When the Portuguese landed on this gorgeous stretch of coastline, with its sunshine, white sandy beaches, coconut palms and bright blue water, they were pretty impressed. They chose a spectacular peninsula between a bay, which they called 'All Saints Bay', and the Atlantic to be their main port, and built Salvador de Bahia on it. So Salvador de Bahia was Brazil's first capital, and the ancient mix of cultures - coming from Europe, Africa and the Americas - which gathered here still shows. Indeed many of the best places to stay in Bahia can be found here and often reflect this cultural melée.
As well as this vibrant city, Bahia provence has plenty to offer.
Salvador da Bahia is Brazil's most African influenced city - you taste it in the food, see it in the traditions and hear it in the music. The city is often in festive spirit, with music and parties celebrating one thing or another spreading out onto the colonial streets with their wonderful 17th and 18th Century architecture.
Capoeira circles spring up in the main plazas, and you may catch glimpses of mystical Candomble ceremonies - all reminders that this was the site of the New World's first slave market. And it remains one of the strongest cultural centres of African heritage outside of Africa. Try the food, visit the markets, and go out on the water to see the real beauty of All Saints Bay.
Porto Seguro is where the Portuguese first landed. And it is the colourful history of this town, along with its reputation for fun, that draws many visitors here. The small historic centre is where you'll find all the old colonial houses.
If you're looking for a quieter stretch along this bit of coast, Arraial d'Ajuda is probably more your style. This beautiful little village was once a holiday spot for the wealthy, and its tropical greenery, large, colourful plazas with their open air restaurants and the lovely views of the even lovelier coastline are why.
Trancoso is just below Arraial d'Ajuda, and is a smaller, slightly hipper version, yet contains many of the best places to stay in Bahia. The views are just as gorgeous, the open air restaurants and bars are just as appealing, the churches and guesthouses just as picturesque - but it all feels a bit more rustic.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Bahia are an eclectic mix of rustic chic guesthouses, city living, beachside glamour and all out luxury. As with all our recommendations, if you're planning to visit during peak season, book well ahead to ensure you get the property of your dreams!
A rustic hotel in the town of Lincois. Charming colourful rooms and suites have stone floors, wooden beams, and splashes of art. Lovely gardens, large pool, and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Ideal for families and those on a budget.
A tropical guesthouse with rustic rooms, direct beach access, and rock bottom prices. A completely unspoilt paradise for barefoot luxury and an eco experience. Excellent restaurant and massage therapies.
A futuristic hotel slightly off-centre, but close to one of Salvador's best beaches. This homage to space-age design is a welcome spot for families and a base for the best beach activities.
A hidden paradise under the palm groves. A collection of beach huts on stilts with charming boutique interiors and balconies. Excellent seafood restaurant, lagoon-style pool, and just set back from the beach. Excellent value, family friendly, perfect for a laid back beach break.
A beautiful old colonial house in a picturesque town. Boutique chic rooms have lots of space and private balconies. The perfect B&B to explore the area from and good value too.
Porto Seguro, Bahia
An idyllic and remote paradise in South Bahia. This simple and chic family run hotel is situated on one of Brazil's most beautiful beaches, Espelh. Beach bungalows are dotted amongst the palm trees and overlook the exquisite beach and turquoise sea. Charming rooms, fabulous food, massage - sublime
A city refuge in central Salvador. This beautiful townhouse hotel with its stunning roof top terrace promises peace and tranquility amidst the bustling cobbled streets of the Pelourinho district.
A large luxury eco resort on the Salvador peninsula. Private beach, luscious gardens, eight swimming pools, extensive spa, kids club, and a choice of Mediterranean or a tapas restaurant. Perfect for beach life, families, and complete relaxation.
Luxury beach cabanas just set back from the sand amongst the groves. Romantic suites have four poster beds, wooden floors and private balconies. Private beach with lots of deck chairs. Walking distance to restaurants. A perfect beach holiday for honeymooners or couples.
A fantastic beach property ideal for fun in the sun. Cabana style suites underneath the palms, white sand on your doorstep, infinity pool, fabulous seas food restaurant, and a golf course. Perfect for beach life, families, and golfers.
A Robinson Crusoe villa set back from the beach surrounded by palm trees and turquoise waters. Designer chic interiors with hints of Brazilian tradition, kitchen plus chef on request, pool, and immediate access to the beach and the surrounding tropical paradise. For families, groups of friends.
Beautiful wooden casas decorated with Brazilian art and antiques sprawl through a luscious shady garden. Barefoot luxury for couples, families, or any beach break.
A little piece of paradise on Cocoa's undeveloped coast line. Rustic-chic maintains the tropical beauty of this eco-friendly resort. The turquoise ocean is the perfect backdrop to the thatched cabanas decorated with ethereal romance. Tranquil exoticism and beach life.
A secluded eco retreat surrounded by coconut trees, rainforest, and a never ending white beach. Fourteen stunning cabanas, luxurious spa treatments, and impeccable service make this a place of total relaxation.
Eight rustic-chic bungalows individually decorated in ethnic style. It sits in the midst of a tranquil shady grove just minutes from the beach. A stylish beach retreat.
One of the most fabulous hotels in Bahia. This elegant convent restoration provides luxury in style. Sumptuous rooms, gourmet cuisine, fantastic spa. For foodies, families, or those who want to indulge.
Município de Maraú, Bahia
5* eco-resort with bags of space and privacy. Suites and bungalows have dark wood furniture, romantic four poster beds and hammocks on the balconies. Outdoor pools, spa, gardens, helipad and direct beach access. Superb seafood-based cuisine, relaxed bar lounge. Secluded, barefoot opulence.
Ponta do Corumbau, Bahia
The ultimate paradise. White sandy beaches and turquoise sea provide an oasis of wellbeing for this cluster of private luxury bungalows. Beautiful rooms match their beautiful surroundings at this secluded beach retreat.