Welcome to El Salvador
Wanted: public relations expert to rebrand Central America’s most underrated country. Criteria: passion for adventure and dispelling travel myths. Salary: the honor of righting a travel wrong.El Salvador suffers horribly from bad press. While gang violence still dominates international headlines – and keeps so many adventurous travelers at bay – the vast majority of this beautiful country remains untouched by 'the... Read More
Top experiences in El Salvador
El Salvador activities
San Salvador Layover Combo Tour
Make the most of your San Salvador layover with an excursion through the city and to El Boquerón, the imposing volcano that looks over this Central American metropolis. Meet your private vehicle at the airport, with a knowledgeable local guide if you select that option, and zoom into the center of San Salvador, a city with a half-million inhabitants that is home to ornate churches and intriguing modern architecture. Tour the historic downtown, eying architectural wonders like El Rosario Church, the massive Metropolitan Cathedral, and the neoclassical National Theater, as well as the leafy Salvador del Mundo (‘Savior of the World’) Square. After your overview of downtown, head up 5,905 feet (1,800 m) to El Boquerón, the mouth of the volcano that is an icon of the city. Take about an hour to view the massive crater — it’s 3.1 miles (5 km) in diameter and 1,831 feet (558 m) deep — and a stroll on the pine tree–flanked trails.Decide when and where to stop for a snack or lunch (own expense); in addition to all the choices in town, there are options at the volcano.At the end of your private tour, you’re dropped off back at the airport with ample time to catch your connecting flight.
Private Tour: San Salvador City Sightseeing
After hotel pickup in San Salvador, embark on your morning or afternoon half-day tour, or complete a full-day tour (depending on option selected upon booking). Traveling in the comfort of a private vehicle, chat with your guide about your specific interests. This is your tour, so just let your guide know how much time you want to spend at each attraction.Half-day option (morning or afternoon):Drive to the historical city center — the country's political, economic and religious hub since the 16th century — to visit the main monuments, avenues and squares of San Salvador, including Plaza El Salvador del Mundo (The Savior of the World Plaza) and Plaza Masferrer, then pass through the primary residential zones of the capital city.With your guide, stop by the majestic Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador (Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador), twice visited by Pope John Paul II, who knelt by the Tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero. See the beautiful National Palace of El Salvador, which contains four main rooms and 101 secondary rooms, and admire the characteristic French Renaissance style of the National Theater of El Salvador (Teatro Nacional de El Salvador), declared a national monument in 1979. After viewing El Rosario Church at Plaza Libertad, site of the Monument to the Heroes (Monumento de los Héroes), your guide takes you to San Salvador’s handicraft market, Mercado Nacional de Artesanías. Meander among artisan vendors selling hammocks, textiles, ceramics and other crafts. Then finish at the Municipal Market of Antiguo Cuscatlán — San Salvador’s most affluent region — before you’re dropped off at your hotel.Full-day option:In the morning, you’ll cover all the places specified above during city sightseeing with your guide plus additional San Salvador surroundings in the afternoon. Stop for a delicious lunch at a local restaurant where you can buy a typical Salvadoran dish like pupusas — thick, handmade corn tortillas filled with a cheese or pork. Not interested in going to a restaurant? Bring your own meal and picnic outside.After lunch, visit San Salvador Volcano (aka Quetzaltepec and Chaparrastique), a stratovolcano located just 15 miles (25 km) northwest of the city. Here, enjoy a refreshing eco-walk along nature trails and a panoramic view of the impressive crater, which features El Boquerón, a newer volcancito (little volcano) inside. Before hotel drop-off, your final stop is Santa Tecla, a beautiful city whose antique architectural style has been preserved. Enjoy a private sightseeing tour with your guide around the main streets and avenues, including the famous Paseo el Carmen where restaurants, bars, and cafés are a highlight.
Full Day Tour to The Izalco, The Santa Ana and Cerro Verde Volcano, Lake Coatepeque, Joya de Cerén and San Andrés Ruins
During this full day combo tour, you will visit the main highlights of El Salvador: The Volcanoes, Lake and Mayan Sites of the country. First, visit the volcanoes and lakes of El Salvador. Cataloged as the “2nd 8th Wonder of the World for 2013″: the “Lake and Volcano Complex” in El Salvador is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country as its bring together one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and a group of the most amazing volcanoes of El Salvador: The Izalco Volcano, The Santa Ana Volcano and Cerro Verde Volcano. Visit the Natural Protected Area of Cerro Verde and take a refreshing sightseeing tour through the eco trails of the park (45 minutes approximately). Cerro Verde is an inactive volcano located at an altitude of 2035 meters and length of 500 hectares of nature, it has a cloud forest in and around the crater with a temperature of between 12 and 18 degrees centigrade. From here you will enjoy panoramic views of Izalco Volcano better know as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific” because the boats were oriented with the red glow of the lava to reach the Acajutla port.The Santa Ana Volcano or “Ilamatepec Volcano” being the biggest volcano of the area, and the beauty of the nature in the surroundings of this National Park. It is a place where you will be surrounded by the wilderness or “dwarf forest”, where you can find pasture and some low-lying bushes, giant agaves, among others. The landscape is unique in Mesoamerica and it definitely worth the visit. Next, we will have a panoramic view of the volcanic lake "Coatepeque", cataloged amongst the most beautiful of the world. During the afternoon, discover this fascinating civilization through the visit of the “Joya de Cerén”: the famous archaeological site known as “The Pompeii of the Americas” and declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1993 for its valuable contribution to daily life of the ancestors of the Mayan World. Then continue the tour and visit the ruins of “San Andrés”, a very important ceremonial and political center that has several structures used by the governors of that civilization. In this important sire there are remains of an Indigo Mill that was buried by the eruption of El Playon in 1658. Definitely a whole different experience! What are you waiting for?
Laguna Verde Dune Buggy Adventure
After hotel pickup in San Salvador by private vehicle, enjoy a 90-minute drive into the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. Begin your dune buggy tour in Apaneca, a town of 8,500 people that boasts narrow streets and colorful houses. Hop in your dune buggy and follow the leader in the first buggy (or the guide, if you upgrade to a guided excursion). Make your way through the lush landscape to Laguna Verde, a gorgeous lagoon with a glassy surface that cleanly reflects the verdant surroundings. Spend about 15 minutes here and take some time to stroll around the lagoon. The next part of the 2.5-hour adventure is the most scenic. Reach the Laguna de las Ninfas, the Lagoon of the Nymphs, named for the abundant water lilies floating on this lagoon, which is set in a volcanic crater. On the way back to Apaneca, ride along the Ruta de las Flores, or Flowers Route, a popular road that stretches between towns. It’s also nicknamed the ‘coffee road’ thanks to the coffee farms and ample amount of coffee beans for sale in nearby towns. Your tour ends with return to your hotel by private vehicle unless you've selected the optional full-day tour (see Itinerary for more details).
San Salvador Layover Tour: Private Mayan Route
Your private tour begins when your plane touches down in El Salvador. A driver (and a guide, if you select that option) will pick you up at the airport when your plane arrives. Take an exciting archaeological journey to the Mayan site Joya de Cerén, known as the Pompeii of the Americas. Learn about what life was like in this pre-Columbian farming village, which historians believe was inhabited as early as 1200 BC. Around the year AD 590 Loma Caldera, a nearby volcano, violently erupted, burying the village under 14 layers of ash and subsequently preserving it for hundreds of years. Walk through this historic archeological site and explore how its inhabitants lived thousands of years ago. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site’s houses, workshops, kitchens, and even a sauna and a religious structure. Next visit San Andrés, a historically and culturally significant site. Learn about how this political and ceremonial center helped earlier civilizations govern themselves. After you’ve had time to explore the area, your private vehicle will bring you back to the airport in time for you to catch your next flight.
San Salvador Combo: City Tour and Joya de Cerén
San Salvador Tour (2 hours)Begin your morning or afternoon tour of El Salvador's bustling capital with pickup from your hotel by your private guide. Get an overview of San Salvador's history, and hear how its culture and architecture were drastically transformed in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistadors. Walk to grand public plazas such as Salvador del Mundo Square and Masferrer Square, each with ancient colonial history. Tour the historic city center, highlighted by the National Palace and National Theater of San Salvador, one of the oldest theaters in Central America.Continue to El Rosario Church (Iglesia El Rosario) and the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior, a fine example of El Salvador’s architectural artistry that's regarded as the most impressive building in the city. After your San Salvador tour, continue straight into the next portion of your combo tour with a 40-minute drive to Joya de Cerén.Joya de Cerén Tour (2 hours)Known as the 'Pompeii of the Americas,' Joya de Cerén was once a farming community until, in the 6th century, the settlement was buried under volcanic ash from the nearby Loma Caldera volcano (just how the ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius). Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage–listed archaeological site offering a fascinating look at life before the Spanish inquisition.Although the inhabitants had time to flee before the ash landed, you can still see remnants of ancient life frozen in time. Walk among the storehouses, homes, workshops and other buildings with your guide, and hear about the insights that Joya de Cerén has given archaeologists since its discovery in 1976.After four hours exploring San Salvador and Joya de Cerén, travel back to your hotel to conclude your tour.