Trying to figure out where to stay in Salvador?

Infographic where to stay in Salvador

There are a dizzying array of lodging choices in Salvador. I have searched AirBnB, aggregator, and pousada sites more times than I care to count. You are not alone.

With a population of almost 3 million people covering 268 square miles (4 million people and 1.7 square miles in the official metro area), we’re a surprisingly big city that no one has heard of. The constant refrain of first-time visitors is, “I had no idea how big Salvador is.”

In spite of the size, there are only a handful of neighborhoods that most visitors, particularly non-Brazilian newcomers to Salvador, stay in. Each neighborhood has its own personality and pros and cons — and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. To me, there are five neighborhoods worth a serious look.

(Need more help choosing? Drop me a note and we can chat.)

Barra Neighborhood

Barra, sitting right at the tip of the peninsula that is Salvador is probably one of the best known neighborhoods in Salvador.

It’s also one of the best choices for new-ish visitors to Salvador. The beaches are fantastic, it’s well-patrolled by police, has plentiful restaurants, pharmacies, and grocery stores, is very tourist friendly, and is a short taxi or bus ride to the Pelourinho. Plus, there are a lot of housing options to choose from. If you are coming to learn the language, Barra is also the neighborhood where all of the language schools are located.

I admit I’m biased, but I love living in Barra and you can read my in-depth review here.

What you need to know

Transportation options: Bus, taxi, Uber, bike

Best for: Language learners, beach lovers, and families, newcomers to Salvador

Housing choices: Pousadas and private apartments. Barra is a mid-priced neighborhood with a lot of options at a wide range of price points. (click to search)

Grocery/pharmacy: Many, many options

Restaurants/nightlife: Good restaurant selection with a variety of price points. Not much late-night nightlife.

Itapuã Neighborhood

Beach lighthouse
Itapuã lighthouse

Itapuã is the lone neighborhood in this list that is without easy access to the cultural and musical city center, the Pelourinho. But for some, it’s that distance that gives it its appeal. It’s like a trendy suburb — cleaner and quieter than the city itself, but still with lots of great amenities. It has miles and miles of beautiful beaches and plentiful mid-priced, clean restaurants. If you want a beach vacation, but still have big-city comforts without the big city noise, this might be your neighborhood.

Fun fact from my Brazilian husband: Itapuã first rose to Brazilian fame in 70s when Vinicius de Moraes wrote a bossa nova song “Tarde em Itapuã” and since then Itapuã has been a popular Salvador tourist destination for Brazilian and non-Brazilians alike.

What you need to know

Transportation options: Bus, taxi, Uber.

Best for: Beach vacationers and water sport enthusiasts.

Housing choices: Hotels, pousadas, and private apartments. Itapuã is a mid-priced neighborhood. (click to search)

Grocery/pharmacy: There are many markets and pharmacies dotted throughout the neighborhood.

Restaurants/nightlife: There is a good selection of restaurants and several music venues to see a show.

Enchanting neighborhoods is just part of Salvador’s charm

From world-class beaches to gorgeous colonial architecture to sultry dance rhythms, discover the 40 reasons why publications from The Guardian to the New York Times are saying that Salvador is a must-visit destination.

Your no-cost inspiration piece comes as a 16-page PDF -- great for printing and sharing with future traveling companions.

Get the Guide

Pelourinho Neighborhood

In addition to being a being a UNESCO world heritage site, the Pelourino is also the musical and cultural heartbeat of the city. It is filled with live music, including lots of samba-reggae, and colorful characters.

Its abundance of inexpensive hostels make it popular with the backpacking crowd. 

Outside of Carnaval and Sao João, there is very little nightlife after about 10pm unless there is a show happening on one of the three stages. If nightlife is your scene, then look at Rio Vermelho.

What you need to know

Transportation options: Bus, taxi, Uber. Note: only taxis can go into the Pelourinho proper. The bus drop passengers at Praça da Sé, and Uber goes as far as Terreiro de Jesus.

Best for: Backpackers and those on a very tight budget

Housing choices: Hostels and pousadas. The Pelourinho is the least expensive of the neighborhoods I recommend. (click to search)

Grocery/pharmacy: Very few options.

Restaurants/nightlife: There are quite a few restaurant options. You will mostly find inexpensive comida a quilo (food-by-the-kilo) buffets, but also a few higher-end restaurants oriented towards visitors. As mentioned above, there isn’t much nightlife in the Pelourinho outside of specific events.

My top 10 things to do in the Pelourinho.

Rio Vermelho Neighborhood

  • Photo of Rio Vermelho shoreline from a boat

I’m not quite sure where it got this reputation, but Rio Vermelho is known as the bohemian neighborhood in Salvador.. Now, when I think bohemian, I think of long flowy skirts, patchouli, and flowery headbands, but I don’t see any of that in Rio Vermelho. Rather, Rio Vermelho is an upper-middle class neighborhood filled with nightlife. There are plenty of nightclubs and live music venues, as well as a number of nice restaurants. It’s the most expensive neighborhood on this list, but relatively speaking, it’s still quite inexpensive.

Located on the Atlantic, it also has plentiful beaches, but in general people don’t stay in Rio Vermelho for the beaches. 

What you need to know

Transportation options: Bus, taxi, Uber.

Best for: Nightlife and restaurants.

Housing choices: Mostly private apartments and hotels. Rio Vermelho is the most expensive neighborhood on the list. (click to search)

Grocery/pharmacy: Has a number of small markets, but only one larger grocery store. Rio Vermelho is more of a car-based neighborhood.

Restaurants/nightlife: If you are in Salvador to go out at night, this is your neighborhood. There are a wide variety of restaurants for all price points, and this is where the late-night clubs are.

Santo Antônio Neighborhood

Santo Antonio is a sister neighborhood to the Pelourinho — located literally just up the hill. It’s a cute neighborhood filled with small, colorful houses, shops, and restaurants. Santo Antônio is a great option for anyone who intends to spend a lot of time in the Pelourinho taking advantage of the live music as well as the music and dance classes. It is also reasonably priced.

There is no beach, but houses on the western side of the main street, Rua Ladeira do Carmo/Rua Direta de Santo Antônio, generally have a spectacular view of the bay, Bahia dos Todos Santos.

What you need to know

Transportation Options: Taxi, Uber — there is no bus service to Santo Antônio

Best for: Musicians, dancers, and other artists

Housing choices: Pousadas and private apartments with a few hostels. Santo Antônio is a moderately-priced neighborhood. (click to search)

Grocery/Pharmacy: There are a number of small markets and pharmacies dotted throughout.

Restaurants/Nightlife: There are quite a few restaurant options, but not a lot of nightlife.

*If you book with any of the links in this post, I may earn a small commission for your stay. You will not pay any extra by booking through the link. Thank you for supporting my work!

3 thoughts on “5 Best Neighborhoods: Where to Stay in Salvador, Brazil

  1. Alexander Peschl says:

    I stayed during my last visits to Salvador always at Pousada Bahia Pelo, Ladeira do Carmo, 26 – Pelourinho, Salvador – BA, 40301-410, Brasil.
    A small pousada with small rooms, but very friendly people supporting you, quite cheap, a small but fine breakfast and a great location. I definitely will come back.
    Always my favourite choice for a few days stay.

  2. Sheldon Rudin says:

    I would like to live in Graca or Victoria but am happy in Brotas. Brotas is close to many areas of interest but away from touristas and overpriced stuff. We have lived in Rio Vermelho and liked it also.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *