Salvador de Bahia – an interesting history, a vivid culture and an ideal cradle for a relaxing holiday.
On the Bahia state coastline, at the entrance to the magnificent Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay), Salvador de Bahia offers a refreshing vacation in an authentic and very welcoming part of Brazil. It was the original capital of Brazil and is steeped in history. You can visit a whole quarter that has around 800 well conserved buildings dating back to the Renaissance and up to the 18th century.
See this intriguing heritage for yourself by visiting the historical quarter of Pelourinho (the pillory, referring to the one that was once installed in the main square and used to punish slaves). This area of old, brightly coloured houses and cobbled streets has been renovated and is now one of the best preserved heritage sites in Brazil. During this tour, a personal guide will take you on a trip back in time covering most of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil.
Salvador de Bahia is an important historical town, but also has a beautiful coastline of 50kms with lots of tropical beaches. It is also an emblematic place for mixed race peoples where 82% of its population declares itself of African descent (ref: IBGE 2014).
Nicknamed the “Black Rome,” it is the true birthplace of Afro-Brazilian culture and proudly claims its omnipresent African origins. You can see this influence especially during the carnivals and capoeira demonstrations, which are a mixture of song, dance and spirituality. This African influence is also evident in the syncretic religions practiced in the region, such as Candomblé, which combines Christianity and African polytheism. With its 365 churches, the city is strongly influenced by religious thought, and spiritualism is everywhere.
It is therefore above all an ideal destination if you are interested in Brazilian culture and its various facets. A vacation in Salvador de Bahia will be a unique opportunity to discover the soul of Brazil. You will leave with first hand experience of why contemporary society in this country is as it is. Salvador is famous for its unique, friendly atmosphere which captivates visitors to the capital of Bahia. Not forgetting the beautiful local crafts and delicious African cooking with its indigenous influences based on seafood, here you can enjoy some of the best cooking in the country!
On the Salvador de Bahia stay
The Pelourinho district
The unique crafts of the Model Market
The mystical church of Bonfim
Salvador de Bahia Tour Package:
- 1 private transfer from the airport to Salvador de Bahia and your hotel
- 2 nights in a hotel with a double room
- 1/2 day visit with a personal guide around the historical centre of Salvador de Bahia (3hrs)
- 1/2 day “panoramic” visit of the town on a private tour with a guide and vehicle. (3hrs)
- 1 private transfer from your hotel to the airport.
A destination with spectacular historical treasures
On the guided tours you will go on during your stay, you will discover the most important monuments of the first capital of Brazil.
The first excursion will be dedicated to the Pelourinho district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Cidade Alta,” the original Baroque style colonial town is magnificent with its cobbled streets lined with superb polychrome houses in pastel colours, its wide paved squares (Praça da Sé, Praça Tome de Souza …) and its magnificent and imposing religious buildings decorated with gold.
Strolling with your guide in these charming narrow streets full of history, you will discover many examples of Afro-Brazilian culture. Numerous craft shops, percussion or capoeira schools, painters, sculptors and other artists – a whole other world will be displayed before you, proof of the exceptional cultural vitality of this place.
During the second visit, you will continue exploring the city down to the waterfront and to the port. It is connected to the historical district by a unique public elevator, the Elevador Lacerda, dating from the end of the 19th century and offering a breathtaking panoramic view over the bay. Notably the Mercado Modelo, a large building erected on the waterfront in which many craftsmen and souvenir sellers ply their trades, an ideal place for some shopping.
Further North along the Itapagipe peninsula, you will visit the “Sacred Hill”, which houses the Nosso Senhor de Bonfim church . This high place of worship is one of the most important Catholic sites in the country. It is easily recognized with its thousands of fitas, famous lucky ribbons dedicated to the local saint. With their myriad of colours, they make wonderful gifts to take home!
Other visits include the Dique do Tororó, a lake on which stand imposing statues of the principal saints of Candomblé. You can also admire the architecture of the famous Forte de Monte Serrat, as well as the first lighthouse of the Americas in Barraun.
The vibrant lifestyle and breathtaking landscapes of Salvador
Salvador is a metropolis on a human scale. It adapts to your rhythm and your desires, due to the vast array of activities, sites and things to do.
Looking for a place to relax ? This town has tens of kms of beautiful beaches, with long stretches of sand or small rocky coves. At the southern end of town, the Barra beach in the more chic quarter has warm waters, bright sun umbrellas and a beautiful old lighthouse. At Itapuã, you can enjoy the beach in the shade of the coconut trees for a lazy afternoon eating “acarajé”, delicious shrimp donuts sold by the Bahians dressed in their traditional costumes.
If you like art and nature, rendez-vous in the Pituaçu park to wander, run or bike round this preserved ecosystem decorated with 800 modern sculptures. An even more exotic excursion will take you to the Itaparica island, famous for its superb coral reefs and fishing villages. It’s easy to get to, just take a regular boat crossing from the lower end of town.
If you enjoy good food, you will love the famous Bahian cuisine with its regional specialties such as Acarajé, Moqueca de Peixe, and Bobo de camarão. Why not try a good caipirinha, the national cocktail made with cachaça and lemon juice; to be drunk while dancing to the sounds of the local bands!
If you are lucky, you might see Olodum play, they invented the now famous batucada, a percussion parade with an unusual and enchanting rhythm. It takes place two Tuesdays per month during the local winter (European summer) in the Pelourinho quarter. In this same quarter you can attend a mass at 6pm every evening accompanied by a batuque at the Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos church.
Carnival in Salvador – the biggest street party in the world!
Carnaval takes place in February each year and is an experienced unmatched anywhere else in the world.
More than a million people come from all over Brazil, and the world, to participate in undoubtedly one of the most exciting festivals on the planet.
For one week, the whole population is on the streets to “pular” (dance and jump) night and day to axé, the local carnival music. Huge trucks rigged with amplifiers and a dance stage allow groups to perform live in the streets. These “Trios electricos“, parade in the town followed by a huge crowd dancing and moving to the feverish music played by locals and famous musicians. When the party is at its peak, it is sometimes difficult to escape the crowd, so the only choice is to dance along and enjoy the fun !
However, remember two things: if you want to come to Salvador de Bahia at carnival time you need to book 6 months in advance. Also, hotel prices rocket at this time and can be twice or even five times the normal price with a minimum booking of 3 nights.
Salvador de Bahia package – Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Salvador de Bahia – In
Arrival at the Salvador de Bahia airport.
Your driver will be waiting in arrivals to take you to your hotel.
Check-in at your hotel and time to unpack.
Night at hotel.
Day 2 : Salvador de Bahia – Historical Center
After a hearty and delicous hotel breakfast, you will meet your guide at reception for a historical tour of the upper part of town, on foot.
For about 3hrs, you will explore the magnificent historical town centre that has been well preserved and maintained, due to being the original capital of Brazil.
With the baroque style buildings, and the golden laid churches, you will see all the splendor of the past unfold before you.
If you wish, you can also ask the guide to take you on a visit to the town museums; a casa do Olodum, a casa cultural Jorge Amado or the superb Museu Afro-Brasileiro (entrance fees not included).
Around noon, you can choose to come back to your hotel or lunch in one of the local restaurants.
Afternoon is free to do as you wish.
You can enjoy the hotel facilities such as the pool to avoid the heat at midday. Also, hop in a taxi to visit the coastline and beaches; Barra beach is the closest, but you can also cross the bay and find more deserted beaches on the continent or on the Itaparica island.
Night at hotel.
Day 3 : Salvador de Bahia – Panoramic tour
Tropical fruit juices, cakes, and savory local specialties await you for your breakfast at the hotel.
After discovering the historic town centre the day before, the panoramic tour will take you around the main monuments in the different quarters of the town. This tour is conducted in a private vehicle with a guide.
You will go along the Itapagipe peninsula to admire the amazing view before reaching the Bonfim church, the highest place of worship for Bahian Christians. Here you can ask for a blessing with one of its famous colourful ribbons.
You will then carry on towards the Dique de Tororó and its 8 statues of the Orixas. These are the main saints of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé.
Finally, you can visit the Fort of Mont Serrat, one of the most striking examples of Brazilian military architecture.
At the end of the morning, you return to the hotel to check-out.
Depending on your flight time, a driver will pick you up and take you to the airport.
Arrival at the airport and end of our services.
Accommodation in Salvador de Bahia
Hotel Sol express Vitoria Marina (budget)
Located in the oldest part of town, the Sol express Vitoria Marina hotel is a modern building facing the ocean and has plain rooms that are equipped with all necessary comforts. With a swimming pool on the roof and a jetty into the sea you will enjoy this pleasant and calm hotel. The hotel features a restaurant and a water slide ideal for family fun.
Ideal for families, or those who wish to control their budget – this is an excellent choice in terms of good value for money.
Pousada do Pilar (standard)
The pousada do Pilar is a small charming residence well situated in the historical centre of Salvador de Bahia. It is one of the only hotels in this quarter with rooms that have a terrace and view of the bay, one of the reasons we have put it in our selection.
The 9 rooms available are big and comfortable and feature a good combination of natural materials, local craftsmanship and modern amenities. It’s an ideal choice for couples looking for a quaint hotel among friends or for a longer stay. Good value for money, but you have to book well in advance as it is very popular especially in high season.
Convento do Carmo (superior)
In the centre of the Pelourinho quarter, the Convento do Carmo is an unrivalled establishment in Brazil. It was historically the first ever hotel in Brazil, built in an ancient convent dating back to the times of colonization. Its thick walls guarantee quiet and cool temperatures.
Completely renovated and adapted to its new role as a hotel it has beautiful rooms with top quality materials and a classic style decorated with excellent taste. It is an exceptional place where luxury and history mingle perfectly well. The ideal place for all travelers looking for top quality accommodation or simply those who want to stay in a famous location steeped in history!
Villa Bahia (superior)
Ideally located in the historical quarter of Pelourinho, the Villa Bahia is a charming hotel with quality services. It features 2 old buildings dating back to the 16th century looking out over the magnificent baroque style São Francisco church. It has 17 rooms all decorated differently, and is a charming place to stay surrounded by Portuguese colonial history. Each room is tastefully decorated with classic furniture but modern colours and materials successfully evoke the Portuguese colonial Renaissance. To add to this there is a terrace and small pool to allow visitors to relax and enjoy their surroundings.
An exceptional place with a unique charm. The establishment is run by a Frenchman who promotes local culture, in a luxurious atmosphere that will please the most exigent clientele. A unique villa which justifies its prices. A must for those looking for quality and charm.