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The historic capital of colonial Brazil, Salvador is the center of the Afro-Brazilian world. Filled with 18th-century architecture and pulsating with dance and music, it's a city that is easy to dive into but hard to escape.
Dating back to 1594, the Pelourinho is famed for its pastel colors and outdoor musical concerts. When you visit, it's easy to see why Pelourinho has also been a magnet for music video producers, hosting shoots by Michael Jackson and Paul Simon.
The coast of Bahia is home to some of the finest beaches in Brazil, including Arembepe (20 miles to the north), which was home to a famous 1960s counter-cultural community.
Head to the Museum of Modern Art (which also hosts live jazz on Saturdays), the Afro-Brazilian Museum, and a great museum dedicated to Jorge Amado, the country's greatest novelist.
Not many cities can match Salvador's sunset vistas. Take the historic Elevador Lacerda to the upper city, and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun dips below the Baía de Todos os Santos.
Music is a huge part of Salvador's life, and there are plenty of places to catch live shows, from bistros like Casa de Mãe Iemanja to the far larger Bahia Café Hall.
June is the time to visit if you want to experience Salvador's major festivals. Aside from that, most tourists tend to avoid the summer heat. October and November are excellent times to visit for fine weather.
Salvador International Airport (SSA) has connections to Miami via American Airlines, and is around 20 miles outside town. Expect to pay around R$20 for a taxi, or catch minibuses (R$4) or city buses (R$3) to save some money.
The best route into town by car from the airport is via the Av Luís Viana (along the coast). You can also drive to Salvador from Recife (on Highway 101) or from Rio (Highway 116).
Buses run into Salvador from all over Brazil, with taxi ranks just outside the main bus station.
Central Salvador is the place to stay, where leading luxury options include Aram Yami Hotel, the Hotel Baia do Sol, and Bahia Cafe Hotel.
Pelourinho - dating back to 1594, the Pelourinho is colorful, historic, and the highlight of any trip to Salvador.
Graca - on the tip of the peninsular, Graca has some excellent city beaches, luxury hotels, and great connections to the historic center.
Ondina - a relaxed beachfront neighborhood in the south of the city and a very popular place for tourists to stay.
Basic fares on Salvador's city buses are R$3 and the network provides excellent coverage of the city center.
Expect fast service and low rates from Salvador's taxis. Prices should be around R$3.50 per mile, with a meter drop of R$5.
Car rental options include Hertz and Avis, and rates begin at around R$60.
The Old Town is a great place to hunt for craft products and artworks, while malls like Shopping da Bahia and Salvador Shopping have a huge array of international and domestic brands on offer.
Supermarkets include Walmart Brasil and Supermercado Bompreço. Expect to pay around R$11 for a gallon of milk.
Food is a huge attraction in Salvador. Restaurante do SENAC is a great place to find Bahian specialties while Cafélier offers fine views. Expect to pay around R$20 for a good meal, but much less for street food.