City of Santa Ana El Salvador. A Place With Historical Landmarks, Eco-Tourism, and Modern Comforts

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on Nov 4th, 2023
City of Santa Ana El SalvadorSanta Ana City in El Salvador. Image by Marilyn.

The city of Santa Ana in western El Salvador is the second-largest in the country; it is the capital of the coffee-producing department of Santa Ana. Santa Ana City, also known as La Ciudad Morena (The Brown City,) is about 60 kilometers northwest of the country’s capital, San Salvador.

Santa Ana boasts some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the country; it is also near some of the country’s most exceptional archaeological sites.

La Ciudad Morena is the perfect city for those looking for a town with a fascinating history, great local traditions, plenty of activities, iconic buildings, a charming historic district, and excellent shopping.

City of Santa Ana in El Salvador
Downtown Santa Ana.

Is Santa Ana safe?

Safety in Santa Ana was a concern for residents and visitors due to the country’s history of gang violence. However, recent efforts by authorities have led to improvements in security, making the city a more stable and promising environment.

Santa Ana is just like many cities in the country and Central America; it has safe areas and areas considered unsafe to visit or reside in. Visitors should use common sense and plan when traveling to this city.

As of the end of February 2024, there has not been a single homicide in the city of Santa Ana; this is good for both tourists and residents.

Santa Ana Homicide Rate
2021 2022 2023 Change
Homicides 29 30 9 -21
Homicides per 100,000 Inhabitants 11.50 11.95 3.6 -8.4

Although security has improved in El Salvador, which includes the city of Santa Ana, being safe in Santa Ana is all about using common sense, planning, and following safety recommendations.

SEE ALSO: Is El Salvador Safe to Visit? A Comprehensive Safety Guide for Travelers

Santa Ana’s Tourism

Santa Ana, El Salvador, offers a rich tourism experience with its captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Visitors can hike the Santa Ana Volcano, explore historic sites like the Santa Ana Cathedral, and savor local cuisine.

Santa Ana is ideally located near some of the top tourist destinations in the country, making it an enticing destination for travelers seeking both adventure and cultural immersion.

While the city is an excellent destination to explore, its activities can typically be enjoyed within a day or two. As a result, many visitors use the town as a central hub, embarking on day trips to nearby tourist attractions.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Tourism. What to do in El Salvador

Things to do in Santa Ana

The top things to do in Santa Ana include visiting the Santa Ana historic downtown, shopping, and strolling around the city. In the downtown area, visitors can find the iconic Cathedral of Santa Ana, the National Theater, and other well-known buildings.

Visit the Santa Ana Cathedral

One of the most visited iconic buildings in the city of Santa Ana is the Cathedral of Our Lady Saint Anne, or La Catedral de la Señora Santa Ana in Spanish.

This cathedral, built in 1575, was destroyed by lightning in the late 19th century and rebuilt between 1906 and 1959.

People visit this cathedral for religious purposes or to admire the incredible neo-gothic architectural design. This cathedral is one of the best churches in El Salvador to visit.

The Santa Ana Cathedral in El Salvador
The Santa Ana Cathedral in El Salvador. Image by Morena Valdez.

SEE ALSO: The Santa Ana Cathedral in El Salvador. Impressive Neo-Gothic Church

When visiting the City of Santa Ana, stop and appreciate the church’s beauty and explore its history. The cathedral is conveniently located in the city’s downtown district.

Explore the Santa Ana Historic District

The Historic Center of the City of Santa Ana is the cultural and historical epicenter of the city; it is the original point from where the town’s expansion began.

The Historic District has a style designed for a Spanish colonial city. It is in the downtown area with the customary plaza, church, and governmental offices. The downtown area is home to Liberty Park, the iconic cathedral, the theater, and the mayor’s office.

Santa Ana’s historic district is a beautiful area to visit and learn about the city’s history, as well as the history of the county.

Visit the Santa Ana Theater

The Santa Ana Theater stands as a splendid testament to the city’s architectural heritage. This historic venue, with its intricate design and elegant interior, provides a captivating setting for various artistic performances and events, offering a glimpse into the city’s cultural history.

Constructed in 1912 with a neoclassic French-style layout, the theater’s architectural design is impressive. The building construction was paid for with funds collected by taxing coffee growers in the Santa Ana region.

When visiting the city of Santa Ana, you should look at the theater architecture and learn about its history; furthermore, see if there is a play showing that you might like.

City of Santa Ana El Salvador
Santa Ana theater. Image by Alcaldia.

Stroll Around the City of Santa Ana

Strolling around the city is a great way to get to know the town and the local culture; you can visit museums, go shopping, visit the markets, and much more.

While strolling the city, you can stop at local museums such as The Museum of Human Anatomy or the Western Regional Museum; they are small but have excellent displays.

Walking throughout the city is the thing to do if you want to experience local culture at its best.


The city of Sant Ana is excellent for shopping, that can be done at the big stores located at the shopping mall or at the local markets.

Visitors can stroll into the local markets and experience the local culture; however, local markets are not for everyone. Some people don’t like the chaos of these markets, while others think it is a charming cultural activity.

If you are looking for formal shopping, visit Metrocentro Mall, a large shopping mall located at the city’s entrance.

Things to do Near the City of Santa Ana El Salvador

As I previously mentioned, Santa Ana is an ideal city to use as a tourist base of operation; you can stay here and take day trips to nearby popular tourist destinations. The following are some of the most suitable destinations to visit from the city of Santa Ana.

Hike the Santa Ana or Izalco Volcano

The Santa Ana and Izalco volcanoes are located within two hours of Santa Ana city, in the Los Volcanoes National Park. They are two of the most attractive volcanoes in the country for hiking to the summit.

SEE ALSO: Exploring Volcanoes in El Salvador: A Journey Through the Land of Volcanoes

National Park Cerro Verde
Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano. – Flickr image by Erik Cleves Kristensen.CC BY 2.0

From the volcano’s summit, you will get iconic views of the other two volcanos in Cerro Verde National Park, the surrounding areas, and the Coatepeque Lake.

Visiting these volcanoes is so popular that every tour company has hiking these volcanoes as a top thing to do while visiting El Salvador.

Explore Archaeological Sites

The top archaeological sites in the country are near the city of Santa Ana. Sites like San Andres, Joya de Ceren, Tazumal, and Casa Blanca are within two hours of the town; these are the best archaeological sites in El Salvador.

SEE ALSO: Best Mayan Ruins in El Salvador: Exploring the Mayan Pyramids in El Salvador

Mayan Ruins in El Salvador
Tazumal Mayan Ruins.

Visit Coatepeque Lake

Coatepeque Lake is another fantastic tourist destination in the country that is near the city of Santa Ana. This extensive volcanic caldera was once a sacred site for the ancient Maya civilization. Now, Coatepeque is a top tourist destination visited by local and foreign tourists.

Visit the Small Colorful Towns

The Santa Ana city is near some of the best small towns in the country. These small cities have a deep-rooted history dating back to colonial times; they offer great touristy activities, for example, Juayua.

Juayua is a famous town in La Ruta de Las Flores; this small city is well-known for its weekend food festivals, ecotourism, and coffee plantations. Even though the municipality of Juayua is in a different department, it’s easy to get to from the city of Santa Ana.

Other small towns worth exploring in the Santa Ana region are Nahuizalco, Salcoatitan, Apaneca, Concepcion de Ataco, and Achuachapan.

Some visitors or locals take day trips to Juayua or other nearby small towns to enjoy what they offer, especially on the weekends.

SEE ALSO: Best Small Towns in El Salvador to Visit Anytime

Best small towns in El Salvador
Juayua in Sonsonate El Salvador.

The Santa Ana July Festivities

The Santa Ana July festivities are celebrated yearly in the last two weeks of July; the celebrations honor Our Lady of Santa Ana, the patron saint of the city.

These July festivities are among the top celebrations in the country. The activities held during these weeks are mainly religious. However, it also includes other events such as live music, gastronomy, parades, dances, and many others.

The July festivities in Santa Ana, El Salvador, are a vibrant celebration that beautifully encapsulates the city’s culture and traditions.

This annual event brings people together, fostering a strong sense of community and pride while showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of this captivating city and the region.

SEE ALSO: July Festivities in Santa Ana El Salvador. Get to know them today!

July Festivities in Santa Ana El Salvador
Santa Ana July Celebrations.

Santa Ana’s History

The history of Santa Ana, El Salvador, is a tale of resilience and transformation. Founded by Spanish colonizers, the city has undergone significant changes over the centuries.

Spanish conquered the Santa Ana region between 1530 and 1540, and in 1569, they gave it the name of Santa Ana, La Grande.

Santa Ana received the title of town around 1812. However, it was not until 1824 that it received the title was changed to city.

In 1824, Santa Ana became part of the Department of Sonsonate; subsequently, in 1835, it became the department’s head city or capital. Then, in 1855, authorities created the department of Santa Ana, and the city became its capital.

Initially, Santa Ana was a small indigenous settlement, then it became a thriving agricultural hub during the 19th century, thanks primarily to coffee production from the nearby volcano land.

This economic boom brought prosperity and led to the construction of remarkable architectural landmarks, like the Santa Ana Cathedral and the Santa Ana Theater.

Today, Santa Ana is a blend of its rich past and evolving future, making it a captivating destination for tourists and a symbol of resilience for its people.

Santa Ana’s Economy

The economy of the city of Santa Ana is diverse and multifaceted. Traditionally, agriculture played a pivotal role, with coffee production being a principal driver.

However, the city changed and diversified its economic base, with manufacturing and trade gaining prominence. Santa Ana businesses focus on textiles, plastics, and various products for domestic and international markets.

The retail industry is a big part of the Santa Ana economy, especially in the southern part of the city; here, you will find restaurants, retail shops, hotels, banks, and local markets. Additionally, Metrocentro, a large shopping plaza, is located here, and so is Walmart.

The tourist industry also plays a significant role in the local economy; Santa Ana is a hub for local and international tourists. Visitors spend time exploring the city and other nearby tourist spots.

The city’s strategic location along major transportation routes has facilitated commercial activities in addition to tourism.

These economic shifts have not only improved job opportunities but have also bolstered the city’s resilience in the face of changing global markets, making Santa Ana a hub of commerce and industry in El Salvador.

The City of Santa Ana El Salvador

The city of Santa Ana in El Salvador embodies a rich tapestry of history, culture, and economic transformation. From its colonial roots to its modern diversification, it is a resilient and dynamic urban center, offering a glimpse into the nation’s past and future.

Santa Ana in El Salvador is a city with excellent traditions and history; for that reason, many people visit this city every year. The same customs and history that attract visitors also make it an ideal city to live in.