El Salvador Travel Guide

If you are looking for a cheap and lively destination, Spanish-speaking El Salvador could be just the ticket, where the largest problem you are likely to have money-wise is dispensing of large bills. The restaurant scene here means no skimping either, and you will have tortillas coming out of your ears by the time you leave. But of you don’t want to backpack it around this exciting nation, there are enough luxurious hotels to keep you entertained for months, while the beaches and mountain resorts will not leave your disappointed.

When to Go

El Salvador is a tropical country with two distinct seasons: dry season from November to April and rainy season from May to October. Upland El Salvador has a cooler climate.

Getting There & Away

Most of the roads in El Salvador are in good condition, especially the main thoroughfares. However, the roads outside the city are usually ill-maintained and difficult to traverse at night or during the rainy season. Backpackers should be wary of traveling on foot in rural areas where you might just accidentally step on a landmine. El Salvador has over 75 airports and numerous railways and ports that connect the capital to El Salvadoran tourist spots.

Health & Safety

Most health risks here can be prevented, with nothing more than a brief spell of diarrhea experienced by most travelers. However, if you are traveling at the top end of the budget, you will likely encounter no upsets. Healthcare facilities in San Salvador are adequate. Stock up on mosquito repellent lotion if you intend to go to the country during the rainy months of June to November, as dengue fever is prevalent at these times.

El Salvador can be dangerous at night, with gang warfare being prevalent in some areas. If you have lots of piercing or tattoos, watch you aren’t mistaken for a gang member, while you may also attract police attention. If the police stop you for questioning, cooperate in a polite manner.

Food & Hospitality

Visitors who come from a cold European nation may be surprised at the relentless hospitality of the locals, who are always happy to help visitors. This super-friendly nation offers different world cuisines to satisfy the international traveler’s palate, with Spanish, Mexican, Peruvian, Chilean and Argentinean some of the most commonly found. It big cities are littered with popular American fast-food chains, but you will have little need to visit one of these with mouthwatering tortillas available for next to nothing on every corner.

Most of the hotels in El Salvador are located in the capital city of San Salvador and in the nearby cities. Other popular accommodations can also be found along the coast, with essential facilities such as hammocks, boat houses, surfboard storage, swim-up bar and massage table provided, need anything else?

Itineraries

  • Three days in San Salvador
  • One day in El Imposible National Park
  • Three days in Costa del Sol
  • Two days in La Palma
  • Two days in Santa Ana

Highlights

San Salvador: nestled at the base of a volcano, the capital is one of the most modern cities in the region and home to some of the country’s most prominent architectural structures as well as wealthy tree-lined suburbs.

El Imposible National Park: is well-maintained and offers a nature hike and several trails. Reservations must be made prior to visiting and a fee is paid at the entrance. This is your chance to break in those new walking boots.

Costa del Sol: has many vast and open beaches in close proximity to the San Juan del Gozo peninsula, great hunting territory for beach babes and hunks.

Santa Ana: the second-largest El Salvadorian city is at the heart of a vast sugar cane and coffee-growing area, just at the foot of the Santa Ana volcano, and boasts the lovely Teatro de Santa Ana.

La Palma: has several markets selling trinkets and home accessories such as napkin holders, key holders and trivets. A 2-hour drive from San Salvador, it provides fantastic views of the country.

Activities

Sightseeing: in El Salvador means exploring the country’s major coffee and sugar cane plantations in Santa Ana, visiting the city’s colonial churches and neo-Gothic cathedrals and taking a daytrip to Chalchuapa to see a unique Mayan pyramid.

Water sports: snorkel, dive and swim at any of the beaches and dive spots in Costa del Sol. Another beach spot worth visiting is La Libertad. If you tire of the water, while away your day checking out the other bathers.

Hiking: amateur and experienced hikers can take advantage of the natural trails in El Imposible National Park.

Shopping: go to San Salvador and La Palma to buy the country’s local handicrafts, and then don’t tell anyone that you paid peanuts for them when you get home.

Clubbing: some of the popular clubbing strips in El Salvador are La Gran Via and Las Terrazas. The capital is a trendy-setting city, so expect upscale bars and nightclubs in line with capitals elsewhere.