Not always first on everyone’s travel list, this is an underrated destination but that’s part of its appeal. You won’t find loads of tourist crowds in this Central American country and it’s all the better for it. Bordered by both Honduras and Guatemala it’s filled with protected national parks, volcanos, excellent surfing, black sand beaches and incredible wildlife. Here are my favorite most beautiful places to visit in El Salvador…
1. El Boquerón National Park
Nestled on the outskirts of San Salvador, El Boquerón National Park invites all to witness the harmonious blend of tranquillity and exhilaration, and proudly showcases the awe-inspiring grandeur of the natural world. The park’s centrepiece, a majestic volcano, reveals a verdant crater that elicits a profound sense of awe and curiosity.
Amidst the embrace of a mist-laden cloud forest, a vibrant symphony of diverse flora and fauna enchants visitors’ senses. Adventurers can embark on memorable treks along winding trails, immersing themselves in the park’s captivating beauty. Along the way, they can pause to indulge in idyllic picnics, basking in the sweeping panoramas that stretch before them.
2. Puerto de la Libertad
Stretching along the iridescent Pacific coastline of El Salvador, the charming Puerto de la Libertad is a shorefront gem that embraces the essence of beauty and calmness. Just a short distance from the vibrant capital city of San Salvador, this enchanting town boasts glimmering golden beaches which beckon sunseekers to a blissful repose, while the world-class waves entice avid surfers.
Visitors flock here to immerse themselves in local life as they traverse the bustling fish market and savour the aroma of freshly caught seafood. You can also embark on a scenic boat ride, venturing into the azure depths to witness the mesmerizing marine world.
3. Playa El Tunco
Perched majestically along the untainted shores of El Salvador’s Pacific Coast, Playa El Tunco emerges as an enchanting coastal paradise, blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and a vibrant atmosphere that transcends the ordinary.
A breathtaking ocean backdrop invites relaxation and reflection upon the golden sands, caressed by the cerulean waves that beckon surfers from around the world.
Despite its popular surf scene, Play El Tunco’s laid-back ambiance during the day sets the stage for leisurely strolls along the palm-fringed shoreline. By night, visitors are invited to indulge in delicious food at beachfront restaurants, before embracing the lively nightlife that reverberates through El Tunco’s bars and clubs.
4. Lago de Coatepeque
Lake Coatepeque is a large crater lake surrounded by wooded hills in western El Salvador. It’s a place where one can detach from the burdens of the world and immerse oneself in the profound beauty of nature’s masterwork. Cradled within a volcanic crater, Coatepeque’s cerulean waters mirror the enchanting sky above and are adorned with surrounding hills and lush greenery.
It is the most idyllic spot for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Besides unwinding on its serene shores, visitors can enjoy the captivating sunsets that paint the horizon in hues of amber and crimson, which infuse the soul with a sense of wonder.
5. National Theater of Santa Ana
Here we have a haven of artistic excellence, set gracefully in the beating heart of Santa Ana. It showcases a fusion of neoclassical and baroque influences, from its elaborate facades to its intricate carvings and ornate detailing, all of which evoke a sense of timeless elegance.
Visitors can enjoy live performances in its harrowed halls, which shine a light on the rich cultural heritage of the region. Additionally, the theatre hosts art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops, providing a thriving hub of creative expression.
A collection of historical artifacts from the theatre’s early years and its era as a cinema can be discovered in a compact museum archive located adjacent to the main lobby.
Nestled amidst the majestic mountains of El Salvador’s Cuscatlán department, the enchanting town of Suchitoto radiates an irresistible allure.
Its well-preserved colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and iconic red-tiled roofs seamlessly transport visitors to a bygone era of timeless beauty. Overlooking the serene waters of Lake Suchitlán, this cultural haven beckons with captivating art galleries that breathe life into local masterpieces.
Visitors can indulge in the delights of traditional cuisine at charming cafés and restaurants, immersing themselves in a symphony of flavours. During the day, you can embark on epic boat excursions across the tranquil lake, embraced by the serenity of the surroundings.
7. Plan de la Laguna Botanical Garden
Plan de la Laguna Botanical Garden is a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Nestled on the outskirts of San Salvador, this ethereal sanctuary enchants visitors with its vibrant floral tapestry and serene atmosphere.
The lush foliage unfolds along beautiful pathways, where each step ignites the senses, and watching the birds flit amidst the leaves is a must-do activity.
Around the gardens, you’ll discover secluded alcoves, ideal for a spot of quiet contemplation and inner reflection. The garden also offers educational programs and workshops, allowing visitors to deepen their appreciation for the natural world.
8. La Cocotera Resort
Cherished moments and unforgettable experiences await at La Cocotera Resort. This luxury boutique, located on an exclusive sandy beach, offers 6 gracefully furnished rooms. It is nestled in a coconut palm grove, where the shoreline is caressed by cerulean waves that beckon visitors to a spot of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Guests can indulge in a myriad of activities, from invigorating water sports to once-in-a-lifetime sightings of sea turtles being released. In the evening, you can savour the tastes inspired by the bounties of the ocean on-site, before unwinding in an elegant guestroom which is meticulously crafted and boasts state-of-the-art amenities.
Here we have a charming mountain town whose allure lies in its idyllic blend of untouched landscapes and vibrant culture. Nestled in the heart of Ahuachapan, Apaneca showcases cascading waterfalls, rolling coffee plantations, and emerald-green hills that stretch as far as the eye can see.
Strolling through the town’s streets, visitors are transported to a bygone era, where colonial architecture evokes the grandeur of yesteryear, and bustling markets offer a glimpse into the local craftmanship. You can also embark on exhilarating, picturesque hikes along Ruta de las Flores, where nature’s wonders unfold at every twist and turn.
10. Playa San Diego
Cherished memories await at Playa San Diego, caressed by the gentle breeze of the Pacific. Gracefully embracing the sun-kissed shores of El Salvador’s department of La Libertad, this beach holiday spot is a hidden gem that boasts powdery golden sands and turquoise waters.
As the sun sets, hues of orange and pink paint the sky in a magnificent display, making for a memorable, romantic evening. During the day, you can meander along the coastline and savour the tantalizing flavours of fresh seafood delicacies offered by local vendors, or engage in thrilling water sports such as surfing or snorkeling in the vibrant coral reefs.
11. National Park Cerro Verde
Nestled near Santa Ana, Cerro Verde National Park captivates with its stunning volcanic peaks and lush greenery. The dense forests teem with vibrant flora and fauna, and there are many viewpoints which reveal the vast Pacific Ocean. Adventurers can conquer nearby volcanoes, while birdwatchers can delight in a kaleidoscope of colourful species.
This enchanting sanctuary, embraced by misty highlands, invites exploration along its trails, where ancient trees whisper tales of time. Cerro Verde National Park is a symphony of natural marvels, where the interplay of landscapes and wildlife creates an immersive experience, stirring the senses and inspiring a profound connection to the beauty of El Salvador’s wilderness.
12. Walter Thilo Deininger National Park
Located in the coastal department of La Libertad, Walter Thilo Deininger National Park stands as a gateway to El Salvador’s natural splendour and is one of the country’s most popular weekend retreats.
With its diverse ecosystems spanning from lush forests to pristine beaches, the park beckons explorers to witness the harmonious interplay of land and sea. Vibrant biodiversity thrives within its boundaries, boasting rare flora and fauna that enchant the senses.
Adventurous souls can embark on thrilling hikes, immersing themselves in verdant trails that lead to hidden waterfalls, while beach enthusiasts can luxuriate in sun-soaked serenity or partake in adrenaline-fuelled water sports.
Set in the charming region of Sonsonate, the idyllic town of Juayúa is enveloped by undulating hills and adorned with verdant coffee plantations.
Its colonial architecture, resplendent with vibrant facades and charming cobblestone streets, evokes an air of timeless elegance and cultural allure. Delving into the heart of Juayúa, visitors are enticed by the bustling food market, a vibrant tapestry of flavours and aromas that showcase the region’s gastronomic prowess.
Nature’s splendour awaits as adventurers discover nearby cascading waterfalls like the ethereal Los Chorros de la Calera, while the surrounding mountains beckon with enchanting trails for scenic hikes.
14. La Libertad
La Libertad offers an enchanting blend of natural wonders, thrilling activities, culinary treasures, and authentic experiences, ensuring a memorable stay in El Salvador.
Gracefully adorning the captivating Pacific coastline of El Salvador, this radiant town is endowed with pristine, sun-kissed beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Surfers flock here to conquer the legendary, world-famous waves, while sunseekers come for a moment of blissful relaxation.
You can uncover the vibrant local culture and soak up a pulsating night scene here, as well as savour the fresh delicacies that define coastal cuisine at the seafood market.
15. La Palma
Nestled within the Chalatenango department, the captivating town of La Palma unveils itself as a haven of unparalleled beauty and cultural opulence. Embraced by majestic mountains and verdant valleys, it offers a serene refuge for wanderers seeking respite.
The town’s architectural marvels showcase an exquisite artistic heritage, with colonial-style buildings adorned in intricate woodwork and vibrant murals that decorate the streets like living canvases.
Delving into the artistic realm, visitors can immerse themselves in the enchanting ambiance of numerous art galleries and workshops. For those craving adventure, exhilarating day hikes through undulating hills and lush forests offer an opportunity to commune with nature’s bountiful splendour.
Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.