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Salvador and a "little History" of a Great Place

The Rio Branco Palace

Salvador is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Pelourinho, the heart of the old town, the Pillory, has the largest collection of Portuguese colonial buildings in the New World. Especially notable are the numerous baroque and rococo cathedrals.
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In Salvador, the African influence in the makeup of Brazilian culture is readily visible, from the delicious spicy dishes still called by their African names (caruru, vatapa, acaraji), to the ceremonies of Candombli which honor both African deities and Catholic holidays, to the Capoeira schools where a unique African form of ritualistic fighting is taught. Live music performances are presented most nights. Among the bands that play is the world–famous Grupo Olodum.
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Today most people travel to Salvador for its Carneval, which is one of the best in Brazil. Obviously, when you ask the people from Salvador, it is the best!
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Today, Salvador's population is around 2,250,000 inhabitants.

On 1 November 1501, All Saints' Day, the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci sailed into the bay, which was accordingly named Baía de Todos as Santos. Almost 50 years later, in 1549, Tomé de Souza came from Portugal bringing city plans, a statue, 400 soldiers and 400 settlers, including priests and prostitutes. He founded the city in a defensive location on a clifftop facing the sea. During the first year, a city of mud and straw had been created, and by 1550 the surrounding walls were in place to protect against attacks from hostile Indians. Salvador da Bahia became the capital of the new region, and remained Brazil's most important city for the next three centuries. Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, developed into the first major port and remained the economic and political capital of colonial Brazil for almost two centuries. The city lies between green tropical hills and broad beaches along the bay of Todos os Santos. It was built on two levels with administration buildings and residences constructed on the hills; forts, docks, and warehouses on the beaches. To this day the city is still divided into upper and lower cities. From 1500 to 1815 Salvador was the nation's busiest port. A significant portion of the sugar from the northeast and gold and diamonds from the mines in the southeast passed through Salvador. It was a golden age for the town. Magnificent homes and churches resplendent in gold decoration were built. Many of the city's baroque churches, private homes, squares, and even the hand-chipped paving bricks have been preserved as part of Brazil's historic heritage.

Salvador and its Bairros
(Neighborhoods)

The historic part of Salvador can easily be explored on foot and it is worthwhile to spend 2 to 3 days wandering through the splendid 16th and 17th Century homes, churches and museums. Because of the hot climate, a good way to spend time is, to explore the city in the morning, when it is cooler, go to the beach in the afternoon and then head for the fine food, music and dance in the evening. (a suggestion from Lonely Planet with which we fully concur!)

Save on your hotel, spend on yourself

Salvador and its Beaches


Some of the best beaches are:

Porto da Barra, a family beach with peace and quiet. Safe for children and adults alike, since it has no waves.
Besides a fabulous aray of Portuguese Baroque buildings, you will find all kinds of beaches in Salvador. Salvador is surrounded by the sea on three sides. It is a peninsula attached to the rest of the country by one of its sides.

The littoral, south of Salvador, with beautiful, endless beaches, is a cacao-producing region, and there are important cities like Valença, Ilhéus and Itabuna. North of Salvador the coast is only sparsely populated with a few fishing villages.

The Southern beaches are calm, while the Northern beaches are often windy with a rough surf.

. Jaguaribe, if you want to see the "beautiful people" and and get a first class suntan. Swimming is a bit more tricky there. It is a surfing beach, so be careful with the sea - the under currents are strong and you can easily be carried out to sea never to be seen again. Another frequent hazard is that you can be hit by a surfboard!

Flamengo, is a wonderful beach and some claim it is the best one. There is good sand, the sea is calm and it is not too crowded. The food and drinks there are cheaper than on other beaches and there is nothing that beats watching the moon rise by the sea and listening to some good Jazz!

Farol da Barra, for those sporting people and the ones who are getting started on the surf board. All sorts of sports are welcome as long as they do not interfere with other people on the beach. If you like diving, there is also an old ship wreck not far from the light house that attracts people to come and visit. If you need diving gear, there are several rental places in Barra.

Enjoy the beach!


Tour Operators and Tourist Information Places and Sites in English

BrazilSpecial Net This site is part of Travelnet and has all sorts of information on Tourism and Travel to Brazil Travel, Air, Tours
Brazilianwavetours
1881 NE 26 Street, Suite 70A
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
Telephone : 954 561-3788 Fax : 954 568-1521
Toll Free : 800 682-3315
Offers Brazil travel excursions and travel to all of South America. Owner Tony Rodrigues has 33 years of overall travel experience and has been at the present location since 1991 Travel, Air, Tours
VIPTourBrazil
11211 W. Atlantic Blvd.
Suite #305
Coral Springs, Fl. 33071
Ph: 800.772-9188 - Toll Free in the US
Ph: 954.255.8559 - Main Number
Fax: 954.255.5614
From the demanding traveler who expects the royal treatment. Explore the VIP side of Brazil complete with your personal valet, private home and yacht rental to the explorer or the nature lover. Most of the packages feature the Amazon Basin, the Pantanal or other natural areas of Brazil. Travel, Air, Tours
KonTiki Brazil Tours
137 Varick Street Suite 404
New York, NY 10013 USA
Ph: 212-206-3710
Fax: 212-206-6838
An excellent choice for specialized travel to Latin America. It was created by a Peruvian man and an American woman who, after exploring this beautiful continent together, decided to share the treasures they discovered with the rest of the world. We do not offer travel packages anywhere else in the world, which means that we have a strong specialization for this area in the world. Whether your interests are historical, sightseeing, spiritual or adventure, we can provide you with a personalized trip which you will never forget. Travel, Air, Tours
Tatu Tours
(Tel.: 245-9322) Avenida Centenário 2883,
Edifício Victoria Center,
sala 105, Barra, Salvador,
CEP 40147-900, BA.
The company specializes in natural and cultural history tours around Bahia, including specialist topics such as Afro-Brazilian culture, and is happy to deal with groups or independent travellers Historic Tours,
Afro Culture Tours

The Local State and City Tourist Offices

Bahiatursa
Ph: 55(71)3370-8400
Fx: 55(71)3371-0110

The Offices are open Monday to Saturday
8 am to 6 or 7 pm

The Main Office is at Palácio Rio Branco, Rua Chile 2
Tel.: 241-4333

Other Offices are at

Rua Francisco Muniz Barreto 12, Pelourinho
Tel.: 321-2463

Praça Azevedo Fernandes,
Largo do Barra
(Tel.: 247-3195)

Mercado Modelo
(Tel.: 241-0242)
This is the official site of the Tourism Authority of the State of Bahia.

They will give you information and maps, if you go to their office. Though they are a little bit short of English speakers (if you speak French, German, Spanish or Italian you have no problem). They are knowledgeable about Salvadore, but when it comes to information about traveling aroung Bahia, expect limited help! I always had the feeling that most of the people working there had never left the City of Salvador or the town where they originaly came from.

Bahiatursa operates an alternative accommodation service to locate rooms in private houses and the like during Carnaval and summer holidays. This can be an excellent way to find cheap rooms.

The staff are helpful and provide advice on accommodation, events, and where and when to see Capoeira and Candomblé. The notice board inside the office has messages to help you find friends, rent houses and boats, buy guidebooks and even overseas airline tickets

The funny story is that bahiatursa cannot stand the Tourist Office of the City of Salvador, Emtursa, so do not expect any cooperative help!
Travel, Air, Tours within Bahia, Hotels, Pousadas
Emtursa
Main office
Largo do Pelourinho 12,
(Tel.: 243-6555)

Small information post inside the Museu da Cidade across the street.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.

This is the official site of the Tourism Authority of the City of Salvador. They do have an impressive and nice web site.

They provide more or less the same information as Bahiatursa and if you are lucky you will find the person who actually knows something special about an event or a festivity or just a good restaurant.

City Tours and maps, respectively City Information

The Federal Governments Tourist Authority

Embratur

This is the official site of the Federal Ministry of Tourism They do have an impressive and nice and very informative web site.

They provide information on visa's and innoculations (vaccinations), general health information. This is very important, if you want to travel around Brazil. There are a number of States where you have to have a Yellow Fever innoculation: Acre, Amazonas, Amapá, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins. Do not forget: it is necessary to have the shot at least 10 days before the departure.

On-Line Information


Books and Maps


News agencies and kiosks have maps on sale—Planta Turística de Salvador is useable, and Emtursa sells a handy small map, Salvador—Mapa de Bolso. Bahiatursa has a free map and services guide to Pelourinho, and a monthly guide to cultural events, Bahia Eventos & Serviços. The Fundação Cultural publishes a similar, but more detailed guide with reviews, called Agenda Cultural, available at Bahiatursa offices. Bahiatursa also publishes a glossy, detailed guide once a year, Guia Turístico Bahia, which has useful listings. Most tourist offices and hotels have copies of Itinerário, a free monthly listing of cultural events in Salvador. The weekly magazine Veja also publishes a regular supplement containing excellent articles and listings for the latest cultural events in Bahia.

While you are still outside Brazil, you should try amazon.com. Some suggestions are shown here. It is really worthwhile to read up a little about Brazil, if you want to enjoy it and actually learn something from your trip!

Books and Guides on Brazil from amazon.com
Amazingly, there is very little around in terms of tourist and guide books in English. The best one, in English is the Lonely Planet Guide. There are not less than five different Lonely Plant Guides written by four authors.While dealing with Brazil as a whole, the sections on Salvador and Bahia are informative and mostly up to date. The best tourist guides are in German and one is mentioned above. This is not suprising: More German speaking people come to Bahia as tourists than any other linguistic group.The best map for Bahia is the one on the left.

Naturally, there are lots of books on Salvador and Bahia in Portuguese. If you want that, just go to the numerous bookshops in Salvador.


Hotels in and around Salvador

There are hundreds of hotels and Pousadas (a sort of small hotel similar to pensions in Europe) in and around Salvador and its beaches. This is a very small selection, chosen because we have stayed in these hotels on our various trips to Salvador. If you want to book from Europe or the USA/Canada, you can use all-hotels, HotelDiscounts.net, Thomas Cook or some of the other hotel discount booking services shown on the left. The location of the hotel booking service (whether the USA or the UK) does not really matter to you. But you have to remember that you will require a credit card for all bookings and all cancellation charges can be pretty steep!

Name Rating Remarks
Salvador Praia Hotel

Av Presidente Vargas 2338
Salvador Br 41740-370


from
US$ 55.00

Pelourinho
5 Miles

The Salvador Praia Hotel is located on the beach approximately 15 minutes from the city center. The area is rich in natural beauty, with green tropical hills to the west and the Atlantic to the east. The hotel has 161 rooms. most have a view of the sea. each room is equipped with individually controlled air conditioning units, color tv equipped with parabolic dish and private channel with films, background music, direct-dial phone, and mini-bar. The hotel has ample modern facilities including a parking garage with valet parking, computerized front desk, safe deposit box, car rental, concierge, nursery, doctor, 24-hour security, meeting room, baby sitter, secretarial service and even 24 hour room service. It is a good choice for quality lodging in a beachside location.  
Grande Hotel Da BarraSete De Setembro Av 3564
Salvador Br 40130-001

from
US$ 65.00


Pelourinho
5 Minutes walk
Grande Hotel da Barra's has 109 luxury apartments and 7 suites with ocean views. air conditioning, cable television, individual safes in each apartment, pool with full american bar, restaurant offering local and international cuisine, complete business center with convention room, fitness center, beauty parlor and barber shop, travel agency services, car rental and various other facilities are available to all guests.
Hotel Vila Gale BahiaRua Morro Do Escravo Miguel3
Salvador Br 40140-610

from
US$ 100.00


Pelourinho 9 Miles
The Hotel Vila Gale Bahia enjoys a privileged location in Salvador, perched over the atlantic and within easy walking distance from Ondina Beach. It is just minutes from cultural attractions, shopping malls and fine dining restaurants. The hotel offers very reasonable rates throughout the year, and is competitive with similar hotels in the area. The staff is very friendly and well trained. It is only two years old and the facilities are modern and fresh.
Pestana Bahia Hotel

Rua Fonte Do Boi 216
Salvador Br 41940-360


from
US$ 105.00

Pelourinho 20 Minutes

The Pestana Bahia Hotel provides a quality of service, infrastructures and local environment that encompasses everything in Salvador. It is a company of international quality and reliability that respect local values, culture and integration. beaches are within 5 minutes walking distance, and the hotel is 20 minutes away from the historical center "Pelourinho". there are local culture events going on all year round with music, culture and religion. Overall the hotel creates an atmosphere of rich cultural ambience. Each of the 430 high quality guest rooms are of the highest international standard featuring a local Brazilian Bahia decoration theme. There are several types of rooms and suites to chose from. A friendly and attentive staff assists you with any needs that you might have. The hotel is convenient to fine dining, shopping and entertainment venues.
Marazul Hotel

Av 7 De Setembro 3937
Salvador Br 40140-110


from
US$ 70.00

Pelourinho
4 Miles

The Marazul Hotel has a privileged location in Salvador, right in front of the beach and only a few steps away from shopping at Barra, the cultural centers and gastronomic circuit of Salvador. This hotel offers reasonable rates throughout the year. Local attractions that are worth visiting include the Farol da Barra, Pelourinho, Praia de Stella Maris, Estadio de Futebol and Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim. Whether your stay is for business or pleasure, let the Marazul make it a memorable one! There are 129 nice spacious rooms with partial views of the sandy beach. All rooms have air conditioning and cable tv. An excellent breakfast buffet is sure to get your day started off right.
Blue Tree Towers Salvador

Rua Monte Conselho 505
Salvador Br 41940-370

(3½)
from
US$ 77.00

Pelourinho
4 Miles

The Blue Tree Towers Salvador is located in the Rio Vermelho district and has easy access to the city's beaches, commercial and historical center. it is quite close to famous Pelourinho and Mercado Modelo sites. downtown is also located nearby. the hotel's high point is its view to the sea. Its leisure area has a swimming pool, tennis court, sauna and a fully equipped fitness center. The hotel also offers 24-hour room service, laundry service, babysitting services and a fully equipped business center. Start each day with the hotel's complimentary buffet breakfast. 24-hour security is provided for the guest comfort and safety. Pets are not allowed at the hotel. There are 200 modern, spacious and comfortable rooms all with a view to the sea or gardens. each room features individually controlled central air conditioning, computer and internet connections, minibar, telephone, voice mails and digital safe. Handicap access is provided. The staff offers warm hospitality and superior service.
Bahia Othon Palace Hotel

Av. Presidente Vargas, 2456, Ondina, 40170-010, Salvador


from
US$ 100.00

Pelourinho
12 minutes

The Bahia Othon Palace Hotel is situated next to Pelourinho, the historic quarter, the shopping Barra and Convention Centre. It is also near the Rio Vermelho, which is famous for its nightlife and only 5 km from downtown Salvador.

It offers 285 well-appointed bedrooms and suites on twelve floors; non smoking rooms are also at your disposal.

For your dining experience the hotel benefits from the "Porto das Nacoes" restaurant serving regional and International cuisine and the "Berimbau" Sushi bar with Japanese specialities.

Sol Bahia Atlantico HotelRua Manuel Antonio Galvao 10
Salvador Br 41740-370

from
US$ 70.00

Pelourinho
20 minutes

The Sol Bahia Atlantico Hotel enjoys a privileged location in Salvador, on Patamares Beach, next to the Salvador Convention Center. This hotel features a unique, multi-tiered design that has a colorful and festive look. The hotel has a variety of great amenities, like an restaurant, bar, coffee shop, guest laundry, and onsite car rental. There are three swimming pools onsite, in addition to easy beach access. The guest rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious, with a pleasant, bright décor and nice furnishings. Room service is available 24 hours a day. The nightly rate includes a buffet breakfast. While the restaurant serves international cuisine, the coffee shop and bar serves light meals as well as exotic drinks.
San Marino Hotel

Av. Presidente Vargas 889
Salvador Br 40140-130


from
US$ 55.00

Pelourinho
3 miles

Whether your stay is for business or pleasure, you are sure to enjoy being a guest here. The San Marino Hotel is the best place to stay if you want to feel the essence of Salvador, Bahia. Located in front of the sea and leafy palm trees, the hotel offers a fascinating view of the historic Farol Da Barra, one of the most beautiful landmarks of the city and within walking distance from the hotel. Surrounded by fancy bars and restaurants, guests have many options for fun and entertainment.
Tropical da Bahia

Av Sete de Setembro 1537 - Salvador, Brazil


from
US$ 68.00 up

Pelourinho
5 miles

Located in the main area of the city where most cultural activity takes place. Privileged location, 15 Miles from the airport. The hotel is close to the historical center of Pelourinho

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Daily Local Newspapers in Salvador

Correio da Bahia Daily with National and International as well as local news. Has a good web site with information for tourists, but only in Portuguese. Good when you want to rent an apartment or buy a car.
A Tarde Daily Newspaper with an excellent website. Has good "what's on" section for food and entertainment.
Tribuna da Bahia Another daily newspaper with a website. Like the Correio, its website is managed by terra, a large ISP in Brazil. Good for entertainment news.

Driving in Salvador and in Bahia


We cannot stress enough that you should not rent a car in Salvador. The fact that you can drive in Los Angeles or New York, does not mean you can cope with the aggressive driving style of the Brazilians, navigate around a city you do not know and look out for street signs you cannot read or recognise. Taxies are cheap and safe and a good way of getting around. If you have less money, buses are available to almost anywhere, though they might be hot! Air conditioning is not everywhere standard. Nevertheless, give driving a miss, for your own sake!

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