Salvador knows how to get down and do it in style.

Why go now?
Because just as the world looks to Brazil in awe as a nation which really knows how to party, Brazil looks to Salvador as the city which can out-party even Rio. This rather unheralded corner of the north-eastern state of Bahia is party central 365 days a year. Salvador is the oldest city in Brazil and was its capital for more than 200 years and even 300 years ago it picked-up the nickname e de Quase Todos os Pecados (Nearly All the Sins), because of its decadent reputation.

It’s my first time — what should I do?
Try the truly stunning beaches at Ondina and Porto da Barra – just two slices of the 50 km stretch of sand between the High City and the Low City, from Inema, in the railroad suburb to the Praia do Flamengo, on the other side of town. And listen to the music – especially in the Pelourinho, Salvador's magnificent but neglected old town at weekends and, oddly, on Tuesdays. Galpão Cheio de Assunto (Rua Djalma Dultra 40, Sete Portas) draws a very cool crowd.

I’ve been there before — what should I see this time?
Hit Salvador in February when the only thing that matters is carnival. For six days and six nights a million and a half people dance, sing, drink and flirt their way through the streets behind trios elétricos. Countless numbers of ad-hoc sound systems (most on trucks) appear from no-where and scores of bands (or blocos) play in every street.

Where’s the best shopping?
Bit of a mixed bag. If you want art, crafts or local clothing, check the small stores at the Old Town or head to the Mercado Modelo (Model Market). Elsewhere the model is the U.S.-style shopping mall — and there are lots of them. Shopping Center Iguatemi, Salvador Shopping and Shopping Barra seem to be favourites with locals, though it’s hard to see why. Be prepared to barter — the price on the ticket is not the price you pay.

Where should I stay?
Salvador has many hotels covering all budgets but a great mid-range option would be the Vila Galé Salvador, in Ave Rua Morro Escravo Miguel. It is right on Praia de Ondina and handy for the airport too (20 minutes by car). It has a real 5-star luxury feel too. Book online at