Historical part of the city Pelourinho, Salvador the capitol of State of Bahia.

Getty Images/iStockphoto


Top choice in Salvador

The centerpiece of the Cidade Alta is the Pelourinho, a Unesco-declared World Heritage site of colorful colonial buildings and magnificent churches. As you wander the cobblestone streets, gazing up at the city’s oldest architecture, you’ll realize that the Pelô is not just for tourists. Cultural centers and schools of music, dance and capoeira pack these pastel-colored 17th- and 18th-century buildings.

The area has undergone major restoration work – which remains ongoing – since 1993 thanks to Unesco funding. Admittedly, the Pelô has lost a lot of its character in the process, but to say that it is now safer and better preserved is an understatement.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Salvador attractions

1. Terreiro de Jesus

0.02 MILES

A colorful intersection of vendors, tourists, capoeiristas and colorful locals, the Terreiro de Jesus is a historic site of religious celebrations, and is…

2. Catedral Basílica

0.04 MILES

The Catedral Basílica dates from 1672 and is a marvelous example of Jesuit architecture. The interior is elegant and simple, with marble-covered walls and…

3. Museu Afro-Brasileiro

0.04 MILES

Holding one of Bahia’s most important collections, the Museu Afro-Brasileiro exhibits wood carvings, baskets, pottery and other artwork and crafts linking…

4. Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia

0.04 MILES

Below the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (one admission ticket gets you into both), the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia exhibits indigenous Brazilian pottery,…

5. Faculdade de Medicina Building

0.05 MILES

A Portuguese prince, upon arrival in Salvador in 1808, founded a school of surgery here that was later named the Bahia School of Medicine.

6. Praça da Sé

0.06 MILES

The history of Praça da Sé reveals intriguing details about Salvador's development. From 1552 to 1933, the square was the site of the grand Sé Primacial…

7. Casa do Carnaval da Bahia

0.06 MILES

The story of Salvador's world-famous Carnaval is told through wonderfully evocative archival video and photographs at this museum which opened in 2018…

8. Plano Inclinado Gonçalves

0.09 MILES

After sitting, unused, for almost three years, the 1874 funicular railway Plano Inclinado Gonçalves reopened in 2014. The restored line connects Comércio…