The capital of El Salvador’s reputation is ruined by the violent gangs in the city such as MS-13 and Barrio 18. This understandably keeps lots of travelers away. But the reality is foreigners getting caught up in the violence is largely unheard of. A visit to San Salvador is like visiting most cities if common sense is used. Visit the national cathedral and see the tomb of Oscar Romero. Hike to the top of the Devil’s Gates and get amazing views of San Salvador and the surrounding volcanoes. Also check out some of the Mayan ruins and even experience local night life!
Cerro Verde is El Salvador’s most famous and accessible national park known for its scenery. The picture perfect and active volcano of Santa Ana is one of the best views in Cerro Verde. Bird watching, some challenging hiking, and even coffee tours are popular activities here.
For those who love seafood, La Libertad is a must visit in El Salvador. The seaside town has some of the fanciest restaurants in the country with fresh seafood caught daily. Visiting the fisherman’s wharf is also an interesting cultural experience. About 20 minutes away, a great excursion from Libertad is to the sea turtle conservatory. Here you can watch baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean for the first time in their lives.
Nicknamed the Pompei of Central America, Joya de Ceren is an ancient Mayan village that was covered by a volcanic eruption. No bodies were found, but it’s clear everyone evac’ed immediately after the eruption. Expensive jewelry, personal items, and even partially eaten food were all left perfectly preserved. The eruption was believed to have happened about 1,400 years ago, providing a rare time capsule in the New World.
Tazumal is El Salvador’s most impressive Mayan ruin. The giant pyramid rising out of the surrounding jungle and remains largely intact. Archaeologists have recovered many items from the site that are on display at the local museum. In addition to Tazumal, many people visit the nearby villages on the way from San Salvador. Most of the colorful villages have cobblestone streets and and are decorated with flowers. This is known as the Ruta de las Flores.