We went to Bahia to visit its beautiful capital Salvador, the unusual landscape of Chapada Diamantina, and, of course, to go to the beach! That’s why we ended up spending some days near Salvador, at Praia do Forte. While our days at Chapada and the beach were spent relaxing about idyllic landscapes, Salvador, though gorgeous, left us with mixed feelings. But let’s start from the beginning.
Salvador de Bahia
We flew to Salvador de Bahia from Rio de Janeiro, so we were already kind of prepared for a Brazilian megacity. Only that this time the ‘safe area’ seemed to be much much smaller. Salvador’s main attraction is its historical Old Town called Pelourinho, so naturally we decided to stay there. We booked a room in centuries old Studio Do Carmo Boutique Hotel where we were greeted hospitably and warned not to move outside the historical area. I remember our lovely receptionist saying we shouldn’t dare to enter some of the streets even during daytime!
The beautiful Pelourinho (Upper Town) is one of Brazil’s nicest historical towns, a brilliant showcase of colorful Portuguese colonial architecture. Salvador de Bahía was the national capital from 1549 till 1763, and Pelourinho houses many buildings from that period. The two main squares Largo Terreiro de Jesus and Praça da Sé meet at the imposing 17th Century Catedral Basílica de Salvador. Not far from there is our favorite spot Largo do Pelourinho, which we knew from the postcards. We also entered several historical churches. Pelourinho is a live museum!
We were lucky to visit Pelouronho during its local festivities, so there were colorfully dressed people dancing and singing all around. Unfortunately, plenty of armed policemen to protect us were there too. One night we attended a Samba party with live music on stage. We were having the time of our lives dancing like crazy. Once the concert ended the band started praying and the audience followed. Yes, Brazil is that religious. I think we were the only ones who felt awkward!
Other points of interest
We took the elegant historical Elevador Lacerda and got to the Lower Town. The place was interesting enough but we weren’t sure about safety. After all, our receptionist scared us a bit. So there we were wandering around its streets and trying to find our way back. After a short walk we ran into the Mercado Modelo, the city’s main market. Then we took the Gonçalves Funicular and got back to safety. We didn’t even visit any of the city’s famous beaches. Damn paranoia!
Praia do Forte
We wanted to spend some days in a picture perfect Brazilian beach. When researching for the best beaches near Salvador, Praia do Forte popped out. Located more than an hour away from the city it was a nice getaway and a perfect spot to disconnect for a while. But there was something strange about it. Most hotels by the sea do not have direct access to the beach. Except for wonderful Pousada Porto da Lua, so of course we had to stay there. We spent our days on the beach, swimming, snorkeling and turtle watching. We walked for hours through the town and on the beach reminding ourselves how fortunate we are!
How to get from Salvador to Praia do Forte
Praia do Forte is located 82 km north of Salvador. To get there take the bus from Linha Verde Company from the Rodoviaria bus station in Salvador. All intercity buses stop at the station, so if you are coming from other cities in Brazil, you do not need to change stations. If you are staying in Pelourinho take a taxi to the bus station. The journey from Salvador to Praia do Forte takes between 1.5 and 2 hours depending on traffic. Unfortunately traffic jams are becoming increasingly common in Brazil, so the journey can take up to 3 hours if you hit rush hour. There are also 2 daily buses from the Airport to Praia do Forte. You can check the updated schedule HERE.