The top things to do in El Salvador include hiking a volcano, surfing at an excellent beach, exploring a Mayan ruin, and visiting a few small colorful towns. Additionally, it involves visiting a National Park, touring a coffee plantation, and enjoying the San Salvador historic district.
There is no secret that El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America; nonetheless, this nation has plenty of activities that can be done and enjoy.
It doesn’t really matter when you decide to visit during the wet season or dry season; In El Salvador, you will always have plenty of things to see and do.
The following are 20 of the best things to do in El Salvador; they are not listed in any particular order. The list was made taking many factors into consideration; examples of some of these factors include the number of visitors it gets and the beauty of the place.
1. Hike a volcano.
El Salvador is the land of volcanoes, there are about 20 of them spread all over the country. Undeniably, hiking one of these volcanoes is a must-do when visiting El Salvador.
The best volcanoes for hiking are either the Santa Ana or Izalco volcano. Both of these volcanoes have about the same popularity when it comes to hiking. Additionally, they are located near each other at El Cerro Verde National Park.
You can’t go wrong by hiking one of these volcanoes; nonetheless, they are not the only ones in the country. If you want to know more about the other volcanoes, visit our volcanoes in El Salvador page.
2. Surf and watch the sunset at El Tunco beach.
El Tunco beach is one of the most well-known beaches in the country; this beach is one of the best surf spots in El Salvador and in Central America; visitors from many different countries venture into this small surf village to catch some waves.
Even if surfing is not your thing, you should still visit El Tunco beach. Spend time exploring the area, see the surfing, go shopping, try the local gastronomy, and then relax watching the beautiful sunset.
3. Visit La Ruta de Las Flores.
La Ruta de Las Flores is a beautiful tourist route located in the western part of the country; the route consist of six unique picturesque towns, Nahuizalco, Salcoatitan, Juayua, Apaneca, Concepción de Ataco, and Achuachapan.
Each town on this route has different customs and offers diverse activities for travelers to enjoy. By all means, you can go to every city on this route. However, if you only have the time to visit one or a few, check with a Salvadoran touring company to see which town is the best for you to visit.
You can’t go wrong visiting any of the towns in La Ruta de Las Flores; they are some of the most visited small cities in the country.
4. Explore the San Salvador Historic district.
Visiting the San Salvador Historic district is a top thing to do in El Salvador; this is the cultural center of the nation. Anyone looking to learn about the countries history and traditions must visit this area.
The historic center is located in the city of San Salvador, the nation’s capital. Here you will find historic buildings, astonishing churches, famous plazas, and much more.
Some of the most popular places include the National Palace, Plaza Gerardo Barrios, Plaza Libertad, and the National Theater. Additionally, you will find two of the best churches in El Salvador, the National Cathedral, and El Rosario church.
5. Explore an archaeological site.
Exploring Mayan ruins is a top thing to do while visiting the country. The ruins are not as impressive as the ones located in Guatemala or Belize; nevertheless, they are outstanding in their own way.
The best archaeological sites to explore are Tazumal, Joya de Ceren, and San Andres. These sites are near each other; therefore, you might be able to explore more than one in a day.
To choose which archaeological site to visit, go to the following webpage and decide, “Archaeological sites in El Salvador.”
6. Visit La Costa del Sol.
Visiting one of the most popular beaches in the country is a top thing to do in El Salvador. La Costa del Sol beach area is the most developed in the country; it has upscale restaurants and hotels, besides astonishing beaches.
The La Costa del Sol area is centrally located; it’s about 22 miles from the international airport and about 44 miles from the nation’s capital. In La Costa del Sol, you will find plenty of activities to keep you busy.
7. Explore El Boqueron National Park.
Visiting El Boqueron National park is another top thing to do in El Salvador; this park is located on the outskirts of San Salvador and is a great place to see flora and fauna right outside the largest city in the country.
From this park, you will be able to get fantastic views of the capital and the surrounding areas. Also, if you make it to the summit, you will get a fantastic view of the volcano crater with its smaller crater inside.
8. Explore Coatepeque Lake.
Exploring this volcanic caldera is another top thing to do in El Salvador. This lake is located near the city of Santa Ana and the popular Cerro Verde National Park.
At Coatepeque lake, you will find plenty of activities to keep you busy during your visit, they range from swimming all the way to scuba diving.
9. Visit the colonial town of Suchitoto.
The charming colonial town of Suchitoto is a must-see when you visit the country. This small town located about 25 miles from the capital is a perfect spot to spend a day exploring or even a few days.
Suchitoto is a laid back colorful town where you can spend the day relaxing, shopping for souvenirs, and absorbing the local culture. Also, lake Suchitlan, one of the best lakes in the country, is located right next to the city.
10. Scuba Dive Ilopango lake.
Ilopango lake is a volcanic caldera ideal for some astonishing diving. The caldera has excellent diving sites; however, the most popular is the one where you will be able to see the volcanic activity happening at the bottom.
Diving at this lake is not only for professionals; divers of all skill levels can dive and explore this lake.
11. Eat Pupusas.
When visiting El Salvador, you must try the most recognizable Salvadoran dish around the world, Pupusas; this tasty dish is available all over the country.
In my opinion, the best Salvadoran pupusas are served at the small hole in the wall types of places. Some of them will be made out of corn-based or rice-based tortilla; whichever you decide to try, it will be up to you. To get more information about Pupusas or other food in the country, visit the Salvadorian food page.
12. Visit the Santa Ana cathedral.
The city of Santa Ana is the second-largest in El Salvador; it’s a fantastic city with plenty of activities to do and things to see. Visiting the Santa Ana Cathedral is one of the top things to do for tourists visiting the country.
This iconic neo-gothic church is impressive; as soon as you see it for the first time, the incredible architectural design will catch your eyes.
Undoubtedly, the Santa Ana cathedral is one of the best churches in El Salvador and in Central America; if you ever get the chance, you should visit it.
13. Relax at El Cuco beach.
Relaxing at beautiful El Cuco beach is a great option; this beach, with its vast shore and soft sand, is located in the eastern part of the country.
Getting to this beach will take a little bit of time as is not centrally located; however, once you get there, you will see why El Cuco beach is one of the best beaches in the El Salvador.
14. Go camping at the Conchagua Volcano.
The main attraction for camping here is the astonishing views that you get from the summit. There’s nothing like watching the sunset and sunrise from the top of the Conchagua Volcano.
There are two camping sites at the volcano, one at the bottom and the second one near the top.
15. Visit a coffee plantation.
This small country produces fantastic coffee that gets exported to many countries all over the world. Obviously, if you like coffee, visiting one of these farms is a fantastic idea.
The best coffee plantations are located along the La Ruta de Las Fores touristic route. This is perfect, you can enjoy visiting one of these colorful towns and visit a coffee plantation as well.
Furthermore, you can tour coffee plantations located on the touristic route known as The Coffee Route; here you will be able to witness the process of making coffee.
16. Visit the small town of Apaneca.
The town of Apaneca is located at a high altitude in the department of Ahuachapan. This municipality is one of the six towns in the popular Ruta de Las Flores tourist route.
Apaneca is worth visiting because of everything it has to offer; for instance, you can relax in the town, taste the gastronomy, enjoy the colder climate, and experience the culture.
On the other hand, you can be active and try the extreme sports available in the area. For example, you can go hiking through a coffee plantation, go canopying, or rent boogie carts.
17. Explore El Imposible National Park.
For those who like ecotourist activities, El Imposible National Park is the place for you. El Imposible National Park is the largest national protected area in the country; it is located in the department of Ahuachapan.
El Imposible is a fantastic natural area that has plenty of flora and fauna for visitants to explore and enjoy. Explore the park and enjoy the rivers, waterfalls, and everything else it has to offer.
18. Visit Perquin and learn about the Salvadoran civil war.
The colorful municipality of Perquin is located in the department of Morazan near the border with Honduras; this is one of the best places to learn about the Salvadoran civil war.
During the armed conflict of the 1980s, Perquin was the main stronghold of the guerillas. Therefore, it was the epicenter of the cruelest and bloody fights El Salvador had.
Here, you can learn firsthand for guerilla fighters how they lived the armed conflict. Perquin is part of the civil war tourist route, also known as the peace route.
19. Go to the food festival in Juayua.
Juayua is another small town part of the La Ruta de Las Flores, located in the western part of the country.
This town has gained local and international claims for its food festivals. You can try the local gastronomy at any time at any of the small restaurants in the city.
Nevertheless, the food festival is held on the weekends, especially on Sunday at lunchtime. On Sunday, you will be able to try the local gastronomy, in addition to all the traditional Salvadoran foods.
20. Go shopping in San Salvador.
Yes, shopping is a top thing to do at the nation’s capital. San Salvador is home to many malls where you can spend some extra money.
Visit the downtown area and venture into the local street markets to shop for souvenirs or head on to the formal malls and do shop.
Top things to do in El Salvador
By all means, the top 20 things to do listed here are not the only ones in the country; El Salvador has plenty of other things to do.
El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but it’s an impressive country. Visit El Salvador and discover what this astonishing country has to offer!