Salvador, Brazil

Salvador, Brazil (11/5-10/2019)

Salvador Brazil Colorful Colonial Architec
Salvador's Colorful Colonial Architecture
Visiting Salvador, Brazil’s former colonial capital, is fun and interesting. Nighttime excitement pours from the historic center of this city (the Pelourinho) with the sounds of lively Brazilian music and drum corps overlapping from its squares, restaurants, and street performers. Salvador is Brazil’s third most visited location - behind Rio de Janeiro – check here to see our travel post and Iguacu Falls... for some good reasons.

Sao Francisco Church Night Salvador Brazil
Sao Francisco Church at Night - Salvador, Brazil
The Afro-Brazilian Bahia culture in Salvador is heavily influenced from decedents of the large number of slaves brought from western Africa during Portuguese colonial times. This is reflected in the music, food, dance, entertainment, art, folklore, religion, and most importantly, the people. Unlike what happened in other slave territories around the world, due the very large numbers of slaves imported, they were able to maintain much of their culture. Salvador today offers a unique tourist experience to experience this Afro-Brazilian mix of European and African cultures.

Salvador Brazil Pelourinho Main Square at Night
Salvador's Pelourinho Main Square at Night
Salvador is one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in the Americas and was Brazil’s Portuguese colonial capital for three centuries. A huge amount of gold, sugar, and tobacco was brought through it and Salvador became very wealthy. It is now a living museum of 17th and 18th-century architecture. Recovering from urban decline that affected many colonial cities in South America, repairs and interesting tourist attractions have been underway everywhere - Salvador is ready for visitors! 

Music Street Scene Pelourinho Salvador Brazil
Music Street Scene - Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil
Salvador’s cobblestoned central old town, Pelourinho, is the place to be. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and music is everywhere, especially Tuesday nights and on weekends. This area is not large so wandering around is easy and fun. People watching is great here. Be careful in crowds because pickpockets do operate in Salvador. Police provide good security to keep this area safe – wandering too far outside is not recommended, especially at night.

Outdoor Restaurants Largo do Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco Salvador  Brazil
Outdoor Restaurants - Largo do Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco
Salvador’s main square in the Pelourinho, Terreiro de Jesus, is surrounded by bars and sometimes has performers during the day. Taxis can be found here. It leads into our favorite nighttime square, Largo do Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco that has restaurants where you can sit outside and enjoy music with the beautifully lighted Sao Francisco church (see photo). You should try a unique Bahia dish such as Moqueca, a rich fish stew (see photo below).

Exciting Drum Corps Streets Salvador Brazil
Exciting Drum Corps in the Streets
Three of Salvador’s squares have been set up with stages offering music shows many days. Largo Pedro Arcanjo and Largo Tereza Batista are accessed from the streets Gregorio De Matos and Largo Quincas Berro D’Agua from Rua V.C. Rarelo. The shows are often free or have small cover charges (unless a big name band comes in). You can stand and dance or sit at a table enjoying a drink or meal at several restaurants.

Amazing Sao Francisco Church Salvador Brazil
Amazing Sao Francisco Church - Salvador, Brazil
Religion was a big part of colonial life and it is said this Bahia region of Brazil has so many churches that you could visit a different one every day of the year. Quite a number are located in Salvador. You should plan a visit to Sao Francisco Church showcasing Portugal’s colonial wealth in Salvador Brazil (see photo). Finished in 1723, it is possibly one of the most ornately ornamented churches in the world with its almost ton of gold decorations covering the inside – amazing!

Museu do Carnaval Salvado Brazil
Museu do Carnaval - Salvado, Brazil
Salvador’s Afro-Brazilian carnival is a huge party attracting up to 2 million visitors. Interested in the history of carnival in Brazil? Do plan a visit to Salvador’s Museu do Carnaval (see photo). The history and excitement of this amazingly exciting experience is captured well with video displays showcasing the music, history, and crowds that are uniquely Brazil. We found ourselves dancing while watching. This museum is located behind the Cathedral Basilica off Praca da Se.

Romantic Courtyard Restaurant Salvador Brazil
Romantic Courtyard Restaurant - Salvador, Brazil
The hour-long cultural show Bale Folclorico da Bahia is an interesting experience in Salvador showcasing unique Bahian music and dance. The show starts out slow with African-based song and dance reflecting mythology – the African ‘gods’ of the Candomble religion still practiced by many in Bahia. This leads up to an exciting display of lively Samba and Capoeira, the martial arts form of dancing practiced by slaves to stay fit and prepare for possible uprising from their masters. The show ends with an uplifting samba dance that was done by slaves.

City Beach Praia Porto da Barra Salvador Bra
Nice City Beach - Praia Porto da Barra
Salvador also offers some fun beach experiences. Praia Porto da Barra (close town beach) is nice (see photo). You can rent chairs and an umbrella for about $5 and nice affordable drinks and food are available right on the beach. It is very popular (crowded) on the weekends. Barra is a short taxi ride from Pelourinho. Fans of nautical history, don’t miss the well-done Museu Nautico da Bahia here. The new large shopping center, Shopping Barra, is located here with upscale fashions and restaurants – nice place! Try the tasty cheese (Queijo Assado) they roast on the beach. Sipping a caipirinha is a thing to do in Brazil and can be done in many favors.

Mar Grande Beach Island of Itaparica Salvador Brazil
Mar Grande on Island of Itaparica
For less crowded beach experience, we enjoyed the 40-minute ferry ride to Mar Grande on the island of Itaparica. The beach there has three restaurants where you can sit right on the beach with your feet in the sand and enjoy drinks, food, music, and take a dip in the ocean to cool off (see photo). The ferry is located in lower city near Salvador’s Mercado Modelo accessed by the Elevador Lacerda. Praia do Forte is a very nice beach located about 1 ½ hours drive from Salvador.

Mercado Modelo Salvador Brazil
Mercado Modelo - Salvador, Brazil
Public transportation is good and safe in Salvador – a car rental will make your visit stressful. We found the taxis to be professional and very reasonable. If you are looking for fun Brazilian souvenirs from local crafts people, the Mercado Modelo is the place to go (see photo).

Unique Bahia Dish Moqueca ou Ensopado de Camarao con Peixe Salvador Brazil
Unique Bahia Dish - 
Moqueca ou Ensopado de Camarao con Peixe
A note about the Brazilian people... The people of Brazil exhibit a zest for life with their love for friends, family, music, food, and laughter. Their willingness to be friends with you was shown throughout our visit. A friendly smile is almost always returned in kind and they often go out of their way to help you. We can learn a lot from Brazilians. Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. You will encounter some English, especially in hospitality. Due to the similarities of Portuguese with Spanish and the fact that most the rest of the South American continent speaks Spanish, we found trying some Spanish worked well in many cases.

Bahia Artwork Salvador Brazil
Bahia Artwork - Salvador, Brazil
Some history of Salvador... In 1549, the Portuguese came to Salvador to set up Brazil’s first capital. For three centuries, huge wealth was taken from this area in the form of sugarcane, tobacco, cattle, gold, and gems. Salvador became one of the richest cities in South America. A large slave population was used to extract this wealth – so big slaves made up half Salvador’s population. 

Sexy Brazilian Bikinis Bikini Brazil Women Girls
Get Ready for 
Sexy Brazilian Bikinis!
In 1763, with the decline of the sugarcane industry, the capital was moved to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador went into decline until recently. Since 1993, with UNESCO and other funding, a very noticeable revival of this once great city has come about.

Casa do Amarelindo Salvador Brazil
Casa do Amarelindo - Salvador, Brazil
Dining Room Pelo Bristo Casa do Amarelindo Salvador Brazil
Dining Room of Pelo Bristo
We stayed at Casa do Amarelindo and were very glad we did. This former colonial mansion 10-room boutique hotel is rate #1 on TripAdvisor for hotels in Salvador for very good reasons. It is an oasis of sophisticated elegance located right in the center of Salvador’s famous old town (Pelourinho) where most things are happening in Salvador. Step out the door and you are right in the action. The rooms, bedding, and furnishings are top notch and the staff goes out of their way to help you make your stay memorable. They even have interesting day trips with personal guides they can arrange for you. Their excellent restaurant, Pelo Bistro, is also one of the top-rated restaurants in Salvador providing an excellent breakfast (included) in the morning. The pool and bar overlooking the ocean is wonderful to cool down and enjoy a drink after your daily excursions. If you come to Salvador, look no further than this gem of a hotel!

See our other beautiful places we visited in Brazil:

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