El Salvador West to East
- 2 Weeks
El Salvador is small; this itinerary can you get across the whole country in two weeks.
Entering from Guatemala, head straight along La Costa del Bálsamo for some surfing, basing yourself in either hedonistic Playa El Tunco or chilled-out Playa El Zonte, depending how much rest you need. Then head north to Ruta de las Flores to sample coffee and culture in picturesque villages and swim in natural pools. Sleep in Juayúa. Spend a day climbing nearby Volcán Santa Ana and visit the Maya pyramids at Tazumal, sleeping in Santa Ana. Next, head to San Salvador to explore the capital’s galleries and museums.
From San Salvador, head north to the mountains and visit the artist enclaves of La Palma and Suchitoto before returning to the capital. Scoot east along the highway and detour south to Playa El Cuco, a relaxing base for exploring the islands in Golfo de Fonseca, the volcanoes around San Miguel and even further north to the ex-guerrilla stronghold of Morazán. Exit the country via La Unión.
Western El Salvador
- 1 Week
Most of El Salvador's star attractions are squeezed into the compact western region, making it possible to explore them all in just a week. Decent budget accommodation and a comparatively well-trodden route makes discovering this charming corner a breeze.
The friendly city of Santa Ana is a good place to start. From here you can take day trips to Parque Nacional Los Volcanes to climb Volcán Santa Ana, visit the Maya ruins at Tazumal, and take a boat trip on the shimmering waters of Lago de Coatepeque.
Next, head southwest to Juayúa and spend a few days working your way up the Ruta de las Flores, sampling coffee, exploring local villages and bathing in natural pools. From Ahuachapán, at the western end of the Flowers Route, make the short bus journey to Tacuba, the jumping-off point for forays into the lush virgin wilderness of Parque Nacional El Imposible. Potential adventures include rappelling down (and jumping off) waterfalls and mountain-biking to a pristine, mangrove-fringed beach at Barra de Santiago. Return to Ahuachapán and take the highway east to San Salvador; continue your journey from there.