Is Salvador Safe? Expert Safety Tips for Travelers

Marisa Megan shares her tips on how to stay safe while exploring Salvador, Brazil.

Itapuã Lighthouse in Salvador, Brazil Photo © Photo by Felipe Dias on Unsplash

Salvador is the home of Baiano culture, beautiful beaches and colorful buildings. If you’re planning a trip to Brazil, make sure you leave a few days to explore this wonderful city and the places that surround it.

However, Salvador is not considered to be a safe place to travel – even by the Brazilians who live here. So before you go, here's how to experience this Afro-Brazilian destination without trouble.

Staying safe in Salvador

Be discreet and cautious when you pull out your wallet. Don’t count money or text on the street. If you need to use your phone, pop into a shop or café so you can immerse yourself without worry. Stay in groups, especially at night and if you’re anywhere you don’t know or don’t feel comfortable, trust your gut – hop in a taxi and head somewhere else. If you’re at a tourist attraction and people are offering you ‘free gifts’, just ignore them and walk away. The nightlife is fantastic here, Salvador is considered one of the centers of music and dance in Brazil, but it’s also the capital of robbery, especially for tourists.

Don’t walk around with large or expensive-looking jewelry. This goes for guys as well as girls. Leave your gold chains, big earrings and watches at home so you’re not attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Don’t go to the city beaches or parks at night. They’re common scenes for robbery so enjoy them during the day and never walk around by yourself at night.

Don’t go out with everything you own. If you’re taking your phone out, leave your camera at home, or vice versa. If you’ve got multiple credit or bank cards, don’t take them all with you. That way if anything happens, you’re not left without funds for the rest of your trip.

If something does happen, don’t make a scene. It’s best just to hand over your things quickly and you’re much more likely to walk away safely. Many seasoned travelers carry two wallets – each with a bit of cash and an old ID that they can give up easily if robbed. Most criminals are looking to make a quick buck and don’t want to deal with trouble, so if you end up in a dodgy situation, always put your safety first

Anything outside of the main tourist neighborhoods of Barra, Rio Vermelho, and the Pelourinho is broadly considered unsafe for tourists. Okay, so this is a little excessive, but it’s a good idea to keep your head on you wherever you go. Stay away from the perifierias (the suburbs), which in Salvador’s case are some of the poorest neighborhoods with some of the highest rates of crime in the country. 

Safety for women

Baianos are much more forward than you may be used to and they’re not shy about complimenting the female form. If you end up with an unwanted admirer truly bothering you, walk into a nearby shop or supermarket. Brazilian men believe in persistence (it’s a cultural thing), but if you’re firm that their attention is unwanted, they’ll eventually get the message and leave you alone. General safety rules apply for women in Salvador – stay with your friends, don’t leave the bar on your own and follow your gut about people you’ve just met. Always take taxis home at the end of the night, even if they are more expensive: your safety is more important than your budget!

Brazil is typically a very safe country for solo female travelers, however, Salvador is trickier in that respect. If you’re traveling alone, take the time to make new friends at your hostel and stick with them when you go out.

Have you been to Salvador? Share your tips in the comments below.

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1 Comment

  • Jim Beaver said

    Will be at Rented Houses on the beach

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