©erenmotion/Getty Images

Western El Salvador

Western El Salvador may be a small region, but it contains the majority of the country's attractions. The cloud forest and conical splendor of Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, the mysterious and at times unvisited Maya ruins at Tazumal, the Ruta de las Flores, and a volcanic lake are all within a 90-minute drive of Santa Ana, the charming provincial capital with the finest plaza in El Salvador.

From the wilds of Parque Nacional El Imposible near the Guatemalan border – where you can find pumas, boars and tigrillos – traverse waterfalls until you pick up the famed Flower Route, a pin-up region of hot springs, food fairs and artisan villages.

Indeed, if you fly into San Salvador, you can reach it all in a day and end at the far western tip at Barrio de Santiago, a wind-swept beach with massive surf where turtles lay eggs by moonlight.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Western El Salvador.