El Salvador itinerary
Planning a trip to El Salvador and trying to figure out your itinerary?
I´ve already done the work for you!
In this blog post I am sharing the perfect, adjustable El Salvador itinerary.
1. San Salvador, 1-2 days
If arriving to El Salvador by air, you will start your itinerary in El Salvador´s capital, San Salvador.
In case you are crossing into El Salvador by land from Guatemala or Honduras, you will have other starting points and need to adjust your itinerary according to that.
Like most other big Central American cities, I did not like San Salvador too much.
The main square (Civic Square Captain General Gerardo Barrios) is worth a visit, if you are staying in the city and there are a few points of interest within a relatively short distance from San Salvador.
The main square is home to the cathedral, the National Palace and a big El Salvador sign, which makes a great photo opportunity.
The local market is also worth a visit, shopping for fruits & vegetables, souvenirs or just observing the bustling market itself.
How to get to San Salvador?
As this is the capital, you will either fly into San Salvador or will be able to take a local bus from pretty much anywhere in the country.
Where to stay in San Salvador?
I have not personally stayed overnight in San Salvador, however there are quite a few accommodation options available, from local hotels to International hotel chains.
What to do and see in San Salvador?
- Main square
- Central market
- Day trip to Boqueron National Park
- Picnic restaurant (rainbow slide)
2. Santa Ana, 2-3 days
Next stop on your El Salvador itinerary: Santa Ana
This city is famous for it´s surrounding volcanoes and beautiful architecture.
The most famous thing to do in the area is to hike the Santa Ana volcano. The hike is quite easy compared to other volcano hikes in Central America and once on the top, you will be rewarded with amazing views of the surroundings and it´s super turquoise crater lake.
Cerro Verde National Park is located just next to Santa Ana volcano and offers great views of the youngest volcano in El Salvador – Izalco.
Closeby the volcanoes lies the beautiful Lago de Coatepeque, where you can either go for a swim or just enjoy the view of the beautiful lake from one of the viewpoints.
The archeological sites of San Andres are also only a relatively short distance from Santa Ana and a great place to visit.
I have not personally visited Santa Ana city itself, however I heard quite a few good things about the architecture and specifically the cathedral of El Salvador´s second biggest city.
How to get to Santa Ana?
You can easily reach Santa Ana city by local bus, however to get around to the surrounding volcanoes, Lago de Coatepeque as well as the San Andres ruins, you´ll either need to book transfers with tour companies or similar or rent a car and get around that way. I highly recommend exploring El Salvador in your own car, if you have the chance to, it will make things a lot easier and you will be a lot more flexible. Also roads are generally in a good condition and easy to drive on.
Where to stay in Santa Ana?
There are a bunch of options in Santa Ana itself, but you might want to consider staying inside Cerro Verde National Park at Casa 1800 Cerro Verde, which is an amazing (but quite expensive hotel) with the best views of Izalco volcano.
What to do and see in and around Santa Ana?
- Santa Ana main square including cathedral
- Santa Ana volcano
- Cerro Verde National park
- Lago Coatepeque
- San Andres ruins
- El Tazumal ruins
3. Ruta de Flores, 1-2 days
From Santa Ana it´s only a relatively short distance to the Ruta de Flores (flower route). If you are visiting during the appropriate season (November to February), everything in this area is beautifully blooming with different kinds of tropical flowers.
Even if visiting outside of this months, there are still many things to do in the area and it´s well worth a visit.
From cute & authentic little towns and waterfalls to coffee tours & more.
The towns Juayua, Apaneca, Nahuizalco, Salcoatitan and Concepcion de Ataco make up the Ruta de Flores.
The scenic drive along this route is already worth a visit itself.
When visiting Ruta de Flores, I highly recommend also checking out the hot spring waterfall Salto de Malacatiupan, a little further North – this is my favorite place in El Savador!
How to get to Ruta de Flores?
You can get to Ruta de Flores by chicken bus from bigger towns and it´s also simple to move around the different towns making up Ruta de Flores by local bus. Personally, I always prefer by myself, but that´s just my personal preference and style of traveling.
Where to stay in Ruta de Flores?
There are not a whole lot of options, however some of the more touristy towns like Juayua do have some accommodation options, mainly being small local hotels & guesthouses.
What to do and see in Ruta de Flores?
- Scenic drive along Ruta de Flores
- Coffee tour
- 7 waterfalls hike
- Weekly food festival (only on the weekends)
- Explore the different towns
- Salto de Malacatiupan
4. Surf City, 2-3 days
By far the most touristy part of El Salvador are the beach towns along Surf City (mainly El Tunco and El Zonte).
El Salvador is famous for world-class surfing and even though the country is much less touristy than most other Central American countries, the surf towns here are really popular and well visited.
If you are into chill beach towns and surfing or would like to try surfing, this area is for you!
The area is due to it´s popularity also less authentic and more expensive than most other parts in El Salvador.
I still very much enjoyed my time here and had a great time during the very first surf lesson of my life in El Zonte.
If you are looking for a more quiet beach town, without many tourists, I recommend adding Mizata to your El Salvador itinerary.
How to get to Surf City?
As this area is the most famous, it is easy to get here by local bus as well as shuttle busses from anywhere in the country.
Where to stay in Surf City?
There are many options in both, El Zonte and El Tunco, I personally stayed at Papaya Surf Garden and can recommend it, even though it´s a bit more on the expensive side.
What to do and see in Surf City?
- Go surfing (obviously)
- Stroll through El Tunco
- Seafood market in La Libertad
- Sunset Park Surf City in La Libertad
- Cascada San Antonio
- Walter Thilo Deininger National Park
5. La Union
Located in the very south of El Savador, this is the area with one of the best views in El Salvador. I unfortunately skipped this area and already regret that.
Definitely wanting to come back to El Salvador and cover this area in the near future!
The most popular thing to do in La Union is “El Espiritu de la Montana”, which is an incredible viewing platform, where you can camp and wake up to the most amazing sunrise views over the ocean and the many small islands.
From research I understood that you can either hike up to the observation platform or also take a 4×4 transportation.
Apart from that, there are also many beautiful, less visited beaches in the area that are worth exploring.
How to get to La Union?
You can take a bus or shuttle to La Union or of course get there in your own car.
Where to stay in La Union?
Camping at El Espiritu de la Montana is the way to go!
What to do and see in La Union?
- El Espiritu de la Montana
- Playa El Esteron
- Playa Las Tunas
- Playa Playitas
6. Perquin, 1-2 days
This is an interesting area close to the border to Honduras. Perquin and it´s surroundings are home to multiple beautiful waterfalls. Also the small town El Mozote is located nearby, known for a brutal massacre that happened here during the civil war in the 1900s. The complete population was brutally killed by soldiers.
There are different monuments around town, reminding and sharing details of this happening.
Apart from it´s sad history, there are beautiful waterfalls located just outside of El Mozote.
How to get to Perquin?
This is a more remote area in El Salvador and in order to get to the different points of interest, a car or private transfer is needed.
Where to stay in Perquin?
As this is area is not popular and touristy at all, there are only a handful of local places to stay. I camped at La Poza de la Culebra and can highly recommend it.
What to do and see in and around Perquin?
- Cascada La Olomina
- Cascadas Las Pilas
- Rio Sapo
- Cerro de Perquin
- Cascadas El Chorreron
7. Suchitoto, 1-2 days
Suchitoto is probably the most beautiful town in El Salvador. It´s colonial architecture and charm make it very picturesque and unique.
This town is located close to Honduras, along Lago Suchitlan, a beautiful and really big lake.
Due to it´s beauty, it is gaining popularity with tourists quite fast.
I highly recommend adding Suchitoto to your El Salvador itinerary, getting lost in the cobble stone streets, visiting the lake Suchitlan and visiting the closeby waterfall Cascada Los Tercios are great activities in the area.
There are also multiple viewpoints of the lake in and around Suchitoto, make sure to add at least one of them to your to-do list.
How to get to Suchitoto?
Transport by public bus and shuttles available from most bigger cities.
Where to stay in Suchitoto?
There are quite a few options in Suchitoto. Casa 1800 Suchitoto is a great place to stay, if you are not on a tight budget. However there are also many more budget friendly options.
What to do and see in Suchitoto?
- Boat tour Lago Suchitlan
- Cascada Los Tercios
- Piscinas El Mangal
- Plate museum
- Main square
I hope this blog post with the perfect El Salvador itinerary was helpful.
Check out more El Salvador blog posts below to help you plan your trip: