Don't Miss Places In El Salvador
When Spanish soldiers conquered what is now El Salvador in 1524, they founded the city of San Salvador. It was named after a Roman Catholic festival, San Salvador del Mundo, which means Holy Savior of the World. Later, the whole country was named after the city. El Salvador is Central America’s smallest and most densely populated country. The majority of the people are descended from the indigenous and Spanish settlers. The climate is tropical, and during the rainy season, which lasts from May to October, it rains every afternoon.
These top ten attractions are the not to be missed places in El Salvador.
Iglesia El Salvador
The Church of El Rosario (Iglesia El Salvador) is located in the center of the city of San Salvador. Its main attractions are its glass windows and iron sculptures, architectural work that were commissioned from master Ruben Martinez. The church is located in the Centro Historico and does not look like much from the outside, but inside it effectively plays with the resources of the natural light and provides beautiful lighting to the interior of the church as reflected in its marvelous stained-glass windows. Witnessing this magical spectacle of light and colors as it happens is awesome and worth experiencing. The sunlight expands from the inside throughout the entire interior of the old church. The place of the Blessed Sacrament is also very impressive.
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The church is a perfect example of the country’s grand churches that were built by powerful Spanish landowners who wanted to show off their wealth during the early days of colonization. The basement area has tributes to former priests and bishops who served there. It is a religious building that breaks with the usual schemes both at the architectural level and in its collection of images. It is a place you should certainly visit if you admire abstract design and religious architecture. At sunset, the evening light produces a feeling of indescribable bliss.
This crater of a huge volcano over the years has become a lake. To reach Lake Coatepeque, you need to rent a boat that will take you across the lake and allow you to tour the beautiful beaches and resorts that surround it. Do not miss the hot springs area that can be found in the lake near the island. Ask about it when you take the boat, most of the fishermen know where this place is. You can also enjoy a good swim after climbing the volcano (Santa Ana). You can even have dinner or lunch on the water with a breathtaking view of the lake with its beautiful colors.
The lake is 45 minutes away from the capital city, San Salvador. It is the most precious natural gem that is hidden in the thumb of Central America and remains enchanted. It's a beautiful place to behold that conveys a sense of tranquility and relaxation. The history of its formation, the events that have taken place on the lake and its legends are very interesting to discover. There are many options for tourists with wide selections of hotels, shops, and restaurants on the shores.
Santa Ana Volcano
Reaching the top of the Santa Ana volcano requires a long hike along trail paths of average difficulty but it is quite worth it. The place is just magical and can be climbed by most healthy people. Once at the top, the feeling of freedom and as well as the general majesty of the place will fill you up and take away all your tiredness.
The view of the lake that was formed inside the crater is astounding. From the top of the volcano, there is a spectacular view of Lake Coatepeque and straight ahead you can see the top of the volcano Izalco. This is one of the most beautiful places in El Salvador as it has an impressive landscape, climate, and vegetation.
To reach the crater, you must first go through various coffee farms that dominate in the area and travel on some unpaved roads. From here, you can access several places, one of them is the Green Hill Park and another is Parque Los Andes, an ecological reserve.
Santa Ana Cathedral
The Santa Ana Cathedral is one of the best and largest cathedrals in Central America. It is built in Gothic style with a unique and captivating architectural structure on its facade. The Cathedral of Santa Ana is the head of a perfect cross that consists of four churches. Inside, there are guides that explain every detail of its history, design and how it was built in 1906. The Teatro de Santa Ana, another old building, is located on the right side of this cathedral and is also worth visiting.
Parque Nacional El Boqueron
The structure of this attraction is very simple but functional with good signage along the road making it easy to find. The view is impressive and there are many guards and guides who take care of it. The climb to this volcanic crater is worth it, but one should be physically prepared for going up and down the makeshift stairs. Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee from the coffee beans that grow there. It also has many nice restaurants with terraces that provide excellent views across San Salvador that is just twenty minutes away by foot.
At the small museum at its entrance, visitors can meet the animals that inhabit the Parque Nacional El Boqueron and even see the typical clothing of the indigenous Mayan tribe. It is well maintained with lovely flowers and unique landscape.
There is ample parking space and easy access to the manicured lawns of the promenade area. There is also a trail leading to the top for viewing the crater. You will need to pay $1 per person. This trail is well marked and short, but it offers several steps that lead to the viewing platform. From this point, the view of the crater is gorgeous. If the weather is not overcast, you can reach the crater which was covered with water until 1917, the date of its last eruption. It is approximately 1850 meters up and provides excellent views of San Salvador.
Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site
Joya de Ceren is a pre-Columbian site located in the vicinity of San Salvador. It was inhabited by at least 400 families as a farming village of San Andrés and was abandoned because of the eruption of the Laguna Caldera. The site allows you to understand the daily life of the Mayan people who lived here 1,400 years ago. It is the only known site of the Mayan people in El Salvador. It is also one of the most important archeological sites in Mesoamerica that shows what life was like for ordinary people who survived the harsh conditions of its geological formations. Therefore, it is often called the Pompeii of America, compared to the archeological site of Pompeii which is located in Italy.
The visiting area is small, but you can see houses with unique shapes and distribution. Explore both the museum and the excavations with a guide to have a better understanding of what every part represents. Take the time to explore the ruins of a Mayan village covered by a volcano. The Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site is a place where you can contemplate the cultural beauty of a country as well as an incredible educational opportunity.
Located in central San Salvador, the modern cathedral stands opposite the civic center and near the National Palace Square. This site has a gray part in recent history because of the slaughter of "the steps of the Cathedral" in 1979 and the massacre during the funeral of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980, whose tomb can be found in the crypt under the temple. This famous archbishop was murdered by the military for his defense of the most dispossessed people of El Salvador. Now, it is a gathering place and there you can appreciate how the locals have made this man a national saint.
When visiting San Salvador, you must become familiar with the three locations built in memory of Monsignor Romero and the Martyrs of the war: 1) His tomb beneath the Cathedral of San Salvador, 2) The small hospital where he was assassinated while giving a mass and 3) Museum of the Jesuits at the UCA (where a museum in memory of the murdered Jesuits is now called the Monsignor Romero Center). For its people, it is an unforgettable memorial of struggle against social injustice and violence. If you want to explore the surroundings, do it with extreme caution and do so in a group as there are still threats to the security of this religious structure. At the nearby palace square, stop by a local store and try the local delicacy called “puspusas.” The festivities are usually held in August and are well attended by thousands of faithful devotees.
Chorros de la Calera
This waterfall is located in the city of Juayua, a beautiful place that is worth visiting to enjoy a perfect getaway. Be prepared with very comfortable clothing and water sandals to enjoy a trek to the idyllic waterfalls of the Chorros de la Calera.
The best time to visit here is at the end of the dry season. The sight of the cascading falls is an ideal place to de-stress and forget the routine of everyday life while being surrounded by gorgeous nature in the company of family and friends. It is an excellent place that gets very crowded sometimes because of the number of tourists that come by for a visit. Many come to swim or just to take pictures of the falls.
Its landscape and water jets are perfectly nestled in the mountains and surrounded by the lush vegetation of its forest. Walk along a wild trail path and be surprised by the waterfalls that emerge miraculously from the rocks. Be careful when stepping on its dangerous and slippery steps but take the time to enjoy a good dip in its cool waters.
El Tunco Beach
The El Tunco Beach is 15 minutes away from Puerto de La Libertad and is a destination that offers multiple options for learning and practicing how to surf. There you can find many options for eating, places to stay, internet access, and businesses for renting surfboards. You’ll also find some accessory shops where you can buy some beach clothing and souvenirs. Don’t forget to enjoy delicious seafood dishes and try some of the nightlife at the bars that line its coast.
Depending on the time of year, you’ll find different bars with a variety of prices and some with cover charges. It is an ideal outlet to hear good live music in the company of friends while enjoying the sand and the cool breeze.
Iglesia Santa Lucia
The town of Suchitoto is charming and the church that stands in the main square is well worth a visit. The interior colonial style bears traces of indigenous art that is typical of the artisans in El Salvador. The square in front of the church also has many craft shops that are worth checking out. This century-old church has been recently restored with the support of the Spanish Cooperation and the work they have done is amazing, especially because they discovered and recovered the original colors of the paint on the walls.
The images and the colonial architecture here have been well preserved and the church is surrounded by colonial houses and cobblestone streets. It's nice to observe a sign at many houses that said "this house is free of violence against women" with a bird on a branch symbolizing an admirable municipal initiative. The Santa Lucia Church is a jewel in the colonial city of Suchitoto.