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Salvador da Bahia

The capital of Afro-Brazilian culture, experience the sights and sounds of Salvador...

Praça Municipal, Salvador da Bahia
Praça Municipal, Salvador da Bahia

The capital of Bahia state, Salvador, is one of Brazil’s most vibrant and colourful cities. The country’s first capital and an entry point for slave ships from Africa, Salvador da Bahia played a key part in the history and development of Brazil. The ruins of this diverse history include 15 forts, 166 Catholic churches and 1000 candomblé temples. Although Salvador has long ceased to be the economic and political capital of Brazil, it has retained its rich colonial architecture and continues to be the cradle of African cultural heritage within Brazil.

With up to 80% of the population being of African origin, Salvador holds the title of being the most African city in the Western Hemisphere. This is reflected in the tales of the Orixá spirit gods and goddesses, the constant rhythms of drum troupe orchestras in the streets, in the martial art ballet of capoeira and the rich, spicy food characteristic of Bahían cuisine.

Set in a privileged location in the world’s largest tropical bay, the Baia de Todos os Santos, the city has developed from the original cliff-top district of Pelourinho, established by the Portuguese in the 1500s, to incorporate the lower beachfront districts and the surrounding hills. The ‘Pelourinho’ of the ‘Cidade Alta’, which takes its name from the whipping post where African slaves used to be auctioned off and punished by their Brazilian-Portuguese masters, is the main point of interest for tourists visiting Salvador. Here, an entire 2km stretch between the Praça Municipal in the south and the Carmelite churches to the north is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its steep, windy, cobbled streets and pastel-coloured squares hold a mixture of restaurants, museums, cultural centres, African-Brazilian monuments and some of the finest baroque churches in Brazil and South America, including the gold-laden São Francisco Church and Convent.

To see more of modern Salvador, it is necessary to head out to the ‘Cidade Baixa’ and the districts of Campo Grande, Barra and Rio Vermelho, which border the Atlantic coast. Upper-class Campo Grande is full of wide shady avenues, museums and theatres, meanwhile Barra boasts one of the best inner-city beaches with a wide beachfront promenade and lots of cafes, restaurants and bars. Rio Vermelho, which also overlooks the coast, is the most bohemian district of the city. Home to artists and musicians, it has plenty of restaurants, bars and live music venues and is a good area for those looking for some nightlife for the evenings.

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    At a glance…Salvador da Bahia

  • Size: 2.6 million
  • Location: North Eastern Brazil
  • Recommended time: 2 to 4 nights
  • Time to visit: September to April
  • Go here for: Culture and beaches
  • Further reading...

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    Our top five hotel recommendations for Salvador da Bahia in 2017/18:

    1. Casa do Amarelindo - Bedroom

      Casa do Amarelindo

      The Casa do Amarelindo is a small luxury boutique hotel right in the heart of the Pelourinho district of Salvador, with views of the Baía de Todos os Santos. The owners put a great deal of care and attention into the running of this hotel and the experience they want their guests to have, which is... More...

      Our rating:
      4
      User rating:
      4
      Price:
      4
    2. Convento do Carmo - Bar

      Pestana Convento do Carmo

      The Convento do Carmo is Salvador’s most luxurious and exclusive hotel. Set within a restored convent the hotel is a haven of calm and tranquility from the busy and humid city outside. Boasting a long list of famous names on its guest books, there’s no doubt that this is the place to stay in... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      5
    3. Sheraton da Bahia

      Sheraton da Bahia

      The Sheraton da Bahia is a large international style hotel in Salvador's Campo Grande district and is generally a choice for business travellers rather than leisure travellers. Nevertheless, due to the arty design and attention to detail throughout, we feel that this hotel doesn’t have an out-and-... More...

      Our rating:
      4
      User rating:
      4
      Price:
      3
    4. Villa Bahia

      Villa Bahia

      Villa Bahia is an excellent choice for anyone looking to stay in the heart of Salvador’s historic Pelourinho district; Salvador’s UNESCO World Heritage listed quarter. With beautifully decorated rooms, welcoming and attentive staff, delicious food and, of course, a great location, Villa Bahia... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      5
      Price:
      3
    5. Zank Hotel

      Zank Hotel

      The Zank Hotel is a modern boutique hotel located in Salvador's bohemian district of Rio Vermelho. Set up on a steep hill overlooking the Atlantic coast and the Paciência beach, this hotel has a light and modern feel to it, with big glass windows and wide decked terraces, perfect for sipping a... More...

      Our rating:
      4
      User rating:
      4
      Price:
      4