What to do Salvador - Day trips
(Ilha de Itaparica) – approx. 0.75 hour by ferry (or 255 km / 158 miles: 3.5 hours by road…)
Itaparica is the largest island in the Todos os Santos Bayand favorite weekend getaway for the well to do Salvadorians. Itaparica island still has a pleasant rural vibe. There are some historical edifices to visit, like the
churchesNossa Senhora da Piedade and Igreja de São Lourenço are also points of interest, built in 1622 and 1610 respectively.
But of course, especially at the eastern side, Itaparica Island has also some nice
beacheson offer, like Praia da Penha. Enjoy the view of Salvador in the distance while you are sipping your caipirinha...
In Salvador, there are small boats (‘lanchas’) departing from the Terminal da França, at the back of Mercado Modelo. They will drop you off close to the beaches. If you want to bring a vehicle: ferries leave from the São Joaquim terminal, further on in the Lower Town of Salvador.
The laidback town of Santo Amaro is located at the northern tip of the Todos os Santos Bay. Santo Amaro is in the heart of what was once the backbone of the Bahia economy: the cultivation of tobacco and especially
sugar cane. The now decaying mansions of the ancient ‘sugar daddies’ are silent witnesses of a 300 year history...
After abolishing slavery in 1888, many former slaves kept on staying in the area and therefore Santo Amaro is a centre of
Afro-Brazilian culture. For instance, every year the abolishing of slavery and freedom of faith is commemorated with a five day festival in May, called Bembé do Mercado. Throughout the year there are other cultural activities organized to keep the heritage alive.
The nowadays unpretentious twin towns of Cachoeira and Sao Felix are farther out from Salvador than Santo Amaro, but easier accessible. Of the three main towns in the area, called Recôncavo, Cachoeira was the most prestigious one in the sugar era.
Not close, indeed a cigar! - Dannemann cigar heritage, Sao Felix
Once Cachoeira had a busy river port and served as gateway to inland Bahia. The glory years are reflected in the impressive colonial architecture of Cachoeira, although the town just recently made efforts to restore, protect and maintain its historical centre.
Present day Cachoeira is well-known for its woodcarvings and de Boa Morte festival. This is a significant festival in the Candomblé religion (around the 15th of August).
Next-door town São Felix is bigger, but less attractive. Except for cigar connoisseurs that is... In São Felix used to be a large factory of Dannemann cigars (‘charutos’). It is now turned into a cultural centre and an exhibition of old machinery among other things will inform you about the tobacco heyday. Cigars are still produced on site though.
Morro de Sao Paulo was once an important part of the Bahia coastal defence, now it is a picturesque beach destination at the tip of Tinharé Island, south of Salvador.
Touristy Morro de São Paulo is only accessible from Salvador by boat, which adds to its charm.
Cars are not allowed at Morro de Sao Paulo, but wheelbarrows are handier anyway in the sandy streets...
Morro de São Paulo beach
The central square of Morrro de Sao Paulo comes to life at night with a crafts market. Go here after you enjoyed the gorgeous sunset from the fortress’ ruins. Morro’s main attraction are the nightly beach parties, so stay overnight (or longer...) if you want to enjoy Morro de São Paulo to the fullest... The catamaran boats leave Salvador from Terminal Marítimo in the Lower Town.