Information & Facts
Salvador da Bahia experiences a humid tropical climate with average year round daily highs reaching 77°F (25°C). The coldest months are June through August when temperatures are at their lowest with an average of 70°F (21°C) while the warmest months stretch from December through February with average daytime highs reaching 86°F (30°C). The rainy season is typically May through August.
The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however Spanish and English are also used in the cities.
The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (BRL), plural reais. There are 100 centavos to the real. The US dollar is also welcome in most tourist establishments. In the main cities foreign currencies and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks or cambios. There is an extensive network of ATMs in the country and most major international credit cards are accepted.
Shopping in Salvador do Bahia is more limited than other major Brazilian cities like Rio or Sao Paulo, but if you look hard you'll find some treasures in this artistic and creative city. Some of the best Salvador souvenirs are beautiful handicrafts and art made by the locals.
There is a vibrant art scene in Salvador, and you can find a selection of local work at places like Portal das Artes or the many galleries around Largo do Pelourinho; or a variety of hand-crafted items made by indigenous people like the Pataxós, Tikuna, Caipós, and Yanomami at the state-run Instituto de Artesanato Visconde de Mauá, or the craft shop Kembo. The non-profit Projeto Axé sells locally-made clothing, and the profits go toward a fund for street children.
Salvador also has a few shopping malls, like the beachfront Aeroclube Plaza with its movie theatres, restaurants, live music venues, and the only bowling alley in Salvador. Another good local mall is Barra, which is conveniently located near the centre of town. Barra has outlets of some of Brazil's major stores along with independent boutiques, and a selection of movie theatres and restaurants.
You can always bargain in Salvador, especially at markets and independent stores. Most stores and boutiques will accept credit cards, but you'll need cash at the markets.
Salvador de Bahia is on old city rich in cultural history, and that is evident in its beautiful architecture. In the historic district, also known as Pelourinho or the Cidade Alta, there are many photogenic buildings dating back to the 17th century. There are over a thousand sacred houses in Salvador, including churches like the Cathedral of Salvador, the Church of Nossa Senora do Rosário dos Pretos, and the Convent and Church of Sao Francisco. Another building worth seeing is the donut-shaped São Marcelo Fort, built in the 17th century.
There is much to see and do in Salvador, as the inhabitants know how to have a good time. One of the main reasons to visit Salvador is the city's continuous line-up of festivals and celebrations, dozens of which fill the calendar with music, dance and parties. The Mercado Modelo is the city's bustling market area, with arts and crafts stalls, and a variety of restaurants and bars.
Salvador's beaches are fantastic, with natural variations that mean there's something for everyone to do. Porto da Barra is a popular beach for swimming, as it faces the bay and the waters are calm; Farol da Barra has a number of rocky pools great for kids to play in. Farol de Itapoan has strong currents suited to experienced swimmers and surfers, while Flamengo is scenic and has a few fun barracas, or beach bars. You can also visit Projeto Tamar, which is a sea turtle conservation project at Praia do Forte.
You can get spectacular views from Farol de Barra, a lighthouse at the point of the city where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bay of All Saints. You won't be able to see the city, but crowds form every night to watch the sun set from this amazing vantage point. You can get a better view of the city itself from Forte de Monte Serrat, or at one of the two restaurants at the top of the Mercado Modelo.
Brazil spans four time zones: Rio and Sao Paulo: GMT -2 (GMT -3 April to October); Brasilia and Belm: GMT -3 (GMT -2 October to March); GMT -4 in the West.