Best of El Salvador

7 days

Experience the best things to do in El Salvador during this trip; culture, nature, food, and beaches make this small Central American country extraordinary. This beautiful tour lets you learn firsthand all the country’s customs and traditions along with its natural diversity and friendly inhabitants.

Suchitoto

Volcano Izalco

San Andres Ruins

Lake Coatepeque

Highlights

San Salvador, Archeological sites of Joya de Ceren and San Andres, Suchitoto, Lake Suchitlan, Cerro Verde National Park, the Flowers Route, the Pacific Coast, and more. 

Itinerary

Day 1. San Salvador

Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting for you at the international airport for your transfer to your hotel. The trip starts today in San Salvador, the capital of the country. Following significant restoration and maintenance work, the shaded plazas and pedestrianized main zones of the central city have never been safer and more pleasant to explore. Surrounded by breathtaking volcanoes, the city is a good-looking capital. 

We will take a walking tour of the city this morning, including the leading attractions in the town, including its church of ‘El Rosario.’ This vast concrete church seems uninspiring from the outside. Still, the architects have smartly designed a spectacular arched roof, covered entirely in fanned-out windows of colored stained glass that cast a rainbow of natural light through the cobblestone floor. This unusual and abstract piece of art contrasts sharply with the colonial and classical architecture we’ll see elsewhere in the city, for example, at the Grand National Palace.

We can shift the day depending on your arrival flight time; for example, if you arrive at night, we would offer you a simple transfer to your hotel with a stop to eat Pupusas. Then we can do a full-day tour of El Salvador the next day. On Sundays, certain activities like the Rosario Church are not open to the public. So you need to plan day one from Monday to Saturday. 

Day 2. San Andres & Joya de Ceren

Today, you will tour the Mayan site of San Andres and Joya de Ceren. Please, keep in mind that all Mayan sites in El Salvador are closed on Mondays. 

The archeologists reported that San Andres was a ceremonial, political and commercial center; it used to be a monumental ancient city. The site has the Acropolis, a high-rise square with pyramids and houses at the top. 

The Acropolis was typical in Mayan cities; it was a privileged space for royalty and a symbol of its important social status. In the north, we found a great plaza on the north side where you’ll find other temples, including one pyramid with a bell shape. 

UNESCO declared Joya de Cerén a World Heritage Site, this archeological site gives an understanding of the everyday life of a 1,400 years-old Mayan farming settlement, and it is the only UNESCO site in El Salvador. An eruption of the Caldera Lagoon buried the small farm of this site with volcanic ash; for this reason, archeologists call it the New Pompeii of the Americas. Today’s state of conservation is remarkable, which is one of the best things to do in El Salvador. 

On the way to Suchitoto, we can visit towns like San Sebastian to see the working floor looms and textiles, Ilobasco for clay and pottery workshops and handicrafts, and Cojutepeque for a lovely afternoon view of the Ilopango lake.

We will arrive in the peaceful lakeside town of Suchitoto in the evening. All along your time in the country, you may have realized a distinct clapping sound in the street – the sound of women patting down great circles of corn dough stuffed with mixtures of black beans, vegetables, cheese, and meats before cooking on a hot plate and served up to the locals. These delightful dishes are called ‘Pupusas’ and are the national dish of El Salvador.  During this trip, you’ll always have time to sit for a well-deserved local treat.

Day 3. Suchitoto

Today you’ll discover Suchitoto, the timeless village with cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, and an impressive colonial church in a leafy plaza. It was once at the heart of the indigo trade in the country, and we’ll have the opportunity to participate in an indigo workshop in the afternoon. Additionally, we will take a boat trip out onto Lake Suchitlan, where hundreds of bird species live, including hawks and falcons.

Suchitoto is a city that feels like time has stopped, preserving the old adobe homes with red-tiled roofs and open Spanish colonial-style courtyards built in the early 1800s. Go back in time through its delightful cobbled streets and colorful houses with the smell of culture and history. It will give an emphatic change to your visit to El Salvador, getting away from the city and discovering the uniqueness of colonial towns. It is, in fact, an excellent experience. 

Your guide will take you to the essential points of the city while you understand the importance of this village, emblematic buildings such as the theater, and without missing the Church of Santa Lucia, You will be able to explore the craft shops and indigo stores. 

Day 4. Cerro Verde National Park

Today, you will explore the imposing volcanoes, and a delightful lake, during this far-reaching day tour in El Salvador. During this expedition, you’ll discover the country’s most diverse volcanoes, including Santa Ana, Cerro Verde, and Izalco. These skyward summits harbor abundant uncommon ecosystems and plant life to find. Then check out dazzling Lake Coatepeque during lunch. 

After this experience, we’ll drive to the town of Concepcion de Ataco, one of the most multicolored and charming cities in El Salvador and part of the famous Ruta de Las Flores (The Flowers Route). The cobbled stone streets show the rich colonial heritage of this town. 

Day 5. The Flowers Route

Explore the entire Flowers Route in the country’s west in one day. With a professional guide, go to five colorful provincial towns (Juayua, Ataco, Apaneca, Nahuizalco, and Salcoatitan) and see their churches, markets, coffee plantations, waterfalls, and other must-seen. Additionally, going with a local guide means you can achieve insight into each town along the route. 

We drive down the coast to La Libertad, widely regarded as one of the best surfing spots in the Americas. La Libertad has various beaches on the Pacific Ocean, with access to one of the most astonishing black sand beaches.

Day 6. Tamanique waterfalls

Today, you’ll have a morning outing to the Tamanique waterfalls, then back for lunch or lunch at another nice restaurant overlooking the coast before returning to their hotel. The afternoon is free to relax at the beach. 

Day 7. Return home 

Today, your driver will take you to the international airport. Again as flights always vary, you may have more free time on the beach or along the route; you may add a tour if it’s an afternoon or evening flight.

map, expenses & price

The Best of El Salvador

Expenses included:
-All private transportation.
-Seven nights of hotel accommodations.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-Professional certified guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Daily breakfast.

Per person starting at $1,700

Extensions

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San Salvador full day

The San Salvador full-day tour has several options, such as El Boqueron, a natural park on the top of the San Salvador Volcano. The colorful colonial city of Panchimalco in the mountains of San Salvador. And Puerta del Diablo (literally, “The Devil’s Door”) is at the top of a hill with three principal rock formations with fantastic views – you can decide what options you prefer, including the historic downtown. 

El Boqueron National Park, El Salvador.
Rainforest with sunlight in El Salvador

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Cinquera

The rainforest community of Cinquera is a former guerilla stronghold. The community’s desire is not only to educate people about this crucial part of the country’s history but also to preserve the forest from illegal logging – the trees are a haven for birds, and there are various swimming holes and waterfalls hidden within. You’ll meet an ex-guerilla participant (when available), then hike in the Cinquera Ecological park up to the lookout point, and you’ll have time for a swim at the waterfall.

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Beach

Add to your vacation days to spend as you decide. The beaches on this shoreline are hilly, with superb surf. If you are interested in learning how to surf, this is a great place. Moreover, you may visit a nearby community turtle breeding farm. You can take beautiful coastal hikes if you prefer to stay close to the hotel. 

El Zonte beach in El Salvador
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