The long-suffering capital of El Salvador offers both a vibrant introduction to local culture and a gateway to some of the country’s most scenic regions, so don’t spend all your time in the city. Take in the highlights on a multi-day tour or if you’re going it alone, here are some ideas to make the most of three days in San Salvador.
Make an early start and take a walking tour of downtown San Salvador, admiring top attractions like the landmark National Theater and the dazzling El Rosario Church, then explore the impressive Mayan ruins of the Joya de Cerén archeological site. In the afternoon, head to the El Boquerón National Park, just outside of the city, where you can climb the San Salvador volcano for a view over the capital and hike down into the 1,600-foot deep caldera.
There are numerous opportunities for day trips from San Salvador, but our top pick is the charming colonial town of Suchitoto, less than an hour north of the city. Set on the banks of Lake Suchitlán, Suchitoto is a hotspot for hiking and bird watching, but the town itself is also worth a visit, with its impressive colonial architecture and many arts and handicrafts shops. Alternatively, head to the Pacific coast resort of La v, where keen surfers can tackle the world-famous Punta Roca break and sunseekers can enjoy miles of sandy coastline.
Set aside a whole day to take in the Cerro Verde National Park, one of El Salvador’s most striking natural landscapes and home to the Izalco, Cerro Verde and Santa Ana volcanoes. Scale the 2,381-meter summit of Santa Ana, El Salvador’s highest and most active volcano, take a bird-watching tour of the Cerro Verde cloud forest, then cool off with a dip in the nearby Coatepeque crater lake.