El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, is a hidden gem of the region, unknown to many travelers. El Salvador is surrounded by volcanoes, national parks, lakes, waterfalls, Mayan archaeological sites, mangrove forests, perfect waves for surfing, hot springs, etc.
If you are about to visit this country, we present below the 20 best things to do in El Salvador for this 2021, all so that you can make your best itinerary and get the most out of your visit to El Salvador.
Suchitoto is a beautiful and charming city of colonial architecture. If what you are looking for is something relaxing, this destination will enchant you. When arriving at Suchitoto the first thing that stands out to the eye are its charming cobbled streets and its church in front of the central square. You can enjoy colorful craft shops, restaurants and cafes. We invite you to take a workshop on indigo, the coloring discovered by our indigenous people in Arte Indigo. Enjoy a delicious cup of coffee at La Casa de la Abuela. Or a delicious Horchata at Casa 1800. Take a boat ride on Lake Suchitlán and observe the different migratory and local birds that rest in this place. Don’t forget to visit the Los Tercios Waterfall, with its interesting rock formation product of ancient volcanic eruptions.
2. Coatepeque Lake
Just 1 hour from San Salvador is one of the most beautiful lakes in El Salvador. This lake is a volcanic caldera, which is located at the foot of the Santa Ana volcano. When you arrive at Lake Coatepeque, the impressive landscape that surrounds you will steal your eyes, you will be able to find different options of restaurants to enjoy a delicious lunch, either with panoramic views or restaurants located right on the water at the lakeside. Here there are locals offering boat tours, or Jetski rentals for you to enter the lake. You will also find numerous accommodation options on AIRBNB.
3. La Barra de Santiago
In western El Salvador you will discover a paradise on the coasts of the department of Ahuachapán, known as La Barra de Santiago. Here is one of the best preserved mangrove forests in El Salvador, with more than 2000 hectares of protected area. This has become the ideal home for a large family of crocodiles and alligators that populate the Canal del Zapatero. Thousands of migratory birds are present every year in search of food and rest, which is why it has become relevant as a Ramsar site. Sea turtles love to lay their eggs on the beaches of La Barra de Santiago, which is why October to December becomes the ideal season for the release of turtles. Do not forget to add this destination in your visit to El Salvador.
4. El Imposible National Park
If you like hiking, getting into nature, crystal clear rivers, this destination will interest you. El Imposible National Park is home to one of the most threatened forests in the world: Tropical Dry Forest. From here seven rivers are born that feed the families who live outside the park with water, and of course they are the source that allows the existence of life in La Barra de Santiago. When visiting this park you will have the opportunity to know much of the vegetation that covers El Salvador, medicinal plants, ornamentals, trees that fed a town that suffered a gigantic plague of locusts. The park has 4 main trails of different difficulties, towards El Mulo viewpoint, towards Los Enganches river, towards Piedra Sellada, and towards Cerro León.
5. Fonseca Gulf
Do you enjoy life on the coast? A getaway to the east of the country could be very comforting for you. El Salvador, in the department of La Unión, has a gulf that it shares with Honduras and Nicaragua, an extremely privileged location in Central America. When you arrive at the town of La Unión, you will be greeted by a population of fishermen. You will be able to embark to visit and appreciate the beauty of the Gulf Islands, here is the Island of Meanguera del Golfo, it is the only city in the country located within an Island. You cannot miss Zacatillo Island, the one that once worked like a jail, but now it’s home to the most peaceful waves in the entire gulf.
Another recommendation that you can make in the Gulf of Fonseca is to visit the Conchagua volcano, here is a spectacular viewpoint where you will simply run out of breath. If you wish, you can camp in this place. Dare to discover it.
6. Mayan Archaeological Route.
One of the best things to do if you are in El Salvador. If you like the history of ancient civilizations, you will be able to find in El Salvador a lot to see. Joya de Cerén is known as the Pompeii of America, where a volcano erupted more than 1400 years ago and covered a Mayan village of farmers with ash, preserving in a unique way houses, warehouses, fields, kitchen utensils, etc. Allowing to have a broad vision of what life was like for the Mayans. Near Joya de Cerén is San Andres, where a complex of pyramids was built, where part of the elite of the zapotitan valley live. In Tazumal you can find the tallest pyramid in the country, approximately 24 meters high. This was a place of human sacrifice, an important place of commerce for the region and a witness to the passage of different civilizations.
7. Santa Ana Volcano
With 2381 meters above sea level, the Santa Ana volcano is the highest in El Salvador and without a doubt the place where you will get one of the most impressive panoramic views in the entire country. This part of a complex of volcanoes within which is Cerro Verde and Volcan Izalco. When you climb this volcano you start in part of the forest of the green hill, little by little in the ascent you will observe the different types of forest affected by the different eruptions suffered, the most recent of these in 2005. The ascent walk lasts approximately 1.5 hours, comfortable shoes for difficult terrain will be of great help for the trails of the volcano. The most impressive thing about the volcano is the beautiful and mesmerizing emerald colored lagoon located at the bottom of the crater. Do not miss the opportunity to visit this great volcano
8. Ruta de Las Flores
Do you enjoy coffee, nice weather, colorful towns, and lovely people? The Ruta de Las Flores could be one of your favorite destinations. Five towns of colonial origin await you, offering you an unforgettable visit. Nahuizalco is recognized for hosting an important indigenous population that proudly display their products in the central square, it has a museum that honors the memory of our people. Salcoatitan is the smallest town on the route, the central church dating from 1824 still stands. At the entrance of the town you will see a gigantic ceiba tree where at its foot you will find a writing of its reason for being and its history.
Juayua celebrates its gastronomic festival every weekend, where locals fill the main square with their delicious dishes to enjoy under the shade of the trees. Here you can also find Los Chorros de La Calera, a waterfall of fresh waters that comes down from the mountain. Apaneca is the highest town in El Salvador with 1400 meters above sea level, surrounded by coffee plantations. Here is also the largest labyrinth in Central America. Finally, the colorful city of Concepción de Ataco, beautiful murals and cobbled streets bring life to this place, walking through these streets takes you on a journey through time. You will find a varied option of handicrafts and what you cannot miss, a coffee farm where you can take a tour of its factory to understand the process of this delicious product.
9. El Tunco Beach
A hidden Surf Town on the Salvadoran coast. Just 45 minutes from San Salvador you will find El Tunco Beach, when you arrive the first thing that catches your eye are the beautiful murals, a relaxing vibe will take over you, good music and an impressive range of restaurants and hotels. If you have always wanted to learn to surf, here you can take the perfect surf class, or if you prefer something different you can join a yoga class, a relaxing massage or rent a motorcycle and go explore the nearby beaches by yourself. If you like experiences a little stronger, you can take a tour to the Tamanique Waterfalls, a beautiful hidden point in the mountains of the Cordillera del Bálsamo. Or you can go visit the fish market located in the port of La Libertad. Many things to do in El Tunco.
10. San Salvador
That’s right, the Salvadoran capital cannot miss it, it has so many things to see and do, but this time we will focus on the Historic Center. For a long time it was a forgotten place, but it has become the point of attention after recent restorations in its squares. You can visit the National Palace, walk through its rooms and gardens, visit El Salon Azul, Rojo Amarillo Rosado. The Metropolitan Cathedral houses hundreds of stories that have passed in front of its doors, and what you cannot miss for the world is the architecture inside the El Rosario Church. It has the uniqueness of looking abandoned on the outside, but when you enter and see the stained glass windows at sunrise or sunset, you will be impressed.