Two worlds collide: Africa and Brazil
High above the enormous bay of Todos os Santos (All Saints), where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, Salvador de Bahia has an electric feel from the moment you arrive.
This is the great cultural and historical centre of Brazil, where Afro-Brazilian heritage is strongest and where capoeira, candomblé and samba de roda were created.
MSC South America cruises offer excursions to the centro histórico of this magical place, a melange of narrow cobbled streets, peeling purple walls, grand Baroque churches, kids kicking footballs, rastas, locals sipping bottled beer on plastic chairs, the wafting aroma of herbs and the almost constant beating of drums, especially as the sun sets. Beyond the old town Salvador is a vast, sprawling city, with a vibrant beach life, modern skyscrapers and plenty of favelas.
The centro histórico is the traditional heart of Salvador; it’s built around the craggy, 70m-high bluff that dominates the eastern side of the bay, and is split into upper and lower sections. Cidade Alta (or simply “Centro”) is strung along its top, linked to the less interesting Cidade Baixa (the old commercial centre, aka “Comércio”) by precipitous streets and the towering Art Deco lift-shaft of the Elevador Lacerda. Cidade Alta is the cultural centre of the city, and the section known as the Pelourinho is the groovy old district with colourful and hilly winding streets, its most vibrant and beguiling neighbourhood.
The best spot to begin a walking tour of the city is at the Praça Municipal, the square dominated by the impressive Palácio do Rio Branco, the old governor’s palace which was in use until 1979. The fine interior is a blend of Rococo plasterwork, polished wooden floors and painted walls and ceilings.
Excursions & Activities
Reach the Port
Salvador International Airport (Deputado Luiz Antonio Magalhães Airport)
Travelling by car, head northeast on to Praça Gago Coutinho, then turn left to stay on Praça Gago Coutinho and turn left once more to again stay on Praça Gago Coutinho. Continue onto Avenida Tenente Frederico Gustavo dos Santos and take the ramp signposted Salvador. The road you are on will merge into Av. Carybé. Continue onto Av. Luis Viana and then Av. Tancredo Neves and Avenida Antônio Carlos Magalhães. Take the exit on the left signposted Retiro/Centro/Cidade Baixa. Keep right at the fork and join Avenida Mário Leal Ferreira. Continue onto Avenida Presidente Castelo Branco and follow this road through the Túnel Américo Simas-D/Av. Presidente Castelo Branco. Continue along Av. Presidente Castelo Branco, then turn left onto Rua Estado de Israel and left again onto Avenida da França. Now turn left onto Rua da Suécia and finally right onto Avenida da França. The port is approximately 28 km from the airport.
Taxis and private cars are available to take you to the Port.
The journey takes about 40 minutes, depending on the traffic. There is also a bus service which takes about 1 hour.