El Salvador is a destination abundant in both geography and culture. Sitting in the guts of the Central America region, this small country boasts incredible national parks, very long stretches of beautiful beaches, an array of inland attractions, and relatively lax visa requirements. Despite retaining its dated good name for being an unsafe country, El Salvador will be one of Central America’s safest countries to check out.
With its violent civil war over 20 years in the past, visitors of most backgrounds and interests are quickly discovering the variety of attractions the united states has to offer. Among the big list of destinations, include the following top tourist places to visit in El Salvador:
San Salvador is El Salvador’s capital city. Located inside central plateau region, it does not take second largest city to all of Central America (second to Guatemala City.) Despite its colossal size, guests are generally surprised to seek out laid back locals, a straightforward going atmosphere, and also a relatively slow pace on the city. Infrastructure, though within the mend because the millennium, remains hit or miss, with earthquakes and war showing their scars over the city.
From the crumbling remains of original Spanish colonial architecture for the large gap between rich and poor, San Salvador includes a long road ahead. There continues to be violence from the city, however it’s mostly concentrated inside poorest neighborhoods, faraway from the tourist sectors, where inter-gang violence is high.
One in the most unique aspects about San Salvador is its location. Despite being the country’s largest metropolis, guests are only minutes far from awe-inspiring natural charm. From gorgeous volcanoes plus the stunning crater lake to some from the best parks inside the country, natural splendor is always just throughout the corner. With San Salvador as being a maximum of four hours from any destination inside country, it will make for a fantastic home base when exploring El Salvador.
Two hours northwest of San Salvador, La Palma is known for being the city where national artist Fernando Llort taught. Utilizing bright colors, childish images, and religious themes, Llort captured the hearts on the El Salvadoran people, making La Palma a nationally recognized artistic hub. Even today almost all its residents earn money by practicing Llort’s artistic style.
Due to its close proximity on the Honduran border, many visitors choose and then stay in La Palma for convenience purposes. With a vast selection of galleries and workshops however, visitors should really spend some time soaking inside town’s beautiful artistic heritage. From wall paintings and town murals to workshops, quaint Llort-inspired souvenirs, plus the mosaic Central Park, checking out the La Palma is unquestionably worth the stop.
Suchitoto has become the few towns in El Salvador that still retain its colonial architecture. Offering a care-free ambiance, beautiful panoramic views, and quaint cobblestoned streets, the town is one in the country’s most charming. One of Suchitoto’s most favored sites will be the Museo de los Recuerdos Alejandro Cotto (admission 4$). Here visitors can explore beautiful grounds, colonial architecture, great views, and classic fountains. Also boasting one with the country’s most impressive art collections, this museum (open daily) is like a town by itself!
For those seeking a dose on the outdoors, head with the 39-foot Los Tercios Waterfall, the recent springs of Agua Calienter (2.5 miles further as time goes on), or nearby tourist-friendly towns of Palo Grande, El Sitio, and La Mora- all abundant in natural beauty.
Joya de Cerén
Joya de Cerén can be an extraordinarily in a good condition Mayan village. The village was abandoned quickly as residents fled the eruption of Laguna de Caldera in 640 A.D. The town was buried in volcanic ash, leaving the town hidden, but intact. It wasn’t until 1976 that Joya de Cerén was discovered.
The second largest city in El Salvador, Santa Ana offers visitors an urban appeal that has a slightly more tranquil environment when comparing San Salvador. Its early twentieth century neo-Gothic cathedral, elaborately decorated theatre, and picturesque main square (Parque Libertad) have won a person's eye of tourists, making Santa Ana a (over) worthwhile trip.
For those seeking a far more in-depth experience with Santa Ana, the aforementioned theatre (Teatro de Santa Ana) is really a stunning visit both inside and outside, yet still holds the occasional live concert. If you’re a lover with the arts, make sure to check its schedule a lot more town!
Founded around 400 A.D., Tazumal is cluster of unusual step pyramids, the tallest reaching approximately 75 feet in height (the largest inside the country.) Its autonomous status lasted until Spanish forces moved into El Salvador inside 1520s, after which it the local individuals were conquered and exploited.
The on-site Stanley H. Boggs Museum is really a fascinating visit, displaying artifacts uncovered in the excavation. From incense burners to pottery and statues, the remains uncovered by Boggs really are a small glimpse into Tazumal’s past.
Perhaps the superior item inside the museum may be the Stone of Victories statue- an artifact that gives rare proof of a connection between current day El Salvador and what is now Veracruz, Mexico.
Lago de Coatepeque, or Caldera Coatepeque, is often a lake located in the guts of a volcanic crater. At 10 miles in diameter, it’s one in the largest lakes in El Salvador. Formed nearly 72,000 a long time ago by a compilation of violent eruptions and volcanic collapses, what remains today is one on the country’s most incredible natural sites.
Pristine waters make ideal conditions for swimming, plus a range of water-based activities are available from jet skiing and snorkeling to fishing and aquatic bicycling. Other lake activities add a ferry ride to Teopan Island (within the lake’s center), motorboat excursions, and lake tours, running from 20$/half hour to 50$ for full lake tours. Admission for the lake itself is free.
Cerro Verde National Park
While this park hosts three magnificent volcanoes (Izalco, Santa Ana, and Cerro Verde), aforementioned (as well as its namesake) is normally considered the most favored. Boasting one from the country’s few ‘cloud forests’ plus a great hiking trail, visitors should plan to get a (minimum) one-day trip to this national park. The hike, or La Ventana a la Naturaleza (Window to Nature trail), brings visitors from the oldest forest inside the park, going directly with the crater and passing century-old trees as you go along. Also home to many brilliant plants and creatures, guided cats, riding tours, and great views on the other two volcanoes, checking out the this park is unforgettable.
While Cerro Verde hasn’t erupted in over 2,500 years, one other two use a long reputation eruptions. Izalco had been considered the “Lighthouse from the Pacific,” due to its 200-straight numerous years of eruptions (before the 1960s.) Santa Ana, ironically one in the most popular climbs from the country, could be the most active with the three, with steam constantly rising from certainly one of its craters’ sulfurous lagoons. Park fees are 1$ and local guided tours are important.
Ruta de las Flores
La Ruta de las Flores is really a 20-mile mountainous road beginning from Sonsonate. Its namesake (Route of Flowers) arises from seasonal bursts of flowers (October-February) that dot the side with the road.
A great side trip for the people looking to escape the coastal “surfer scene,” the path is known not only because of its floral bursts, but also to the charming colonial towns, lagoons, and waterfalls that dot its 20-mile stretch.
La Libertad (Freedom) can be a small port named after El Salvador’s independence from Spain. It offers a quaint port (25 cent entrance fee), and some in the best beaches in El Salvador for shore angling and surfing (Playa La Paz). For those who want to get around the waters, cost-effective fishing day trips may be organized with local boat captains.
If there’s a very important factor La Libertad is most popular for, it’s the ceviche. A seafood dish of raw fish “cooked” in lime juice and tossed with spicy pepper and onion… it’s an utter must-try!
Costa del Sol
A sandy beach just half-hour from San Salvador airport, Costa del Sol is starting to become an increasingly popular tourist spot. Divided into three sections (San Marcellino, Los Blancos and Costa del Sol), this wide beach is popular for professional sports, vacationing tourists & locals, and all-inclusive retreats.
One with the highlights in the area is usually a mangrove boat tour in the Jaltepeque estuary. Located at kilometer 56, this is usually a protected area the location of various bird and fish species. A three-hour boat ride from La Puntilla will need you through mangrove tunnels and in which the country’s longest river, Rio Lempe, meets the Pacific Ocean.
Another popular attraction within this highly touristic area would be the Atlantis water park. Activities include slides, private pools and floating rides.
El Tunco is but one the most popular from the northern coastal towns for tourists. Named following “pig-shaped” rock located off its coast, it’s a craggy, powerful region not conducive to swimming… but a surfers dream be realized. For those seeking to hit the waters, surf classes and board rentals can be obtained through local surf shops.
Because El Tunco is certainly a popular tourist spot, it’s also it’s an excellent place to meet other travelers and exchange stories. It offers an abundance of boutique shops, restaurants, and cafés, as well as several entertainment options. One on the best nightlife scenes within the northern coast, just ask your ’hotels front desk for that best places to travel when you are in the city.
The country’s third largest and quite a few populated city, San Miguel can be a popular, though slightly less developed, tourist destination. Its historical downtown offers some noteworthy landmarks, in the 19th century Cathedral and Francisco Gavidia Theatre towards the San Miguel Market and bustling Avenida Roosevelt (great nightlife!)
Hugging the country’s small eastern coast, additionally, it offers closeness to several beach towns boasting a few of Central America’s best surf. A major center of trade, San Miguel’s coastal locale also provides many of El Salvador’s finest quality seafood. One with the hottest destinations inside the country… be sure you pack light clothing as summer temperatures reach 109 degrees Fahrenheit!
Beyond surfing, many outdoor sports can be found around the town. The nearby San Vicente Volcano offers some on the country’s roughest trail-less hikes (guides are recommended- available through this town’s Mayor’s Office) and also the highly active San Miguel Volcano offers breathtaking views… however hikes shouldn't be done without having a credible guide because of reports of bandits around the mountain. Lake Olomega, another with the country’s largest, gives a less strenuous visit, with casual nature treks and local boating tours available.
Playa El Cuco
Easily accessible via bus from San Miguel, Playa El Cuco is usually a beach town offering vendor huts, seafood restaurants, as well as a shaggy palm-lined shore. The waters are calmer than some from the nearby surfer towns, rendering it a better option for people interested in swimming.
El Cuco is popular is amongst vacationing Salvadorans since wide shores allow it to become perfect for beach sports including volleyball and soccer. If you are thinking about staying over, we recommend the Hotel Miraflores, found on a cliff with incredible views of Nicaraguan mountains, nearby volcanoes, and, certainly, the Pacific Ocean.
Ruta de Paz
Ruta de Paz, or Path of Peace, is usually a popular tourist itinerary that winds throughout the area hit hardest from the civil war. Visitors will encounter beautiful mountains and quaint colonial towns, with three main stops along the path (San Fernando, Arambala, and Perquín.) The path itself is located from the department of Morazán, that was the former hub from the guerrillas. Highly damaged over the war, Morazán still remains quite underdeveloped. However, as tourists take a large interest with this tumultuous yet naturally stunning area, the status is slowly changing.
Among its three stops, Perquín is the hottest (what's more, it has the most accommodation.) The capital in the revolution and heart on the rebel resistance, this town’s center houses the Museo de la Revolución. Five rooms display artifacts and war memorabilia, there’s an interactive reconstructed guerrilla display, and many with the guides are ex-guerrillas… so their poignant experiences/stories are very worth hearing. Just later on, locals occupy what used to be a guerrilla camp; with an extra $1 visitors can wander into your tunnels for just a unique experience that gives insight in to the rugged life with the guerrilla fighters.
While less space-consuming than the state of Massachusetts, El Salvador condenses a fantastic amount within its borders. Framed from the Pacific, Honduras, and Guatemala, visitors can have everything from surf, sun and sand to active Volcanic hikes, cascading waterfalls, and amazing wildlife to educate yourself regarding. When it comes to visiting, timing is usually the most difficult aspect. The rainy season (May to October) offers lush beauty, cooler temperatures, and nature at its finest… as the dry season boasts an ideal weather for that beach. Between the food, people, culture, natural and manmade marvels however, El Salvador won't disappoint… irrespective of when you visit! Additional Travel Information
Official name: Republic of El Salvador
Time zone: GMT -6
Currency: U.S. Dollar ($)
Currency converter: XE
Getting around: Getting around El Salvador is not difficult. The majority with the country is well navigated through a number of inner city and national bus routes. Though buses might appear overwhelming as they are rarely labeled clearly and also the stations are chaotic, it’s quite simple to figure out by emailing the locals. Most bus operators will endeavour to hustle you onto their bus, so be sure you double check its destination with a co-worker before boarding. Many people about to venture outside with the major cities elect to rent cars for that sake of convenience which isn’t an unsatisfactory option if you fork the extra cash for secure parking. The country’s newly constructed road system and well-marked signage can make it fairly east to navigate. In the larger cities including San Salvador, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel, taxis may be hailed about the street. Acacya Taxis and Metro Taxi are two dependable taxi businesses that have been around for the long time. Smaller towns will often have small moto-taxis (tuk-tuks) in place of taxis. With rates of approximately 10¢ per block, these are considerably less expensive than regular taxis.
Shopping: In San Salvador everything could be found from local markets to giant malls. San Benito and Paseo Escalón are two high-end shopping areas inside the San Salvador’s district of La Zona Rosa. This area is also you will find, a stylish shopping center with decadent dining options. In local markets and artesian shops in every state visitors will get pottery, local indigenous styled paintings, jewelry, textiles and handmade furnishings. Located within the center of San Salvador and open 1 week a week is El Mercado Ex-Cuartel, an acceptable site for getting economically priced souvenirs. When leaving San Salvador, handicrafts might be best shopped for across the small pueblos of La Ruta de Las Flores ever since the coastal towns generally have lesser quality goods at higher prices ever since the products are frequently brought business regions. For those trying to do their very own grocery shopping, Super Selectos has several locations over the country. When likely to small beach towns, it is prudent to buy groceries prior to leaving a major city since prices has a tendency to skyrocket whilst the availability of many goods will decrease.
Hours of operation: Business hours usually run from 8 a.m. to noon and from 2 p.m. to four to five p.m. during weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Most businesses are closed Sunday. Many national tourist sites are open Sunday but closed Monday.
Tips: A 10% tip is customary at restaurants and bars. Some places may automatically include tip within the bill, so it is often a good idea to double-check.
Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60 Hz (same in principle as United States) however, three-prong outlets are certainly not always available therefore it is best to bring a three-to-two prong adapter for American electrics.
Airport: International Airport El Salvador (SAL) +503 2339 9455
Entry requirements: Valid passport, and based on your home country, a $10 tourist visa should be purchased upon arrival, that is valid around 90 days
Best time to visit: October through April
Have you visited any on the 15 places you need to visit in El Salvador? Leave us a comment below!