Suchitoto El Salvador; is a lovely laid back historic town, with fabulous cobblestone streets, gorgeous colonial houses, an iconic church, rich cultural traditions, and magnificent panoramic views of Lake Suchitlan. It’s a perfect colonial town to learn about Salvadoran culture and History.
Suchitoto is a laid-back town with friendly locals and an area that is amazingly beautiful. Therefore, I am not surprised that this small town is regularly mentioned as the cultural capital of the country.
Here is a quick fact for you to know before visiting, the name Suchitoto, in the old Nahuatl language, means “Place of the Flower Bird.”
The town sits between the Guazapa volcano and the Lempa river, about 47 kilometers from the capital, San Salvador. This is important because, during the armed conflicts of the 1980s, not that many tourists visited the town.
Visitors stayed away because of the fighting around the Suchitoto area. However, since the end of the country’s civil war; the town has prospered to become one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the country.
You will be amazed to see how the colonial-style architecture is very well preserved throughout the town, especially with its cobblestone streets and colonial-style homes.
Suchitoto is a must-see destination for anyone traveling to El Salvador; the town will give you the feeling of being in the Hispanic colonial era.
Top Things to do in Suchitoto
Suchitoto is more than just a laid-back colonial little town; there are plenty of activities to do. Here are the best of them!
Visit the Santa Lucia Church
As soon as you get closer to this colonial town, the first thing that you will notice is the Santa Lucia Colonial church. Even from a distance, the church stands towering above the rest; since is the highest structure in town.
This iconic church stands tall in front of the city’s municipal park. It has an antique wooden interior which has been completely restored over the years.
The church was built in 1853 and is one of the main attractions of Suchitoto’s ancient architecture; mainly because of the colonial era original structure can be seen all over.
Venture Into Suchitlan Lake
Lake Suchitlan, one of the main attractions in Suchitoto, is an impressive artificial lake that resulted from the construction of the nearby reservoir in 1973.
There are quite a few ways to enjoy this lake; first, you need to head down to the port of San Juan located a few miles from Suchitoto. You can get to the port by car or take the local bus that leaves every 20 or so minutes from the center of town, the bus will cost about $0.35. Also, there is a fee to get in, about $1.00 per person.
Basically, the port of San Juan is a touristic complex with amazing views of the lake. At the complex, you will find rest areas, about 8 small restaurants, souvenir shops, a Swimming pool, and much more.
From the port, you can take boat rides along the lake and enjoy the views. Also, you can visit and explore some of the small islands in the lake such as Island of the donkey, Island of the Hermit, Trinidad Island, and Bird Island.
Lastly, you can take a ferry and explore the small towns along the lake like San Francisco Lempa or San Luis del Carmen. If you want to know more about this man-made lake, visit the Lake Suchitlan page.
Visit Los Tercios Waterfall
Los Tercios Waterfall is at Las Animas Creek, a few kilometers away from the center of the town. A short hike will lead you to the waterfall wall built from hexagonal-shaped rocks created by ancient lava flow.
If you visit during the wet season, the wall will stand behind a flowing stream of water. But, if you visit during the dry season, the flow of water will be minimal, if any at all. During the dry season, you will get to appreciate more of the rock formation usually covered by the stream of water.
While visiting the waterfall, take the time and go to the lookout, you will get a fantastic panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding mountain.
Visit the Alejandro Coto Museum
Another main attraction in Suchitoto is the Salvadoran filmmaker and writer Alejandro Coto house and museum; this museum preserves important cultural and historical treasures.
Alejandro Coto is not only an international recognize filmmaker but also an individual who has worked hard promoting projects for the development of Suchitoto.
Visit this house museum and appreciate its stunning gardens and the fascinating terrace overlooking Lake Suchitlan, among other things.
Visit Ciudad Vieja
Ciudad Vieja, an archaeological site located roughly about 10 kilometers from Suchitoto; it was the first location of San Salvador, now the nation’s capital.
According to Salvadoran historians, Ciudad Viejas was built in 1525; but it was abandoned because of the resistance of the natives. Then in 1528, the re-foundation began to what is the original San Salvador.
For many years the site was abandoned and in private hands; however, in the 1970s, the Salvadoran Academy of History promoted the purchase of land that is now owned by the State.
Since 2014, plans have been developed to make Ciudad Vieja a better archaeological site for the public; among them are the consolidations and interpretative reconstructions of the old foundations which would allow a better enjoyment and understanding of the archeological place.
Ciudad Vieja in 1975 was declared a National Historic Site by legislative decree.
Explore the Guazapa Volcano.
Exploring the nearby Guazapa mountains is a great outdoor activity in Suchitoto. You can either hike on foot or do it by horseback riding.
The Guazapa mountains were instrumental during the civil war of the 1980s. These mountains were a stronghold of the guerillas during the conflict. Therefore along the trail, you will see shelters created in the ground by guerilla fighters, bomb craters, and of course, cemeteries.
Local guides will lead these tours, they know every aspect of the forest and will share their knowledge of the conflict. But, these local guides are not bilingual; so if you don’t speak Spanish, you might not get everything from the trip.
Usually, I don’t like recommending companies, but this is an exception. If you don’t speak Spanish, but want to explore this mountain; get in touch with Gringo Tours, they are local to Suchitoto and offer bilingual services.
Explore the town of Suchitoto, El Salvador
One of the best ways to get to know this amazing town and its people; is to go around and interact with the locals.
Visit during the weekdays, it is less crowded, and you will get to experience a more laid back town.
Walk around the town
As I previously mentioned, Suchitoto is a laid back town. When visiting, take your time and walk around; go into the many local shops and support the local economy by spending money on some local art craft; they will appreciate it, and you will get some great gifts for yourself, your family or friends.
Walk on the cobblestone streets, view the vibrant colonial homes, and interact with the locals; some of them might even invite you to come into their homes and talk.
Hang out at the municipal park.
Suchitoto is a small town; you can get a lot done in one day. A great way to unwind after a day in Suchitoto is to hang out at any of the cafes or restaurants around the municipal park; the best time to do it is in the late afternoon; the climate is fresher, and things are winding down.
Because it is a small town, most of the locals know each other; a lot of them hang out at the park after a long day of work and relax. Spend time at the park and get a glimpse of local culture.
Additionally, this is a great time to continue to support the local economy by trying one of the local dishes from the many small shops around the park.
How to Get to Suchitoto, El Salvador.
Suchitoto is centrally located; it is about 29 miles from the capital, San Salvador.
To get to Suchitoto, you can drive, take the local bus, go with a tour company, or hire a private shuttle; this part is entirely up to you. Now, depending on where in the country you are starting from, there are many different routes that you can take.
If this is your first time in Suchitoto or traveling to El Salvador, I recommend for you to either go with a tour company or hire a private shuttle; given that, navigating the roads in El Salvador is stressful.
Accommodations in Suchitoto, El Salvador.
There are plenty of accommodations at Suchitoto that will satisfy all types of visitors; furthermore, you can make it your base of operations and take day trips to explore other parts of the country.
Accommodations in Suchitoto are by small locally own hotels. Here are a few of them.
Obviously, there are more hotels and hostels in this colorful town, these are some of the best that also happen to have great reviews.
To sum up, Suchitoto in El Salvador is a charming colonial oown with rich cultural traditions and plenty of things to do. Regardless, visit for a day or a few days; either way, you will enjoy your visit and will get some great memories.