The classic viewpoint in Salvador is from the Farol de Barra, the lighthouse at the point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bay of All Saints. The view here, of course, is not of the city but of the sunset. People start gathering in the park around the lighthouse about a half-hour beforehand.
The best place to see the city itself is from the Forte de Monte Serrat (Forte São Felipe), located at the foot of the tall headland upon which the Bonfim church stands. From here you can look back across a small stretch of bay at the lower town, the old city on the cliffs above, and behind that the high-rises of modern Salvador.
There are also a couple of good places on the cliff tops to look out over the bay. One is in Praça Tomé de Souza, next to the modern city hall and the Elevator Lacerda. To have a view with a fine lunch to go with it, go to either of the two restaurants on the top-floor balcony of the Mercado Modelo. Both have decent Bahian food and killer views of the bay.
Catch the Sunset at Barra
Barra Point is the prime sunset spot in all of Salvador; 30 minutes before sunset the crowds start to gather and stake out their spots at the foot of the lighthouse. Even better, though, is the cafe on the fort's upper ramparts, where from the comfort of your patio table you can watch the sun sink slowly behind the island of Itaparica.
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