The historic heart of the city, Pelourinho is a delight to explore. Indeed, it's so worthwhile, we've already coverered it in the main "Attractions" section.
The Cidade Baixa (lower city) was always the commercial center of Salvador. In the 16th century people preferred to live in the cooler heights of Pelourinho and keep their offices and warehouses on the waterfront below. The concept is the same today, but Comércio, as the area is known, is now planted thick with stubby commercial high-rises. The Elevator Lacerda is the easiest way to access this area -- though there's really little of interest down here except the ferry docks and the crafts fair in the Mercado Modelo. A number of steep, shabby alleys also connect the lower city to the upper city, but it's safer to take the elevator.
This quiet and green neighborhood lies immediately south of Pelourinho. It has some lesser city landmarks such as the Castro Alves Theatre and Campo Grande Square.
One of the nicest beaches close to downtown, Barra is a residential neighborhood with some restaurants and shops located south of the city center just where the coastline makes a sharp turn to the east. Many hotels are located here but the area has lost a bit of its former bustle and seems a bit run-down. Sights in the area include the Farol da Barra (Barra Lighthouse) and the smaller Forte Santa Maria. The prime attraction, however, is the sunset; small crowds gather to watch the show.
Bonfim / Monte Serrat
Located on a small peninsula that juts out into the bay, Bonfim is home to the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, one of the most important religious sites in the city. Beloved by both Catholics and Candomblé worshipers (who revere their equivalent deity of Oxalá), the hilltop church draws huge crowds who come to pray or ask for miracles. The washing of the steps, which takes place on the third Thursday in January, is one of the year's most colorful religious events. The neighborhoods of Bonfim, Ribeira, and Monte Serrat are now mostly home to the lower middle class and working poor, but they started out originally as summer destinations with cottages and summer homes. The other worthwhile sight is the Forte de Monte Serrat, which offers fabulous views of Salvador. On Sunday the sea wall is packed with families and teenagers out for a stroll.
Ondina, Rio Vermelho & Beaches
Once past Ondina, the coast is an almost uninterrupted string of beaches. Most neighborhoods are very modern and new, with little attraction beyond the beach itself. Popular beaches include Rio Vermelho, Praia dos Artistas, Praia de Piatã, Praia de Itapuã, Praia de Stella Maris, and Praia do Flamengo. Rio Vermelho is home to some of the city's best waterfront hotels, and has recently evolved into one of Salvador's prime nightlife enclaves. The area around the Praça Brigadeiro Farias Rocha is great for evening people-watching.
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.