Flights to Salvador from outside Brazil are operated by TAP Portuguese Airlines, which flies direct from Lisbon to Salvador and offers quotations for ‘group travel’. The easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel is to take a taxi, which will cost about R$ 100. If you do not speak Portuguese, you may prefer to book a taxi inside the airport, which will turn out a bit more expensive. When arriving by bus from inside Brazil, a taxi from the Rodoviária to your hotel may cost some 40 to 50 R$.
No Tourist Visa is required for residents of the European Union, Mexico and South-America. Residents of Canada and the USA need a visa.
Brazil is currently facing an outbreak of yellow fever. You should consider consulting a medical professional about protecting yourself by being vaccinated at least 10 days before travel. Bringing mosquito repellent with you and use it every day.
Larger hotels in the neighbourhood:
Hotel Othon Palace, Av. Oceānica, 2294 - Ondina, Salvador (approx. R$ 300)
30 rooms (double and single) available at a reduced conference rate
Hotel Vila Galé Salvador, R. Morro do Escravo Miguel, 320 - Ondina, Salvador (approx. R$ 250)
(via booking sites)
Smaller guesthouses at some 30 minutes’ walking distance:
BrazilBrazil is the worlds fifth largest country and seventh largest economy with a population of 208 million. It is a proud nation with its own culture and peculiarities, and with enormous regional differences.
MoneyThe Brazilian currency is the real (plural: reais). The present exchange rate is about 4 reais for 1 euro. Daily variations occur, but are small nowadays. ATMs are ubiquitous in Brazil. The first one you are likely to find is in the hall where you can reclaim your luggage. Just make sure before you leave that your bank card is set for ‘World’ instead of e.g. ‘Europe’. To avoid queues at this first ATM it might be practical to buy 200 reais or so at your airport of departure. Theoretically it’s possible to change euros or dollars in banks or exchange offices in Brazil, but it will cost you a lot of time. It’s for very patient people only. Credit and debit cards are accepted practically everywhere but you do need cash to pay for a taxi.
LanguageBrazilians speak Portuguese. Only very few people speak a foreign language. In the larger hotels receptionists will speak English or Spanish, but don’t expect restaurant staff or other personnel to do so. Approximately 99,9 percent of the taxi drivers just speak Portuguese. One of the pleasant things in Brazil, however, is that a friendly smile and some accompanying gestures will help you to get around. People are very friendly and don’t even expect foreigners to speak Portuguese. It’s greatly appreciated if you’re able to speak a few basic words.
ElectricityUsually electricity supplies are 110 volts. Sometimes, in hotels for instance, you may find 220 volts outlets as well, so check before plugging anything in.
TransportationThe airport is some 30 kilometers from the city center. To find a regular taxi just cross the double street after leaving the airport terminal and look to your left. The fare to the city will be about 100 reais. In case you think this is too adventurous, you can also take pre-paid taxi (140 reais). Tickets are available in the luggage reclaiming area, next to the ATM. The vendors might even speak English or Spanish.
For the rest of your stay it’s recommended to go by taxi as well. Taxis are cheap and easily available. Alternatives do exist in theory, but are not recommended. The city is very complex, and the public transport system is hard to grasp because bus lines are generally not numbered and distances are long. The metro system is designed for locals and will not bring you to touristic sites nor anywhere near your hotel. Walking can be strenuous because of the somewhat poor condition (or complete lack) of the sidewalks.
Finally,don’t go for a walk after dark! There are only two areas where it’s safe to walk in the evening: the historical centre around Pelourinho and the pedestrian area around the Barra lighthouse.
In July it’s winter in Brazil. The average minimum and maximum temperatures in Salvador in July are 21 and 27 degrees Celsius respectively. One or two short rain showers a day are very well possible, so it may be useful to bring an umbrella.
Some background information on Salvador and BahiaSalvador is the capital of the state of Bahia, which got its name from the Bahia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay), the largest bay and natural harbour in Brazil. Bahia is roughly the size of France and Belgium combined. The state forms a transition area between the rich and developed southeastern and the poor and underdeveloped northeastern Brazilian regions. The state’s annual income per capita (€ 5000) is far below the national average (€ 15,000) but it is the highest in the region.
Bahia was a centre of sugarcane cultivation from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Integral to the sugar economy was the importation of a vast number of African slaves. Slavery was only abolished in Brazil in 1888. As a result, Bahia probably has the greatest and most distinctive African imprint, in terms of culture and customs, in Brazil. Bahian cuisine, for instance, has very specific character and strongly relies on typically African ingredients and techniques. The most typical ingredients are azeite de dendê, palm oil, and leite de coco, coconut milk.
Salvador is presently the fourth largest city in Brazil with some 3 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area. The city was founded in 1549 by the Portuguese and was the first capital of the colony, which it remained until 1763 when the colonial administration was removed to Rio de Janeiro. The city’s status and importance in the colonial era explain the large number of churches, monasteries, museums and other monuments, mostly dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.