Santa Ana El Salvador. A City with Excellent History and Traditions

City of Santa Ana El Salvador
City of Santa Ana El Salvador. Image source Marilyn

The city of Santa Ana in El Salvador is the second-largest in the country; it plays a significant role in the nation’s economy and tourism.

Santa Ana’s retail and manufacturing industries are of great importance to the Salvadoran economy. Also, some of the best tourist spots in the country are in the city or nearby.

Santa Ana is the capital city of the department of Santa Ana. The city is located on a plateau at an altitude of 665 meters above sea level and 40 miles from the nation’s capital, San Salvador.

City of Santa Ana in El Salvador
Santa Ana in El Salvador

Santa Ana in El Salvador is the perfect city for those looking for a town with a fascinating history, great local traditions, and plenty of activities. It also has iconic buildings, a charming historic district, and excellent shopping.

With everything that the city offers, there is no wonder why Santa Ana is an attractive city to visit and a great place to live in.

Is Santa Ana safe?

Santa Ana is deemed a safe city in El Salvador. However, that doesn’t mean that visitors or residents can be careless and not worry about safety at all.

Santa Ana is just like many cities in the country and in Central America; it has safe areas and areas considered unsafe to visit or reside in.

Visitors should use common sense and plan ahead when traveling to this city. Visitors should outline where to stay, how to move around, and what to do and see.

Being safe in Santa Ana or El Salvador is all about using common sense, planning ahead, and following safety recommendations.

Santa Ana’s Tourism

Santa Ana is a popular destination for local and foreign tourists; particularly, those who want to learn about Salvadoran culture.

Santa Ana is ideally located in the middle of some of the top tourist destinations in the country. The city of Santa Ana is a great city to visit; however, the activities in the city can be done in a day or two.

Therefore, most people visiting the town use it as a base of operations. They spend time exploring the city and take day trips to other touristic spots nearby.

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 Santa Ana in Spanish.

The Santa Ana Cathedral was built around 1575. The Cathedral was destroyed by lighting at the end of the 19th century. It was then rebuilt from 1906 to 1959.

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

When visiting the City of Santa Ana, you definitely need to stop and appreciate the church’s beauty and history.

Cathedral of Santa Ana
Santa Ana Cathedral.

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.

Santa Ana’s Historic District

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

The Historic District was designed in the style of a Spanish colonial city. It is located in the downtown area with a plaza, a 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 history of the city and the county.

Visit the Santa Ana Theater

The Santa Ana theater is another iconic building in the city of Santa Ana that should be visited.

This neoclassic French-style theater was built in 1912 with funds collected by taxing coffee growers in the area. The theater’s entire architectural design is impressive.

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

City of Santa Ana in El Salvador
City of Santa Ana in El Salvador at night.

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; it 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 base of operation; you can stay here and take day trips to popular touristic destinations that are nearby. These are the most suitable destinations to visit from Santa Ana.

Hike the Santa Ana or Izalco Volcano

The Santa Ana and Izalco volcano are located within two hours of Santa Ana city. They are by far the most attractive volcanoes in the country when it comes to hiking to the summit.

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 in the country. Also, it’s impossible to hike both volcanoes on the same day, even though they are near each other.

Cerro Verde National Park
Lookout area at Cerro Verde National Park.

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 city. To learn more about all archeological sites in El Salvador, visit our page, Mayan Ruins in El Salvador.

Visit Coatepeque Lake

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

Juayua and other towns in La Ruta de Las Flores.

The city of Juayua other towns in La Ruta de Las Fores are accessible from the City of Santa Ana.

Santa Lucia Church
Santa Lucia church in Juayua.

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

Some visitors or locals take day trips to Juayua and enjoy what the small town has to offer, especially on the weekends.

The city of Santa Ana has plenty of activities that can be done inside the city or nearby. So, there is no wonder why this city is popular with tourists. Stay in Santa Ana and explore all the tourist activities that the city offers. Then take day trips and explore the tourist spots near the city.

Santa Ana’s History

According to Salvadoran historical records, the City of Santa Ana is of pre-Columbian origin. It was built by Mayans and then occupied by Pipil Indians until the arrival of the Spanish.

Evidence of Preclassic settlements was found in Santa Ana. These settlements were destroyed by Lake Ilopango’s eruption.

Between 1530 and 1540, the city was conquered by the Spanish. And in 1569, it was given 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 of city.

In 1824, Santa Ana became part of the department of Sonsonate; subsequently, in 1835, it became the department’s head city or capital.

In 1855, the department of Santa Ana was created; afterward, the city became its central city or capital.

Santa Ana’s Economy

The City of Santa Ana is of high significance to El Salvador’s economy. Retail, manufacturing, and tourism are the three most important sectors in the city.

The retail industry is big in Santa Ana, 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.

Manufacturing is significant in the city of Santa Ana; there are many factories and assembly plants that produce goods for the country and for exporting.

The tourist industry 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 Santa Ana July Festivities

The Santa Ana July festivities are celebrated every year in the last two weeks of July. The celebrations are in honor of 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 outdoor festivities, live music, and gastronomy, to name a few.

Getting to the City of Santa Ana El Salvador

Santa Ana is located in the western part of the country, closer to the Guatemalan border. It’s about 70 miles from the international airport and 40 miles from San Salvador.

There are many ways to get to Santa Ana. The starting point will be the deciding factor on which route to take. And the mode of transportation will be a factor in how long it will take you to get there.

Obviously, I recommend you to either drive or take a shuttle to Santa Ana. Yes, public transportation is an option and is the cheapest, but it will be the longest to get you there.

The City of Santa Ana El Salvador

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 traditions and history that attract visitors also make it an excellent city to live in.