San Salvador, El Salvador Capital City, a great place to visit or call home!

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Mar 16th, 2023
San Salvador El Salvador capital city.San Salvador at night.

San Salvador, El Salvador capital city, is the largest city in the country; it sits in the Valley of the hammocks in the San Salvador department, with the iconic San Salvador volcano as a backdrop.

The capital city of El Salvador is the largest urban area in the country, great for visiting or taking up residence.

San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, is the country’s political, cultural, educational, and financial epicenter; it is a modern city with narrow streets, outdoor markets, government buildings, monuments, museums, iconic historic plazas, and high-spirited nightlife.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Tourism: A Journey Through Pristine Beaches, Colorful Towns, and Enchanting Parks

Tourism to El Salvador Capital City

The capital city of El Salvador is a great city to visit for a few days or an entire trip. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city; furthermore, some of the best tourist destinations in the country are in the city or nearby.

If you visit for a few days, you can experience Salvadoran culture and history at its best. For example, you can explore the San Salvador historic district, hang out at one of the iconic plazas, visit a museum, or visit a local market and try traditional cuisine or street foods.

The historic district is the cultural epicenter of the capital city; here, visitors will find iconic buildings such as the National Palace and the National Theater. They will also find the National Cathedral and the El Rosario church, two of the best churches in El Salvador.

Many visitors stay in San Salvador the entire trip making it their base of operations. The capital of El Salvador is centrally located; visitors can take day trips to nearby top-notch tourist attractions, which are less than two hours away.

San Salvador historic downtown
San Salvador historic center. Image by Ministerio de Turismo.

Is it safe to visit the Capital City of El Salvador?

San Salvador, El Salvador capital city, is safe for tourists to visit and explore; safety in the capital city has improved drastically over the last four years.

Previously, the capital city was regarded as a hazardous area to visit, but not anymore. As of 2020, San Salvador is no longer one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In Fact, in 2022, San Salvador was not even in the top ten most dangerous places in the country.

Over the last two years, crime in San Salvador and the entire country has declined drastically, especially the homicide rate, which was a significant concern for visitors to the capital city.

The current administration of Maror Mario Duran has made security in the nation’s capital a top priority, especially in tourist locations.

Nowadays, people visit San Salvador or walk around with little concern about security; police personnel and security forces are visible all over the city.

San Salvador is similar to other big cities in Central America or the United States. Some areas are deemed safe for tourism, and others are recommended not to visit. Therefore, use common sense when visiting!

San Salvador the capital city of El Salvador
Downtown San Salvador. Image by @alcaldia_ss
Downtown San Salvador
San Salvador. Image by @alcaldia_ss

Places to visit in El Salvador’s capital city

There are plenty of places to visit in the capital city of El Salvador; one day is not enough to explore everything the city has to offer. A must-see location to explore is the San Salvador historic district. Here is where the capital city began.

The downtown area has historic buildings such as the National Palace and the national theater; also beautiful plazas, and unique churches such as the El Rosario church and the San Salvador Cathedral.

The National Palace is worth visiting! This building is a big part of Salvadoran history; it housed all the branches of the Salvadoran government for most of the 1900s. The building has beautiful architecture and displays some historical artifacts.

Visitors can also go shopping for some local arts and crafts and enjoy the nightlife. Furthermore, there is plenty of nightlife available in the nation’s capital.

SEE ALSO: Top 15 things to do in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador

San Salvador El Salvador capital city
San Salvador. Image by MITUR

Accommodations in the capital city of El Salvador

The capital city of El Salvador has plenty of hotels and hostels to accommodate all types of visitors. The budget and the desired lodging area will determine the cost.

For one thing, budget travelers can find hostels or private rooms, in a safe area, for about $30 per night. For safety reasons, always research and read reviews about the hostel or private home you plan to stay in.

On the other hand, if budget is not an issue, you will find top-of-the-line hotels that will cost you over $200 per night. These hotels are in the city’s most wealthy areas, with some of the best restaurants and shopping malls.

Getting Around El Salvador’s capital city

The options available to get around the capital city of El Salvador are taxis, uber’s, public transportation, private shuttles, walking, and driving; it is up to you which one to use. The location where you are staying and your destination will help narrow down the options.

For any destinations near you, you should walk or take the bus. By all means, take a taxi or uber if you want to be more comfortable during the journey.

For faraway destinations, it is better to take a private shuttle; the ride will be more comfortable as you will get a guide that knows the area, and you will not have to deal with driving in El Salvador.

These are only suggestions; in the end, you are the one who will decide on what is the better option for you to get around. Also, ask the hotel staff about getting around the city; they might suggest something different or even provide you with transportation.

Traffic in San Salvador El Salvador Capital city
San Salvador traffic. Image by @alertux

Guided Tours El Salvador capital city

The best option to explore the capital city of El Salvador is to do it with a guided tour. These tours are available from popular colorful towns and most Salvadoran beaches.

Salvadoran tour companies have different guided tours to the Nation’s capital. Most guided packages include historical sites, shopping, and tasting the local gastronomy.

But other packages might include other activities like hiking the San Salvador volcano or visiting the Ilopango lake. When planning a visit to the Nation’s capital, talk to a tour company and see what they recommend.

Taking a guided tour of San Salvador is highly recommended. It might be more expensive, over $50.00 per person, but you will see more in a shorter period.

Living in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador.

Why not live in El Salvador’s capital city? Yes, San Salvador has issues similar to other large urban cities in Latin America, but it is still a great city to call home. It has an excellent culture with plenty of activity options. It is also the country’s cultural, political, educational, and financial epicenter.

Where to Live in San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital city

Some of the best areas to live in the capital city of El Salvador are Santa Elena, Colonia Escalon, San Benito, Colonia Maquilishuat, and Cumbres de Cuscatlan; these are just some of them, and there are plenty more!

The areas mentioned above are some of the most exclusive in the city; therefore, the cost of renting or buying there is high. But don’t worry about it. The capital city has plenty of less expensive options available.

Look at the following website, “Salvadoran real estate,” and get an idea of what rentals go for in the city.

It is hard to take a position on where to live in San Salvador or the best places to live; there are just too many factors to consider.

For example, if you are moving alone, some factors might be, do you want to live in a trendy area or not. Do you have a car or plan to take public transportation? Are you on a budget? These are just some things that will impact your decision on where to live in San Salvador.

If you are moving with a family, things change as there are more factors to consider, such as a kid’s education, family safety, and family activities.

The choices of where to live in San Salvador are vast; each individual or family will have their criteria about what they are looking for. However, when choosing a place to live in El Salvador, it is best to talk to a realtor. A real estate agent will help narrow down the choices.

San Salvador El Salvador capital city
the Capital city of El Salvador.

Is it dangerous to live in the capital city of El Salvador?

It is not dangerous to live in El Salvador’s capital city; however, just like other big cities in Central America, it has areas considered unsafe. San Salvador had one of the highest crime rates in Latin America; however, that has changed in the last five years.

Speculating how dangerous the Capital city would be to you just by looking at crime statistics is a bad idea. The crime statistics will not give you a clear picture of safety. It does not consider things such as the location you will be living in and transportation.

The following three things could show you how dangerous the city will be to you, residence location, mode of transportation, and lifestyle.

When it comes to safety, choosing the right community to live in is a big step in the right direction. Before choosing a location to move to, find out everything about the area.

How you are going to be moving around is the next step. If you plan to drive, making sure your house has a safe parking space will be your biggest worry.

If you plan to take public transportation, you will need to worry about the bus route and the areas it travels to before your final destination.

Lastly, your lifestyle has a big impact on safety; if you live a calm life and don’t take crazy chances, the city will not be as dangerous. On the other hand, if you do drugs and go out drinking often, you will put yourself in more challenging situations. I am in no way judging the lifestyle of anyone; it is just an honest observation.

If you analyze the three items listed above (living location, transportation, and lifestyle), follow safety recommendations, and use common sense, the capital city of El Salvador will not be dangerous to you.

How Expensive is it to Live in San Salvador?

The city of San Salvador is the most expensive urban area in the country. The estimated cost of living in the Capital city is $500 to $1,000 for a single person without rent. For a family of four, the cost ranges from $1,000 to $2000, without rent.

The cost of living in San Salvador fluctuates depending on a person’s lifestyle and mode of transportation. The following could give you an idea of how much it costs to live in the capital city.

Housing Cost in San Salvador

Just like in any other big city, housing is the most significant expense. In San Salvador, you can find furnished studios or apartments for rent beginning at $300 in safe areas on the low end. On the higher end, you will find apartments or homes to rent for $1,000.

By all means, these amounts are not set in stone, some places will run you as low as $200 per month, and upscale rentals will cost you upwards of $1,500 per month.

Food Cost in San Salvador

Food is another significant expense in the capital; on the low end, you can live on $200 per month per person and go as high as you can afford. This cost has increased in 2023 as inflation has gone up and has affected the Salvadoran basic food basket.

To give you an idea about the lunch cost, it is about $4.00, including a drink at a typical small place. And a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant (Big Mac Meal or similar) is about $7.50.

Groceries are available at supermarkets and local markets all over; prices at the supermarket are always higher. I will not list any item’s cost here as they change often, but if you want to see current prices click here and see for yourself.

Schools, Universities, and Government Offices

Living in the capital city is ideal; the city is the hub of the entire country. If you have kids and need to attend school or university, the best in the country are in the area. Also, if you want to learn another language or improve your Spanish, some of the best language schools are in the capital city.

Suppose you have issues with your passport or need your home country’s embassy for something. In that case, if your country has an embassy in El Salvador, it will be located in the capital city or nearby.

If you need to deal with Salvadoran government offices for whatever reason, you don’t need to go far; the main offices will be in this city.

Living in El Salvador Capital

San Salvador is centrally located and the hub for the entire country; it is a great large city to call home. Yes, even with all its problems, the culture is excellent, the activities are plentiful, and the people are friendly.

San Salvador has had a bad reputation worldwide, but the city is more than what many news outlets show. San Salvador is not as dangerous anymore!

So, if you are looking to move to Central America, take a look at El Salvador and the other best places to live in El Salvador.

Great panoramic view
Aerial view of SS.

San Salvador, the Capital of El Salvador

To summarize, San Salvador is excellent for spending time as a tourist or making it your permanent home. Diverse cuisine options, great shopping, and outstanding nightlife make it more appealing. Furthermore, museums, historic churches, well-known plazas, and iconic buildings add to the city’s charm. Take a chance and visit San Salvador or move to it!