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Top Things to do in El Salvador from west to east

Table of Contents

Explore top destinations in El Salvador by location

Looking for El Salvador’s top activities? We have asked our clients and also in different travel groups about what are those places you could say: If you go to El Salvador, you must go here. After reading a lot of recommendations we have come up with our top things to do in El Salvador. 

El Salvador's top touristic attractions

 

Exploring El Salvador

If the feeling of discovering a new land is starting to make you wonder about where you could plan your next getaway, it is time to introduce you to a place that could be your next holiday destination.

If you have no plans, let’s say between November and April, then this could be the perfect time to get to know El Salvador, the smallest country in all Central America.

Do not let its size fool you, because El Salvador has nothing to envy its neighbours Guatemala and Honduras, in fact, it’s home to some of the most breath-taking and extraordinary natural sceneries around the world.

Do not let its reputation for being an unsafe country keep you from getting to know its lively and friendly population as well as some of the most historical picturesque landmarks because you are for sure missing on an extraordinary land.

West El Salvador

Barra de Santiago

Nature lovers might already know about El Salvador having the largest mangrove forest within all Central America, making it the ideal place to go to see wildlife, especially migratory birds’ nests. Still, the main attraction of this area are crocodiles! This is their natural habitat, therefore the best place to observe them throughout a boat tour.

Ruta de las Flores

Known as the Route of Flowers, this path is the best one to travel along to know more about the history and culture of El Salvador. Along the Ruta, tourists can get to different colonial towns filled with buildings, indigenous history, and coffee plantations. These are only some of the many things to look forward to when visiting.

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Nahuizalco

It is one of the different towns you will come across while traveling along this route. Let yourself get lost within the Street market, filled with shops and workshops where you can get to see and purchase handicrafts made and sold by locals.

For a more in-depth learning about the local community, a visit to the Indigenous Pipil Museum will help you discover the indigenous settlements that have lived within this area for centuries.

While exploring Nahuizalco, we cannot live out the Golondrinera waterfalls, a beautiful hike that will take you to enjoy beautiful landscapes to then end with a breath-taking 65 meters high waterfall.

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Juayua

Juayua is the second town along the Ruta and has become very popular with visitors, especially for its culinary tradition.

The Juayua Food Festival calls for a high number of tourists and locals that come each weekend for enjoying mouth-watering dishes such as soups, grilled meat platters, seafood,

desserts, and cocktails. The Seven Waterfalls tour is a gem that should not be left out especially for hiking enthusiasts.

Chorros de la Calera Waterfalls once built to provide power for the town is a landmark where to go for spending time in the middle of a dense forest and swim in freshwaters.

Salcoatitan

is a city filled with art galleries and exhibitions, heaven for art lovers but also famous for its traditional Salvadorian delicacies.

The delicious coffee, a product of the local plantation, the atol de elote, El Salvador representative drink and how can we leave out the tamales and the riguas? Just thinking about trying on all these dishes makes me excited!

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Apaneca

A top tourist destination, strikes the attention of visitors especially those looking for some excitement and adventure.

The Laguna Verde, who sits on the crater of the dormant Ahuachapan volcano, calls for hiking lovers as well as for nature lovers

The possibility of getting on an ATV and discovering the town excitingly is something that cannot be left out. Adventurous people will love getting on the Zipline located in the forest.

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From here is possible to get a complete and breath-taking overview of the municipality. And what about the huge ecological labyrinth located within the Albania coffee farm, that challenges its visitors to find their way out? Something to not miss on!

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Ataco

 Is the paradise of Coffee, something that when in El Salvador, should not be omitted. Take a coffee plantation tour and learn about how coffee is made.

And once you have had enough coffee to stay up for an entire week, you are then ready to walk around the beautiful murals, art scattered along the streets of the town.

Santa Teresa Hot Springs.

After spending days hiking and walking around picturesque streets, you might want to consider enjoying some quality time at a hot spring, so why not doing it within the main tourist destination of the entire western side of El Salvador? Nothing screams relax more than quality time within a natural paradise. Trails, hot water geysers, swimming pools, and a blue lagoon are what make this entire area popular among visitors.

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Santa Ana volcano

One thing for sure that El Salvador is filled with are volcanoes and while exploring Santa Ana, you should not forget to visit one of the best landscapes you will ever come across.

Once you hike to the top of this volcano, you will be mesmerized by the stunning green crater lake in the middle of the crater.

Coatepeque lake

Nature is everywhere and untouched flora and fauna scattered around, make this the ideal place where to spend time relaxing. Eating at restaurants, renting a kayak or a boat, the choice of how to spend time here is only yours.

tours el salvador Archaeological Tours

Tazumal archaeological site

We usually tend to link Mayan ruins to Mexico, but you might be surprised to hear that even while visiting El Salvador, you can spend exploring the Mayan site discovered by the archaeologist Stanley Boggs.

What makes this place even more amazing is that they are completely uncrowded!

Salto de Malacatiupan hot spring waterfalls.

For an early relaxing time, there is no better way than starting the day jumping within a hot spring waterfall while looking at the sun getting up on the sky!

Nawi, Mizata

With a $20 day pass, you will get to spend time within one of the best beaches in the entire country.

Taste delicious food, especially fresh seafood plate, swim within the scenic pool, and what about the amazing waves that you will get to surf?

If this is what you are looking for, then you are looking to book some time at Nawi, in Mizata.

Central El Salvador

El Salvador might be a tiny country but as you can see it has a lot to offer to its visitors so much already that you will get overwhelmed with the next must-go places within the central region.

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San Salvador

A visit to El Salvador is not complete if we leave out the country’s capital. Before getting to explore the inner city, every visitor should start with the outskirts, especially with the:

Salvador Volcano

 Located on the northwest of the country’s capital, the volcano is at the top when it comes to things to do. From its top, you get to discover and look at some of the most scenic views of the city.

After a long hike, you might want to get your energies back and it just happens that I know a spot where you can fulfil your hunger and look at people descending the famous

 

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Rainbow slide

 With its popularity all over Instagram, this enormous slide has been calling for hundreds of tourists armed with their phones eager to capture the surrounding landscape while enjoying the thrill of descending the slide.

After a quick lunch at Picnic Steakhouse, it is time to start to head out towards the city of San Salvador. The metropolis is filled with outstanding places to spend time getting to know San Salvador’s past.

 

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San Salvador cathedral

known also as the Metropolitan Cathedral, calls for local and foreign visitors each year to pay respect and visit Monsenor Oscar Romero’s Crypt.

The fourth archbishop of San Salvador Romero spoke out against social injustice and violence during the conflict that led to the Salvadoran Civil War.

San Salvador Cathedral is a historic and iconic building located in the heart of San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. The cathedral is dedicated to the Holy Savior and is one of the most important religious sites in the country.

The building dates back to the 18th century and features a beautiful neoclassical façade, with intricate carvings and elaborate columns. Inside, visitors can marvel at the cathedral’s ornate altars, beautiful stained glass windows, and impressive vaulted ceilings.

The cathedral also houses several important works of art, including paintings and sculptures by renowned Salvadoran artists. With its stunning architecture and rich history, San Salvador Cathedral is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting El Salvador’s vibrant and culturally rich capital city.

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The National Palace

 declared a National Monument in 1980, is the result of the creative mind of engineer José Emilio Alcaine. People are always mesmerized by the beauty of the different styles that can be seen: the Neo-Gothic, Neoclassical, and Renaissance. The building is free of entry so the only thing you must worry about is to fit it into your travel schedule!

The National Theatre

decorated by Italian architect Lucio Cappellaro, is the oldest theatre you will come across in Central America.

Nowadays you can assist with classical concerts, plays, music performances, and artistic workshops.

For a closer look at how the locals spend their free time, spend a few hours inside

Dalia pool house

 where you get to enjoy drinks, play pool with the locals, and look at the pictures hanging on the wall showing the 80 years of this local business.

While walking around the city center you will notice many beautiful historical churches, but nothing will come close to:

 

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El Rosario church

El Rosario Church is a stunning architectural marvel located in the heart of San Salvador city, the capital of El Salvador. The church was built in the 1970s by Ruben Martinez, a renowned Salvadoran architect, and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and innovative religious buildings in the world.

One of the most striking features of El Rosario Church is its unique, asymmetrical design. The church is made up of a series of interconnected concrete structures, each one resembling a giant, jagged shard of glass. The structure is designed to look like an organic, living organism, with light filtering in through the many angled windows and casting a warm, otherworldly glow over the interior.

Inside the church, visitors are greeted by a breathtaking array of colors, textures, and shapes. The walls and ceilings are covered in vibrant, abstract murals that depict various scenes from the Bible and Salvadoran history. The colors are intense and bright, creating a sense of energy and movement that is both uplifting and inspiring.

One of the most striking elements of the church’s interior is its series of stained glass windows. These windows are made up of thousands of tiny, colored glass fragments, arranged in intricate geometric patterns that dazzle the eye with their beauty and complexity. When the sunlight filters through these windows, it creates a kaleidoscope of colors that fills the space with a magil, ethereal light.

Overall, El Rosario Church is a stunning example of innovative, modernist architecture that seamlessly blends religious and cultural traditions. It is a true testament to the beauty and resilience of Salvadoran culture, and a must-see destination for anyone interested in art, architecture, or history.

 

Suchitoto town

A small area if we compare it to San Salvador but is where you can discover the colonial past of the country’s capital.

The well-preserved town and picturesque street make for the ideal place where to stay and explore the town.

Suchitlan lake, the largest body of freshwater in the country, is surrounded by stunning landscapes, home to a variety of animals and plants.

I highly suggest you pack up your lunch and rent one of the many tiny boats available to enjoy a one-of-a-kind and I must say scenic picnic.

One of the things that distinguish Suchitoto is the production of indigo ink, known as Añil, and dyed clothing and textiles.

 

Visitors enjoy spending time with local women who teach throughout their demonstration of traditional indigo dyeing.

Many of the workshops are held within centers built to support women in rural communities. Here you can get to dye your own T-shirt!

Costa del Sol

If we are talking about the most popular places within the entire country, then we are talking about Costa del Sol. 15km square meters of wide, beautiful beaches filled with restaurants, bars, water sports, and much more.

It does not matter what type of tourist you are, Costa del Sol, got you covered. This is the most developed tourist beach area in the entire country making it filled with all the inclusive services you might need.

Surf City

The connection between El Salvador and surfing might sound new to most visitors but for surf enthusiasts, they have been traveling to El Salvador before anyone could talk about the Surf City project.

 

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Tunco beach

The place responsible for this skyrocketing popularity is El Tunco beach, an area that has been blessed by mother nature with some of the best waves for both beginners, and pros.

El Tunco is a lively place filled with everything you would want when on vacation: fantastic parties, live music, cosmopolitan atmosphere, fresh seafood, and amazing sceneries make this area a popular spot between backpackers.

El Tunco caves

with their amphitheatre type of shape located underneath the water offer an amazing view of life under the sea. Cadejo brewery on the other hand, is the place to taste El Salvador’s beer, a unique taste from all other beers.

El Zonte beach

Calls for surfers from all over the world, to ride the great Pacific Ocean waves and its Bohemian atmosphere makes the area even more unique.

For an escape from the beach life, Tamanique waterfalls can be easily reached via a tour with a local guide. Only 30 mins to complete the hike and then swim in the waterfalls!

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The Atami Resort, within Palmarcito beach, is the place to go for swimming within salty natural pools that have been formed naturally under the corrosion of salty water.

Mercado de mar and La Libertad city are the ideal places for those looking to go on the waters and try on fishing day trips with local boat captains.

Nature lovers might already know about El Salvador having the largest mangrove forest within all Central America, making it the ideal place to go to see wildlife, especially migratory birds’ nests. Still, the main attraction of this area are crocodiles! This is their natural habitat, therefore the best place to observe them throughout a boat tour.

  • East El Salvador

And here we are with the latest area of El Salvador that we are going to carefully discover. It might be overwhelming at this point because I have been introducing you to so many places that deserve to be explored!

 

Bahía de Jiquilisco

Home to the largest number of seabirds in the country, the most common activity you will see tourists practicing here is bird watching.

I suggest you stick around till sunset, you will not regret it! And what about the Monkey sanctuary?

With the presence of wild jungles scattered around the country, visiting the Monkey sanctuary sounds like something that should not be skipped, especially if you can add to it the chance of enjoying a Cacao tour, where visitors can learn about the production of Chocolate, from beginning to end.

Las Flores beach

Its vegetation gives a unique setting and if you add to it the fact that it’s one of the best surfing spots, you might now understand why people keep on choosing it as here to spend their time for some “surf within the wildlife”.

Alegria Crater

Just north of Usulutan, you can drive inside a volcano and gaze at the beautiful emerald green lake created by the volcanic sulfur. Cartegena Vivero and Restaurant, on the side of the volcano, has stunning views of the valley, a large bird collection and good food.

Tamarindo beach

Known for its low and gentle waves that transmit peace and relaxation, this place is the ideal one where to enjoy scuba diving and swimming. Maybe what makes this beach even more unique is that depending on the time of the year, tourists can experience releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean. Incredible!

Fonseca gulf

The Fonseca Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Fonseca, is located on the Pacific coast of Central America and is shared by three countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The gulf covers an area of approximately 3,200 square kilometers and is named after Francisco Fernández de Córdoba, a Spanish conquistador who explored the region in the early 16th century.

 

El Salvador’s portion of the Fonseca Gulf is home to several islands, each with unique features and characteristics that make them popular tourist destinations. Here is a list of some of the islands found in El Salvador’s portion of the Fonseca Gulf, along with their sizes, names, and other interesting facts:

  • Meanguera: Measuring approximately 4.4 square kilometers, Meanguera is the largest island in El Salvador’s portion of the Fonseca Gulf. The island is home to several small communities and is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and abundant marine life. Visitors can enjoy activities like swimming, snorkeling, and fishing.
  • Meanguerita: Meanguerita is a small island located just off the coast of Meanguera. It measures approximately 0.3 square kilometers and is uninhabited. The island is a popular spot for birdwatching and nature photography.
  • Conchaguita: Conchaguita is a small island measuring approximately 0.6 square kilometers. It is home to several small fishing communities and is known for its seafood, particularly its delicious oysters. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.

 

 

Conchagua volcano

Overlooking the Fonseca gulf, is the only one of this type within the coastal area of El Salvador. Many visitors include this volcano within a day trip that usually ends up with spending the night at the volcano base camp.

Perquin within Morazan

A municipality located near the Honduran border filled with colorful murals near the municipal park and the local church.

All these have been created by local artisans which reflect the history and beauty of the town. For a more in-depth travel into the town’s history, a stop by the War Museum will help you learn about the story of the armed conflict in El Salvador through the collection of objects, documents, and images.

Conclusion

El Salvador might be a small region, but it’s filled with numerous places to see and activities to enjoy, they are so many that the only thing to do is to pack up your things and book your flight because it is time to discover El Salvador and its cultural and historical heritage!

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