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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 Carnaval celebrations, it is considered one of the birthplaces of Brazilian culture.
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Points of Interest in Salvador
- Igreja de São Francisco. One of the most important churches in barroco style around the world.
- At the center of the Cidade Alta there are the two large squares Praça da Sé and the Terreiro de Jesus which 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 revealers in the evening hours.
- Museu Afro-Brasileiro. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. A museum that documents the slave trade and subsequent development of the city. R$ 5.00.
- 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 there.
- Mercado Modelo — The city's main market located in the lower town is 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. 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 of the stark contrast between the dark water and the very white sand dunes. There is a entertainment area with a lot of bars and live music.
- Solar do Unhão — The best place in Salvador to watch the sunset. 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 on Saturday evening there is a jazz concert.
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 Salvador, 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.
You'll find a huge variety of things to do in Salvador. Some of the popular activities include:
- Day tour of Salvador - Salvador 500 years in 1 day (info: salvador-guide.basix.cc)
- Salvador Parks
- Salvador golf courses
- Salvador music festivals
- Surf trips
A good Brazil tour guide in Salvador, known as a guia de Salvador, will be able to show you around lots of the attractions and activities if you want to explore on your own. A good option to get a general idea and find your way around in the city is the "Salvador Bus", an open-top tour bus passing by the main points of interest and offering explanation on the way. One of the main attractions in Salvador is the carnaval. Salvador's giant Carnaval, the biggest of the world, according to the Guiness book of records, lasts for one week and is extremely popular with Brazilians and tourists alike. In 2012, the event happens on February 15th to 21st and consists of parades,live entertainment, music, dancers and vendors. The main parades follow three circuits: one in the historic center Pelourinho (with mainly traditional groups in costumes), one on Campo Grande, where most bands play samba, and in recent years the most popular one in Barra / Ondina, where modern Brazilian Axé music mixes with percussion and all kinds of rhythms and styles, and the bands parade between "Camarote" boxes on one side and the beach on the other. Options to participate are either by watching from the camarote boxes, or purchasing an "abadá" shirt to join a group that accompanies one of the bands throughout the parade. One can expect to have a lot of fun if they vacation in Salvador, Brazil during Carnaval. Salvador also has many other attractions that tourists will find enjoyable. these include golf courses, museums and even an old 17th century fort. Anyone wishing to visit Salvador Brazil will find their trip to be entertaining, fun and full of wonderful memories.
Go to the beach
Visiting a Salvador beach is a highlight for many tourists. One of the main central Salvador beaches is Porto de Barra. It was originally the site of the first settlement of european newcomers to Bahia. It can get very crowded on weekends. The north-East region of Salvador concentrates most beaches with good water quality. Flamengo and Stella Maris are the most popular beaches among tourists and upper class locals. They have excellent tourist infrastructure and rough waters excellent for surfing. Jaguaribe, Piatã and Itapoã, with calmer waters, are mostly frequented by locals and can become quite crowded at weekends. They are a good option with you want to mix with the local population, but don't bring anything besides your clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen, and some cash, as muggings are quite common.
The other beaches of Salvador aren't suited for bathing, but still can be good for walking, cycling, or taking pictures. Farol da Barra has a beautiful view (specially during the sunset), but it's difficult to walk due to the rocks. "Farol" means lighthouse, and this beach is known for its lighthouse as well as being popular with surfers. A much safer choice is nearby Plakaford. Here the calm waters and soft sandy beaches are welcoming for families and children. In the city south, there is an array of beautiful beaches that include Tinhare and Boipeba.
Bahian restaurants are considered to be among the best in Brazil. The majority of Bahia restaurants offer South American cuisine but there a few that offer other specialties. For example, the Maria Mato Mouro located at Rua 3A Ordem de São Francisco, Pelourinho serves a wide range of seafood dishes from all over the world although most are from South America. One of the most popular dishes is the grilled bahia fish badejo. This restaurant is open daily from noon until 1am and offers main courses from $15 to $25. 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. A must try dish is the Abara. This is a wrap with bean paste, dende oil and onions all cooked in a banana leaf with spices for flavour. if you prefer western food then you will find many fast-food places like Burger King, McDonald's, Subway or Pizza Hut. You also will find casual dinner chains like Outback Steakhouse.
Be sure to try acarajé, small fritters made from black-eyed peas and onions fried in palm oil slathered with spicy vatapá (shrimp paste).These are sold by Baianas on the street.
Here are a list of restaurants to try:
- Acarajé da Cira, Largo de Itapuã, 3249-4170. Fresh acarajé daily from 10AM-11PM. There is also another location on the Largo da Mariquita in Rio Vermelho.
- Acarajé da Dica, Rua J, Castro Rabelo, Pelourinho. Open T-Sa 3PM-11PM, Su 10AM-1AM.
- 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$12.
- Quiosque de Amaralina, Ave Otávio Mangabeira, Amaralina. Serving acarajé near the beach from 4PM 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 restaurant with fresh pasta 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, Ave Tancredo Neves (In front of the Casa do Comércio building). Gourmet cuisine at moderate prices. Excellent service.
- São Salvador (On the grounds of the Salvador Trade Center). Buffet with a refined atmosphere.
- Panela da Bahia, Pelourinho, Rua Frei Vicente, 7. Bahian food and drinks with exotic flavours at very reasonable prices. Try the Moqueca de camarao com banana. It is exquisite. Around R$30-55 for two people including drinks.
- Hostel Galeria 13, Pelourinho, Rua da ordem terceira no 23. The new European owner offers Pelourinho a much needed variety of international dishes & Spanish tapas. The menu includes a great selection of vegetarian meals from around the world. You can enjoy your meal in the unique Moroccan chill out room or in their patio garden. They also offer those great juices with a touch of ginger, or maybe a caipirinha with watermelon.The quantities are very generous and the prices are fair.
- Amado, Ave Contorno. Contemporary cuisine.
- Barbacoa, Ave 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, Ave Tancredo Neves, 11 (in the heart of the financial district). F. 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, Ave Otávio Mangabeira 9292, Pitubá, 231-5570. Long held nationally and internationally as the standard in typical Bahian cuisine.
No trip to a Salvador restaurant is complete without dessert. The Bahia region is famed for its sweet tooth. A Cubana located at Rua Alfredo de Brito 12 is open daily from 8am until 10pm. It is an old fashioned ice cream parlor or sorvetoria with 28 homemade flavors.
Be aware of Bars charging an entrance fee on exit.If you want top make sure that there is no cover ask when ordering the first drink.
- 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. Friday and Saturday nights only. The area has various bars and a restaurant (the nightclub is now closed). Aim to get there around 10PM, as it starts to empty around midnight as people move onto other clubs.
- Bohemia Music Bar, Jardim Brasil. The comfortable atmosphere, live music, and a varied menu make this a popular pick-up spot. The places often checks for IDs at the entrance.
- 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 after-hours spots, Mercado do Peixe is a real Salvador institution. It starts to get busy after 3AM 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.
- Sankofa African Bar e Restaurante, Rua Frei Vicente, No 7, Pelourinho. In the middle of the Pelourinho. Live bands (salsa, samba, reggae, zouk, semba) and DJ's spinning African, Brasilian and world music. Tasty African dishes and drinks are also offered. African flags, maps, and artworks adorn the walls. The top floor has a projection system showing films and documentaries.
- Hostel Galeria 13, Pelourinho, Rua da ordem terceira no 23. The new native English speaking owner has travelled and worked in many famous bars and clubs around the world you will get a chance to check out his knowledge of drinks. They offer great juices with a touch of ginger 'refreshing', or maybe a caipirinha or roska with water melon already being boasted the best in Brasil, a big Claim take him up on it. You can enjoy your drinks in the garden or the most original spot in Pelourinho, the Morrocan "chill out" room.
- Bar Zulu, Pelourinho, Rua das laranjeiras no 15, ☎ 87843172. A very international bar & vegetarian restaurant.A mix of staff from all over the world bring you a cool corner bar with terrace and individual bar tables in every window, great for people watching. The bar offers the most original menu in The "Pelo", spanish tapas, salads, sandwiches, international dishes and a vast choice of great veggie dishes from around the world. The bar has a feel of a trendy spanish tapas bar with some of the friendliest girls serving with a smile. Try their house special Caipirinha "zumarangi" strawberry & passion fruit. The owner promises they will soon be providing a sports tv, so it could become a great spot for catching a European footie.
- Dolce, on the first floor of Shopping Boulevard 161, Itaigara. Very busy club, attracting a somewhat older crowd.
- Fashion Club, Ave Octávio Mangabeira, 2, ☎ 71 3346 0012. 471, Pituba. 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 — Often mentioned in tourist guides but now closed.
- Off Clube, Rua Dias Dávila, 33, Barra, ☎ 71 3267 6215. The main gay and lesbian club in town. A variety of events attracts locals of all social classes.
- Rock in Rio Café — Often mentioned in tourist guides but now closed.
- Zauber Multicultura, Ladeira da Misericórdia, 11, Edifício Taveira, Comércio, 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 shopping is the bargain hunters paradise. There is nothing that you cannot find in a mall. 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
- Salvador Norte Shopping
- Aeroclube Shopping & Office'
The first thing that anyone wanting to shop in Salvador should know is that it is essential to barter. very few vendors will stick to their given price. If pushed they will always go lower. If you are looking for souvenirs you may want to check out Litoral Norte located at Rua Gregorio de Matos 30. They sell tshirts and other items. Most will cost you no more than $5. If you want local art you should visit Pelourhino. There are many galleries that double as stores. Galeria 13 at Rua Santa Isabel 13 displays work by local artists.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Salvador on Wikivoyage.