By Stephanie Foden, Contributing Reporter

SALVADOR, BRAZIL – To keep up with the ever-growing multitude of backpackers that flood Salvador, the capital of Bahia state and Brazil’s second biggest tourist destination, the city has seen an impressive increase in the number of hostels over the past few years. Here are three of Salvador’s top rated options for the modern social traveler.

Hostel guests soak in the pool at Galeria 13, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News/
Guests at Galeria 13 soak in the hostel’s pool, photo courtesy of Hostel Galeria 13.

The most visited part of the city is Pelourinho, the cobblestoned historic center known by locals simply as “Pelô.” The vibrant district, which became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, has bright colonial architecture and a myriad of museums and concert venues.

Right in the heart of it all lies Hostel Galeria 13. Free caipirinha happy hour, massive breakfast lasting until midday and a swimming pool help ensure its social atmosphere.

Since opening its doors in 2008, the hostel has been a top pick on websites like TripAdvisor and HostelWorld and included in all budget travel guide books. Stepping into the place it’s not hard to see why: friendly knowledgeable staff, charming character and cozy common areas.

Yet for Galeria 13’s Public Relations Pedro Abreu, what stands out is something else. “All the staff are also avid travelers. A receptionist just came back from a month-long trip and my boss is backpacking in Argentina as we speak. So it gives us this insider knowledge that almost feels like we’re cheating,” he jests.

Heading south of the hustle and bustle of Pelourinho travelers will find the laid-back district of Barra. This is a hot spot for sun worshipers, surfers, snorkelers and paddle boarders. There is a scenic lighthouse here and it is one of the best places to catch a sunset in the city.

F Design Hostel in Rio Vermelho.
The exterior of F Design Hostel in Rio Vermelho, photo courtesy of F Design Hostel.

Barra Guest Hostel is tucked in a quiet residential street amongst the buzz of beach-goers in Porto da Barra. The hostel offers comfort to backpackers with spacious dorm rooms, personal lights and plugs for each bed.

It has a large lounge where free caipirinhas are served every night and guests gather to socialize and plan the night’s events. Visitors often compliment the delicious breakfast.

“This hostel is great, the atmosphere is great. The staff are super friendly. The owner is lovely and genuinely cares for her guests. They sometimes organize nights out,” says guest Emma Bennett from Sydney, Australia. And the hostel is “only one street from the beach,” she adds.

Just up the coast from Barra is the notoriously bohemian neighborhood Rio Vermelho. The district is known for its nightlife with a range of restaurants, bars and clubs for all budgets.

Travelers looking to fancy it up a bit will enjoy the newly opened F Design Hostel, the perfect blend of luxury and backpacker vagabondism. Conceived by famous Brazilian actor Luiz Fernando Guimarães, the boutique hostel comes complete with rooftop pool, movie theater, nightclub — and the themed rooms, in the words of Guimarães himself, are something else.

“Each has its glamor, its spacious closet, internet access and individual bed lights with name tags on each bunk so the maid knows who is who,” says the actor and entrepreneur.

So whether a budget traveler, social backpacker or posh tourist wanting to know what the buzz is about — Salvador’s hostels have something for everyone. This is welcome news for a city set to host FIFA 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup matches.

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