Salvador is the capital city of Bahia, located in the Northeastern region of Brazil. Often referred to as the cultural and spiritual capital of Brazil, Salvador is full of history, culture, music, and stunningly beautiful landscapes. Its unique location along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean makes for easy access to some of the region’s best beaches. It offers numerous outdoor activities from surfing to snorkeling to sailing.
This vibrant, dynamic city is an ideal destination for all travelers, from adventurous sun-seekers to culturally conscious tourists. Here are the ten best attractions in Salvador to make the most out of your trip.
The Lacerda elevator is unquestionably a landmark in Salvador. The lower city (cidade baixa) and the upper city (cidade alta) are connected by this structure, which was constructed at the end of the 19th century. This will bring back memories of the Santa Justa elevator, which serves the same purpose if you have been to Lisbon! It was the tallest and most avant-garde elevator in the world at the time. Therefore, the elevator is still remarkable from a technical engineering point of view, despite the fact that we are not yet there aesthetically.
The main Catholic center in the city is the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. The impressive house of God watches over Salvador's residents peacefully from the top of the Sagrada Colina (sacred hill). The name "church of miracles" comes from the large number of people who come and ask the "Lord of Good Ending" to heal a family member.
The popular fitas do Bonfim hold tight to the church's networks. Wishes have been said to be granted by these bright ribbons, which are typically worn around the wrist. While you are here, you should end the day in style at Ponto do Humaita, a nearby lighthouse. The tranquil setting it is sure to please you greatly. Everybody is by all accounts in their own reality: the rasta playing the guitar at the chapel's door, the elderly man tenderly looking after his grandchildren, and the young couple whispering by the sea.
Cerro Verde National Park is one of the most beautiful places in El Salvador. It has three volcanic peaks surrounded by thick jungle, a huge number of hiking trails, and the nearby crater lake of Coatepeque.
Hiking is the main thing people do in Cerro Verde National Park, and all three of its volcanoes, Izalco, Cerro Verde, and Santa Ana, are easy to get to. El Salvador's highest and most active volcano, Santa Ana, has a 2,381-meter summit with four craters and a green crater lake. The views from nearby Izalco, which has been called the "Lighthouse of the Pacific" because it has been erupting almost constantly for 160 years, are just as stunning. Climbing the eponymous peak is also a highlight. Hikers who climb the now-extinct Cerro Verde volcano will find a cloud forest on the mountaintop full of colorful birds, such as hummingbirds, jays, and emerald toucanets.
The historic neighborhood of Pelourinho is a must-see when visiting Salvador. Pelourinho is the heart of Salvador: a riot of colors, frantic capoeira rhythms, narrow, paved streets, and majestic baroque churches. Despite its gloomy past as the site of the first slave market in the New World, the quarter's current vibe is just as festive. The churches of San Francisco and Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos pretos, as well as the House of Carnival, should not be missed. Go to the heights to see the sunset at dusk.
Open-air art, a gypsy vibe, small restaurants, and cozy bars are all hallmarks of Rio Vermelho (literally, "red river"). Because it hosts the annual celebrations of Yemanja, a goddess of the sea who is highly revered in Salvador and has roots in African beliefs, the beach is not only beautiful but also sacred to the locals. The writer Jorge Amado and his wife Zelia Gattai lived in the Casa do Rio Vermelho, which is where art and literature lovers should go. You'll glean some significant experience about the existence of these two entrancing craftsmen and about Bahianese culture, which extraordinarily motivated their works.
It is the name given to one of the district's most gorgeous towns. It is fifty miles to the north of Salvador. Before it became the charming seaside resort and eco-tourism destination it is today, Praia do Forte was once a fishing village. In fact, it is home to the Tamar Project, which works to safeguard sea turtles. Tourists and locals alike flock to their center (see Instagram post above), bringing attention to the need to protect these magnificent animals. However, Praia do Forte is also a charming village with postcard-worthy beaches and the only medieval castle in the country: Castelo Garcia D'Avila.
The fort was used to stop invading enemies when Salvador was Brazil's capital. It is now the location of a cultural center that is worth a visit: the Carybé Arts Center. The famous Argentino-Brazilian painter Carybé's masterpieces are on display during the interactive visit, which takes place in Salvador for a portion of his life.
Be sure to time your visit to coincide with dusk's beginning! The fort's walls then receive a stunning light show: The scene is breathtaking, with the sea as the background and the setting sun. After that, stop by the Mirante Forte So Diogo by the fort for a drink. Although it is not the most inexpensive bar, the cocktails, and views are absolutely worth the money!
Barra, or Farol da Barra, is where the city's most well-known beaches are located. From a historical perspective, it's quite interesting because it has three colonial forts, including Barra's lighthouse, home to the Marine Museum. Additionally, the lighthouse is well-known for its ideal location to view the sunset. Regarding beaches, go to Farol da Barra beach instead of Porto da Barra beach because it is much quieter. Well, that is, unless you want to mingle with the locals, who play funk music and smoke barbecues on the beach, which is a different kind of experience, haha! It's great to know that the Farol da Barra beach is also a great place to surf!
Mercado Modelo is the best place to buy souvenirs to show off when you get home. You can find clothing, handicrafts, and local specialties in this huge indoor market. However, keep an eye out for tourist traps and always bargain for lower prices! Go to the restaurant on the second floor for your lunch break: from that porch, the perspective on the Narrows of All Holy people is precious!
On the edge of the Cerro Verde National Park, Lake Coatepeque is one of El Salvador's most beautiful natural sights. It is a stunning blue pool tucked between the peaks of the Cerro Verde, Izalco, and Santa Ana volcanoes and surrounded by sugar and coffee plantations. This lake is almost 6 km long and is the country's biggest. It was made in the crater of an ancient volcano more than 50,000 years ago and is home to catfish, guapote, and zebrafish, among other fish.
Lake Coatepeque is a peaceful vacation spot for both locals and tourists. Swimming and water sports like sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, and scuba diving are the most popular things to do there. There are also hot springs near the water and the island of Teopan, which was once an important place of worship for the Mayans.
Salvador is a truly special city, offering all sorts of activities, attractions, and experiences. There is no denying that Salvador is a truly stunning destination with many attractions on offer. From outdoor activities and stunningly beautiful landscapes to its rich culture and vibrant musical traditions, Salvador has something for everyone.
Whether you’re a beach bum or a history buff, there’s something special waiting for you in Salvador. So don’t wait, pack your bags and begin your Salvadorian adventure today, town for the experience of a lifetime!