Nightlife in Salvador da Bahia is mainly located at Pelourinho, in the old downtown. You may try streets like Rua das Laranjeiras, Rua Castro Rebelo or Cruzeiro de Sao Francisco. These are secure streets with good bars and live music (most of the animation of Sao Salvador is outside, in the streets).
During the day, Barra Beach, at the very center of the city, is the best place for listening to music and socialize.
During the summer and within the months preceding Carnival, there are concerts every night at squares like Berro D'Agua and Pedro Arcanjo. In winter (the average winter temperature in Salvador is above 25 C, just 3 our 4 degrees lower than the summer temperature) there are fewer events, but the animation is also great and you will always encounter music groups playing in street and bars.
Fun and music is intrinsic to Sao Salvador. Every occasion is good for music and dance. See, for instance, the Blessed Tuesday event, connected to the weekly Sao Francisco de Assis Church tradition of giving out bread to the poor, on Tuesdays. Somehow, this event became a weekly musical event, lived all over Pelourinho. Every Tuesday, after 6 pm Mass, the music, dance and animation explode everywhere, around the church and in Pelourinho while people give out bread and donations to those who need it. Until midnight, music doesn't stop on streets, bars, houses, with people and vendors, bands and street musicians everywhere.
A tip: Just look for specific and moment information in a Sao Salvador tourist office. Ask for a free entertainment guide with the upcoming events. There are places like the Castro Alves theatre where more formal musical events happen: ballet, theatre, or simply the performance of top Bahian musicians.
Lobster and simple seafood dishes are common and extremely cheap in Salvador da Bahia. A lobster dish is cheaper than a fast food dish in Europe or the USA. Simple seafood is an excellent food option and a popular safe choice for Salvador's visitors who have more conservative food habits.
But for those who aren't afraid of gastronomic experiences and whose stomachs can handle peppered food, the dishes that should be tasted have strange names, with an African origin: Vatap, moqueca, caruru, acaraj.
Vatap is a kind of seafood stew, with ground peanuts, green peppers and, most of all, coconut milk and dende (a palm oil). Vatap is a dish with many variants. For example, caruru is resembles vatap with lots of okr), while the acaraje dish is a vatap with fried bean cake.
The moqueca is also a seafood dish; it's a kind of stew of shrimp and other shellfish, with coconut milk, dend oil and hot peppers. The main difference between it and vatap is in the included tomato paste and some complementary herbs: onion, garlic, parsley.
Though they may be not attractive at a first look, any of these dishes are delicious, even when sold at street corners or at sides of the beaches by typical Bahians. An unforgettable cuisine, once after savoured, most people sigh for seconds.
You should be careful with the hot pepper though. Ask for little pepper, if you are uninitiated, or just don't add it (sometimes it is served separately).
Salvador has many stores, many street vendors and some handicraft markets where you can buy typical local articles, but the best place to buy souvenirs and local articles is Mercado Modelo, at the city port, a three-story building, where you can even attend lively musical shows and animations.
Here is a small list of local products:
- percussion instruments like the berimbau, with its beautiful sound;
- bunches of silver fruits to hang at your home (to ensure good luck and abundance at the table);
- religious articles as Senhor do Bonfim ribbons (for good luck), and religious figures.
- very coloured handmade lace and embroidered clothing.
Besides these products, typically Bahian, you can find other typical brazilian products like cotton hammocks, kangas, paintings, leather goods, jewellery and so on.