South America Travel Tips

Salvador de Bahia: 10 reasons you should go one day

Yes. After Jericoacoara I took a short flight to Salvador de Bahia for yet another beach… but this time I was shocked.

Shocked by how good this place was.

So, I’ve this time wrote up a “list blog”, just to give you a few ideas of my amazing stay in Salvador. Put it on your to-go list now please 🙂

1. Great history

The “Marseille of America” (this is 100% mine), Salvador is the third largest city of Brazil. It has the biggest African influence of the whole continent – in fact the first capital of Brazil was the first American slave port.

Pretty sad history, but today the place features a varied and multicultural vibe, it has the highest concentration of coloured people and without its history, Capoeira, food, architecture and other traditions wouldn’t probably exist.

2. Great hostel

My hostel was so awesome I stayed there twice (in between I went to Morro de Sao Paulo, which I will gladly tell you about it in the next article) – and for almost 2 weeks.

The “Hostel Salvador” (not a lot of imagination with the name there!) was super clean, modern, even better than a good hotel. I met many great people there, had a good time going to the beach with them and enjoyed many evenings on the terrace – where a little swimming pool has a great rooftop view of the lovely Rio Vermelho area.

3. Great beaches

There are many km of beach in Salvador, all different from each other. From sandy beaches to surfing bays, from fishing areas to swimming lagunas – you’ve got it all.

The best area, only 15 minutes bus ride or a wonderful 1hr walk from the hostel, was the Porto da Barra beach, located beside the beautiful Barra lighthouse. Clean water, calm waves, caipirinha and stand up paddle boarding – boom!

Other interesting, nearby seaside places are Itapau and Rio Vermelho itself. I didn’t go to the “touristy” Praia do Forte, and I’m happy about that.

4. Fun beach vendors

Beaches are free but locals offer you umbrellas and chairs at a very good price.

Besides, there are vendors who pass by every 5 minutes, mostly with the typical barbecued-on-the-spot cheese (yes, trust me, it’s so good!), beer and anything sellable really.

On the beach you also have stalls with cooked food such as acarajé (local specialty), cocktails (caipirinha, caipiroska, etc) and coconut water – that you drink straight out of a coconut after they drill a hole into it!

5. Great sunset

Around 5.30pm this time of the year, the Barra seafront becomes a lovely spot to enjoy the sunset. People gather at the Lighthouse and the hills nearby to admire and applaude the sunset.

Musicians play lovely music to entertain the crowds.

6. Great food

Food is quite good, and I only cooked the last 3 nights to get some greens into my body 🙂

Meat, fish and fried food is the norm down here, all accompanied by beer (morning, day and night). I’ve almost turned myself into an alcoholic, thing that Ireland wasn’t able to do in 10 years (just kidding, mum)!

Tapioca was my favourite specialty – basically a crepe with chocolate, banana or savoury fillings, made instead with a thick layer of tasty white farinha. Yum!

Then of course grilled fish, carne do sol (salty pieces of yummy meat), farofa, feijoada, acarajé… and more beer.

7. Quite safe

When you just arrive from Fortaleza (and I didn’t even go to the well known Recife), any place feels safer.

Salvador appears to be a happy place, quite safe (as long as you pay attention), where parties are held day and night (like the rest of Brazil I believe!) and where the sea is home to fishermen, surfers, sunbathers, swimmers, divers, sunset lovers and footvolley champions.

Barra in particular appears to be safe at night as well.

8. Great old town, great music

One of the few touristy areas of Salvador I visited was Pelourinho, the lovely old town, with beautiful buildings, lots of souvenir shops, nice food and the tall Lacerda elevator (Brazil’s first elevator, 1873), which takes you down to the market and ferry port.

At times, you see people doing Capoeira or playing drums in the middle of the street (same happens at the beach).

It’s such as pleasure to experience this very warm culture.

9. Favelas

One of the favelas of Salvador is located on a hill overlooking the ocean.

It has its own little beach and port, and some houses are built under the road bridge arches. Other arches are instead the home to street art, by artists who are very well known locally and worldwide. They’re indeed beautiful graffiti.

Houses are old but people are warm.

We had the chance to taste local cuisine at Dona Suzana, where fish is whatever is available in the sea that given day and food is mainly rice, farinha (a beautiful, tasty, eadable toasted flour made from mandioca), black beans, and something similar to polenta.

Of course, this was the cheapest meal I had in Brazil, yet the tastiest. I wish the best to Dona Suzana, as she cooks divine!

10. Jorge Amado

I visited the Jorge Amado museum, that is dedicated to the most famous, most translated, most popular Brazilian author (I knew nothing about him of course…). The museum is nothing special, but the cappuccino is excellent lol!

Jorge Amado had actually a very interesting life and every Brazilian love his books.

There is a sculpture of Jorge and his wife in Rio Vermelho’s little square, right down the road from the hostel I stayed at, as the wife used to live nearby. I refused to take a picture of the 2 folks on an iron bench, but now I’m sorry I didn’t 🙂

Next blog: another beautiful beach that I fell in love with.

I fell in love with Morro de Sao Paulo so much I was almost never going to go back to Europe 🙂

Talk soon!