reasons to visit El Salvador

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit El Salvador.

El Salvador is the smallest Central American country. For it´s size however, it offers a great amount of nature and attractions.

El Salvador is home to beautiful beaches, world-class waves for surfing, waterfalls, volcanoes as well as ancient ruins and colorful town. Everything you are looking for in a Central American country!

My favorite part is that it is, compared to other countries, much less visited by tourists.

cover reasons to visit El Salvador

1. Incredible nature

If you are a nature lover, you will find many places that you´re going to love El Salvador.

From beautiful beaches to waterfalls, lakes, volcanoes and hot springs – El Salvador has it all. It´s incredible nature is definitely one of the best reasons to visit El Salvador, there is so much to explore here!

El Salvador has, as the only Central American country, only Pacific coast and no Caribbean coast.

Therefor all beaches are generally of darker color and also have quite high waves and currents. Most beaches are still suitable for swimming though or at least to cool off in the water quickly.

My favorite beach in El Salvador

Mizata beach – much calmer than the more famous surf towns El Tunco and El Zonte. There is also a local family here going baby turtle hatchings, which you might be able to join, if you are lucky. 

My favorite waterfall in El Salvador

Salto de Malacatiupan – this is actually a waterfall and hot spring combined. One of my favorite hot springs on this planet, do not miss out on this place!!

Other beautiful places for nature lovers in El Salvador:

  • Santa Ana volcano
  • Boqueron National Park
  • Cerro Verde National Park
  • Lago de Coatepeque
  • Laguna Verde
  • Laguna Alegria
  • Cascada Los Tercios
  • Lago Suchitlan
  • Cascadas el Chorreron
  • Cascadas Las Pilas
  • Cascada La Olomina
  • La Union
  • Playa El Esteron
  • Playa El Espino

If you are planning your trip to El Salvador and are still looking for an itinerary, check out THIS BLOG POST

Salto Malacatiupan (hot spring waterfall)
Salto Malacatiupan (hot spring waterfall)
Laguna Verde
Laguna Verde

2. World-class surfing

One of the things El Salvador is best known for is it´s world-class surfing. If you´re into surfing or want to try surfing, this is a great reason to visit El Salvador!

Especially the beach towns El Tunco and El Zonte are famous for it´s waves and surfers from all over the world come to El Salvador to surf here!

The ministry of tourism is putting a lot of effort into developing “Surf City” in El Salvador. While the main town is El Tunco, Surf City is expanded to the entire area.

There are many surf schools along the beaches here and it´s a great place to take a class, even as a beginner. Surf lessons start at around 15 USD per hour, depening on factors such as group size and instructor.

I did a private surf lesson at one of the surf schools in El Zonte and loved it! Highly recommend, if you always wanted to try surfing!

The waves in El Zonte are mostly gentle and great for beginners.

El Tunco is the main surf hub and for the more advanced surfers. This is also where International competitions take place quite often due to it´s incredible waves!

Surf City
Surf City
El Zonte beach
El Zonte beach

3. Less tourists

For me personally the best reason to visit El Salvador – less tourists!

The beach towns El Tunco and El Zonte are definitely the most touristy part of the country and prices for hotels, food etc. are much higher here than in other parts of El Salvador. However, there are also many places with decent street food and local family restaurants with decent prices.

Some other places like for example the Santa Ana volcano, are quite popular with tourists as well and can get pretty crowded at times.

Most of the rest of El Salvador is much less touristy though and you might hardly see any International tourists at all outside of the more famous beach towns.

Some places like the Boqueron National Park for example are quite popular for domestic tourism. On weekends and holidays some places get really busy with locals enjoying time with their families.

Less tourists means also a more authentical experience. For example Costa Rica got so touristy that you can hardly find an authentic local experience in most parts of the country.

In most of El Salvador, you still get a very authentic and local experience though, which I love!

Some of my favorite off the beaten path destinations in El Salvador:

  • Laguna Alegria
  • Mizata
  • Laguna Verde
  • Cascadas El Chorreron
  • Salto de Malacatiupan (not exactly a secret but not very well visited either)

Most of those places get visited only by locals and on weekends and holidays it can get busy, so visit during the week instead, if you can!

Check out THIS blog post for more hidden gems in El Salvador. 

Cascadas Las Pilas
Laguna Alegria
Laguna Alegria

4. Increased safety

You might have heard about El Salvador being an unsafe country to travel. While that was, up to a certain degree, true until recently, the government has taken quite intense action against the gangs in the country not so long ago.

In a matter of months, thousands of people were put into jail and now El Salvador is considered one of the safest countries in Central America.

Now, I am not taking any sides here, I have been reading a lot of bad things in terms of human rights with all these people in prison, but I can say first hand that all the locals I talked to are very happy with this new situation and are enjoying their new freedom and safety.

As a blonde, female solotraveler I have personally not had a single issue in any Central American country. I always make sure to be aware of my surroundings, use common sense and trust my gut.

In addition, I usually avoid staying in bigge cities (which I don´t enjoy anyway) and don´t go out at night.

That keeps me from all trouble and I can say that I felt very safe throughout El Salvador as well as all other Central American countries.

This is not a professional advice, just my own, personal opinion.

San Salvador main square
San Salvador main square
lunch at the seafood market in La Libertad

5. Low prices

Being a less touristy country, El Salvador is also still a very affordable place to travel to. One of the best reasons to visit El Salvador before it get´s more touristy and more expensive.

With exception of the touristy beach towns El Tunco and El Zonte, visiting the country is really affordable and you can easily travel through the country on a low budget.

You can still find affordable places to stay and eat in the surf towns as well, but there are quite a few upscale hotels and International restaurants with higher prices around as well.

Below is an overview of some different prices:

  • Dorm per night: 5-15 USD per night
  • Budget hotel room: 15-50 USD per night
  • Upscale hotel room: 70-200 USD per night
  • Street food: 1-4 USD per meal
  • Local restaurant: 5-10 USD per meal
  • International restaurant: 10-20 USD per meal
  • Beer price: 1 USD
  • Gas price: 1 USD per liter
  • Public bus: 0.25-2 USD per trip (depending on distance)

As you can see, prices are quite affordable, which makes El Salvador a great destination for budget travel. (Prices are approximate and based on the time I visited in November 2022)

lunch at Lago Coatepeque
local beer Pilsener
local beer Pilsener

Convinced to add El Salvador to your travel bucketlist? I hope so, it´s worth it!

Check out more El Salvador blog posts below to help you plan your trip: