In ocean-side Salvador, the capital of Bahia, African influence dominates the culture and way of life. The multi-coloured Portuguese colonial heart of Brazil’s most exotic city throbs with exotic drum and dance. A short drive from the city there’s a wide range of beach hotels.
Further beyond the city limits, Bahia's seemingly infinite tropical coast has resorts to suit everyone, from the young and trendy to sophisticated luxury and barefoot paradises. Lively beach towns such as Praia do Forte and Morro de São Paulo have attractive palm-lined beaches while upmarket Trancoso has fine boutique hotels and a gorgeous village square. Meanwhile, Boipeba island, the Marau peninsula and the remote village of Caraiva remain off the beaten track and perfect for those seeking unspoilt Brazil.
Inland from Salvador, in former plantation country (the Recôncavo), there are charming, unspoilt backwater towns and ports. Over 300km inland from the coast is the forested Chapada Diamantina, studded with table-top mountains and run through with crystalline rivers and waterfalls: at its heart is the laid-back little town of Lençóis, an excellent base for visits and hikes in the area.
When's the best time to visit Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?
Salvador and the northeastern beaches are all-year destinations, hot and humid with most rain falling from Mar to Jul. The Chapada Diamantina is also hot (27-32°C) all year round with most rain Nov to Mar. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times, and will be busy in Salvador and on the beaches.
What is the official language of Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?
Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.
What's the local currency in Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?
Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs of Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC using a credit or debit card. There are international ATMs in the Pelourinho, the beach at Barra and at the airport. There are ATMs in Lençóis. Limits may be lower than your home bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.
What's the time difference between Salvador, Lencois, the beaches of Bahia and UK?
UTC -3 hours. The daylight saving from Oct to the end of Feb (approx) was discontinued in 2019.
What places combine well with Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?
You can travel direct from Lençóis to the popular beaches such as Praia do Forte. Recife and Olinda (675 km, are 1 hour away by air). The up-and-coming, chic beach resort at Trancoso, is close to the port of Porto Seguro (1 hour 10mins flight south from Salvador).
How do I get to Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?
There are flights from UK to Salvador with a change of ‘plane in Portugal. You can also get to Salvador with a change of ‘plane in the USA. Average flight time is 12 hours 40mins. It’s a 2 hour flight from Rio de Janeiro. Lençóis is a 7 hr drive from Salvador, or a 1hr flight.
What are the cultural and sporting events in Salvador and Lencois?
Carnival (Feb-Mar, variable): The second largest in Brazil, with street processions, live bands playing Bahian pop music (axé and pagode), costume balls, over-indulgence and general frivolity.
Festa de Iemanjá: 2 Feb annually, Praia Rio Vermelho just outside Salvador. The biggest festival of candomblé (mix of African religious beliefs and Catholicism) with boat processions and live music.