23 Oct Rio De Janeiro Carnival Vs Salvador Carnival
I was lucky enough to be able to attend to both Río De Janeiro Carnival and Salvador Carnival in 2016. A lot of people always ask the question ‘Which one should I go to?’ Straight up they are both different and have their pro’s and con’s, so I am going to explain them both the best that I can so you can come to the conclusion on which one sounds more your style. Both Carnivals have free and paid sections.
What is the difference between Rio Carnival and Salvador carnival?
Well first things first, there are both free sections and paid sections in both Rio and Salvador.
The biggest Carnival Rio attraction is the Sambadrome which is a stadium like structure built along built along Marques de Sapucai. A lot of the top Samba schools participate in the parade each year with different themes every year.
Although I didn’t attend the paid events, I have heard from many friends that they are amazing and you should do it if you are in Rio during carnival. It is very expensive though so keep that in mind.
For Salvador it’s more musical cars carrying musicians and top singers. They have a lot of different styles of music which helps for diversity. Salvador also plays a lot of the top current music. Salvador also has paid events which can be quite expensive.
My experience with Rio Carnival
The best way to describe the street parties in Rio is that it reminds me of the festival stereosonic (Australian music festival) it’s full of shirtless jacked dudes and a lot of tourists. I also found it a bit rapey. Both guys and girls would constantly grab you and try to kiss you, but I wouldn’t get excited. You are probably the 20th person they have kissed that day, so don’t get too attached if you get a kiss from someone. For me, I am personally not into that scene which made me enjoy it less than expected. Although it wasn’t my ideal scene I am so glad I got to experience such an amazing festival. It’s the biggest and most crazy festival I have ever witnessed and I would recommend everyone go to Rio during carnival to simply just experience it.
My experience with Salvador Rio
I personally enjoyed Salvador Carnival better than Rio Carnival and here is why.
I found it a lot less touristy compared Rio that’s for sure. I felt more welcomed at Salvador as you could imagine due to not as many tourists and in my opinion it had a better vibe to it. The best spot to hit that are free is Barra. It’s right along the beach with an amazing atmosphere. Please be aware it is very crowded and difficult to get taxis if you are not saying in Barra. I used moto taxi’s to get back but please be careful when using moto taxi’s they can be dangerous and sometimes even rob you.
Where to stay in Rio for Carnival
I stayed in Copacabana in Rio which is quite close to everything and the beach. Although expensive Ipanema and Leblon are the best spots to stay in my opinion. Central to everything and quite safe
Where to stay in Salvador for Carnival
Although I stayed in Pelourinho, Barra would have to be the best spot for carnival. Barra is very central and the safest part in Salvador but please remember that you will be paying top dollar.
My Tips for Carnival
- Book Early! Especially for Rio, accommodation sells quick so act quickly to avoid disappointment
- When going out bring a small wallet and if you have to your phone. I know this might sound weird but put it down your pants as there are lot of pickpockets and thieves in both carnivals so be very careful with your belongings and don’t wear or bring any jewelry, watches etc because more than likely you will lose it or it will get stolen.
- I was walking with a guy and he had a gold chain on. All of a sudden a guy came out of nowhere and unclipped his chain off his neck and continued to run away. So please don’t bring anything like that
- Please be aware that Rio and Salvador can be quite dangerous. I didn’t have any problems in Rio but in Salvador someone tried to rob me, my advice if this unfortunate event happens, please don’t try to fight back or argue, they are usually in groups and some carry weapons such as knives so please just do what they say.
- Pace yourself with alcohol. Carnival runs for a week and the last thing you want is to be passed out drunk at 4pm
- Drink plenty of water as it can get extremely hot during that time of year in both Rio and Salvador
- Eat well before the event starts. Eat lots of high energy food to keep you going through the night
- Both places can be quite expensive. So be prepared with your money
Pros and Cons of Rio
- Amazing city and place. Number one place in Brazil and I can see why
- Bucket list event you must see once
- Bigger than Salvador Carnival
- Way more touristy than Salvador
- Free street parties is quite rapey with a lot of people grabbing you and trying to kiss you
- Don’t offer the diversity of music compared to Salvador
Pros and Cons of Salvador
- Way less touristy which made it a more authentic experience
- Better vibe in my opinion
- UNESCO World Heritage City with great beaches
- I would say most wildest party I have ever been to in my life
- Not as big as Rio Carnival
- Limited accommodation compared to Rio
- For people who have never visited Brazil before prefer Rio as its more popular
- I saw a lot more fights and in my opinion more dangerous
Although I would say I enjoyed Salvador Carnival more than Rio, I still believe there is no clear winner. Both offer different styles and scenes and no matter what your choice is, I am sure you will enjoy it. Without a doubt this won’t be my first and last carnival. I am definitely keen to experience both again soon.