Choose from 15 Fun Things to Do in Salvador Da Bahia
The Museo Afro-Brasileiro is one of the few museums of its type in Brazil exclusively dedicated to African cultural heritage and its influence on contemporary Brazilian culture.
The museum’s collection of African artifacts ranges from maps (depicting the original slave trade routes), masks, jewelry and clothing to musical instruments, traditional games and pottery.
The candomblé exhibit is particularly fascinating as it explains the roots, icons and rituals of this colorful religion. Don’t miss the impressive wooden tablets sculpted by noted Bahian artist Carybé that depict the candomblé orixás of Bahia with their weapons and liturgical animal. Make sure you ask for an English translation booklet at the entrance.
The Museo Afro-Brasileiro is in an historic building (built in 1808) that previously contained the first Brazilian School of Medicine.
Catch any bus marked Praça da Sé (Pelourinho). The museum is just to the right of the Catedral basilica.
Pelourinho is Salvador’s original colonial center and was Brazil's first slave market. Its name is derived from the post or pillory that African slaves were tethered to and whipped by their Portuguese overlords.
Despite containing the largest concentration of Baroque architecture in the Americas, Pelourinho was a seedy no-go zone until the mid-1980s largely due to drugs and prostitution.
Since being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, Pelourinho has been restored to some of its former glory along with plenty of restaurants, bars and open-air cafes from which to sit and drink in the colorful and architecturally rich surrounds.
It’s possible to walk around Pelourinho’s main sights within a couple of hours but to truly appreciate the history and interiors of some of the most impressive buildings (and visit at least one museum!), you’ll need to allow a day or two.
To get here, catch any bus marked Praça da Sé (Pelourinho).
Praia do Forte is an area of spectacular biodiversity less than two hours by bus from Salvador.
Like many beach towns in Brazil, Praia do Forte was once a small fishing village that became known for its beautiful stretches of coastline, diverse ecosystems, and wildlife.
Now a bustling eco-resort, Praia do Forte’s stunning beach and surrounding ocean and jungle is the main drawcard for visitors who come to relax and take advantage of the many adventure activities and whale & turtle watching.
Praia do Forte's high reef is well exposed at low tide, leaving warm pools of colorful fish and natural baths to loll about in. The area’s wide variety of marine life makes it an ideal spot for snorkeling and diving.
Over seven different species of sea turtle live in the surrounding waters. It's worth visiting the TAMAR project to see them in their natural environment and learn more about the project’s conservation work.
Praia do Forte is 1.5 - 2 hrs on a bus from Salvador. You can get the bus from calçada (near the bottom of the Lacerda lift) or from the rodoviária bus station).
- Museum entry is discounted for students, teachers, and children.
- The cozy Balangandan Café features sandwiches, pastries, pies, coffee, tea, and other refreshments.
- Although the collection may not hold the attention of young children, the museum's surrounding garden is a good place for kids to blow off steam.
Mercado Modelo is a lively place stocked full of arts, crafts and touristy trinkets.
Located across the street from the restored art deco elevador lacerda (elevator) in a replica of the city’s old customs house, the market is a fun way to spend an hour or two and maybe pick up a bit of tourist tack for the folks back home.
Take a deep breath as you enter to prepare for the onslaught of vendors that’ll attempt to coax you towards their stall. It’s all pretty light-hearted so with a smile and a bit of friendly bartering, you’ll enjoy your visit here.
The original customs house (also formally a place to imprison slaves) was destroyed by fire in 1986. The rear part of the Mecardo Modelo is given over to local bars and traditional Bahia restaurants (on the street level, and upstairs on a large balcony).
Cidade Baixa is more commonly refered to as Comércio. To get here, catch any bus marked Comércio or Elevador Lacerda from Cidade Alta or hail a taxi. The surrounding area is a bit rundown and walking around here is not recommended.
Perched proudly at the end of the Barra peninsula and housed inside an ancient Portuguese fort, Barra Lighthouse (Farol da Barra) is a prime spot to view the spectacular sunsets and views across All Saints Bay (Todos os Santos).
Explore inside the lighthouse and you’ll find a small museum filled with maps, charts and artifacts – many of which were recovered from sunken European galleons that plied the seas transporting goods and slaves during the colonial days.
Admire the splendid fort (Forte de Santo Antônio da Barra), built in 1534 to defend the capital from indigenous and Dutch advances, then lie back against its old stone walls to take in the sunset over the bay.
Barra is a popular beachside neighbourhood just south of the city center. You’ll find many hotels here and Barra’s restaurants and bars are a great place to hang out and party with the locals.
Barra Lighthouse is on Salvador's southwestern tip. Catch the Barra or Via Orl bus to Barra.