With its lattice of cobbled lanes, dotted with historic churches, colonial-era landmarks, and brightly painted buildings—the Upper City (Cidade Alta is the historic core of Salvador da Bahia. Perched on an escarpment with views across the bay, it’s also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the popular Pelourinho district.
The Upper City (Cidade Alta) and Lower City (Cidade Baixa) are connected by the Lacerda Elevator, which affords impressive views of the city and coast--saving travelers the effort of scaling Salvador’s hills. Most visitors spend their time in the Pelourinho quarter, where a walking tour is the best way to explore the lively squares and colorful buildings. Stop to admire landmarks including the San Francisco Church and Palacio Rio Branco; learn more about Salvador’s history and cultural heritage at the Afro-Brazilian Museum (Museo Afro-Brasiliero); or visit the Casa do Carnaval da Bahia.
Things to know before you go
*The Upper City has a large selection of hotels, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, most of which are found around the Pelourinho district. *Police patrol the Pelourinho area, making it one of Salvador’s safer neighborhoods. As with most Brazilian cities, it’s recommended to stick to the main areas and take a taxi to and from attractions outside of Pelourinho. *The cobblestone lanes and old buildings of the Upper City may limit access for wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get there
The Upper City is located on an escarpment, just east of the Lower City and Harbor. The easiest way to get there is to ride the Lacerda Elevator, which links the harbor to the Pelourinho district. Although it’s possible to walk from other areas of town, taxis and rideshares offer a quicker and safer option.
When to get there
Visit the Upper City in the day to explore the sights or head into Pelourinho after dark to sample Salvador’s legendary nightlife. During Brazil’s annual Carnival, the Upper City hosts some of Salvador’s most vibrant celebrations, with parades and parties taking over the streets of Pelourinho.
- Museu Afro-Brasileiro (MAFRO)
- Lacerda Elevator (Elevador Lacerda)
- Salvador Mercado Modelo
- Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova
- Tororo Dike (Dique do Tororó)
- Castro Alves Theater (Teatro Castro Alves)
- Frades Island (Ilha dos Frades)
- Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church (Igreja de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim)
- Carlos Costa Pinto Museum (Museu Carlos Costa Pinto)
- Barra Lighthouse
- Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra
- Sao Francisco Church and Convent (Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco)
- Itaparica Island (Ilha de Itaparica)
- Morro de Sao Paulo