year round. The city of Salvador wreaks of history, culture and atmosphere, and is unrivaled by other Brazilian counterparts in character. Take a stroll in the colourful old town or Pelorinho or along the beach, suck in the nightlife in the Barra district, or simply toss down a towel and soak in the sun and a tan. Salvador da Bahia is one of the truly special Brazilian travel destinations and should be a major part of everyone’s travel plans.
Things to do in Salvador da Bahia
- Pelourinho: This colourful district is the historical center of Salvador da Bahia. As powerful a history of anywhere in South America has taken shape on these streets and within the walls of these brightly coloured buildings. At one point in history the center of this district was actually one of the largest slave markets in the Americas.
- Afro-Brazilian Museum: This museum is so packed with history it is unbelievable. As the first stop for most of the ships coming over from Africa, Salvador da Bahia has a very rich history still somewhat tied to the African continent. Much of that culture is on display at this great museum.
- Boat Tours: A number of tour agencies, and most hostels, offer boat tours around to nearby islands or to tour the coastline. The prices are usually pretty reasonable and they make for a good time and a good way to meet people.
- Beaches: There are a number of different beaches in the area of Salvador. For one nearby check out Praia do Porto. There are also a number of nice beaches just a short bus or boat ride out of the city.
Where to Eat in Salvador da Bahia
After spending the first couple days in Salvador da Bahia salivating over the fact that there was a Subway I started to head out to eat a little bit more. Just down from the Che Lagarto hostel on the main drag of Barra there is a lunch buffet that also serves amazing pizza that is worth a stop. If you’re looking for a great, and relatively cheap, churrascaria check out Brasil Legal (all you can eat about 8US$).
Where to Stay in Salvador da Bahia
After spending carnival on the comfort of an apartment floor I moved over to the friendly confines of the Che Lagarto hostel in Barra. I’ll be honest in telling you that when I first arrived I worried about the place as it was messy and the staff didn’t seem to care. However, I’ll chalk that all up to a post-carnival down because after a couple of days things perked up. One thing is for sure, there is no location better for a hostel in all of Salvador and there was nothing like being able to sit out on the patio and watch the interesting characters of Salvador da Bahia pass me by.
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