Forget Rio, Here Are 15 Reasons Why You Should Go to Salvador's Carnival Instead

Photo of Harry Stewart
21 December 2017

We’ve all heard of Rio de Janeiro’s epic carnival, a raucous affair famous for its glamorous outfits, outlandish floats, and vivacious dancers who boogie the night away to non-stop samba beats. But what if we told you there was a lesser-known Brazilian celebration that is better in so many ways? Here are 15 reasons why you should visit Salvador’s incredible carnival over Rio’s.

Salvador is more popular with the locals

Almost any Brazilian outside of Rio will confirm Salvador puts on the country’s best carnival. And who would know better than the locals?

Dancers in Pelourinho | © Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock

It’s a more authentic cultural experience

Huge international interest has seen Rio’s renowned parade become somewhat commercial over the years. Salvador’s, on the other hand, is made by Brazilians for Brazilians.

Salvador Carnival | © Peter Adams Photography L/Shutterstock

There are very few tourists

All the other gringos are foolishly in Rio, meaning you’ll be something of a novelty and get to meet plenty of friendly locals throughout the week.

Salvador Carnival | © Joa Souza/Shutterstock

It’s more of a party than a parade

Rio is most famous for its Sambadrome, where impossibly extravagant floats take center stage. In Salvador, you are the star of the show.

Salvador Carnival | © Vinicius Tupinamba/Shutterstock

There’s a more eclectic mix of revelers

Expect to bump into Brazilians from all walks of life in this buzzing melting pot of a party.

Salvador Carnival | © Roberto Viana/AGECOM/Wikipedia

Huge musical floats bring the party into the streets

Known as trios elétricos, these custom decorated semi-trailers blare music from the country’s best performers as they roam the city’s main thoroughfares to the delight of the euphoric masses.

Trio electrico | © Vinicius Tupinamba/Shutterstock

You can follow your favorite rhythm all night long

Simply grab an abadá (a t-shirt that serves as a ticket) and follow your chosen trios elétricos in a cordoned off area with the extra safety and comfort that entails.

Trio electrico | © Vinicius Tupinamba/Shutterstock

Or just watch the action unfold from a grandstand

Those who would rather sit than be squished between the masses can purchase a spot in a camarote (grandstand) for an unbeatable view of the pandemonium below.

Salvador Carnival | © Vinicius Tupinamba/Shutterstock

The music is more varied

Rio is all about the Samba, whereas Salvador showcases a variety of different styles, most notably the heavily African influenced beats of Axé and Afro-Baiano.

Musicians Salvador | © csp/Shutterstock

There’s even some electronica too

For those who prefer their EDM over Latin beats, some of the world’s most popular DJs spin their biggest tunes in Salvador each year.

Salvador Carnival | © Joa Souza/Shutterstock

It’s easier to get around

The best action happens in the seaside neighborhoods of Barra and Olinda, meaning those who manage to secure a room in the area can get everywhere they need to on foot.

Barra | © Turismo Bahia/Flickr

You don’t need to spend a fortune

It’s mandatory to visit the Sambadrome in Rio, a ticketed parade that costs a small fortune to attend. In Salvador, however, there’s no shame in just partying in the streets without spending a dime on entrance fees.

Salvador Carnival | © Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock

Accommodation is cheaper and more readily available

Although not exactly cheap, beds are notably less expensive than in Rio and it’s easier to find a room at the last minute.

Salvador Carnival | © Joa Souza/Shutterstock

You’ll have some pretty epic boasting rights

Make all your mates jealous on social media by attending the world’s most insane street party, an outrageous event which they’ve probably never even heard of.

Salvador Carnival | © Diego Grandi/Shutterstock

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