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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.