How many carnival circuits are there?
There are three carnival circuits:
Pelourinho, the "heart" of Salvador's vast Centro Histórico, becomes one large "carnival playground." The area in front of the Elevador Lacerda, Salvador's famous elevator that connects the "high city" to the "low city", is known as the Batatinha circuit, named in honor of a legendary sambista from Salvador.
How are the circuits different?
Barra/Ondina and Campo Grande/Centro are the city's two principal carnival circuits. Here the large carnival blocos (carnival organizations) parade, accompanied by their trio elétricos, huge sound trucks with a band on top, and where one finds the camarotes, viewing boxes that function as "parties within the party."
The Pelourinho/Centro Histórico circuit has an old school, throwback feel to it, with brass marching bands, small drum troupes, decorated streets, people in costume, and several stages where one can dance to live bands.
How far apart are the Carnival circuits?
The three circuits are all located in the center city area and are relatively close to one another. By cab, one can get from any of the circuits to any of the others in 10 to 15 minutes. That is unless one gets caught up in carnival traffic in which case one can end up stuck for hours. If possible, it's a good idea to avoid driving during peak traffic hours (6pm to 9pm on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 12pm to 3pm on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday).