According to Bloomberg, when “destinations are in the midst of an evolution — bursting with new, standard-setting hotels and restaurants, or chock-full of new cultural attractions—you can expect a spark of electricity in the air… and the alchemy of being in the right place at the right time is exactly what transforms a good vacation into a great one”.

In a list of 22 cities that meet these criteria is Salvador, the capital of the State of Bahia, in Brazil.

While São Paulo is busy pushing the boundaries of a modern megalopolis, one of Brazil’s most laid-back colonial towns is heading in the opposite direction. With a population of 2.6 million midway down the state of Bahia’s laid-back coast, Salvador is emerging from a government-led, five-year historic preservation effort. Its once-abandoned city center, filled with 400-plus-year-old, kaleidoscopic baroque buildings, is abuzz again. The nexus of the country’s slave trade during the colonial era, Salvador remains the beating heart of Afro-Brazilian music culture: A spirited choir and live percussion band accompany mass at the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, and jam sessions erupt each Saturday at sunset outside the city’s seaside Museum of Modern Art (MAM-BA).

African ingredients are also very popular in the cuisine, such as palm oil, coconut milk, ginger and pepper. The acarajé, caruru and vatapá are world-famous typical dishes, served in local Bahia trays.

he rhythm of Capoeira – a Brazilian dance-like martial art –, the aromas and flavors of local delicacies, the religious syncretism and cultural melting pot are only a few samples of the joie-de-vivre of a people surrounded by natural beauty and who really understand the meaning of the word “alive”.

Brasil’s first capital city also has an important his-torical center, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Pelourinho, featuring Brazilian Baroque churches and age-old mansions.

There are over 300 churches in Salvador. One of them is the São Francisco Church, which stands out for its grandeur. Another important city landmark is the Senhor do Bonfim Church, one of the most important symbols of Bahia’s religious syncretism.

Salvador is also a great starting point for those looking to venture into Costa dos Coqueiros, Costa do Dendê or Chapada Diamantina. Bahia holds jaw-dropping natural preserves and a wide range of charming bed&breakfast and resorts with excellent infrastructure.

And don’t forget the gleaming beaches.

Salvador is at its most vibrant during its summer, December through April, and skip the rainy months of June and July.

Source: Bloomberg and VisitBrazil