36 Hours in Salvador, Brazil
Carnaval is right around the corner in this energetic city, where traditions — culinary, musical, literary and more — reflect a deep Afro-Brazilian heritage.
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More than anywhere else in this multiethnic country, Salvador is steeped in Afro-Brazilian culture — from the worship of Yoruba deities (orixás), to the acrobatic practice of capoeira, to a cuisine tinged with deep orange dendê oil and smoldering with a stronger dose of hot peppers than the delicate-tongued rest of the country can handle. The city’s history is rich in literature — it was the home of Jorge Amado, among others — and intertwined with colonialism and the slave trade (Salvador was Brazil’s first capital, from 1549 to 1763). Today, its youthful energy and deep musical traditions make for a vibrant, often open-air night life, even when it’s not Carnaval (this year from Feb. 28 to March 5). And when it is — well, let’s just say Rio’s version looks like teatime at Buckingham Palace by comparison. Alas, crime rates mean not every stretch of town can be explored at will, but dirt-cheap ride-share services make it easy to get around safely.
1) 3 p.m. History on high
Perched high above Bay of All Saints in the Upper City, the neighborhood of Pelourinho is in the heart of the historic center, a tangle of cobblestone streets and brightly painted colonial buildings with wrought iron balconies that is as Instagrammable as it is lively. Drum groups pound away in the streets; when they get too loud, flee to pockets of culture, like the Museu Afro-Brasileiro (entrance 6 reais, or about $1.60). Don’t miss the 27 carved-wood panels of orixás — spirits of Candomblé, the syncretic religious practice that pervades life here — by Carybé, an Argentine-turned-Soteropolitano (as locals are known). The gilded 18th-century São Francisco Church and Convent (5 reais) will leave your jaw agape; don’t bother closing it on your way out, since across the street you’ll want to try a scoop of the caraíba ice cream (acerola cherry, ginger and lime) at Le Glacier Laporte. Is Pelourinho touristy? Yes. Should you be wary of pickpockets? Yes. Can you visit Salvador without wandering its streets? Not a chance.
2) 6 p.m. Cafe and capoeira
Head up Ladeira do Carmo (Carmo Hill) past Carmo Church into the next neighborhood, Santo Antônio Alem do Carmo (Santo Antônio Beyond Carmo). This uncreatively named, but charming, and ever more hip area has ateliers, cafes and bars with live music along its main — and essentially only — drag, Rua Direita de Santo Antônio (Straight Street of Santo Antônio, no joke). Most businesses on the west side have stunning views of the bay, so pop into any for a look and a sunset coffee or beer — unless you’re staying in an inn along this stretch, in which case you can watch from your own balcony. Just be sure you head to Forte da Capoeira around 7 p.m. for a demonstration of capoeira, a mesmerizing martial-arts-like tradition with origins in African rituals brought to Brazil during slavery and routinely outlawed into the 20th century.
3) 8:30 p.m. Clams and cobblestones
Mouraria is a quiet, low-slung neighborhood of cobblestone streets with restaurants and bars that have been gloriously not prettied up for visitors. It’s also the place locals come for lambretas, a local clam so flavorful and juicy that when the waiter at Mistura Perfeita brings out a potful with onion and cilantro (19.90 reais), it’s accompanied by a glass of excess broth. The dish will serve two if you start with overstuffed crab meat pastéis, the Brazilian version of an empanada. Try a caipirinha, the traditional Brazilian cocktail made with lime, sugar and cachaça (a liquor made from sugar cane). You can order it here with umbu, a citrusy-tasting green fruit sometimes called a Brazil plum. Should you care for dessert, wandering salesmen unrelated to but tolerated by the restaurant will take care of your needs for around 5 reais.
4) 10:30 p.m. Downtown samba
Bar do Espanha was a traditional corner bar run by a Spanish family in Salvador’s downtown neighborhood of Barris starting in 1920. But in 2017, when its 90-year-old owner planned to close it, two young clients arranged to buy the place. Arthur Daltro and Uiara Araújo changed its name slightly to Velho Espanha, preserving the wooden ceilings, restoring the tile floors and maintaining a simple, affordable menu of beer and bar snacks. Weekends bring live music to the cramped interior, where you might find groups playing samba or a local (and self-explanatory) genre called samba reggae. There’s no cover, and few covers, since the owners favor bands that compose their own music.
5) 12 p.m. Must eat
Leaving Salvador without trying moqueca would be as absurd as a pizza-free trip to Naples. The local seafood stew is cooked with coconut milk and bears the orange hue of dendê oil (sometimes called red palm oil). The version served at the no-frills Donana restaurant is highly regarded: It was ranked No. 1 in town by the Comer e Beber (Eating and Drinking) Awards, and No. 2 in town by one of the waiters, as in “only my mom does it better.” The shrimp version is dense with the day’s catch and comes with rice, pirão (a polenta-like manioc dish) and dendê-tinted farofa (toasted manioc flour) for 108.90 reais (for two).
6) 2 p.m. Author! Author!
Jorge Amado is Salvador’s favorite literary son, his novels often doubling as portraits of 20th-century Salvador and the state of Bahia. The house he shared with his second wife, Zélia Gattai — also a writer of renown — until he died in 2001 is now a museum. A Casa do Rio Vermelho (20 reais), named after its seaside neighborhood, houses their quirky art collection, heavy on the frogs, as well as his library, letters to other famous authors and a multimedia display of famous Brazilians reading passages of his work. (“Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” would be a good pick to prepare for your trip, either in print or Golden Globe-nominated film form.)
7) 7 p.m. Family dinner
The Guerra family’s restaurant and nearby bar have turned a homey little plaza in the Garcia neighborhood into an eating and drinking destination. First came Larriquerrí, serving what his son Gabriel calls “affective memory cuisine:” family recipes he and his brother, Guilherme, grew up eating from their mom’s (Rosa) kitchen. Trouxinhas de carpaccio, bundles of thin-sliced beef stuffed with ricotta cream and topped with pesto and Parmesan, explode in your mouth with modest decadence. The apricot-and-Brazilian-cheese-filled mezzaluna pasta in Gorgonzola sauce is gloriously unsubtle. So is the atmosphere, a bit chaotic as Romildo, the father, races around, attempting to charm every guest (and succeeding). Dinner for two with wine is about 250 reais. Nearby Larribar is one of the few spots in town that takes cocktails seriously. Watch as your bartender traps smoke from a burning cinnamon stick in the glass that will soon be filled with your Ventura (25 reais), essentially a smoked cachaça sour.
8) 10 p.m. Red River soiree
Walkable Rio Vermelho, on the ocean side of the city, is one of Salvador’s night life hubs. You might start at Chupito, or Shot, where the specialty is, predictably, shots. Not tequila shooters; they’re more like mini-cocktails, with seemingly infinite choices posted on the wall, and a D.J. commanding a tiny dance floor. A short waterfront stroll away, Teatro Sesi has live Brazilian music on the “veranda” (cover 20 to 30 reais). Or sit outside with a beer at the festive Praça da Dinha, or Dinha’s Square, named for the former owner of a stand selling acarajés, black-eyed pea fritters with or without shrimp (another Salvador classic).
9) 9 a.m. Market value
Unlike the touristy Mercado Modelo in the Lower City, the waterfront Feira São Joaquim is a massive, dingy, half-renovated market where, in addition to countless fruits and meat and organs, you’ll also find medicinal herbs, dendê oil, infused cachaças, even cords of rope-thick tobacco. The highlight is the wide variety of religious items, like the handcrafted crowns and swords and more in a shop called Ilê Alacorô. (Have breakfast before you come, unless you dare try a hearty mocotó — cow’s foot stew — at one of the waterfront restaurants.)
10) 12 p.m. T-shirt formal
A half-hour up the coast on the ocean side is the artsy Itapuã neighborhood, best known as the former home of Vinicius de Moraes, the famed poet and bossa nova lyricist. You can pose seated next to an amiable, potbellied statue of him in a small plaza outside his former home. (Or be the only visitor in recorded history who doesn’t pose with it; your choice.) The best seafood in town is at the nearby white-tablecloth Mistura, where elegant waiters serve an upscale crowd, often somewhat jarringly dressed in Sunday T-shirts and flip-flops. The prix fixe is an astonishing feast for a bargain 129.90 reais: Pile up your plate at the appetizer buffet (sea bass tartare, oysters gratin), then watch as a string of shellfish appetizers are followed by a main course (octopus risotto, perhaps?) and dessert. You’re a 15-minute drive from attractive Praia do Flamengo (Flamengo Beach), if you want to laze the day away at a beachfront club like Lôro-Stella Maris.
The pleasant, relatively safe neighborhood of Rio Vermelho has restaurants, night life and beaches. It’s the perfect place to rent an apartment (Airbnb has several listings), with one-bedrooms mostly under $40 a night, not including fees.
The Palace Hotel (Orson Welles and Pablo Neruda slept here) fell out of favor in the 1980s and closed in 1997. It reopened, restored to its former Art Deco glory, in 2017 as the Fera Palace Hotel, attracting a new generation of international figures, like Malala Yousafzai. Rooms start at 353 reais; ferapalacehotel.com.br.
Though pousadas (inns) dot Pelourinho, consider staying in Santo Antônio Além do Carmo. Pousada des Arts is a fancifully art-filled spot with spacious (if creaky) rooms, an extensive breakfast served overlooking the bay and a pet turtle. Rooms from 220 reais; pousadadasartes.com.br. Pousada do Boqueirão is run by Italian expat siblings Fernanda and Nino Cabrini and is lovely as well, unless you require a television. Full-sized rooms from 380 reais; pousadaboqueirao.com.br.
Getting Out There
What's in store for travelers hitting the road and the skies during this uncertain year.
Time in Salvador now
Current local time in Salvador and DST dates in 2021
Salvador summer time (DST) in 2021
|No known DST-adjustments for year 2021|
Salvador time zone
Time difference to GMT/UTC
|Standard time zone:||UTC/GMT -3 hours|
|No daylight saving time at the moment|
|Latitude:||12° 58' South|
|Longitude:||38° 31' West|
Salvador online map
Time at locations near Salvador time zone:Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Brasilia, Asuncion, Recife, Porto Alegre, Montevideo, Rosario
|Airport||IATA||ICAO||Distance to Salvador|
|Salvador International Airport, Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhaes||SSA||SBSV||21 km|
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Time in Brazil
Overview of the time zones used in Brazil
Time in Brazil is calculated using standard time, and the country (including its offshore islands) is divided into four standard time zones: UTC−02:00, UTC−03:00, UTC−04:00 and UTC−05:00.
Brasília time +1 (UTC−02:00)
This is the standard time zone only on a few small offshore Atlantic islands. The only such island with a permanent population is Fernando de Noronha, with 3,061 inhabitants (2019 estimate), 0.0015% of Brazil's population. The other islands (Trindade, Martim Vaz, Rocas Atoll and Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago) either are totally uninhabited or have small seasonally rotating Brazilian Navy garrisons or teams of scientists.
Brasília time, BRT (UTC−03:00)
The main time zone of Brazil comprises the states in the South, Southeast and Northeast regions (except the small islands mentioned above), plus the states of Goiás, Tocantins, Pará and Amapá, and the Federal District, which includes the national capital city, Brasília. All other time zones are given as offsets to it. About 93% of the Brazilian population live in this time zone, which covers about 60% of the country's land area. It comprises 26 of the 28 largest metropolitan areas in Brazil.
Brasília time −1 (UTC−04:00)
This time zone is used in the states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rondônia, Roraima, and most of Amazonas. Although this time zone covers about 34% of the land area of Brazil (an area larger than Argentina), slightly less than 6% of the country's population live there (about 12 million people, equivalent to the city of São Paulo).
Until 2008, the areas of the state of Pará west of the Xingu River and north of the Amazon River were also part of this time zone; then they joined the rest of the state in observing Brasília time (UTC−03:00). Although other changes to Brazilian time zones enacted at that time have since been reverted (see below), western and northern Pará still remain in UTC−03:00.
Brasília time −2 (UTC−05:00)
This time zone was reinstated in 2013, after having been abolished for over five years. It is used in the far-western tip of the country, which includes the entire state of Acre and the southwestern portion of the state of Amazonas (west of a line connecting the cities of Tabatinga and Porto Acre).[a] These areas cover only about 6% of the Brazilian territory (although that is still about the size of France) and have only about 0.6% of the country's population (little more than 1 million people).
On 24 June 2008, these areas advanced their clocks by an hour, so that they became part of the UTC−04:00 time zone. However, in a non-binding referendum held on 31 October 2010, a slight majority of Acre voters voted in favour of returning the state to UTC−05:00. On 30 October 2013, Brazilian PresidentDilma Rousseff enacted Law 12876, establishing that the time zone switch would occur on Sunday, 10 November 2013. Since then, the state of Acre and the southwestern part of the state of Amazonas[a] are again 5 hours behind UTC.
Unofficially, 32 municipalities in eastern Mato Grosso,[b] located in the Araguaia valley, observe UTC−03:00, Brasília time. This practice started in Barra do Garças in 1998. Banks and government services still observe the legal time in these locations (UTC–04:00).
Daylight saving time
Main article: Daylight saving time in Brazil
Brazil observed daylight saving time (DST; Portuguese: horário de verão, "summer time") in the years of 1931–1933, 1949–1953, 1963–1968 and 1985–2019. Initially it applied to the whole country, but from 1988 it applied only to part of the country, usually the southern regions, where DST is more useful due to a larger seasonal variation in daylight duration. It typically lasted from October or November to February or March.
The most recent DST rule specified advancing the time by one hour during the period from 00:00 on the first Sunday in November to 00:00 on the third Sunday in February (postponed by one week if the latter fell on carnival), applicable only to the South, Southeast and Central-West regions, which comprise about 64% of the Brazilian population. During DST, Brasília time moved from UTC−03:00 to UTC−02:00; the other states that did not follow DST observed a change of the offset to Brasília time.
Brazil abolished DST in 2019.
IANA time zone database
The IANA time zone database contains 16 zones for Brazil. Columns marked with * are from the file zone.tab of the database.
|BR||−0127−04829||America/Belem||Pará (east); Amapá||−03:00||-|
|BR||−0343−03830||America/Fortaleza||Brazil (northeast: MA, PI, CE, RN, PB)||−03:00||-|
|BR||−2332−04637||America/Sao_Paulo||Brazil (southeast: GO, DF, MG, ES, RJ, SP, PR, SC, RS)||−03:00||-|
|BR||−2027−05437||America/Campo_Grande||Mato Grosso do Sul||−04:00||-|
- ^ abThe municipalities of Atalaia do Norte, Eirunepé, Envira, Guajará and Ipixuna are located entirely west of the line. Part of the municipalities of Benjamin Constant and Tabatinga, including their seats, are also located west of the line. Part of the municipalities of Boca do Acre, Itamarati, Jutaí, Pauini and São Paulo de Olivença are located west of the line but their seats are located east of it. Lábrea is often cited as one of the municipalities in UTC−05:00, but it is located entirely east of the line and its seat uses UTC−04:00.
- ^Água Boa, Alto Araguaia, Alto Boa Vista, Alto Taquari, Araguaiana, Araguainha, Barra do Garças, Bom Jesus do Araguaia, Campinápolis, Canabrava do Norte, Canarana, Cocalinho, Confresa, General Carneiro, Luciara, Nova Nazaré, Nova Xavantina, Novo Santo Antônio, Novo São Joaquim, Pontal do Araguaia, Ponte Branca, Porto Alegre do Norte, Querência, Ribeirão Cascalheira, Ribeirãozinho, Santa Cruz do Xingu, Santa Terezinha, São Félix do Araguaia, São José do Xingu, Serra Nova Dourada, Torixoréu and Vila Rica.
- ^Decree no. 2784, of 18 June 1913, Presidency of Brazil. (in Portuguese)
- ^ abcdePopulation estimates, Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 2019.
- ^ abcAreas of the municipalities, Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 2018.
- ^Applicants from Amazonas should be mindful of the time zone, Ministry of Education of Brazil, 31 October 2018 (in Portuguese).
- ^Bidding notice, electronic auction no. 11/2020, Federal Institute of Amazonas, 9 December 2020 (in Portuguese).
- ^"Brazil Abolishes Its Fourth Time Zone in 2008". Retrieved 2008-06-25.
- ^"Time Zone Change is Possible in Acre, Brazil".
- ^Subdirectorate for Legal Affairs. "Lei nº 12.876, de 30 de outubro de 2013" [Law no. 12,876 of 30 October 2013] (in Portuguese). The Presidency of the Federative Republic of Brazil. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- ^No clock change for parts of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Timeanddate.com, 25 October 2011.
- ^Araguaia municipalities swap Brasilia time for that of Mato Grosso during summer time, Olhar Direto, 19 October 2013. (in Portuguese)
- ^Summer time begins and Araguaia starts following Mato Grosso time, Água Boa News, 10 October 2015. (in Portuguese)
- ^ abc"Decrees on daylight saving time in Brazil" (in Portuguese). National Observatory of Brazil. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
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