Any visitor familiar with basic
Spanish, the country's official language, will be able to get a feel for the hustle and
bustle of San Salvador, the country's metropolis. 1,5 million people live here at the foot
of the eponymous volcano that shadows this earthquake-ravaged city. San Salvador attracts
many rural Salvadorans in search of a better life, many of them ending up in the city's
San Salvador is nonetheless a
welcoming, modern city with a well-developed network of hotels and tourist sectors. Its
downtown area features several interesting attractions. The circa-1888 cathedral's
architecture features Romanesque and Byzantine influences as well as naive frescoes. A few
museums also await curious travellers, among which the Guzmán National Museum of
Anthropology, the Museum of Art of Salvador, a sculpture museum, a popular art museum as
well as the City museum and two superb botanical gardens. Also near the city is Balboa
Park, a green space with playgrounds where families can escape the day-to-day city life.
El Salvador has more than its capital city to offer
though. The wild relief of its Pacific coastline harbours some beautiful beaches. North of
the coast, nature enthusiasts will love the Barra de Santiago region and its natural
reserve bordered with mangroves. To the south stretches the famous Costa del Sol area, a
well-developed region which attracts many surfers. Located a short 30 minutes from the
international airport, it is home to three distinct beaches: San Marcelino, Los Blancos
and the more touristy Costa del Sol.
The western part
of El Salvador also offers many interesting attractions. Replete with volcanic landscapes,
crystal-clear lakes and colonial villages, its hills are dotted with coffee plantations
and its roads are lined with rows of flowers. Travellers can visit the pre-Columbian ruins
found in Joya de Cerén and San Andrés. The country's second largest city, Santa Ana
features a historic central area that reveals several Baroque and neoclassical buildings
dating from the turn of the 20th century, as well as a Gothic cathedral, the national
theatre house and the Museo de Occidente. The Lago de Coatepeque, one of the most
beautiful lakes in El Salvador, can also be found in the western part of the country.
Those who are interested in ancient civilizations will definitely want to visit the
museums in Tazumal and Casa Blanca.
In addition to the
exhuberant Ruta de las Flores (a flower-lined road) the area surrounding Ahuachapán, near
Guatemala, also boasts two beautiful national parks: Volcano and El Imposible. The former
features a welcoming countryside dotted with volcanoes teeming in lush vegetation, while
the latter is home to the country's richest biodiversity. Along the Ruta de las Flores
you'll find the colonial village of Apaneca and its surroundings, where visitors can
stroll through beautiful lagoons and browse in artisan's hamlets.
The eastern part of El Salvador is where you'll find a more authentic
rural atmosphere. This is also the country's hotbed of ecotourism. Alegría is the
country's poetry capital, with texts painted on the city's walls for visitors to read
while strolling. San Miguel, a city that has retained traces of its colonial past,
nonetheless marches to a modern beat. It harbours the regional Museo del Oriente. Amateur
archaeologists should visit Quelepa, the site of the ancient civilization of Lenca.
History buffs interested in the country's 1980s civil war should take the Road of Peace,
in the northeast, which is also sure to please nature lovers.
Finally, El Salvador's northern region boasts several hidden natural
beauties which should be discovered before the area's tourism industry catches on.
Suchitoto, for example, still presents a rather colonial facade, with its adobe buildings,
paved alleys and artistic atmosphere. The surrounding mountains are perfect for hikers who
wish to walk with their heads in the clouds. Lastly, San Ignacio and its surroundings
offer visitors numerous natural and agricultural (indigo) sites, as well as hamlets where
artisans sell their wood sculptures.
Where on earth
A small state covering an area of 21,000 km2, El
Salavador is the only Central American country without a coastline on the Caribbean Sea.
The country's dense and mostly rural population numbers about 6,700,000 inhabitants, most
of them Roman Catholics of mixed origin (Amerindian and Spanish). The country's 300 km of
coastline, located between the south of Guatemala and Honduras, is bathed by the Pacific
Ocean. With its tropical climate and fertile volcanic plateau, El Salvador's arable lands
are well suited for coffee and cotton plantations.