Reviews and photos of Salvador da Bahia attractions posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Salvador da Bahia sightseeing.
GO TO PRAIA DO FORTE
Everyone in Salvador was saying how lovely Praia do Forte was, in fact, they were saying it in Rio too. The travel books made it seem like a small resort town. We've got enough of those here so I wasn't completely convinced until we got there.
To ge there you'll need to take a tour from Salvador, hire a taxi for the day, or rent your own car... We rented a car.
When we pulled off the highway at the sign that advertised Praia do Forte and TAMAR I had no idea what to expect, we travelled down a winding dirt road for a while and then... there it was, this village, so remote yet charming, with thatched roofs and huts, small shops, small cafes and such. We headed for the beach first... gosh, it was lined with some of the most beautiful palm trees I've ever seen.
After alittle R&R beside the ocean we visited TAMAR, the sea turtle project. Very cool little set up with a variety of sea turtles and sea life to observe and even TOUCH at one of the many pools. Be sure to stick around for a feeding, those little guys go crazy when fed, it's cool to see.
After TAMAR we strolled the main thoroughfare of Praia do Forte, checking out the little shops, seeking out a place for dinner... There were tons of choices. We settled on a place and enjoyed more caipirinhas and a good meal. I'll write a tip on that place soon.
After dinner we found a unique ice cream shop with what seemed like a thousand flavors... and strange flavors at that! Ninon had CORN ice cream...Another unique aspect of the ice cream shop was that you served yourself from the big buckets of ice cream. I'd never seen that before!
There seemed to be a lot of cozy little pousadas in Praia do Forte, I could see how a person could stay there and vegetate for a week.... I'd definitely go back.
In a land so full of music & dance see a folk show
OK, so, usually I would see such as a bit too touristy but all the music and dance that is Salvador drew me to experience the show at Solar do Unhao.
Solar do Unhao exists in this great 18th century colonial building of stone and exposed wood beams, down a steep hill- Warm lighting invites you in, the scent of a Bahian buffet fills your nostrils. And BAM! your photo is snapped with a woman in traditional Bahian dress which someone will later show you, glued to a plastic plate that you can purchase.... :-)
Tim and I opted to skip the dinner buffet and have wine instead as we watched the show... (We had dinner at Sorriso da Dada on Rue Frei Vincente later that night). I think we paid $40 REAL per person for the show alone.
The performance began with the sacred dances of the Candomblé, then Puxada de Rede in honor of Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea, followed by Maculelê, an acrobatic stick and sword dance from the cane fields.
The most amazing part of the show in my opinion, was an exhilarating display of Capoeira- it was incredible. The show ended with the Samba de Roda, a spinning, swirling version of this exuberant national dance in which those in the show dragged members of the audience up onto the stage to samba away with them...
There are two nightly shows, call for exact times.
Cidade Baixa (the Lower City)
Cidade Baixa is part of the city at the foot of the bluff. The most easy way to get from Cidade Alta is by Elevadora Lacerda. This historic district was made up of the port of Salvador and adjoining warehouses and business. There's little of interest for tourist here. Most of the original structures have been demolished and replaced with private and government office buildings from the early 20th century. ¸
However, it's not completely without interest. You are likely at least to pass through to get to the Terminal Maritimo, where you can catch a boat to one of the islands in the bay. And there is one essential stop, Mercado Modelo, offering seemingly endless choice of regional arts and crafts. Cidade Baixa extends westward to the area known as Bonfim, a neighbourhood famous for its Afro-Brazilian festival and home to the famous Igreja do Bonfim. If you go on little further, you soon come to Ribeira.
Mercado Modelo is a Salvador's largest market and one of Salvador's landmarks. An old covered market with the best selection of the artesanato in the city, is set on its own by the old harbour, across the road from the foot of Elevador Lacerda. It was built in 1861 and originally used as the customs house for shipments coming into port. In 1971 the building was converted into the present-day Mercado and in 1984 quickly rebuilt after the fire.
It functions again as a centre of Bahian arts and crafts with more than 250 stalls. Here you'll find capoeira trousers, Bahian traditional clothing, lacework, jewelry, wood carving, trinkets, musical instruments and CDs, souvenirs and much more. Prices here are about the same as in Pelourinho, but don't be afraid to bargain, especially for jewelry and handicrafts. Some of the nicest souvenirs are the painted statues of candomble deities - look for the sign "antigos religiosos".
In the square in front of the market you'll find more arts and crafts stalls with a host of hippie-style items and occasional capoeira demonstrations and live music. Even if you don't buy anything, Mercado is a very enjoyable place to visit. There is always something going on in and around the market and it's always crowded with Bahians and tourists. In the back is the covered patio area, where you can relax and have lunch or a cold drink. You find a Banco do Brasil ATM machine and an information ofice to the left of the front entrance, and upstairs there are a couple of good restaurants.
It is open Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-2pm
Pelourinho - The Old Heart of Salvador
There is no visit of Salvador without spending some time in the old city of colourful pastel-hued colonial buildings, cobblestoned streets and a sense of history, clustered around the Largo do Pelourinho, also known as Praca Jose de Alencar.
Pelurinho is a living museum with numerous buildings from 16th and 17th centuries fully restored to their original beauty and charm (there are always buildings undergoing restoration as the job is practically endless). It's the largest example of Baroque architecture in the America's, declared in 1985 a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site.
"Pelourinho" means whipping post and this is where African slaves were publicly punished during colonial times. Slavery was outlawed in 1835, and over time, this part of the city, though home to artists and musicians, fell into disrepair. A major restoration effort resulted in making the area a highly desirable tourist attraction.
During the day you can walk the streets, looking into the many clothing and art shops, bars, restaurants, museums and churches. At night Pelourinho offers music and dance events in its many public squares. The Laranjeiras area is loaded with charming restaurants offering delicious Bahian food and a number of programmed events take place during the week.
No other place reflects so well the soul of Bahia as Pelourinho!
Directions: Cidade Alta (the Upper City)
Porto da Barra Beach
This beach is locaded in Barra. As it is a kind of bay, there are no waves, that´s why many pepole go there to swim.
At this beach you find many tourists, because Barra is a tourist neigborhood. But you also find people from Salvador, specially students. Almost forgot: It is possidle to practice diving here (i´ve never tried!).
Its it one of my favourits.
Constructed in the 17th century, with gold, marble, wood and ivory, mixing baroque and rococo styles.
In this church we can usually appreciate concerts, such as Bahia’s Symphonic Orchestra presentations.
For me, it is the most beautiful church of Salvador (and the city has MANY churches), an amazing place.
Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos
Built by and for slaves between 1704 and 1796 to honour Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks, this church didn't receive due attention outside the local Afro-Brazilian community until long after it was built.
The church uses a mixture of themes, both African and Catholic. The blue and white facade is a mixture of baroque and rococo architecture with oriental-looking towers. After extensive renovation, it is worth a look at the side altars to see statues of the Catholic church's few black saints. One of the highlights of this church is the painting of the Passion with a black Chirst. African rhythms pervade the service.
It is open Mon-Fri 9:30am-6pm, Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun 10am-noon.