What to See in Brazil’s Salvador • We Blog The World
What to See in Brazil’s Salvador • Tour Travel Hotels
Who wouldn’t want to spend 3 days in Salvador? At any point in history, but especially in the post-Covid era, when the one thing we all need more than a sea view is the warmth of Baiana culture.
That’s not to say that Brazil’s most underrated coastal city is just a pretty face, nor the complexity of its Afro-Latino culture that you can fully appreciate in less than a week. That being said, if you are planning to visit Brazil in 2021, I encourage you to consider adding Salvador to your itinerary.
Of course, Salvador is not going anywhere – you might as well have it finalized for 2022, or even later. Likewise, the advice I’m about to share with you is as close to Evergreen as you’ll find online (as much as you can use the word “evergreen” in an article about a city in the heart of the tropics!) .
Where to stay in Salvador
Generally, whether you are spending 3 days in Salvador or any other time, I recommend staying in the historic Pelourinho area. As well as being practical and nicely decorated, it is home to some of the best hotels in Salvador. At the lower end, Hotel Villa Bahia is perfect for backpackers, as well as families on a budget, while the Fera Palace Hotel is ideal if you’re able and willing to splurge.
It goes without saying that this is a romantic part of town – if you haven’t started browsing oval engagement rings yet, I recommend doing so before heading south. Already married? Salvador is also a great place to celebrate a birthday. For singles, meanwhile, it has a bar and an active nightlife just like anywhere else in Brazil, making it a great place to mark a date.
My favorite things to do in Salvador
Go old school in Pelourinho
Although the historical Pelourinho the district is shining these days, its past is less than beautiful. As you watch the iconic Church of Our Lady of Ajuda, be aware that it was once the hub of the Brazilian slave trade, and it was actually this spectacle of inhuman slave auctions.
Admire the sea and dive into it
One of my favorite parts of spending 3 days in Salvador is the abundance of Vitamin Sea – and I’m not just talking about the abundant ocean views everywhere, however lovely they are. Some of my favorite places to swim in Salvador include Boa Viagem Beach, and Praia do Flamengo.
Discover the local flavor
Brazilian food, in general, is very underrated, and food in El Salvador is no exception. My favorite food to eat in Salvador is moqueca, a savory stew made with freshly caught seafood – is there a better way to capture the local flavor of Salvador than this? Other options include vatapá curry and one of the most delectable varieties of Brazilian Tapioca.
Escape to Itaparica
One of the perks of spending 3 days in Salvador (as opposed to just one or two) is the option to take a day trip. Of these, my favorite is probably Itaparica, a beautiful island just off the mainland coast, accessible by a short ferry ride. Notably, it is more convenient than the most popular Morro de São Paulo.
Or further afield in Bahia
Which doesn’t mean you have to get on a boat if you want to get out of downtown Salvador. Some travelers simply board a bus at their destination Arembepe, whose swaying palm trees provide perfect shade for sunbathers and welcome surfers to its legendary waves. Praia do Forte, meanwhile, is home to a marine turtle sanctuary.
Is Salvador worth a visit?
Salvador impressed me – and I say that as a person who didn’t want to visit me before I left. As a travel blogger, I almost saw it as a notch I had to put in my belt to gain credibility on traveling to Brazil. However, between the city’s magnificent historic architecture, delicious food, and vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture, Salvador not only humbled my ego, but delighted my soul.
To put it another way, 3 days in Salvador is not really a big investment in time or money, especially if you are going to be in Brazil already. Even if you don’t love Salvador as much as I do, the color and cuisine alone are worth the relatively short flight from Rio or São Paulo. Additionally, if you take a longer trip that covers the entire length of Brazil, Salvador is a natural stopping point between destinations north and south.
Other FAQs about traveling to Salvador
Is Salvador safe?
With an overall crime rate of 89 per 100,000 inhabitants, Salvador is one of the most objectively dangerous places not only in Brazil, but in the whole world. However, this does not mean that you are likely to suffer a crime (violent or otherwise) as a short-term visitor. Taking smart action (for example, not visibly displaying your wealth or getting into unmarked cars late at night) further reduces your risk.
How many days do you need in Salvador?
Obviously I wrote this post because I think three days in Salvador is the perfect time to spend here. However, you can get by with just one or two, if you plan to focus on downtown attractions, rather than taking day trips. Likewise, with a week or more in Salvador, you can rent an Airbnb apartment and “live” here for a while.
Why is Salvador, in Brazil, famous?
Salvador, Brazil is known for its vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture and cuisine, for its stunning location on the Atlantic coast, and for the tourist hub of east-central Brazil. More regrettably, it is also known to be one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil, itself among the most dangerous countries in the world.
The bottom line
The good news? 3 days in Salvador are enough to appreciate a glimpse into the culture, cuisine and coastal scenery of this underrated Brazilian city, even if you’ve never been there. The best news? If you have more time to spare, you can dig deeper and fall in love with Salvador even more. Whatever the length of your stay, split your time between the city center and the island of Itaparica, which is just one of the many day trip destinations in Bahia.