Fun things to do in El Salvador

  • Crater of el Boquerón
    Crater of el Boquerón
    by mikey_e
  • Cocoa in the rich volcanic soil
    Cocoa in the rich volcanic soil
    by mikey_e
  • The main structure
    The main structure
    by mikey_e

Most Viewed Things to Do in El Salvador

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    Ruínas de San Andrés

    by MalenaN Written Oct 26, 2009

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    At the Archaeological Park of San Andrés you can see old Maya ruins, not as impressive as in Mexico and Guatemala, but still interesting. San Andrés was the capital of Valle de Zapotitlán between AD 600 - 900. At its peak it is believed that up to 12 000 people lived here. The park covers an area of 35 hectares and it was inaugurated in 1996.

    The ruins of San Andrés were buried in 1658 when Vulcán Playón had an eruption and not until 1977 the pyramids of San Andrés were unearthed again. Not all mounds have jet been unearthed though. Excavations have mainly been done around the political and ceremonial centre. The main pyramid by the great plaza has a bell shape and it is 15 metres high. Nearby there is a subterranean tunnel. Restoration has been done and protective walls cover some of the ruins.

    Near the car park there is nice museum which is good to visit before continuing to the ruins. There is also a café and a few souvenir stands. Next to the museum there is an indigo dying place from colonial times.

    The Archaeological park is open Tuesdays - Sundays between 9 - 17.
    Admission was 3 dollars (June 2009) for foreigners and 1 dollar for El Salvadorians.

    I was very happy to visit San Andrés together with Nancy (VT-member conejita71) and her brother (Marco) and his wife (Ana Emma). Thank you so much for a great day!

    If you come on your own San Andrés (together with Joya de Cerén) can easily be visited by bus from both San Salvador and Santa Ana.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits

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    Lago de Coatepeque

    by MalenaN Written Oct 26, 2009

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    Lago de Coatepeque is a beautiful crater lake at the foot of Vulcán Santa Ana. When we climbed Santa Ana there was a viewpoint from where you can get a nice view of the lake, but unfortunately it was too cloudy and we couldn’t see it. Not until we were on our way back the lake was visible, and you will also pass the lake on your way to El Congo.
    Lago the Coatepeque is a large lake and is 6km wide and 120m deep. The water is clear and clean. Many people come here for the weekend to enjoy the view and maybe take a boat ride on the lake. If you want to stay there are a few hotels and hostels along the shore.

    Lago de Coatepeque is situated 18 km south of Santa Ana, in Coatepeque municipality.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Concepción de Ataco

    by MalenaN Written Oct 25, 2009

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    Concepción de Ataco is a pretty village along Ruta de Las Flores. Colonial and newer houses are painted in bright colours and some have colourful murals. The streets have cobble stone and there is not much traffic. There is a central square where it is nice to sit in the shade for a while watching people. Around the square you will find the church, the municipal building, a few cafés and a tourist information. I didn’t see the tourist information, but maybe it is just open during weekends. In the village there are also some nice restaurants and souvenir shops, and there is a small market.

    I visited Ataco during the week and as far as I could see I was the only tourist there at the moment. During weekends Ataco gets more visitors, but not as many as Juayúa (another town along Ruta de Las Flores). Juayúa has got the food festival, but Ataco is more charming.

    Ruta de Las Flores is the name of the road between Sonsonate and Ahuachapán. This mountain road has got its name because of the natural beauty and cool climate. In this area a lot of coffee is cultivated and there are also plant nurseries. Besides Ataco there are four more small charming towns along the road; Apaneca, Juayúa, Salcoatitán and Nahuizalco.

    Related to:
    • Architecture

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    Barra de Santiago

    by MalenaN Written Oct 25, 2009

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    Barra de Santiago is a small fishing village in western El Salvador. I only passed the village itself by bus as I continued another 3 km to Capricho Beach House. Capricho Beach House is situated near La Bocana, where you have the ocean on one side and the estuary and mangrove reserve on the other side. This part of Barra de Santiago is a protected nature reserve and it is rich in plants and animals. Along the calm waters of the estuary there are some quite big houses owned by rich El Salvadorians.

    Along the Pacific Ocean there are kilometres of empty beach where you can take nice long walks or swim. Barra de Santiago is said to be good for surfing. I’m not a surfer, but were asked if I didn’t want to take a lesson, and if I had stayed longer I might have done that. I did go on a canoe trip to the estuary and mangrove reserve though. In August - November when the giant sea turtle lay their eggs you can go on a turtle spotting trip and visit a turtle conservation project. Another thing you can do in Barra de Santiago is deep sea fishing. And in this tranquil place it is of course great to relax in a hammock with a good book.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Beaches

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    Near by local beach

    by Massawippi Written Oct 8, 2008

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    There is a bus leaving every day from the hotel (see hotel tip)
    to this beach, 20 min. away.(private). There is also a small pool. Food is available at the beach bar. Walk for miles. Ocean can be choppy on windy days

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    • Beaches

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    Coffee plantation tour

    by Massawippi Written Oct 8, 2008

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    This tour took us both to a nursery and a coffee transformation.
    The scenery is beautiful as the plantations are on the mountainside.
    The information on the culture of coffee was excellent.
    Give you an appreciation for your next cuppa.

    Related to:
    • Adventure Travel
    • Road Trip
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Cascades of Juayua

    by Massawippi Written Oct 8, 2008

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    We went on this tour.
    Must be in shape to hike average trails.
    Can be slippery.
    Three different cascades pouring out of the volcanic rocks.
    Water is collected in basin and run down the mountain side to produce local electrcity.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Santa Ana Cathedral

    by canuckmike Written Sep 23, 2008

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    The Santa Ana Cathedral is the top site in all of Santa Ana and probably the most impressive religious building in all of the country. Where most of churches in Central America have a colonial style look to it, this one has a gothic style to it. Construction began in the early 1900s and was consecrated in 1913. It has a beautiful facade but the sides are not as grand. The cathedral is located on the east side of the Parque Libertad.

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    El Salvador del Mundo

    by canuckmike Written Sep 21, 2008

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    This statue is a symbol for El Salvador and you will see it on license plates. El Salvador del Mundo is a statue of Jesus standing on top of the world. It's located on Plaza Las Americas in San Salvador. It's worth taking a couple of minutes to check it out or hang around the park. The plaza is surrounded by lots of traffic and I wouldn't make it a destination on it's own but on your way to another place.

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    Joya de Ceren

    by canuckmike Written Sep 13, 2008

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    The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the coolest archeological site in El Salvador and is ofter referred to as the Pompeii of the Americas. It was accidently discovered in 1976 as they were building new structures in the area. This is the only Mayan site that shows how ordinary Mayans lived. The reason it's called the Pompeii of the Americas is because in the year 590, Loma Caldera erupted and covered the area in 14 layers of ash. The locals were able to get away, but everything else was left the way it was.

    The exhibits are all covered to prevent damage and you can only view them from behind a guard. You can visit I believe 3 different sites and the guide I had was quite knowledgable in explaining them. There is also quite a decent museum here but it was all in Spanish from what I remember. The souvenir stands that are located here are quite nice compared to other places in El Salvador.

    Related to:
    • Archeology

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    Parque Nacional El Imposible

    by gfinesilver Written Mar 16, 2008

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    This is one of the only national parks in the country and is located in the Northeast.

    The main trail takes you down into a valley to a river and then you have to hike back out.

    This coral snake was the best wildlife we saw.

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Go to the beach

    by gfinesilver Written Mar 16, 2008

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    For such a small country, El Salvador has a lot of coastline and the beaches are mostly black sand and erupt with people during the weekend.

    From West to East:
    -Barra de Santiago - in the far north near Guatemala border. mangroves and hanging out.
    -Zonte and Sunzal - surf beaches in La Libertad close to San Salvador
    -Costa del Sol - popular beaches in La Paz region

    there are lots more further east all the way down the coast.

    Related to:
    • Surfing
    • Beaches

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    Liga Mayor de Fútbol

    by thelukey Updated Oct 24, 2007

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    In El Salvador, when it comes to sports, fútbol (soccer) is the undisputed king. Although basketball and baseball leagues also exist, the nation’s ten-team Liga Mayor de Fútbol (LMF) is the only domestic sports competition that really captures the public’s interest. Traditionally, the four most successful squads have been FAS (who play in Santa Ana), Luis Ángel Firpo (Usulután), Aguila (San Miguel), and Alianza (San Salvador). Even though the quality of Salvadoran fútbol is quite poor – as of late, the country’s passion for the sport has not been equaled by an ability to produce decent players – there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching a game.

    The season runs from September through May. Most games are played on Sundays. Ticket prices generally run from $4-10. The two stadiums in San Salvador (the Estadio Cuscatlán and the Estadio Jorge “Mágico” González, which is also referred to by its previous name, the Estadio Flor Blanca) both underwent significant improvements when El Salvador hosted the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2002. The Cuscatlán is often referred to as the nicest, most modern stadium in Central America, but it can be painfully devoid of ambiance when there are only a few hundred fans scattered about this stadium that seats upwards of 30,000. So, unless you happen to be in town in time for the semi-finals or the final (when the stands do indeed fill up), you might find it more enjoyable to go to a game elsewhere. Maybe I’m biased because I lived in the area, but of the five stadiums where I attended LMF games, my favorite was Chalatenango’s Estadio Gregorio Martínez (pictured above).

    Two additional warnings. First, I would not recommend attending any of Alianza’s games, as violent confrontations involving certain elements of that team’s fan base are not uncommon. Second, before you decide to attend a game involving El Salvador’s national team, read my tip entitled “Caution: Flying Bags of Urine” in the Warnings section of my El Salvador page.

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    Suchitoto

    by thelukey Updated Oct 24, 2007

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    According to some people, Suchitoto is El Salvador’s nicest, cleanest, most tourism-worthy town. I’d even heard Suchitoto described as “Antigua Guatemala before it was discovered.” So, after having lived in El Salvador for four years, I finally joined two friends and made my first (and probably only) trip to Suchitoto in June 2005. Truth be told, I was far from impressed. As far as I could tell, the only thing Suchitoto really has going for it is the Iglesia Santa Lucía, its attractive colonial-style (but not colonial, since it was built in 1853) church. My friends Tom and Liam both disagree with my negative assessment of Suchitoto, arguing that while it isn’t really “nice,” it’s at least “nice for El Salvador.” Fair enough – a few centuries worth of natural and man-made disasters have left the country with rather few examples of colonial arquitecture. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go out of his or her way to visit Suchitoto, but I suppose it’s a decent place to spend a day if you don’t have anything else to do or anywhere else to go.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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    The Pyramid Ruins

    by weeddies Updated Sep 7, 2007

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    The San Andres Ruins & Tazumal is absolutely the most beautiful and interesting gift that the Mayans left us. I recomend to ask for a guide at the front desk. That is the best way to get the most information out of the trip.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Archeology

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