Ataco is the best base for exploring the Ruta de las Flores in El Salvador – find out everything you need to know about the things to do in Ataco, accommodation & transport.

Things to do in Ataco

Ataco has become the de facto place to stay for El Salvadorians when they visit the Ruta de las Flores.

They know that they can visit other villages easily as day trips, and still have a pleasant town to go out in when they return.

The same can’t be said for the other villages.

Ataco Souvenir Shopping

Ataco is alive all day long on the weekends, which is why El Salvadorians choose to stay there.

There are no standout things to do in Ataco, but the village has a cohesive theme with religious institutions, and murals scattered around.

The most popular excursion located outside of town is a 50 meter waterfall, Salto de Chacala.

However you decide to spend your time, there is something for everyone in Ataco.

We here at DIY Travel HQ recommend it as one of the top places to visit in El Salvador.

Here is a sample of what you can expect.

Ataco View of Village

Ataco is a very religious Ruta de las Flores village with prominent churches, and even a Jehovah Witness center.

  • #1. Parque Central

Parque Central is the heart of Ataco, and where locals and foreigners mingle on the weekends.

The park is virtually empty during the week.

That gives you time to enjoy the fountain, gazebo, and surrounding restaurants in peace.

Ataco Parque Central

Like most main squares in El Salvador, there is a gazebo, but the fountain is a unique touch.

  • #2. Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion

The largest church in Ataco, and opposite Parque Central, is Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion.

The altar dome is the tallest structure in town, and the church’s interior has nice wooden ceilings.

Ataco Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion Interior

The wooden ceiling adds a nice touch with regional churches all being made of stone.

  • #3. Diconte Artesanias Axul

Located on 2a Avenida Sur is Diconte Artesanias Axul, the center of arts and crafts.

You can find knick-knacks, bags, and other handmade items inside.

Keep an eye out for their life-size doll outside.

Ataco Diconte Artesanias Axul

There are several stores selling souvenirs, but the best variety is at Diconte Artesanias Axul.

  • #4. Mercado Central

Across from Diconte Artesanias Axul is the central market.

You can find fruits, vegetables, and a handful of normal items.

It is worth perusing if you want a quick snack.

Ataco Mercado Central

Freshen up your diet with some fruits, but remember to bargain gently as that custom isn’t common in El Salvador.

  • #5. Murals

Located all around the village are murals painted on the sides of buildings – admiring murals is one of the best things to do in Ataco.

This is also what makes Ataco different in our opinion.

The artwork adds a unique touch that shows that the residents take pride in their small village.

It also breaks up what could be a monotonous walk around the town with a bit of color.

Ataco Coffee Mural

There are murals lining the streets everywhere you look.

  • #6. Iglesia El Calvario

Iglesia El Calvario marks the beginning of 2a Avenida Sur, and can be seen from most places in town.

The doors were locked upon our visit, but the blue accented exterior is striking compared to many white-washed churches in surrounding Ruta de las Flores villages.

Ataco Iglesia El Calvario

Despite playing second fiddle to Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Iglesia El Calvario is more prevalent.

  • #7. Mirador de la Cruz

Looming over Ataco is the Mirador de la Cruz, similar to Antigua, Guatemala.

Take the stairway behind Iglesia El Calvario until you reach the top.

Turn right at a parking lot on your right, and follow the narrow path lined by barbwire to the cross.

The views over town aren’t stupendous, but the mountains in the distance are worth the effort. It’s one of the best things to do in Ataco.

Mirador de la Cruz View of Ataco

The lookout looks really simple to get to, but takes a prolonged zig-zag up the hill.

What to Eat in Ataco

There is a small food fair in Ataco on the weekends at Parque Central.

For breakfast grab some fruits at the market (8 for $1 bananas), or pastries across the street at the supermarket.

You can find a tasty menu del dia with coke ($2.10) at Comedor & Pupuseria Lupita on 4a Calle Poniente by 2a Avenida Sur.

They also have delicious pupusas later in the evening ($0.25).

Ataco Comedor & Pupuseria Lupita

You can’t beat budget Comedor & Pupuseria Lupita for lunch or dinner.

Where to Stay in Ataco

We decided to stay at Los Portones de Ataco, which is a combination of café and hotel.

Rooms start at $30, and include private bathrooms with hot water, TV, comfortable bed, and strong Wi-Fi.

Consider booking in advance on the weekends as locals know to stay here when visiting Ruta de las Flores.

We recommend Booking.com as a trustworthy source of accommodation in El Salvador. Make a booking with our link for 10% off your stay.

Simple room at Los Portones de Ataco

Our room had everything you need.

How to Get To and From Ataco

Bus #249 regularly runs from Ahuachapan to Sonsonate and costs $0.90 the entire way.

Expect to pay $0.40 to Ahuachapan, and $0.50 to Juayua.

Buses stop at a small park on the outskirts of town near the Ruta de las Flores road.

Ataco Ruta de las Flores Bus #249 Stop

The only bus you need to know in Ataco is #249, as that takes you everywhere you need to be. Transfer at Ahuachapan or Sonsonate for further destinations.

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Ataco is the best base for exploring Ruta de las Flores. Other villages start to fade mid-afternoon, while Ataco’s restaurant and bar scene are just getting started. Besides the nightlife, you can also visit Central Park, Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion church, Diconte Artesanias Axul for handicrafts, central market, Iglesia El Calvario, Mirador de la Cruz lookout, and enjoy the many murals. The most popular excursion located outside of town is a 50 meter waterfall, Salto de Chacala.

***The Final Word – Base yourself in Ataco, and take day trips to other Ruta de las Flores villages.***

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Visited in October 2016