All of Salvador's personality translated into good food, music, and history. To wrap up your stay, an excursion to Morro de São Paulo and Boipeba, on the outskirts of the Bahia capital
12 p.m. – An MPB classic
Itapuã, 15 miles [25 km] from the city center of Salvador, was made famous by the song by Vinicius de Moraes (1913-1980), who lived there in the 1970s. His former residence is now home to the restaurant Casa di Vina, which has a memorial dedicated to the poet. Some 980 feet [300 m] away stands Mistura, a great place to try some seafood and enjoy the afternoon with a drink in hand.
4:30 p.m. – Sun on the sea
Salvador is situated on a peninsula, and its busiest area faces west. As such, the sun sets on the ocean rather than rising over it – as is normally the case in Brazil. The Museum of Modern Art gets crowded in late afternoons, with a soundtrack that kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturdays with the event “JAM no MAM.” On Mondays, when the museum's closed, head to Farol da Barra or Praia do Porto da Barra.
7 p.m. – Outdoor show
Keep an eye on the events schedule at Teatro Castro Alves. The modernist building features such facilities as the so-called Acoustic Shell, with an outdoor stage. This activity matches well with a drink at the cosmopolitan LarriBar, located 10 minutes from the theater.
10 a.m. – Multicultural
The syncretism between Afro-Brazilian religions and Christianity is a Salvador trademark. The highest expression of this combination can be seen at the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. On the second Thursday in January, followers of Candomblé take to the streets in a procession that culminates in the washing of the church steps. The most famous souvenir in the city is also there. The colorful Bonfim ribbons should be tied around your wrist with three knots, one for each wish. Legend has it that the wishes come true when the ribbon falls off.
12 p.m. – Regional treats
The traditional Bahian moqueca – a seafood stew made with coconut milk, dendê oil, bell peppers, tomato, and cilantro, served with rice, pirão, and farofa – is served in restaurants like Odaya. Save room for dessert at Cuco Bistrô, located on the same street.
2 p.m. – Uphill
Set aside an afternoon to tour Pelourinho and see its Baroque-style mansions and cobblestone streets typical of the colonial period. Of the churches built in the 17th and 18th centuries, the highlights include Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, where mass is celebrated to the sound of drums, and the São Francisco Church and Convent, whose interior is lined with gold. Wrap things up at the Elevador Lacerda – inaugurated in 1873, it stands above Todos os Santos Bay and is used to this day to transit between the areas known as Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta.
6 p.m. – Street food
In the late afternoon, stands start serving the traditional fried dumpling known as acarajé, made with cowpeas and dried shrimp filling. The most popular ones – Cira, Dinha, and Regina – are found in the neighborhood of Rio Vermelho. There, spend a night out at the restaurant Casa de Tereza.
Day 3 – Morro de São Paulo
1 p.m. – A splash in the ocean
The trip from Salvador to the island that's home to Morro de São Paulo lasts all morning – one option is to drive to Valença, two and a half hours from the capital, and take a speedboat from there. Another is to go straight there by catamaran from Mercado Modelo. The ride across is beautiful, around two and a half hours long, but only for the more courageous, as the open sea is quite rocky. You deserve a dip in the ocean as soon as you get to the island. If you like excitement, head for Segunda Praia, where the soundtrack blares from the beachside bars. If it's peace and quiet you're looking for, walk down to the semi-deserted Quarta Praia.
4:30 p.m. – Box seats for the sunset
At dusk, the most beautiful view in Morro de São Paulo is from above. Exiting the village, a short walk will take you to the restaurant/bar Toca do Morcego. Tourists watch the sunset in the garden. Get there by 4:30 p.m. at the latest in order to guarantee a spot. Another option is to continue down the same trail toward the Mirante do Farol overlook.
7 p.m. – Latin American flavors
At the restaurant Andina, Argentine chef Gonzalo Rojas cooks classics with a Bahian accent. The tilapia ceviche, for example, is made with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and hot sauce. These tasty dishes are served to just 16 people per night. Be sure to make reservations.
Day 4 – Boipeba
9:30 a.m. – Au naturel
Speedboats take off from Terceira Praia at 9:30 a.m. for day trips to the island of Boipeba. The first stops are at the natural pools of Garapuá. If you can manage, plan your tour under a new moon or a full moon, when low tide takes place in the morning. Activities there include: having drinks at the floating bars, cooling off in the water, listening to the sounds of the sea, and feeling the steady breeze in your face.
12:30 p.m. – Lobster on the sand
Some 37 years ago, a fisherman named Guido Gonçalves Ribeiro started cooking lobsters on a grill on Praia da Cueira. He set up a successful food stand and now owns the restaurant Guido’s, which serves hard shell lobsters cooked in a wood-burning stove. Order the house drink, the Boipeba, made with tropical fruits, tomato, basil, vodka, and ice, to go with it.
3:30 p.m. – Upriver
After lunch, the boat heads to Rio do Inferno, along a winding, peaceful route. At the Canavieiras stop, the big attractions are the oysters and the swimming. Before returning to Morro de São Paulo, the tour continues on to Cairu. Walking through the streets lined with colorful houses and a 17th-century convent is a trip back in time. How can you not unwind in Bahia?
LATAM has direct flights to Salvador from Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, São Paulo, and 2 other destinations.
Special thanks to: Teatro Castro Alves, Lisboa Tur Morro de São Paulo, Luisa Proserpio, Grou Turismo, Hotel Villa Galé Salvador, Patachocas Resort