Getting to and around Salvador, Brazil

Getting there

Domestic and international flights arrive at the new
Luís Eduardo Magalhães airport
, www.luis
, previously known as Dois de Julho. ATM machines are tucked away round the corner on the ground floor to the right as you arrive. The tourist information booth  has a list of hotels and a useful map. An air- conditioned
bus service runs from the airport to the historic centre. This service stops at all the hotels along the coast road en route - a long way round if you are going to the centre.
Ônibus coletivo
(city buses), are more direct but more crowded. Fixed-rate taxis go both to Barra and the centre. Ordinary taxis leave from outside the airport.


Interstate buses arrive at the
. There are regular bus services to the centre, Campo Grande, Barra and Rio Vermelho. An executive bus leaves from outside the shopping centre (reached from the bus station by a walkway; be careful at night) and runs to Praça da Sé or the lower city (Comércio) via the coast road. 

Ferries and catamarans

The main ferry dock, principally for car ferries although also for catamarans and passenger boats, is the
Marítimo de São Joaquim
. It is known colloquially as 'ferry-boat' (pronounced 'fairhee bort)'. The terminal has a bank, cafés and some small shops. Ten car ferries per day arrive here from the little town of Bom Despacho on Itaparica as well as catamarans from Morro de São Paulo.

Salvador's other boat terminal is smaller and serves only passengers. It lies opposite the Mercado Modelo, five minutes' walk from the historic centre, and is known as the
Terminal Marítimo de Mercado Modelo
Terminal Marítimo Turistico
. Ferries and catamarans run between here and the Baía de Todos os Santos, including the village of Mar Grande on Itaparica and there are catamarans from Morro de São Paulo.

Getting around

The city is built on a broad peninsula and is at the mouth of the Baía de Todos os Santos. On the opposite side of the bay's entrance is the Ilha de Itaparica . The commercial district of the city and its port are on the sheltered, western side of the peninsula; residential districts and beaches are on the open, Atlantic side. Barra lies at the point of the peninsula.

The centre of the city is divided into two levels, the
Cidade Alta
(Upper City) where the historic centre lies, and the
Cidade Baixa
(Lower City), which is the commercial and docks district. The two levels are connected by a series of steep hills called
. The easiest way to go from one level to the other is by the
lift, which connects Praça Municipal (Tomé de Sousa) in the Upper City with Praça Cairu and the famous Mercado Modelo. There is also the
Plano Inclinado Gonçalves
, a funicular railway that leaves from behind the cathedral going down to Comércio, the commercial district.

Most visitors limit themselves to the centre, Barra, the Atlantic suburbs and the Itapagipe peninsula, which is north of the centre. The roads and avenues between these areas are straightforward to follow and are well served by public transport. Other parts of the city are not as easy to get around, but are of less interest to most visitors. If going to these areas, a taxi may be advisable until you know your way around.

Best time to visit

It can rain at any time of year, but the main rainy season is between May and September. The climate is usually pleasant and the sun is never far away. Temperatures range from 25°C to 32°C, never falling below 19°C in winter.

Tourist information

The main office of
, www.bahia, has lists of hotels and accommodation in private homes, can advise on travel throughout the state of Bahia, and has noticeboards for messages. There are also branches at the following locations:
 Mercado Modelo
, Pelourinho
, Rodoviária
, Instituto Mauá
Shopping Barra
Shopping Iguatemi
. The website lists cultural events and news.


Available from
Fundação Instituto Brasileiro de de Geografia e Estatística
. Illustrated maps of the Pelourinho are available from newsagents and general stores in the historic centre.


There is a lot of paranoia about safety in Salvador but as long as visitors follow common sense and a few rules they should be fine. The civil police are helpful and resources have been put into policing Barra, the Pelourinho and the old part of the city. All are well lit at night, however, police are little in evidence after 2300. The Pelourinho area is generally safe, although there's plenty of begging/touting and pick-pocketing and even occasional muggings do occur. Avoid going to the toilet on the Praça do Reggae and other large communal washrooms on show nights as we have had reports of intimidation by groups of thieves; choose a restaurant loo instead. Be vigilant and wary at all times after dark and avoid carrying credit cards or wads of cash.
Buses and the area around the Lacerda lift are unsafe at night. Never venture into the
unless on a tour or with a trustworthy local friend. Foreign women often receive unwelcome amounts of attention, especially during Carnaval when levels of physical contact in crowds can be very unpleasant.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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