Perched on the coast of Brazil, Salvador Bahia is one of those magical places where the African, portuguese and Brazilian culture blended together to create an incredible culture, a world of beautiful art and wonderful architecture.
Founded by Portuguese settlers in the 16th century, Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and is to this day one of the oldest colonial cities in South America. A city full of spirit and color, Salvador shines through its dancing, music, and delicious food. The city is split into two levels, easily accessible by the Elevador Lacerda, a 70-meter (230-feet) elevator built in 1873 that continues to be used today. The upper part hosts the old town of Pelourinho, a neighborhood filled with decorated churches, pastel colors and beautiful narrow roads. The lower part is the modern one, a world of high rises and residential dwellings that line up the coast along with beautiful beaches and restaurants serving a mix of European and Bahian food.
Salvador is an easy destination right now with Brazil lifting the visas for US citizens starting June and LATAM inaugurating a new direct flight from Miami to Salvador.
So I grabbed my Solo Region Backpack – the perfect backpack for both the flight and jetting around the city with all my belongings safe, while at the same time being able to tuck away all my souvenirs and everything else I needed for each day in the city. Together with my Away carry-on, I was ready for this adventure.
Stay at the wonderful Fasano Hotel, overlooking the Bay of All Saings and just a few minutes away from the old town of Pelourinho. Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the hotel, before heading out to Pelourinho for the day.
Spend the day in Pelourinho. Pelourinho feels like this magical place full of Afro-Bahian culture, with cobblestone streets and squares filled with local dancers are musicians.
It’s easy to get lost in this dreamland of cotton-candy colored colonial houses, check out the historical churches like Igreja e Convento de São Francisco and Catedral Basílica de Salvador or stop by Casa do Carnaval for an immersive learning experience about the local culture and carnaval.
Stop by Sorriso da Dadá for some local cuisine, including moqueca and coxinha, which will keep you full and satisfied for the rest of the day. Plus, you might get the opportunity to meet Dadá herself, the genius behind this restaurant, a woman so full of love and laughter, it will be hard to walk out of there without a smile on your face.
Continue on with some local shopping as the souvenirs and crafts you find here are unlike anything else you see in the rest of Brazil. The blending of African and Bahian cultures has definitely elevated the art scene to a whole new level.
Come back to Fasano for a rooftop drink and watch the sunset while lounging in the pool with a caipirinha.
Get breakfast at the hotel and head over to Rio Vermelho, a neighborhood known for its eclectic vibe, iconic food, beautiful beaches as well as the former home (now a museum) of writers Jorge Amado and Zélia Gattai.
Head over to the house of Jorge Amado and Zélia Gattai to get a bit of insight into the life of some of the most prestigious and well-known writers in Brazilian culture.
For a late lunch, head to Casa de Tereza, which is hands-down one of the best restaurants in all Salvador. Make sure you order a fejoada and a moqueca and try some of the interesting caipirinha mixes they have available.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the beaches in Rio Vermelho such as Praia do Buracão and check out some of the local dance clubs at night, which feature eclectic music genres such as electronica, samba, axé, electropop, funk and Brazilian popular music
Enjoy another amazing breakfast at the hotel before walking over to the city’s elevator. Yes, the city actually has an elevator. The old town was built up on the cliffs, away from the waves and protected from any potential intruders, while the new part of town is right on the water. To make things easier, the city built Elevador Lacerda, a public urban elevator that has been running since 1873 and it’s 72 metres (236 ft) tall.
Take the elevator down to Mercado Modelo, a local crafts marked with about 250 little shops selling local art, mostly handmade. Mercado Modelo is a perfect place to buy handcrafted souvenirs and get to know the culture and art of Bahia.
If you head to the top floor, you can find a few food establishments, where you can have a snack, a full meal, or the famous by now caipirinha.
Head back to the hotel for a change of pace and some relaxation by the pool before heading out to one of the most impressive dance performances in all Brazil – Balé Folclórico da Bahia. Balé Folclórico da Bahia is the only professional folk dance company in Brazil and performs a repertoire of local “Bahian” folkloric dances of African origin and includes slave dances, capoeira (a form of martial arts), samba, and those that celebrate Carnival.