Bahia is the main tourist destination in the Northeast

Bahia Tourism and Travel Guide

Bahia is the main tourist destination in the Northeast, a cultural melting pot and a great exporter of fads, Bahia boils in the summer.

Bahia has been celebrated in every way by many artists. Its landscapes and mysteries are in the books of Jorge Amado, in Carybé's paintings, in the music of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil e Dorival caymmi. They are also in the drumbeat of the Olodum and in the swing of Carla Perez.

Where does the magic of this land come from, which invents new things and imposes its fashions on other regions of the country all the time? Bahia is like a board, where anyone can enjoy natural beauty, history, art and bohemian life.

All very well mixed, like the races and religions that live there, and served by cheerful and cordial people, who call any stranger "my king" or "my beautiful".

Tourism Regions of Bahia

Bahia is a party all year round, but it is in the summer that the vocation for tourism reaches its peak.

In the holiday season, which starts next week and runs through the Carnival — the height of the Bahian party — around 1,5 million Brazilian and foreign tourists will go to Bahia.

Per year, the total number is close to 3,3 million visitors. Is not for nothing. No other Brazilian state has so many and so varied attractions. Its coastline is the longest in the country, with 1.000 kilometers long.

There are mangroves, coral reefs, coconut trees, dunes, Atlantic Forest, beaches for all tastes (see some itineraries along the page). Those who don't like the combination of salt water and sand also have their place in the sun. Inside, the waterfalls e caverns da Chapada Diamantina they form one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.

Discovery Coast

discovery coast map
discovery coast map

Bahian seduction is not limited, of course, to its natural beauty.

Bahia has a history. Salvador it was the first capital of Brazil and conserves buildings from the last four centuries in good condition. It has a unique cuisine. It has, mainly, the Bahian people.

It is he who gives life to this state, which would be inviting enough if it only had its coastline and the waterfalls of its plateau.

The people from Bahia make their home a place different from all others. There, the stranger should not be surprised if, when asking a passer-by for information, he or she offers to accompany him throughout the tour.

See map Discovery Coast

Owner of a self-esteem without equal in the rest of the country, for the simple fact of having been born in Bahia, proud of its culture, the Bahian takes pleasure in showing it to the visitor. Wherever they go, tourists will be in contact with its rhythms and colors.

Bahian traditions were not enclosed within four walls, in shows or theme parks for tourists to see and pay for.

O Carnival it is a mass phenomenon, not a show for the stands and TV, as in the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro. Beauty, exoticism, friendliness — it's all there, genuinely embedded in everyday life. And that's the big difference.

More affordable travel — For five years, Bahia has been the most sought after tourist destination in the Northeast and second in Brazil, moving ever closer to Rio de Janeiro.

With the reduction in the prices of air tickets and the growth of internal tourism, spending a vacation in good hotels in Bahia was once again a cheaper program than going to the Caribbean. A seven-night package in Cancún, Mexico, departing from São Paulo, costs an average of 1.600 reais, including airfare and hotel.

Meanwhile, a package for a period and similar accommodation to Porto Seguro costs 700 reais, less than half. For 1.500 reais, in a slightly more expensive and luxurious option, it is possible to spend a week, in the middle of the high season, in two of the best Brazilian resorts, both located in Bahia: Transamerica da Comandatuba Island and the Forte beach.

The price, in this case, includes, in addition to plane and accommodation, breakfast and dinner. “Few Brazilian states take tourism as seriously as Bahia”, says Caio Luiz de Carvalho, president of the Brazilian Tourism Institute, Embratur. The State became the largest construction site in the country in this area.

Over the past seven years, the state government has spent $1,1 billion on tourism-oriented infrastructure, including road construction and renovation of historic monuments.

Another 900 million will be applied until 2005. Private investments are growing at the same pace and should reach 1,7 billion dollars in six years.

Cocoa Coast

cocoa coast map
cocoa coast map

On the eve of his 450th birthday (in March), Salvador has a new face. The streets and beaches have never been so clean. Until recently, the city had a reputation for being dirty and smelly.

Currently, every morning, water tankers wash sidewalks and stairs along the waterfront, which is being re-urbanized in several stretches.

Compared to other Brazilian capitals, the sanitation index in Salvador is still very precarious. Only 38% of homes have sewage.

See map Cocoa Coast

But that has been improving, thanks to a sanitation project called Bahia Azul, which is cleaning up the beaches and waters of the All Saints Bay.

Na Barra Beach, one of the most famous in the capital, where bathing was unsuitable until recently, it is now possible to swim or surf even at night, thanks to new lighting on the seafront. Entire parks and neighborhoods were renovated, transforming run-down areas into new tourist spots.

The most exemplary case is the Pelourinho, the largest set of colonial houses from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries in South America.

Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, the neighborhood was in ruins and was one of the largest areas of prostitution in the city. Over the past six years, 500 houses in Pelourinho have been restored and are now home to shops, consulates, restaurants and bars. There are still 300 buildings to be renovated, but the neighborhood is already the main tourist spot and the most popular nightlife in the city.

At least during the day, it's a safe place, with a guard on every corner, where tourists usually walk around without the risk of being robbed. These changes started a virtuous circle of development.

Places that have already been renovated, such as Pelourinho, beneficially contaminate neighboring regions. “By improving the city for tourists, we are also improving Bahia for those who live here”, says the state secretary of Culture and Tourism, Paulo Gaudenzi.

Party every day — Who lives in Salvador her life is adapted to the city's crowded party calendar.

They are countless: washes (the most famous of which is Bonfim), group rehearsals, street parties, São João festival, Iemanjá festival, axé walk (a kind of parade of local artistic movements), pre-Carnival, the so famous Carnival and many others.

Bahia is so festive that residents of neighborhoods that concentrate these celebrations, such as Pituba, Ondina and Campo Grande, are already used to walking around with proof of residence in their pocket: it is the guarantee that they will have authorization to take their cars to the garage. in case they run into a party at the end of the day. When there is a party — that is, almost always — part of the city is closed to the circulation of cars, a crowd invades the streets and only those who have such proof can drive through.

Coconut Coast

coconut coast map
coconut coast map

As in all of Brazil, in Bahia there is a deep racial prejudice. It is a prejudice masked by parties and manifestations of religious syncretism, which give those who arrive the false impression of a total union of races and social classes.

Almost all Bahians have some connection with the candomble, including the prelates of the Catholic hierarchy, who live with Afro rites in the celebrations of their churches.

In Bahia, middle-class whites, artists, politicians, entrepreneurs go to the Candomblé field — and also tourists.

See map Costa dos Coqueiros

The difference between being black in Bahia and in other regions of Brazil is that, there, the drum, dance, music and other cultural manifestations have served as a strong means of social ascension and are elements that contribute to the feeling of satisfaction of the black with himself.

As the current manifestations of African culture are assimilated around the world, even in other States, there is an even greater reinforcement of the race pride exhibited by many black Bahian groups.

In Salvador there are a large number of NGOs and other civil associations that encourage and defend Bahian culture and African roots.

They take care of everything: from the defense of blacks, gays and so-called minorities to the education of children who go to drum schools.

Take the case of the Candeal favela. There, every Sunday middle-class young people balance among the residents of the shacks in the rehearsals of the band Timbalada, whose headquarters is known as Candyall Guetho Square. Located in the heart of the favela, Guetho is the brainchild of the godfather of timbaleiros, the performance singer Carlinhos Brown, himself a typically Bahian multicultural product.

Thanks to initiatives like this, Bahia is able to produce on an industrial scale rhythms and musical groups that became the main local product.

This is the case of axé music, the export-type Bahian frevo that yielded musical phenomena such as Daniela mercury, Ivete Sangalo and Banda Eva. “Baianity, which was once treated as something poor and pejorative in the south of the country, is now considered a positive thing,” says anthropologist Antonio Risério, author of studies on the subject.

Recôncavo Baiano

map of Bahia's reconcavo
map of Bahia's reconcavo

“Here, black people are aware of their African roots, but they made Bahia their home,” says Italian sociologist Cesare de La Rocca, responsible for an NGO called Projeto Axé, which takes care of poor children.

“He is not melancholy or nostalgic because, unlike blacks in the United States, he does not feel like an expatriate. Feel like a Bahian Negro.” The African influence, according to scholars, is most responsible for the famous Bahian waist game.

“It is impossible to understand Bahian culture without knowing the origins of the Africans who arrived there as slaves”, explains historian Luiz Felipe de Alencastro. “The blacks taken to Bahia were different from those who went to other regions of the country.

See the map of Baía de Todos os Santos

They came from the Gulf of Guinea, while the rest were from Central Africa. In the Gulf of Guinea were the nations with the most complex cultures, because they were neighbors to Islam. THE cooking, the rhythms, the dance, the religious manifestations, everything was richer and more creative.”

Dendê Coast

map of the coast of dende
map of the coast of dende

With so many beauties and singularities, it was natural for Bahia to take advantage of its tourist vocation. This change is relatively recent.

Only in recent years have investments been made to transform this scenic, human and cultural capital into an accessible attraction for the common tourist.

In June, an airport was opened in Lençóis, which facilitated access to Chapada Diamantina. In Valença, the main access door to the Tinharé Island, where the trendy village of Morro de São Paulo, an airport and a waterway terminal should be ready by the end of the month.

See the map of the Dende Coast

Earlier this year, another highway was inaugurated linking Ilhéus to the village of Itacare, which opened up a strip with more than 60 kilometers of beaches, which until then had been difficult to access.

Until the end of the 70's, the beaches in the region of Porto Seguro they were still a refuge for hippies who practically rediscovered the place where the Portuguese first landed 500 years ago. Today, the city is a center of hotels and resorts that received 700.000 tourists last year.

It is the largest mass tourism hub in the country. By the end of 1999 the paved road that will connect Porto Seguro airport to the town of Trancoso. There are news in other parts of the coast.

In Sauípe, a stretch of idyllic beaches 80 kilometers north of Salvador, the Odebrecht group is simultaneously building five resorts.

Bahia is so peculiar that, there, even Independence Day is celebrated on a different date. While other Brazilians promote parades on September 7, Bahians celebrate on July 2nd.

On that day, in 1823, the Portuguese who still controlled Salvador were finally expelled from the city. “Bahian creativity is present even in its language,” says Nivaldo Lariú, author of the Bahia Dictionary, with 1.200 entries and 100.000 copies sold.

Does anyone know what "eat water" means? In Bahian it means drinking alcoholic beverages. And "brau"? It's the Bahian equivalent of corny. Everything that is very good is "gold". And so on. In Bahia, when a friend tells another that they will meet him at 6 am, he means that he will arrive around that time.

For Bahians, the delay is not a lack of urbanity, but a right, which is reciprocally valid. Anyone who has been to a restaurant in Bahia, and has waited more than an hour between ordering and the arrival of the dish on the table, knows what this means. The Bahian got the reputation of being lazy, a characteristic evoked in the songs of Dorival caymmi.

Like everything else in Bahia, this too has its explanation. “Bahians work to live, they don't live to work as the southern mentality preaches,” says anthropologist Elisete Zanlorenzi, author of a thesis in which she defends that Bahians are not lazy as they say — they just have another way of looking at life and the work.

Whale Coast

whale coast map
whale coast map

Local codes work so that Bahia can achieve a harmony of its own.

Has anyone ever heard a Bahian speak ill of another? Bahians get involved in lively electoral disputes, but they are specialists in creating chains of solidarity when it comes to promoting another Bahian outside of Bahia.

An example: last week, Dadá's book was launched, a Bahian cook who started her life in a small restaurant on the outskirts of Salvador, gained local fame and today already has famous branches in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The book's presentation, sponsored by the city hall and Bahiatursa (the state tourism company), is Jorge Amado. The preface is by Paloma Amado, the writer's daughter.

See the map of Costa das Baleias

The drawings, by Carybé, in one of his last works before he died, last year. In all, the book cites and praises nearly fifty unknown and famous Bahians — including the publicist Nizan Guanaes, the writer João Ubaldo Ribeiro, the plastic artist Calasans Neto, the recently deceased saint-mother Cleusa do Gantois and many others.

It is these peculiarities that make Bahia a kind of parallel universe within Brazil. It is a paradise for tourists.

savior mapSalvador – a guide to know the characters and peculiarities of Salvador da Bahia.

Chapada Diamantina

Divided into four circuits — Chapada Norte, Circuito do Ouro, Circuito do Diamante and Chapada Velha — Chapada Diamantina is one of the most extensive tourist areas in Bahia. Located in the central region of Bahia, the municipalities included in these circuits have their history related to important moments in national life, such as the exploration of the mining of precious stones in the XNUMXth, XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.

map like Salvador


See map Chapada Diamantina

Lakes of San Francisco

Characterized by the influence of the São Francisco River, this tourist area is formed by the municipalities of Abaré, Casa Nova, Curaçá, Glória, Juazeiro, Paulo Afonso, Remanso, Rodelas, Santa Brígida and Sobradinho, with activities related to fishing and nautical sports in general as their main attractions.

See map San Francisco Lakes

West Paths

Located on the left bank of the São Francisco River, this region comprises the municipalities of Barreiras, Bom Jesus da Lapa, Correntina, Santana, Santa Maria da Vitória, São Félix do Coribe and São Desidério. Considered attractive for its exotic landscapes, this tourist area has been showing significant economic growth, driven by significant advances in its agro-industrial segment, notably the production of grains.

See the paths of the West map

Bahia is the main tourist destination in the Northeast

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