Founded in 1549 by Tomé da Souza, first governor general of Brazil, Salvador is one of the oldest permanent settlements in the New World. The city became the first colonial capital of the Portuguese colony and for the next 200 years its main seaport.

The Colonial era  buildings of the city are mainly found in the historic centre, which is divided into two parts, the upper city on the cliff and lower city next to the bay (Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa respectively). The Elevador Lacerda is an easy and popular way to get between the two. 

Houses in Pelorinho 

One of the oldest parts of town is the Colonial era Pelourinho, and adjoining Santo Antonio, an area of structures that date back to the 16th and 17th century. It features pastel-colored houses that line cobblestoned streets and open plazas. Some of the streets are closed to vehicle traffic. Here you'll find many restaurants, shops and pousadas, as well as music, art, museums, and theater. Parades with drumming and dancing seem to be a nearly-every-night occurrence, but especially on Tuesday nights when the Bencao (blessing) occurs. 

Lacerda elevator 

The Pelourinho is not all of Salvador . You should try to explore some of the other neighborhoods to experience the true character of the city.

The other neighborhood that tourists are most familiar with, however, is Barra, the beach neighborhood closest to Pelourinho, which also has a lot of tourist infrastructure. The lively beach at Porto da Barra is a great place to watch the sunset over the bay.

The city beach neighborhoods run from there, in the direction of the airport to the north, in the order below, each with its own unique characteristics:
Barra, Ondina, Rio Vermelho, Amarelina, Pituba/Itaigara, Armaçao, Corsario, Juagaribe, Piatá. Itapua, Stella Maris, Flamengo, Ipitanga………

For beaches, you can also go by ferry to the islands in the Bahia de Todos os Santos ( Bay of All Saints ). Itaparica and the other islands have a very rural flavor, with calm beaches. Itaparica’s beaches are good for long strolls at low tide, swimming at high tide and a cold beer under a shade tree, looking out at the sea.  From the ferry terminal in Bom Despacho, you can get buses or kombis to towns and attractions on the other side of the bay. There are also motorized schooner day-tours of Itaparica and Frades, including time to swim and a lavish buffet lunch of Bahian specialties.

Another accessible neighborhood is Ribeira, on the Itapagipe peninsula. Many visitors come to the Church of Bomfim to see the relics left by petitioners who were cured of disease, browse the nearby shops with their Candomble and Catholic objects side by side, and to make three wishes while tying a fita on their wrist. The Festa do Bonfim (Feast of Bonfim), starting on the second Thursday in January, includes a parade out to the peninsula and the washing of the church steps.
From the church, you can walk back through the residential neighborhood to the Fort at Mont Serrat. Stop to have a beer at the beach with the locals. Discover the famous Sorveteria de Ribeira, said to have the best ice cream in Salvador .

Some of the other neighborhoods are known for the Blocos Afros who are headquartered there and who do their ensaios (rehearsals for Carnaval) in a central neighborhood location, an opportunity to mix with the locals.
Liberdade is one of these, headquarters to Ile Aye.
Candeal, a part of the Brotas neighborhood, is the area that gave rise to Carlinhos Brown, Timbalada and the Pracatum music school for neighborhood youth, where shows also used to occur.

Other areas of interest include Tororo, known for the dique, the lake with the large statues of the orixas, most beautiful when lit up at night. 
The lovely small central park in Campo Grande is bordered on one side by the well-known Teatro Castro Alves. Behind and below the theatre is the Concha Acustica amphiteatre, where shows are held regularly for the local population. Beyond the praça, in the direction of Pelourinho, is a long, bustling shopping street., where you can mix with local shoppers.

Again, try to get out of the most heavily touristed areas to really experience the flavor of Salvador.