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Pelourinho is the most picturesque part of Salvador.

11 Fun Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil

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Welcome to one of the most vibrant and colorful cities in South America! Salvador de Bahia stole our hearts with its fun atmosphere and great weather, and we know you'll love it just as much as we did. There are so many fun things to do in Salvador, Brazil, and we're excited to share them with you!


This city isn't huge on the tourist radar just yet for people outside Brazil, but it is actually home to the best Brazilian Carnival in the country!


In this guide we're going to share everything you need to know for visiting, from how to get there and around, to all of the best things to do in Salvador, Brazil. Let's dive right in!

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Where is Salvador in Brazil?

Salvador de Bahia is the capital city of the state of Bahia, in northeast Brazil. It is located on Baía de Todos os Santos, which is the largest bay in Bahia, along the Atlantic coast.

where is Salvador in Brazil

Salvador is located in the north east of Brazil.


How to Get to Salvador, Brazil

While most people flock to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Salvador also has one of the most well-connected airports in the country, and you can even get there directly from a few different other countries.


International cities that fly to Salvador direct include Buenos Aires, Lisbon, and Madrid. Brazilian Cities that fly direct to Salvador de Bahia include Barreiras, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Campina Grande, Campinas, Fortaleza, Goiania, Ilheus, Joao Pessoa, Lencois, Maceio, Natal, Recife, Paulo Afonso, Porto Seguro, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Luis, Sao Paulo, Vitoria, and Vitoria da Conquista.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Brazil". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly to. In addition, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Salvador.

Search for a flight to Salvador or an airport around it:

What is the Nearest Airport to Salvador Bahia, Brazil?

The city of Salvador de Bahia is just a 45 minute drive from Salvador Bahia Airport, and can be reached by bus, Uber, or rental car.


Taking a Bus to Salvador de Bahia

If you are planning other travels around Brazil, you can also easily go from several other major cities to Salvador de Bahia by bus. Here are a few options that you can look into:



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Entry Requirements for Brazil

Whenever visiting to a new country, it's important to know the requirements for entering. Here are a few of the things you need to know for visiting Salvador, Brazil.


Visa Entry Requirements for Brazil

US citizens used to be required to obtain a visa to visit Brazil, but now it is no longer necessary, and all you need to enter the country is your passport. 


Other nationalities whom are exempt from needing a tourist visa in Brazil include AndorraArgentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Canada, ChileColombiaCosta RicaDenmarkEcuador, Finland, France, GermanyGreece, Japan, Iceland, IrelandItaly, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, The Netherlands, Norway, ParaguayPeru, Philippines, Portugal, San Marino, South Africa, SpainSuriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United KingdomUruguay, and Venezuela.


Those that are a part of the Mercosur region do not need to bring their passport to visit Brazil, and just need to bring their ID card with them. The countries that are included in this are ArgentinaUruguay, and Paraguay.


Covid Entry Requirements for Brazil

Brazil is one of the few countries within the Americas that still have Covid-related entry requirements. They require you to either be fully vaccinated, or to bring a negative Covid-19 test result. Masks are not required in most places, except while passing through security in the airports. Make sure to carry a mask with you (even if it is just for a few minutes that you'll need to wear it), because if you don't, you'll need to purchase one.


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Local Adjustments for Salvador, Brazil

Each country has things that make them different to adjust to, such as the language, currency, or electrical outlets. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind when visiting Salvador, Brazil.


What Language is Spoken in Brazil?

The official language in Salvador, as well as the rest of Brazil, is Portuguese.


We found that some people spoke Spanish, and some English, but overall it is much easier if you learn some of the basics, and download Google Translate.


Currency in Salvador, Brazil

The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real. Currently (June 2023) the exchange rate is 5 Brazilian Real for every 1 USD or Euro.


Most places in Salvador accept credit cards as payment, but we do suggest taking cash out for small purchases, things from local vendors, and for tipping.


What Plug Adapter Do You I Need for Brazil?

Brazil uses the same electrical outlets as Europe does, which are for plug types C & N. The country operates on a 127/220 V supply voltage and 60 Hz.


Can You Drink Tap Water in Salvador, Brazil?

Overall the water in Brazil really isn't safe to drink from the tap. We suggest buying big bottles of water and then refilling your own reusable water bottle.


Tipping Culture in Brazil

The tipping culture in Salvador is similar to most areas of Brazil, which is on average an extra 10%. Tips are not added to credit card payments, so you'll have to do them in cash.

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Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about getting to Salvador successfully, here are the best things to do in Salvador, Brazil.


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things to do in Salvador, Brazil pin
things to do in Salvador, Brazil pin

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #1: Explore Pelourinho

Looking for all of those stunning buildings, live music, and colorful art? Well, Pelourinho is the place to be. This is the heart of the historic center, and is where you will find a lot of the top sites in Salvador. We suggest simply getting lost in the streets here and enjoying the great vibe here. Here is also a list of the top sites in this area to check out:


Largo de Pelourinho

This is the iconic street located in the heart of Pelourinho. This place is nestled between two steep streets, and is full of super colorful buildings and live music. This is also where Michael Jackson shot his music video "They don't care about us". If you've seen pictures of Salvador before, chances are it was at Largo do Pelourinho.

Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

Pelourinho is the most picturesque part of Salvador.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People

This is (in our opinion) the most beautiful church in Salvador, and the center of some of the best pictures that you can take in Salvador. It is located in the heart of Largo do Pelourinho, and surrounded by other colorful buildings.


blue church in Salvador de Bahia, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
blue church in Salvador de Bahia, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Igreja Ordem Terceira Sao Domingos Gusmão

This is a 17th-century Roman Catholic Church, white a white facade, green doors, and golden trimming. It is right in the main square of Pelourinho.

church in Salvador, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

This church can be found right in the main square in Pelourinho.

Foundation Casa Jorge Amado

This center is dedicated to the famous Brazilian writer, Jorge Amado. It has a few exhibits, a book store, and a cafe, all free of charge to visit.

Casa Jorge Amado, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Casa Jorge Amado is the blue building.

Afro-Brazilian Museum UFBA

Did you know that Salvador de Bahia has a huge African influence? Well, this museum holds the stories and artifacts of the African history of Salvador.

MAFRO museum. Salvador de Bahia, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Cathedral of Salvador

This impressive cathedral is located in the main square of Pelourinho, and is one of the principal cathedrals of the city.


Museum of Mercy

The Museum of Mercy is a 17th century mansion that now holds artifacts and art dedicated to the history of medicine in the country.

Museum of Mercy, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Igreja do Santissimo Sacramento do Passo

Head up the street from Largo de Pelourinho and you'll find another stunning church worth visiting. We particularly liked this one for the long set of stairs that lead to the top.

church with steps in Salvador

Igreja e Convento de Nossa Senhora do Carmo

Head a bit further up the street, and you'll find another impressive church that is worth visiting.


Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco

The church and convent of Sao Francisco dates back between the 17th and 18th centuries, and is classified as one of the "Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World".

Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Rio Branco Palace

Dating back to 1549, this is one of the oldest palaces in Brazil, and former seat of the government. It is located in the historic center, right next to the Lacerda Elevator.

Rio Branco Palace, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #2: Ride the Lacerda Elevator

The Lacerda Elevator is one of the top things to do in Salvador, Brazil, and is a symbol of the city. The 72 meter elevator connects the port area with the historic center, and has a scenic ride up, for just 1 Real.


Lacerda Elevator, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
Lacerda Elevator, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
Lacerda Elevator, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

The Lacerda elevator connects the port area to the historic center, and has great views on the way up.


Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #3: Have a Bite or Get a Souvenir at Mercado Modelo

Located right in the port of the center of Salvador de Bahia is a giant market called Mercado Modelo. Here you can find locals selling crafts and souvenirs, as well as different places to eat. We suggest heading upstairs to the balcony so you can have a nice meal with great views of the port area. Sometimes they even have live music as well!

Mercado Modelo, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #4: Check Out Barra

Located in the south west corner of the city, Barra is a lovely neighborhood worth checking out. Here you can find a super lively beach (Porto do Barra Beach) which is full of people swimming and having drinks. It also has a stunning fort (Santo Antônio da Barra Fort), as well as a lighthouse, all of which you can easily enjoy on a scenic walk along the coast of the neighborhood.

Salvador Barra lighthouse, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #5: Go On a Boat Trip

One of the best things to do in Salvador is to explore the stunning beaches and islands that surround the peninsula. The best way to do this is by taking a boat trip. You can head to the port and do a shared trip leaving in the morning, or you can charter your own boat like we did. We suggest booking this in advance for the best availability and prices, and discussing with your captain which areas you'd like to experience.


It's important to note that depending on your vessel, will depend on how many things you can do. We opted for a sailboat, but found due to the speed that we couldn't visit as many locations as we would have wished, and it would have been a bit more ideal to so a speedboat to see more.


boat trip, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
boat trip, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
boat trip, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Ilha dos Frades

This was one of our favorite places that we visited on our boat trip. Sailing up you will see the stunning beach that awaits with its turquoise waters. You can also get a massage, a bite to eat, or walk the perimeter of the island to explore a bit further.


Ilha dos Frades, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
Ilha dos Frades, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
Ilha dos Frades, things to do in Salvador, Brazil
Ilha dos Frades, things to do in Salvador, Brazil

Ilha do Frades is one of our favorite areas surrounding Salvador de Bahia.

Ilha da Mare

This is another one of the most popular islands in the area of Salvador, and is a typical spot for boats to stop so that visitors can enjoy the beautiful beaches and mangroves of the area.


Itaparica

Itaparica is a place that you can actually visit by boat or by road, as it is located on a peninsular rather than an island. This is one of the most popular beaches in the Salvador de Bahia area, featuring golden sands, and turquoise waters.


Here are a few of the tours that include Itaparica:

Morro de Sao Paulo

This is the top boat trip that you can take while visiting Salvador de Bahia, which has some of the most stunning beaches and turquoise waters of Bahia. There are plenty of tours that go here, from private sailings to daily group tours.

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #6: Relax at Itapuã

Located a bit away from the rest of the things to do in Salvador, Itapuã  is the top rated area if you ask locals where they like to go. The area has a beautiful beach, as well as a lighthouse worth visiting.


Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #7: Have a Night Out in Rio Vermelho

Coming to Salvador we honestly had no idea about this area of the city. While it's a bit further than many of the main things to do in Salvador, Brazil, it was recommended by a local and we were so happy we went! Here are a few reasons that we loved Rio Vermelho.


Browse the Fair

Located in a giant parking, there is a big fair that has a variety of local vendors selling everything from arts and crafts to spices, sauces, and food. The quality of products are much better (and have better prices) than the markets in Pelourinho. Make sue to bring cash, as not many of the vendors accept credit card!


fair in Salvador
fair in Salvador
fair in Salvador

The fair in Rio Vermelho is full of great local specialties.

Have a Nice Dinner

Our favorite restaurant we ate at was in Rio Vermelho! Keep reading to find out just another great reason to visit this area.


Have a Wild Night With the Locals

As soon as we finished dinner we heard music from several places. There are plenty of bars in this area, many of them with live music, and locals dancing wildly all night long.


Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #8: Visit Basilica do Senhor do Bonfim

While there are several beautiful cathedrals and churches in Salvador, Basilica do Senhor do Bonfim is the most famous one. Located just a bit outside the historic center, it is known for all of the colorful papers that hang in front of it.


Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #9: Watch the Sunset at Ponta do Humaita

Due to the odd location of Salvador, you can actually enjoy the sunset from some of the beaches! One of the most popular ones to catch the sun melting into the horizon is at Ponta do Humaita.


Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #10: Browse the Local Art

Salvador de Bahia is full of talented artists, and we loved the local art so much that we ended up spending an hour inside one of the shops. Take a piece home with you to support the locals, and to brighten up your space at home, or simply walk around and admire how vibrant and colorful their art is.

local art in Salvador Brazil

Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil #11: Experience Brazil's Best Carnival

The number one reason that Salvador is famous is because of its epic carnival celebrations. While tourists tend to flock to the famous parties of Rio de Janeiro, Salvador is where most of the Brazilians actually go. Salvador de Bahia has the biggest carnival in the country, and each February they have a 4 days of intense celebrations all day and all night throughout the streets.


We didn't realize that each city in Brazil has different dates (some celebrate longer than others), so we unfortunately got there the day after Carnival ended. Just a reason to go back!

Welcome to one of the biggest parties in the world! The carnival in Brazil each year is definitely something to add to your bucket list. From partying in the streets to extravagant parades, there is so much to see and do during these epic celebrations.Having experienced the carnival in Brazil

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Things to Do in Salvador, Brazil: Local Food & Drink

One of the best things to do in Salvador, Brazil is to try the local cuisine! Bahian food is different than other areas of Brazil, and is bursting with Caribbean flavors. They use a lot of spices, malagueta chili peppers, and seafood in their dishes. Here are a few of the dishes we suggest you try.


Bahian Foods to Try

  • Moqueca: This is the number one local food to try! Moqueca is a seafood stew, typically served for multiple people.
  • Caldo de Feijão: a hearty bean soup
  • Acarajé: a stuffed fritter of beans that is typically sold on the streets
  • Vatapá: a paste made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, peanuts, and palm oil
  • Caruru: a dish consisting of okra, dried shrimp, onions, & toasted nuts cooked in dendê palm oil
  • Akara: bean fritters originating from Nigeria
food in Salvador
food in Salvador
food in Salvador

Bahian cuisine is full of thick stews, starchy sides, and flavorful spices.

Other Brazilian Foods to Try

  • Pao de Quejo: small balls of bread baked with cheese
  • Coxinha: tear drop shaped croquettes of shredded chicken that are deep fried
  • Acai: a frozen treat made of berries from the Amazon
  • Coconuts: you can easily get them along the beach
  • Tapioca: tortilla-like flatbreads which are made from a gummy starch
  • Churrasco: a Brazilian cooking method with giant skewers of various meats that are sliced table side 
  • Farofa: another staple of Brazilian cuisine, this is a dry mix of toasted manioc flour and butter, often with some extra ingredients like garlic or spices, which is used as an accompaniment to almost any savory dish.

Our Favorite Restaurants in Salvador, Brazil

Now that you know some of the best foods to try in Salvador, here are a few restaurants that we loved!


Casa de Farinha

Want to traditional Bahian food? Located in the heart of Pelourinho, this is one of the top restaurants to add to your list!


Casa de Tereza

Looking for one of the most iconic restaurants in the city? Then you cannot visit out on Casa Tereza. Everything from the gorgeous decor to the exquisite cuisine will make you fall in love with this restaurant as much as we did. They are known for their traditional recipes, and their moquecas are just incredible. This is a nicer establishment, so you should definitely reserve in advance, dress nice, and expect to pay more than you would at most other restaurants. It's worth every penny though!


Casa de Tereza, best restaurants in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil