Salvador is enchanting, colorful, colonial, cultural and historical! There was a lot going on in my mind before and whilst visiting this capital city of Bahia but the magnificence of Salvador is something that you ought to experience.
Salvador is the heart of the country’s Afro-Brazilian community and it is so heart warming to see how the culture of those brought in as slaves in the 16th century is preserved and is flourishing to this day.
This is a city that brims with contemporary music and art amidst architecture that has gone untouched since the 17th century.
Yes, it has a notorious reputation and to be honest, I was quite wary when I was there but if you just follow some simple rules, there’s nothing that can stop you from enjoying Salvador’s nightlife, its gorgeous coastal views and its famous African-influenced cuisine.
This is the heart of the historical center in Salvador and this really is where you would begin your explorations of the city.
Filled with restaurants, bars and cafes, Pelourinho is lively and is a joy to walk around. Don’t be intimidated with people watching you, or, with street vendors trying to sell you different things coz they mean no harm and that is just the vibe of Pelourinho. There is a lot of security around during the day and tons of action going on too, so, enjoy the spirit of this area while you are here.
Salvador has some of the best restaurants in Brazil so don’t miss out on savouring some delicious Bahian dishes. Here are some of my recommendations:
Casa de Tereza - This one is like an institution in Salvador and serves some of the best Bahian delicacies. My personal favorites here were Moqueca – a rice fish stew and Acaraje - a fried bean and shrimp snack.
Dining in Casa de Tereza gives you that local – authentic feel and I was lucky to be served by the restaurant’s famous chef Tereza Paim herself, who is an absolute joy to talk to.
Restaurante Pelo Bistro – This is a lovely bistro nestled inside Hotel Casa do Amarelindo in the historical center of Pelourinho. Whether you decide to have a small bite here, or, a gourmet meal, the experience is very satisfying.
The menu is primarily seafood driven with a focus on local ingredients. Everything here is super tasty though the ‘sauteed shrimps’ do deserve a special mention. I found this place to be ideal for lunch while walking around the cobbled streets of Pelourinho.
Amado – I loved Amado especially sitting outside by the water and watching the sun go down. If you are in the mood for some fine dining in the city, then this is where you need to head to. Sundowners are special here and food is divine.
Tuesday is the most happening day in Salvador when the entire Pelourinho district comes alive with samba parties everywhere. These parties start around 8 pm and last well into midnight. Needless to say that you should leave all your valuables back at your hotel coz this can be a very crowded night.
- There’s a lot to explore and experience around in Salvador, so don’t miss out because you think you might be unsafe.
- See as much as you want during the day.
- Stick to areas such as Pelhourinho, Barra and Rio Vermelho. I stayed in Barra and even partied until late into the night at a really fun biker’s pub which was right next to the Airbnb I was staying in. The crowd was great and there was security too.
- Dress casually and comfortably and look as ‘inexpensive’ as possible, so that you don’t attract the wrong kind of attention.
- Be cautious when you take out your wallet and try not to flash your cash in a public area.
- Enjoy the beach and the parks during the day coz the locals say that there can be incidents of robbery during the evenings.
- If you are ever stuck in a situation, the advice is to never panic and just hand over whatever you have – cash, credit cards, or, whatever valuables you might have. Most of these criminals are only looking for money and don’t really want to harm you and get into trouble.
- Always take an Uber if not a chauffeur driven car from your hotel. I took Uber rides everywhere in Salvador and I cannot recommend them enough.
Frankly, you don’t need many days in Salvador but visit for sure if you are in Brazil. Its truly a city of joy, a city with many facets and definitely a city which showcases the best of the unique Afro-Brazilian culture and cuisine.