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Arriving

By Plane -- Gol (tel. 0300/115-2121), TAM (tel. 071/4002-5700), and TRIP (tel. 071/3003-8747) all fly from Rio, São Paulo, Recife, Brasilia, and other places with connections.

The modern Aeroporto Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhães (tel. 071/3204-1010), Salvador's international airport, is 32km (20 miles) from downtown. The bank machines are all in the arrivals hall area, to the right at the end of the corridor (past the office for Costa do Sauípe). Cambio Gradual offers 24-hour money-changing services.

To reach your hotel, Coometas taxi (tel. 071/3244-4500) offers prepaid fares. The trip to Pelourinho costs R$100, to Ondina/Rio Vermelho R$89, and to the northern beaches (such as Itapuã), R$50. Regular taxis are cheaper; on the meter a taxi from the airport to Pelourinho costs around R$65 to R$70.

If you have very little luggage, an inexpensive airport-to-Pelourinho bus runs along the coast, stopping close to (though not at) most of the hotels located along the beach road. Its final stop is Praça da Sé on the edge of Pelourinho. The bus runs daily from 7am to 8pm; cost is R$6.

By Bus -- Bus travelers go through the Terminal Rodoviaria de Salvador Armando Viana de Castro, usually simply known as Rodoviaria. It's located at Av. ACM (Antônio Carlos Magalhães) 4362, Iguatemi (tel. 071/3460-8300). For ticket information and schedules, travelers need to contact the specific bus company directly. However, the general bus station number will tell you which company to phone. Itapemirim (tel. 071/3392-3944) travels to Recife and Rio de Janeiro; Real Expresso (tel. 071/3246-8355) has scheduled service to Lençóis for people traveling to the Chapada Diamantina; São Geraldo travels to destinations like Natal and São Paulo (tel. 071/3244-0366).

City Layout

The coastal part of Salvador is quite easy to navigate. Picture a wedge thrusting out into the ocean. One side of the wedge borders the Atlantic Ocean, the other side borders the bay (the Baía de Todos os Santos). The two sides meet at Farol da Barra, the skinny point of the wedge.

Perched on a high cliff on the bay side of the wedge one finds Pelourinho, the historic old downtown. This area is also sometimes referred to as the centro histórico, or as the Cidade Alta, the upper town. This is Salvador's chief area of interest. At the foot of the cliff lies Comércio, a modern area of commercial office towers. This area is also sometimes known as the Cidade Baixa, or lower town. Upper town and lower town are connected via a cliff-side elevator, the Elevator Lacerda. Except for the fun of riding the elevator, and visiting a large crafts market called the Mercado Modelo, there's little reason to visit Comércio (the downtown business neighborhood).

About 8km (5 miles) north of Pelourinho, the Bonfim peninsula juts out into the bay. Located on a headland on this peninsula is one of Salvador's most famous landmarks, the Church of Our Lord of Bonfim, source of many reputed miracles. The area between the church and Pelourinho is occupied by port, rail yards, and working-class housing.

The photogenic point where All Saints Bay meets the Atlantic is marked by a tall white lighthouse, called the Farol de Barra. The point is also home to the sizable Forte Santo Antônio de Barra, which also contains the Naval Museum. The strip of beach (Praia da Barra) that stretches beyond the lighthouse toward Ondina has seen better days but is still one of the most popular gathering places during Carnaval.

The road running from the lighthouse out along the oceanside is called Avenida Oceanica. (Well, officially it's called Av. Presidente Vargas, but that name is used only sparingly.) The road continues past a number of good hotels to the oceanside neighborhood of Ondina. From here, road names change frequently, and neighborhoods come thick and fast: Rio Vermelho, Amaralina, Pituba, Costa Azul, Pituaçu, Piatã, Itapuã, all the way to Stella Maris adjacent to the airport. There are pleasant ocean beaches all along this stretch. Particularly noteworthy is the beachside park named Jardim de Alah.

Visitor Information

Note: All telephone numbers in Salvador now have eight digits, but you will still find lots of pamphlets, flyers, and other printed materials showing numbers that have not been updated. To get the correct eight-digit number, just add a "3" to the beginning of the older seven-digit number.

Bahiatursa, the state's tourist information service, has booths and kiosks throughout the city. The staff is friendly, although as of press time they had no useful brochures and pamphlets because the new state government was going to redo all of the materials. However, they should be able to help you with general information. There are Bahiatursa booths at the following locations: Salvador International Airport in the arrivals hall (tel. 071/3204-1244), open daily from 7:30am to 11pm; Rodoviaria (tel. 071/3450-3871), open daily from 7:30am to 9pm; Mercado Modelo, Praça Cayru 250, Cidade Baixa (tel. 071/3241-0242), open Monday through Saturday 9am to 6pm and Sunday from 9am to 1:30pm; and Pelourinho, Rua das Laranjeiras 12 (tel. 071/3321-2463 or 3321-2133), open daily from 8:30am to 9pm. The office at Pelourinho has the best stock of information and pamphlets. The Bahiatursa website (www.bahia.com.br) offers loads of useful information in English. For quick questions and information, visitors can also call the 24-hour telephone service (in Portuguese, Spanish, and English), Disque Bahia Turismo (tel. 071/3103-3103).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.