How to Spend 1 Day in Salvador da Bahia
If Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s glamorous face, and the Amazon its heart, then Salvador da Bahía is its irrepressible soul. Famous for its festivals and fun-loving people, this coastal city is a showcase of the country’s Afro-Brazilian culture, music, cuisine, and colonial history. Here’s how to spend one day in Salvador da Bahia.
Morning: Beaches, Churches, and More
From the beachside neighborhood of Barra to the UNESCO-listed historic center, there’s much to see in Salvador da Bahia. Start your day with a bus, car, or walking tour to get oriented and see highlights like the art-deco Lacerda Elevator, which connects the upper and lower parts of the old city. Snap photos under the Lighthouse of Praia da Barra; explore the colonial palaces and gilded churches of Pelourinho; visit sites like Tororó Dike and Ribeira Beach; and browse the handicrafts at the Mercado Modelo.
Afternoon: Cooking, Capoeira, and Candomblé
In the afternoon, take a deeper dive into Salvador’s culture. Head to the Afro-Brasileiro Museum (MAFRO) to learn about Bahia’s historical roots, which date back to Brazil’s 16th-century slave trade, and visit the Candomblé exhibit to learn about local religious practices. Shop at the open-air São Joaquim market, which was originally founded by slaves, or head to the beach where an orixá, or deity, is celebrated in annual ceremonies at the sea. If you’d prefer not to be a spectator, consider taking a cultural workshop: learn some capoeira or try your hand at preparing traditional recipes in a cooking class.
Night: Soulful or Saintly
The cobbled streets of Pelourinho—the historic city center called Pelo by locals—are the place to be at night. Have a guide take you to the hotspots, including bars where you can taste a caipirinha and buffet-style dinners featuring Bahian cuisine, then enjoy a folkloric performance that showcase samba and other Brazilian dance forms. Head to the city’s main squares to enjoy nightly performances by local musicians, or, for a quieter alternative, cap off the day with a sunset cruise on All Saints’ Bay (Baía de Todos os Santos) and views of São Marcelo Fort and the city skyline.