Exploring Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador: A Colorful Town in Ahuachapan

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Aug 14th, 2022
Concepcion de Ataco El SalvadorConcepcion de Ataco El Salvador.

Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador is a colorful mountain town located in the department of Ahuachapan. It sits at over 1000 meters above sea level, and it has an area of 61 square kilometers.

The town of Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador is one of the most visited small cities in the country; one of the main reasons is that it is part of the famous Ruta de Las Flores touristic route.

Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador
Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador.

Pipil Indians founded Ataco in the Apaneca mountain range during Pre-Columbian times. The name Ataco in the old Nahuatl language translates to “Place of Elevated Springs:”

Ataco is at a high elevation. The area enjoys a colder climate with dense vegetation; this land is ideal for growing some of the best coffees in El Salvador.

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Concepcion de Ataco Tourism

The town Concepcion de Ataco in El Salvador is one of the most picturesque, intriguing, and colorful places in the entire country worth visiting.

The town has plenty of things to see and do to keep visitors entertained for days. The cobbled stone streets are a reminder of the town’s colonial heritage. Ataco protects and maintains alive its indigenous culture.

What to do and see in Ataco

The most popular things to do and see in Concepcion de Ataco are exploring the colorful murals, visiting the central park with the church, and buying local crafts.

Other popular activities in Ataco include visiting the many viewpoints, such as La Cruz del Cielito Lindo that overlooks the town.

Visitors can also venture into the Atzumpa swimming pools, the Santa Teresa thermal pools, and visit the Don Juan waterfall.

Concepcion de Ataco Murals

The small colorful town of Ataco is popular with local and foreign tourists for many reasons; one of those reasons is the colorful murals visible all over town.

Concepcion de Ataco is well-known for the creative pieces of art decorating most of the homes, shops, restaurants, and businesses in town.

Ataco Mural
Ataco El Salvador Mural.

These colorful local artistic expressions show scenes of Salvadoran folklore, typical landscapes, and iconic figures.

The murals describe how life is lived in rural communities and during colonial times. Other murals display religious objects or ceremonies, animals, and the area’s landscape.

The murals decorating houses and shops give the town a more colorful look. Murals also show the local culture that dates back to colonial times.

Murals in Concepcion de Ataco
Ataco El Salvador. Photo by El Salvador en Fotos

Stroll the Central Park

Ataco, just like many small towns in El Salvador, has the same layout; the downtown area has a church, in front of the church is the municipal park, and around the park are some of the local governmental offices.

You can enjoy and appreciate this town even more just by strolling around the downtown area. Here, you can visit the church, shop at the small stores, or hang out at the local park with the locals.

Visit the downtown area late and the afternoon; see how the locals relax after a working day. You can just sit at a local coffee shop, taste the local brew with a locally made dessert, and soak in the local culture.

Strolling around this park is a fun activity to do while visiting. The park gets more colorful late in the afternoon, at night, and on the weekends.

Shop for Crafts

When visiting Ataco, stop by the arts and crafts shops, spend some money, and support the local economy.

At the colorful craft stores in Ataco, you can buy a wide variety of ornaments, sculptures, embroidery, fabrics, keyrings, coffee cups, and more. These crafts are great as presents for family and friends or for personal use.

The best area to find crafts is around the central park or the nearby local market. Also, you can visit the lever looms stores and see their textile-making technique.

Concepcion de Ataco Local Market.
Concepcion de Ataco Local Market. Photo by Sammiethedeadrat

Visit La Cruz del Cielito Lindo Viewpoint

El Mirador de La Cruz’s viewpoint is located on the outskirts of the town of Ataco. La Cruz del Cielito Lindo viewpoint is from where you can see the entire city of Ataco from a high altitude.

This viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the town; you can see the church, hotels, and houses. If you visit at sunset, it looks better with all the lights.

The La Cruz del Cielito Lindo viewpoint is easy to see from the center of town due to the large white cross that crowns the hill on which it is located.

The viewpoint can be reached by car or on foot in about fifteen minutes from the town square.

La Cruz del Cielito Lindo
View of Ataco from La Cruz del Cielito Lindo viewpoint.

Visit Other Viewpoints in Ataco

Concepcion de Ataco is a colonial town located at a high altitude surrounded by many hills. The Municipality has other impressive viewpoints worth exploring.

The Mirador Divina Providencia allows visitors to appreciate the incredible views of the Laguna El Espino and the City of Ahuachapan.

The Plaza Mirador Pio Pietrelcina offers an impressive view of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range.

From the Helvetia Viewpoint, visitors can see the Port of Acajutla and the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Other Ataco Attractions

Other popular attractions in Ataco are the Atzumpa’’ pools, the Don Juan waterfalls, and the Santa Teresa hot springs.

The Atzumpa’s Pools have crystalline waters from a natural spring from the mountains. The water in this place is cold and mainly visited by locals.

The Cascadas de Don Juan is a waterfall that flows 35 meters high and is in the municipality of Jujutla. This waterfall is right off the roads that go from Apaneca to Ataco.

The Santa Teresa hot springs are located between Ataco and the city of Ahuachapan. It is a resort and Thermal Spa, with a Hotel, restaurants, and an exclusive spa for relaxation.

Ataco’s Patron Saint Festivities

The patron saint festivities of Concepcion de Ataco are celebrated from December 11th to 14th in honor of its patron, the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

During these celebrations, the municipality gets even more popular. In addition to all the religious events, there is a fair, games, music events, and many other activities.

Lantern Festival or Fiesta de los Farolillos

Ataco also celebrates the traditional Fiesta de Los Farolitos or Lantern Festival on September 7th. This festivity is celebrated alongside the cities of Ahuachapan and Apaneca.

Ataco’s Lantern Festival is a tradition that has remained alive for over 200 years. On this day, all the streets of Ataco are decorated with colored lanterns.

Concepcion de Ataco Coffee

Ataco is right in the middle of the best coffee-growing areas in the country. Some of the best types of coffee in El Salvador come from the mountain areas around Concepcion de Ataco.

In Ataco, you can visit one of the coffee farms located nearby and see what it takes to make a cup of coffee. Most of these coffee farms have tours that will let you explore the plantations, view the coffee-making process, and taste the product.

Now, if you cannot make it to a coffee farm, you can try a cup of locally grown coffee at the many small restaurants of coffee shops in town.

Ataco El Salvador
Mural in Ataco El Salvador.

Ataco’s Gastronomy

Concepcion de Ataco has a vast array of restaurants that serve some of the best Salvadoran foods; but, they also offer their tasty local dishes.

Ataco takes pride in its gastronomy; you can experience it on the weekends at the food festival that takes place at the local park in front of the church.

If you are visiting during the weekdays, you can taste it at the many local restaurants. The gastronomy of this town alone is a good reason to visit.

Concepcion de Ataco Accomodations

To better know what Ataco has to offer is to spend at least one night in this colorful town. Here are some options.

The hotels listed above are a few options. Concepcion de Ataco has many other options.

Concepcion de Ataco History

According to historians, the origin of this city is pre-Columbian; it is believed that the Yankee or Pipil Indians settled in the center of the Apaneca mountain range and created the first town.

In the Nahuatl indigenous language, the Ataco name means “Place of high springs.”

Concepción de Ataco was founded in 1543. First, it belonged to the department of Sonsonate until 1832, when it was affixed to the department of Ahuachapan.

However, in 1855 Ataco was transferred again to a new department, Santa Ana. Until, finally, it returned to the department of Ahuachapan in 1869, where it remains today.

Ataco’s Economy

The municipality of Concepción de Ataco has extensive coffee production, like many of the other towns in the Apaneca mountain range.

However, its economic activity is not based solely on the production of coffee beans. Ataco also has a strong textile and excellent tourism industry.

The commerce and service industry is also substantial in this municipality. Throughout the urban part of Ataco, you will find several shops with artisan products made by local artists.

Additionally, Ataco’s service industry has cafes, restaurants, and hotels that accommodate the local and foreign tourists that visit the city every year.

Colonial Town
Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador. Photo by Yanice

Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador

Concepcion de Ataco El Salvador is a colorful mountain town; it has a great climate and plenty of activities to keep anyone busy. So, if you ever get the chance, visit this town and enjoy everything it has to offer.