Things to do in Salvador

Activities, attractions and tours
Salvador which includes a square or plaza, outdoor eating and an administrative building

Salvador Attractions

Considered by many to be one of the birthplaces of Brazil’s vibrant culture, Salvador’s splendour is hard to beat. Its world-famous old town is arguably one of the most evocative examples of the profound influence of 17th and 18th century European settlers on this part of the world. But, it’s more than just architectural heritage in Salvador:the city is also home to an incredible cultural scene that draws its inspiration from everything from music and religion to food, dance and martial-arts traditions. With delightful coastline right on the doorstep, what more could you ask for?

Areas & Neighborhoods in Salvador

Cidade Alta — Salvador is a city that is dramatically divided in two by a 100 foot cliff that stretches the entire length of the bayshore. Cidade Alta is the part of the city to be found at the top of the cliff, and it’s up here that you’ll find Pelourinho, the old city centre. These magnificent cobblestoned streets are festooned with sites of historical note, colonial architecture, museums, restaurants, bars, boutique stores, and even dance and capoeira academies.

Cidade Baixa — At the foot of the cliff meanwhile, this neighbourhood isn’t quite as dramatic as its cliff-top sibling. It’s still worth checking out however for the Mercado Modelo, which offers countless stores and stalls that sell regional arts and crafts.It’s also from Cidade Baixa that you’ll be able to hop on a boat across to the islands in the bay.

Barra — This district right at the tip of the peninsula also neighbours the wonderful Pelourinho old town. If you head northeast from here however you’ll discover both Rio Vermelho and Amaralina. These hip areas are home to some of the city’s finest local nightlife, and where you should head if you want to experience a taste of the ‘real’ Salvador.

Itapua — Heading a bit further out of the main city you’ll find Itapua, which is home to Salvador’s liveliest beachfront nightlife. What’s more, beyond Itapua you’ll discover spectacular beaches that seem to stretch on forever, making it the perfect spot to get away from it all.

Things to See in Salvador

Salvador is an absolute treasure trove of rich historical sights. The best place to start is a one of the two squares at the centre of Cidade Alta, Praça da Sé and the Terreiro de Jesus. Praça da Sé is decorated with splendid fountains and the protected ruins of the church from which it takes its name. Terreiro de Jesus meanwhile is ensconced by four churches and the 19th century Faculdade de Medicina building, and is a focal point for many of the city’s religious celebrations. With a cathedral linking these two squares, you get a real sense here of the sheer density of heritage you’ll discover right across Salvador.

Things to Do in Salvador

If you want to grab a beer and enjoy some live music then you should head out to Abaete Park. This protected state park is also home to dazzling white dunes that stand in stark contrast with the dark waters of the park’s lake. If, however, you want to catch some waves, then Praia do Farol da Barra near the lighthouse is a popular spot with surfers. It also has a lively waterfront nightlife to enjoy once the sun goes down.

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Top places to visit

1. Mercado Modelo

Visit the Mercado Modelo to see an all-encompassing collection of Bahian arts, crafts and curios. Opened in 1912, the market originally served as a center for the storing and trading of cigars, fresh produce, spirits and wines, among other goods brought to the city’s port. The Mercado Modelo is housed in Salvador’s old custom house, a heritage building inaugurated in 1868 and rebuilt several times after damage caused by fires.
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Browse hundreds of handicraft and souvenir stalls and then have lunch with impressive views over the Port of Salvador at this century-old marketplace.

2. Farol da Barra Beach

Take a break from the sights of Salvador’s Historic Center and spend a day at Farol da Barra Beach (Praia do Farol da Barra). This central beach is a seaside destination loved by both locals and tourists. Swim in the warm water, top up your tan, surf in the gentle waves and enjoy scenic coastal walks. Farol da Barra Beach takes its name from the lighthouse (farol) that sits atop a headland.
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Swim in refreshing water, visit an historic lighthouse, try water sports and admire the magnificent sunsets at this popular urban beach.

3. Guarajuba Beach

If a restful holiday is part of your travel plans, Guarajuba Beach might be the perfect place to visit during your trip to Guarajuba.
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If a restful holiday is part of your travel plans, Guarajuba Beach might be the perfect place to visit during your trip to Guarajuba.

4. Porto da Barra Beach

Get away from the architectural treasures of Salvador’s city center and spend the day at Porta da Barra Beach (Praia do Porto da Barra). This attractive city beach was included among the world’s best 50 beaches for 2014 as ranked by CNN. Porto da Barra Beach attracts a heady mix of tourists, families and Salvador’s hip and beautiful crowd. Come to swim in crystalline waters, top up your tan and dine at the restaurants and food stands.
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Soak up the year-round sun, marvel at glorious sunsets, people watch and visit ancient landmarks at this busy city beach, which overlooks the Bay of All Saints.

5. Flamengo Beach

Salvador is a city revered for its beaches, and Flamengo Beach (Praia do Flamengo) is among its finest. This untamed stretch of fine golden sand sits framed by rolling dunes and swaying palms and has the Atlantic Ocean lapping at its shores. Visit Flamengo Beach to escape the crowds of Salvador’s urban coastline and enjoy the stunning scenery while dining at beachside bars.
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Visit this idyllic sun-soaked coastline to swim in pristine waters, spot tropical sea life and explore a nearby ecological reserve.

6. Arembepe Beach

If a restful holiday is part of your travel plans, Arembepe Beach might be the perfect place to visit during your trip to Camacari. You can enjoy the restaurants while in the area.
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If a restful holiday is part of your travel plans, Arembepe Beach might be the perfect place to visit during your trip to Camacari. You can enjoy the restaurants while in the area.

Popular places to visit in Salvador

Areas of Salvador

Day trip destinations from Salvador