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The Top 5 Things to Love About El Salvador

Tucked between the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala and Honduras, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. And yet, while this little country may not be as popular with expats as some other Central American countries, El Salvador is a treasure just waiting to be discovered.

Nicknamed “the land of volcanoes”, El Salvador has much to offer both tourists and expats, including stunning scenic beauty, kind and welcoming locals, unbeatable surf, and in recent years, the conversion of the national currency to the U.S. dollar.

So what else sets El Salvador apart from its neighboring countries, and what should potential expats experience if they’re considering a move to El Salvador?

1) Begin with a swim in the healing waters of Lake Alegria

Photo: Nacho

Photo: Nacho Mendez

The pristine, flower-filled town of Alegria, El Salvador, provides visitors with breathtaking scenery in a laid-back small town setting. Once you arrive, the gorgeous Laguna Alegria is less than a 2 mile hike from town.

Laguna Alegria is a brilliant green sulphur lake that formed within the massive crater of Volcano Tecapa. Thought to have medicinal properties by many who swim in the soothing waters, there is a legend surrounding the lake about a mysterious siren who seeks out handsome young men from her home beneath the surface.

2) Next, follow El Salvador’s famous “Ruta de las Flores”

Photo: Smith Fischer

Photo: Smith Fischer

Running through lush coffee forests, this 40 km route (almost 25 miles) will guide you through some of the most scenic areas in El Salvador.

Named for the abundance of flowers growing along the road, which will bloom brightest from November to February, the “Ruta de las Flores” begins in Sonsonate and is easy to reach from the main beach town of La Libertad.

As you travel down the road, you will move through a handful of small, colonial towns. Juayua is first on the list and is a definite must-see.

The colonial homes in the town of Ataco are lavishly painted, and some are even adorned with intricate murals. The weekends are the best in Ataco when there is live music and food and craft stalls set up, but–be warned–the weekends are also the busiest.

3) Get a feel for colonial life in the town of Suchitoto

Photo: Adalberto Vega

Photo: Adalberto Vega

A popular spot with tourists and a common weekend getaway for San Salvador residents, Suchitoto makes its home on the banks of Lake Suchitlan.

Located in the center of El Salvador, Suchitoto is rich in culture and tradition that can be experienced, from the cobblestone of the streets to the columns of the historic architecture.

Equipped with hotels, restaurants, museums, and art galleries, Suchitoto is a town to be savored.

Gaze upon the ethereal Church of Santa Lucia (built in 1853) and stroll through the weekend craft fair as you fill your bags with handmade hammocks, jewelry, ornaments, and ceramics.

4) Walk in the footsteps of the Maya at Tazumal

Photo: David Stanley

Photo: David Stanley

Tazumal in Chalchuapa, is a major Mayan archaeological site, and the ruins are considered to be the most well-preserved in the country.

Only 82 km (about 50 miles) from San Salvador, the remains of this ancient city date back to around 5000 BC with the main building standing at 24 meters high.

If you visit Tazumal, which means “pyramid where the victims were burned” in the Quiche language, you will observe jade and mud structures and sculptures as you walk in the footsteps of an ancient civilization.

5) Take a “do nothing” moment on the beach at El Tunco

Photo: Micheal Peters

Photo: Micheal Peters

Just 37 km (23 miles) from the capital city of San Salvador, or a one hour bus ride, the beach at El Tunco is located on El Salvador’s Pacific coastline.

Boasting sunny days all year long, the temperature here hovers between 27°C (80°F) and 35°C (95°F).

While many people flock to El Tunco for the unbeatable surf, the black sand beach is also the perfect spot to eat some good food and simply do nothing, as you stretch out and watch the sun set out over the Pacific.

Travel down to El Salvador

Although overshadowed by many other destinations in Central America, the small country of El Salvador should not be forgotten.

Follow the “Ruta de las Flores”, trek through the ruins of Tazumal, and finish your trip soaking your tired muscles in the emerald waters of Laguna Alegria.

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