Top 50 Things to Do and to See in El Salvador

El Salvador
El Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. It borders the Pacific Ocean on the south, and the countries of Guatemala to the west and Honduras to the north and east. Its easternmost region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua. El Salvador is a place that thrills with tourist attractions and finds. You will find scenes like beaches, mountain sites, national park, waterfalls and many more. Fifty things that you can enjoy with your family in El Salvador are as follows:

1. Santa Ana

Santa Ana is a very pleasant place to explore on foot and it is one of biggest and popular cities of El Salvador. The city of Santa Ana has so much to offers and the most impressive building in the city is definitely the Theatre, with its perfectly restored lavish interior, you will surely fall in love with vast interior of this 100 year old architectural masterpiece, constructed on the profits of the nearby coffee plantations. The cathedral in the main square is also worth a look, while most visitors to the city will enjoy getting lost in the narrow alleys of the street market.

2. Joya de Ceren Ruins

Joy de Ceren Ruins of El Salvador is one immensely popular tourist attractions of the country. It is a 1500 year old village buried by 14 layers of ash from a volcano eruption much like Pompeii or Herculaneum in Italy. You will get an opportunity to witness some of the incredible views into the life of the Mayas at the time of the explosion of the Volcano Caldera. This famous site of El Salvador also hosts a museum and well organized tours that explain the geology and the history of the place.

3. Parque Nacional El Imposible

Another most popular tourist attraction of the country is the Parque Nacional El Imposible which is located towards the El Salvador. It turned into a national park during the year 1989 and occupies approximately 3800 hectares of area, at an elevation of 300 – 1450 metres above sea level. It is occupied with tropical mountain forest and here you find the greatest biodiversity in El Salvador. For instance you will find here 984 species of vascular plants, 286 species of birds, 103 native species of mammals and over 500 species of butterflies. There are plenty of beautiful hiking trail and beside the flora and fauna, waterfalls and petro glyphs. It is considered just a perfect place for ultimate enjoyment with the whole family.

4. Tacuba

Tacuba is one of popular places to visit in El Salvador; it is a tiny town with a population of 5000 inhabitants which is located 14 km west of Ahuachapán and quite close to the Guatemalan border. The surroundings of this place are extremely beautiful with mountains and many coffee plantations. Tacuba is situated on the northern edge of Parque Nacional El Imposible at an elevation of 700 metres above sea level. Besides the good hiking opportunities Tacuba is a nice little town to stroll around in.

5. El Torogoz

The Turquoise-browed Motmot, in El Salvador called the Torogoz, is the national bird of the country. The Torogoz is about 34 centimetres long and weigh about 65 grams. It can be found in Central America, from south-eastern Mexico to Costa Rica. It survives in rather open habitats where it can be seen sitting on a branch, wire or fence looking for insects or small reptiles. The nests are long tunnels often made in an earth bank. It is indeed one of the beautiful attractions of the country.

6. Parque Nacional Los Vulcanes

Parque Nacional Los Vulcanes was also referred as Parque Nacional Cerro Verde before 2003. This national park of El Salvador occupies of 6300 acres of area and there are three volcanoes in it: Izalco, Cerro Verde and Santa Ana. Vulcan Cerro Verde hasn’t had an eruption for 25 000 years and it is in its crater that the visitor centre is located. You can only climb the volcanoes with a guide and police escort, leaving every day at 11, you can only visit one of them in one day. Which volcano it will be depends on where the majority wants to go. It is indeed one of the best places to visit especially for those who love adventure.

7. Juayúa

Juayúa is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. It is indeed an attractive little town along Ruta de Las Flores. The town was established during the year 1577, but the area was inhabited long before that. In the town you will also find a central plaza with a park. You will also find around some of the beautiful attractions such as the mountains, coffee plantations and waterfalls. It considered one of the finest places for hikes. As Juayua is positioned 1060 meters above sea level there is also a pleasant climate. Many tourists come here for the nature, but most visitors come during the weekend when there is a food festival where you can try many El Salvadorian dishes, but also international ones. The festival has taken place in Juayúa since 1997.

8. La Ruta de las Flores

La Ruta de las Flores are one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. Dotted with pretty villages and a gentle laid-back vibe, it is one of the immensely attractive parts of the country that really does deserve plenty of visitors than it currently receives. The major attraction of this place is off course the cascading waterfalls of los Chorros de la Calera, an easy and pleasant hike from Juayua. These pretty towns along the route make for a very pleasing day of hopping on and off the regular buses.

9. San Salvador

San Salvador is the country’s biggest city. Here you will find some of the best places to visit such as the local museums and cultural sites. Among the city’s famous attractions include the Military History Museum, Museum of Words and Images, Children Museum, and Museum of Popular Art. San Salvador also has fine restaurants that guarantee a satisfying gastronomic experience. While modern, this city is one of the top tourist attractions in El Salvador.

10. Suchitoto

Suchitoto is another most popular tourist attraction of El Salvador. It is considered as the picture-perfect colonial town towards the northern part of the country. It will surely become the hotspot of El Salvador’s blossoming tourism boom. The place can be easily explored on foot in a short gentle stroll, peaceful and safe; Suchitoto is set above the magnificently picturesque Lake Suchitlan.

11. Juayua Waterfalls

Juayua waterfalls are some of the most stunning attractions of El Salvador. They are a manifestation to watch from a distance. Its flowing drops of water trickling down its grayish brown rocks makes you stand in awe because of its beauty, is really worth a visit. Juayua’s waterfalls is located just outside the little town called Juayua’s which has until recently attracted some tourist attention because of its scenic beauty and other special events.

12. Playa El Tunco

Playa El Tunco is one of the extremely popular tourist destinations of the country. It is similar to any other beaches around the world Playa El Tunco in Elsalvador has plenty of things to do from surfing the waves, having picnics with family and friends, swimming and lots more. It is situated around 7km from the port la libertad and about 40km from San Salvador. The main activities people enjoy there are mainly surfing with some other social events or activities that take place during the day.

13. Los Chorros

Another famous tourist attraction of El Salvador is Los Chorros which is basically a series of various natural pools that start all the way from the spring water situated at the overhanging volcanic cliffs. This tourist attraction of El Salvador is considered such a refreshing pleasure and a dip in the pools is more than enough to prove it. It is one of the perfect spot to relax in one of the pools or to simply just enjoy a picnic.

14. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a very famous and attractive park of the county. This park has plenty of things to offer and just a right a right choice for relaxing. It features a soccer field, skating rink, picnic areas, trails, and fine samples of pre-Columbian sculptures in El Salvador. The park occupies an area of about 70 acres of land. Taking a trip along the trails will give you a glimpse of the wildlife including animals such as rabbits and sloths. If ever you get tired you can take a break in one of the outdoor cafes in the park.

15. Devil’s Doorway

This tourist attraction is called Puerta Del Diablo in the local dialect, and is extremely popular. The Devil’s Doorway is positioned approximately around 1,000 meters above sea level, which will surely give you one of the spectacular views also. Here you’ll find some of the massive rocks on the edge of a sheer drop that frames your view of the valley down below. Puerta Del Diablo is located about a kilometer south of Balboa Park.

16. Los Planes Lookout Point

Los Planes Lookout Point is one of the famous tourist attractions of the country which is located towards east of Balboa Park. This attraction of El Salvador presents some of the most beautiful scenic views. Visitors will be treated to a panoramic view of Ilopango Lake and San Salvador. The lookout itself is positioned at the top of a really deep gorge. It is just a perfect place for enjoying and indulging yourself in some of the finest food that the area’s restaurant offers.

17. National Zoo

The national zoo of El Salvador is one of the most prominent tourist attractions of the country. It is considered as the most modern zoo in the entire Central America. You will find so much do here and the animals are given homes designed to function as near to their natural habitat as possible. The National Zoo is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, ret of the days it functions from 9 am to 5pm.

18. Panchimalco Indian Village

Panchimalco Indian village is one of most popular and historic attractions of El Salvador. Here you will find plenty of amazing archaeological finds in this village. According to this discovery, the place was actually quite a significant place during the pre-Columbian times. Another interesting historical highlight here is an old church that dates back to 1725.

19. La Laguna Botanical Garden

La Laguna Botanical Garden is one of the exceptional and very beautiful gardens of El Salvador. It is simply a unique garden in El Salvador and perhaps the rest of the world. This botanical garden is located within an extinct volcano’s crater. It occupies an area of seven acres and has a lagoon in the center positioned at the very center of the crater. The slopes surrounding this garden naturally act as wind breakers. It is one of the ideal places for family picnicking.

20. David J. Gusman National Museum

David J. Gusman National Museum is among the most prominent museums of the country. It especially attracts that tourist who is interested to learn about pre-Columbian life. It is indeed one of the must see tourist attractions. The collection housed in this museum dates back from 1500 BC to around 1525 AD, which is quite extensive. You will have to pay a small admission fee to gain entrance.

21. San Salvador Volcano

San Salvador volcano is one of the unique tourist attractions of El Salvador. The volcano itself is extinct and has trails leading directly into its crater. Hiking to the top of the volcano it will give visitors great scenic views of the city of San Salvador.

22. Lago de Ilopango

The Lago de Ilopango is one of the extremely beautiful and natural attractions of the country. This lake is said to be a natural compliment to the already beautiful sceneries of this country. It’s a great place for fishing and swimming. It is also the biggest lake in the country. There are nearby picnic spots, restaurants, and shops to take care of your needs.

23. Playa de la Libertad

Punta Roca is situated approximately 40 minutes from San Salvador. Quite close to San Salvador, Punta Roca attracts surfer mainly because of the area’s fine right point breaks; a term that would only make sense to the experienced, it would be one of your memorable experiences. Here you will also find rental boards available at the beachside. If you’re not into surfing, you can sunbathe along the shores and watch amazing wipeouts. Without a doubt, Punta Roca is one of the top tourist attractions in El Salvador.

24. La Palma

La Palma is one of the most beautiful villages of El Salvador which is to be found towards north of the country, quite close to the border of Honduras. It is beautifully surrounded by mountains which offer great hiking possibilities. The village is characterized by the art of Fernando Llort, whose child-like images still represent El Salvador throughout the world. These days 75% of the population of La Palma makes a living reproducing his art, painting on anything from key rings and name tags to doors and side tables.

25. Barra de Santiago

Barra de Santiago is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the country. It is well protected reserve and a large fishing village along the country’s far western coast. The major attraction of this place is its immensely beautiful natural scenery. And the other best thing about the place is its isolation; it’s surrounded by wide, nearly deserted, sandy beaches and mangrove-filled estuaries where majestic white egrets glide low over the water.

26. Monumento a la Memoria y La Verdad

Monumento a la Memoria y la verdad is one of the famous tourist attractions of El Salvador. It was constructed during the year 2003, the ‘Monument to Memory and Truth’ exhibits the names of over 25,000 people who were killed and those who disappeared in the repression of the 1970s and the civil war. You will find a lot of popular names appear on the austere granite panels – including Roque Dalton – but it’s the number of mostly faceless men, women and children that is mainly staggering.

27. Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña

The Museo de la Revolución Salvadoreña is another most prominent museum of El Salvador. It is an excellent museum that charts the causes and course of the armed struggle with photos, posters, weapons and histories of those who served and died in action. Weapons differ from high-tech hardware to domestic bombs and mines. Behind the main building are the remains of the downed helicopter that carried Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, head of the notorious Atlacatl Battalion, to his death. Exhibits are in Spanish and English; tours of the museum are led by former guerrillas in Spanish only.

28. Parque Nacional Montecristo-el Trifinio

It is considered one of the best places in El Salvador to relax and enjoy. It is often referred as Isolated and pristine and also boasts thick cloud forest canopy, interesting orchids and plenty of wildlife. The borders of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala converge at the highest point (2418m), referred to as El Trifinio. The forest floor presents a habitat for abundant exotic plant life including mushrooms, lichens and mosses, and tree ferns up to 8m tall. It is just an ideal place for family excursions. The temperature averages between 10°C and 15°C. This is the most humid region in the country, with 2000mm annual precipitation and 100% average relative humidity.

29. Guatemala

Guatemala is another interesting place to visit in El Salvador and often referred as a magical place. If you’re into the Maya, the mountains, the markets or a million other things, you’re bound to be captivated. Here you will find plenty of things to do and see. Students of Spanish flock to Antigua, an attractive town nestled between three volcanoes, while those travelers seeking more off-the-beaten-track destinations might head to lesser known places like Lago de Izabal or Nebaj, a Maya village hidden in a remote fold of the Cuchumatanes Mountains.

30. Lago de Coatepeque

Coatepeque is just a spectacular tourist attraction of the country. It is a sparkling blue crater lake under the looming peaks of Cerro Verde, Izalco and Santa Ana. It is 6km wide and 120m deep completely surrounded by green slopes. The lake of El Salvador is a popular tourist attraction. Here you will also find a lot of hotels; you can relax and enjoy lake access at one of the hotels.

31. Museum of Modern Art

San Salvador’s Museum of Modern Art is a tiny museum but well organized and designed. The museum houses some of the finest collections and surely worth a visit. The permanent exhibit, called ‘Puntos Cardinales,’ uses the artwork of several generations of Salvadoran contemporary painters to explore features of the national consciousness. The museum is a healthy uphill walk from the anthropology museum, and sits just at the back the large Monumento a la Revolución. The museum restaurant, Punto Café, is a favorite café of both locals and tourist.

32. Alegría

Alegría is considered as the unsung gem and one of the most beautiful tows of El Salvador. It is a very attractive place with high in the mountains; in fact it is the county’s highest town with 1593m above sea level. Young artists and new businesses are infusing energy into the quaint village of philosopher Alberto Masferrer. That’s not to say it’s bohemian – on certain nights rousing fire-and-brimstone sermons rock the plaza. It was earlier known as the coffee country, but currently it is the nation’s flower-growing capital, evidenced by some 230 viveros which fill porches, fields and backyards, leaving sweet smells in the air.

33. San Miguel

San Miguel is one of the largest and popular cities of El Salvador. It is considered as the main center for the eastern half of the country. It was established during the year 1530, and still today it shows signs of Spanish influence in its colonial-style buildings and central plazas. This city has many attractive things to offer such as beautiful park areas, cathedral shopping centers etc. The market spills out of its central area onto many streets, adding some excitement to the active city.

34. Joya de Caren

Previously Joya de Cerén was a farming village which got entirely buried by volcanic ash from the eruption of the Loma Caldera volcano around 600 A.D. locations in this area are quite little, here were too many earthquakes to build big cities or tall temples. The site is interesting because the ash preserved everything. The people seem to have escaped, but they left all their stuff behind. It was discovered in 1976 when the supervisor of a construction project noticed that the ash didn’t scoop up easily. He stopped the bulldozers and contacted the archaeology authorities. Joya de Cerén is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only about 5% of it has been excavated so far. Here you find some different types of houses, storage areas, and a sweat lodge. One of the houses has a stone bed.

35. Apaneca

The village of Apaneca is a charming town of cobblestone streets, old colonial houses with the background of the coffee plantations. Walk the streets and enjoy the fresh air. Though, it is a small town of El Salvador but a great place to enjoy your tour. The town is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

36. Los Cóbanos

Los Cobanos is quite famous among tourist for some of its finest beaches; you can enjoy yourself at the beach and its isolated atmosphere. Here you can also indulge yourself in various water sports and can find some of the best sea food. If you are interested in snorkeling, diving and other water activities such as surfing, kayaking and windsurfing, then this place is just good for you.

37. Tazumal

Tazumal is a Pre-Columbian Maya archeological spot in Chalchuapa. The meaning of Tazumal is “the place where the victims were burned,” in K’iche’. It is one of the most prominent places ot visit in El Salvador.The remains of Tazumal are considered the most significant and best preserved in El Salvador. The items you found at Tazumal give enough proof of ancient and active trade between Tazumal and places as far away as Panama and Mexico.

38. Fiestas Patronales

One of the best things that everyone enjoys as a special activity, in El Salvador was to attend the local Fiestas Patronales. Depending upon the wealth, size and religiosity of the community the festival might include any of the following, carnival rides, vendors of hand made items and confections, live bands, carousing, dancing in the streets, folkloric acts particular to the region. A parade with Queen of the Festival elected from the many beautiful young women perched on their “Carrosas” (floats).

39. Playa El Majahual

Playa El Majahual is one of the beautiful places to visit in El Salvador. This busy village of the country is a top El Salvador traveler destination. While Playa El Majahual isn’t that popular but you will find some attractive things to here. Its sands are vast, and there’s always something to do in or around the water.

40. Costa del Sol

It is said that a lot of El Salvador’s luxury travelers head to Costa del Sol, a long, straight strip of beige sand lined with oceanfront villas, vacation rentals, and upscale beach homes. It is indeed one of the most sought after beach destination of the county. This region of the country actually includes three distinct El Salvador beaches: Costa del Sol, San Marcelino, and Los Blancos.

41. Playa El Sunzal

Play El Sunzal is one of the fascinating tourist destinations of El Salvador that is situated in the La Libertad department, tranquil El Salvador beach El Sunzal, often referred as El Zunzal is fairly striking, with black, glittering sands. El Sunzal’s waves range from rough to mild; ask around to learn which breaks is the best bet for novice surfers. It is considered one of the ideal places to enjoy with the entire family.

42. Plaza de Vázquez Molina

The Plaza de Vazquez Molina is one of the major attractions of El Salvador. You will notice that the best building in Úbeda’s Plaza de Vázquez Molina is the Renaissance church of El Salvador towards the northeast side. It was constructed during the 1st half of the 16th century to the design of Diego de Siloé and Andrés de Vandelvira. The west front with its rich sculptural decoration is flanked by two low round towers. It is really amazing to watch it.

43. Playa El Espino

Playa El Espino is another popular beach destination of the country. It is a wide, beautiful beach that is splendidly isolated on weekdays and alive with beachgoers on weekends, Playa El Espino is gaining a reputation as one of El Salvador’s best places to relax and enjoy the sun, sea, and sand.

44. Playa El Tunco

Another fainting and popular beach destination of the country is El Tunco that is named for a rocky protrusion out at sea, is a further dark-sand El Salvador beach in the La Libertad department. The often intense breaks attract many El Salvador surfers, while the beach town is a haven for budget travelers. At lower prices you will get full thorough enjoyment.

45. San Pablo

San Pablo is one of the most interesting tourist attractions of El Salvador; you will find it towards the north of Plaza Vázquez de Molina in Úbeda, in Plaza 1 de Mayo, is the church of San Pablo, constructed at the time of the Reconquista, with an apse of 1380. The major doorway of this building still shows Romanesque features; the south doorway is Isabelline. Set into the outside wall is a fountain of 1559. The major attraction of the interior is the Plateresque Capilla Del Camarero Vago.

46. Playa Maculis

Playa Maculis is considered as one of the hidden gems of El Salvador. It is a very private 1.5km-long which is in crescent-shaped beach that is dotted with lot of trees, one of the spectacular beaches to visit and enjoy. At either end, two rocky points protrude out into the sea. This protects the waters from the lateral current that can be so dangerous on the El Salvadoran coast.

47. Museo de Arte

Museo de Arte is one of the interesting museums to be found in San Salvador. This museum of rotating and permanent reveals visitors an insightful, visual glimpse into the character of the country. Exceptionally interesting is the art of the country’s civil war period, it is very amazing to watch this spectacular artifacts of the museum. It also features the popular towering stone mosaic “Monument to the Revolution,” which depicts a naked man whose outstretched arms are thought to symbolize freedom and liberty.

48. Ataco

Ataco is one of the beautiful towns of El Salvador. It is said that unusual fresco set the tone for a town that boasts an artistic style and vibe you won’t find elsewhere in the country. Ataco is an unmissable stop while exploring the hilltop villages of the Ruta de las Flores in western El Salvador.

49. Towns of Perquin and Mozote

You will surely love these towns that have lot of historical significance. You will get an opportunity to get to know the insight of the troubled history of this complex nation. Perquín is a small town tucked into the high eastern mountains, which formed the base of the people’s FMLN organization during the civil war. Located near to the village of Mozote was the location of one of Latin America’s worst modern wartime atrocities; the square and church now feature the well-known Mozote memorial and the names of the townspeople who were killed.

50. Where to buy?

Mercado Nacional de Artesanías is one of the popular shopping destinations of El Salvador. Here you will find long rows of vendors sell exceptionally good hammocks, textiles, ceramics, and decorative crafts from artisans around El Salvador. The quality of the art and crafts is high, and the prices aren’t bad in what is the capital’s best handicrafts market.

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