Things to do in Salvador
Salvador is a lovely city full of history and African influence, which is most definitely worth a visit. Make the most of your time there and ensure you don't miss any of the top things to do with our complete travel guide.
Salvador is quite spread out so to make things a little easier, we recommend taking a tour with Salvador Bus, who will ensure you see all the sites without the hassle of figuring out how to get to each one.
Barra Lighthouse is situated at Barra Beach and is considered one of Salvador’s historical sites. It is placed in the same fort building as the Bahia Nautical Museum, both of which are worth a visit and there's a beautiful view of the beaches from the top of the lighthouse.
There are a few beaches to visit from Salvador, the closest ones are Porto da Barra and Farol da Barra. The latter is the biggest of the two and perfect to witness the beautiful Salvador sunset from and in contrast the other is a more picturesque cove beach. Take your pick, or do both!
The Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim
When walking around Salvador, you will constantly see colourful ribbons flying around or have locals tying them around your wrist. The Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim is the most famous Catholic Church in Salvador and here you will find thousands more of these ribbons tied to the gates of the church. They are a symbol of fortune and good luck in Bahian culture and it is heart-warming to witness the strength of the culture still embedded into everyday life. You'll also find a very interesting room inside dedicated to people who are considered miracle survivors - models of their body parts and limbs that were saved have been hung from the ceiling, alongside photos and stories of the survivors all over the walls.
In our opinion, this is the most unmissable area of Salvador. The African influence shines into the cobbled streets through the beautiful Portuguese colonial buildings and it is clear why it has been made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is so much history in this part of the city, which actually used to be an area used to sell slaves. The culture is rife, from the colourful clothing to the delicious food and joyful music and it is amazing to be fully immersed in it.
Placed in the Pelourinho district, this elevator leads to the harbour and Salvador’s indoor market, Mercado Modelo. The photo of the harbour from the top of the elevator is one of the most famous views of Salvador. At only 15c, you could travel up and down it as many times as you like!
Mercado Model is a big indoor market spread over 2 floors and selling everything from art work to clothing and food to souvenirs. Head here for all your gifting needs, but keep in mind that it is quite pricey. Unfortunately, you'll not find many of the African style clothing anywhere else in South America. So indulge yourself!
The Carnival Museum
The Carnival Museum is a new addition to the Pelourhino district, having only opened in February 2018. It shows the history of the Salvador carnival and is one of our most recommended places to visit whilst in the city. We don’t want to reveal too much as it is best experienced whilst there, but the history of the carnival is beautiful and it is a lot of fun to learn about the joy it brings to the people who have come from so much suffering.
Dique do Tororó
Dique do Tororó is a lake filled with eight giant statues of the Orishá. The Orishá are the deities of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Cabdomble. It is a cool sight to see them all, especially at night when the statues are lit up too.
Delicious Bahian food is renowned throughout Brazil so it goes hand in hand that if you are in Bahia, the local food must be tried and tested! There are lots of stalls offering tasty food at great prices; definitely try Acarajé, Moqueca and Bolinho de Bacalhau whilst you're there! There is a lovely lady near the top of the Elevador Lacerda selling delicious Acarajé. You can't miss it, her stall is full of pictures with her and various tourists in the city!
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