What to See and Do in El Salvador

Top 10 El Salvador Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit

It may be the smallest country in Central America but it sure has the biggest heart – from volcanoes to villages & beaches to mountains, find out the top 10 El Salvador tourist attractions!

We spent 1 month in El Salvador, covering the country from North, South, East & West.

While there aren’t any outstanding sights, there are still loads of awesome El Salvador tourist attractions worth visiting.

Most of all we loved the friendly, honest people – we kept waiting to be ripped off but never were once, not that we knew of anyway… this is a big deal!

El Salvador, we miss your great food & pupasas but not the slowest chicken buses in the world!

If you’re planning a trip to Central America, don’t hesitate to make tracks through this wonderful country 🙂

We recommend Booking.com for the best rates & selection of accommodation in El Salvador. Make a booking with our link for 10% off your stay.

Pupasas Where to Eat

Enjoy pupasas for breakfast, lunch & dinner in El Salvador

#1. Ahuachapan 

If you’re crossing the border from Guatemala, stop for a day at Ahuachapan – its safe & clean streets are a pleasant introduction to El Salvador.

Be sure to visit the geothermal geysers at Los Ausoles, 5km from town.

We often get asked what camera we use. All the photos in this post were taken on our Nikon D3300 DSLR.

Los Ausoles Ahuachapan

Visit the boiling, steaming mud pits at Los Ausoles in Ahuachapan

#2. Ruta de Las Flores

Spend the weekend exploring the villages along the Ruta de las Flores, one of the top El Salvador tourist attractions.

Start in Ataco, a colonial town with cobblestone streets, pastel-coloured buildings & large colourful murals.

Continue on to Juayua & indulge in its famous weekend food fair, before a hike & swim in the waterfalls of Los Chorros de Calera.

Taco streets El Salvador

Wander the cobblestone streets of colourful Ataco

#3. Barra de Santiago

Get off the beaten track at Barra de Santiago, where you’ll have wide sandy beaches to yourself.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the turtle hatchery & help to release sea turtles into the ocean.

Barra de Santiago turtles

Help to release sea turtles on the beach at Barra de Santiago

#4. Parque Nacional El Imposible

Do the impossible & camp at Parque Nacional El Imposible!

We had our own tent similar to this 2 person tent so we enjoyed a couple of nights of free accommodation!

There are several hiking trails within the park, that take you pass viewpoints waterfalls, gorges, swimming holes & Maya rock carvings.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife too.

It’a also one of the most popular El Salvador tourist attractions for locals, especially on weekends.

El Imposible hiking trails

Get back to nature & camp at Parque Nacional El Imposible

#5. Santa Ana

The main sights in Santa Ana surround the central plaza, so it won’t take long to visit.

But do take the time to head out to Parque Nacional Los Volcanoes for views of 3 volcanoes – you can join hikes accompanied by tourist police or simply take in the views from several miradors (viewpoints).

Santa Ana Cerro Verde volcano

View 3 volcanoes at Parque Nacional Los Volcanoes

#6. San Salvador

From the hustle of downtown San Salvador to the mega-malls in the surrounding neighbourhoods, see the contrast between the rice & the poor in El Salvador’s capital city.

Take easy daytrips to the UNESCO Joya de Ceren ruins, the boulders of Puerta del Diablo & Volcan San Salvador.

El Rosario church San Salvador

Don’t miss the technicolour spectacular of Iglesia El Rosario

#7. El Sunzal

Hit the coast & find some of the best surfing spots in the world at El Sunzal – it’s the most popular El Salvador tourist attractions on the Pacific coast.

Or just relax in this Giant Inflatable Unicorn Pool Float – we’re obsessed!

Non-surfers can party in El Tunco, sunbathe on El Zonte & explore the fish market at the port town of La Libertad.

El Sunzal surf beach

Sunbathe or surf at El Sunzal on the Pacific Coast

#8. Alegria

Visit the mountain town of Alegria & check out the crater lake, La Laguna de Alegria.

Smother yourself in the volcanic clay before rinsing off in the cool, medicinal waters.

Alegria laguna El Salvador

Explore the landscape around Alegria crater lake

#9. Perquin

Get to the heart of the Civil War in Perquin, the former headquarters of the FMLN rebel fighters.

Visit the Museo de la Revolucion, a reconstructed guerilla camp & pay your respects at the El Mozote memorial.

Perquin guerilla camp

Traipse across swing bridges at the guerrilla camp in Perquin

#10. Suchitoto

Wander the cobblestone streets of Suchitoto, the cultural capital of El Salvador – visit on the weekend when there’s sure to be a food or arts festival in town.

These are things that make Suchitoto one of the top El Salvador tourist attractions.

Other highlights include dying your own clothes at an indigo workshop & the stone waterfall of Los Tercios.

Iglesia Santa Lucia Suchitoto

Admire the colonial architecture of Suchitoto

Bonus: #11. La Palma

Street art fans will love the frontier town of La Palma, close to the northern border with Honduras.

From buildings to street signs, the town is covered in murals painted in the distinctly Salvadoran, Naïve style, featuring colourful, primitive images of local life.

Naive paintings La Palma

Check out the Naïve style murals around La Palma

El Salvador Tourist Attractions: Wrap-Up

Other popular places to visit:

  • Tacuba
  • Playa El Cuco

We travelled around El Salvador at a leisurely pace by local transport, which was extremely slow – this same itinerary could be covered in a week with your own wheels! Highly recommended!

If you’re planning to visit El Salvador within a shorter timeframe, leave us a comment & we would be happy to offer more information on which places are most worth visiting.

After all, we are DIY Travel HQ – Helping you travel longer for less 🙂

For more information check out Lonely Planet’s Central America on a Shoestring.

* Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before any trip to El Salvador. We’ve been using World Nomads for over 10 years – it’s the best-value provider we’ve found & we’ve also never had any issues on the few occasions we’ve had to make a claim.

El Salvador Guatemala border crossing

Adios El Salvador, we’ll be back!

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El Salvador may be the smallest country in Central America but it sure has the biggest heart - from volcanoes to villages & beaches to mountains, find out what to see & do in this friendly little nation! While there aren't any outstanding sights, there are still loads of awesome places worth visiting. If you’re planning a trip through Central America, don’t hesitate to visit El Salvador – check out our ultimate travel guide for the top 15 places to visit!

*** The Final Word – El Salvador is a tiny country with lots of little sights & plenty of heart, don’t skip it if you’re travelling in Central America ***

What did you know about El Salvador before reading this post?


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Accessible DIY travel to more distant locations via multiple connections or longer forms of transport

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Visited in October 2016

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