This guide about activities in El Salvador is written from a perspective of staying in the country’s surf capital El Tunco. As the country is considerably small in size, you can do these activities easily while staying elsewhere. Most of the ‘what to-do’s in El Salvador’ can easily be done within a day, even in combination with a surf session or even multiple activities.
Surfing in El Salvador is also a great way to get to know the country.
Visit La Libertad
This town is considered as the capital for the main surf coast. It’s close to spots like El Tunco, El Zonte, KM 59 and many more spots. From El Tunco you can easily get here and you can well spend a couple of hours exploring its boulevard, incl. a lively fish market (it doesn’t get more local than that!). La Libertad (together with El Tunco) is the centre of the to be created Surf City and hosts a number of surf spots as well (such as La Punta Roca, the country’s best surf spot). As the government has been investing in its facilities, La Libertad hosts a brand-new food market, where especially the fish is outstanding. Furthermore, you also have numerous little shops where locals are selling local products, clothing and much more.
Visit El Zonte
This surf town is considered to be a quieter version of El Tunco. A local bus will take you there for not more than 25 cents (in USD), when traveling from another coastal town. The beach is better to go for a swim compared to El Tunco as it consists out of sand mostly. Also you can enjoy one of the several bars or restaurants or get yourself a fresh coconut. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
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Visit San Salvador
A visit to the capital is certainly worth it. We have to admit that it might not be the safest city as a whole but there are sufficient places where you can go without having to worry. It’s advisable to make sure to have someone accompanying you who knows where to go and where not to go. As soon as you’ve reached the centre, you can visit the large cathedral which is beautiful and will tell you a lot about Snr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero and about how he became one of the country’s heroes (due to how he stood up for the people of El Salvador during the war in the 80’s). There are churches which are fascinating and unlike any other you have seen in your life which you can visit and the national theatre may also be a sight you can enter. One of the many great food places to be found around the centre allow you to get a real taste of the El Salvadorian kitchen.
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Visit Santa Ana volcano
Undoubtedly the Santa Ana volcano is one of the country’s most known sights. There are different ways to climb the volcano and enjoy the amazing views you will be treat but it can certainly be done within a day. It is advisable to undertake this trip in an organized fashion, as the routes you will have to take if opting for the public transport options can be unsafe from time to time.
Visit El Salvador’s Mayan Ruins
Besides a lot of beautiful nature, you will also encounter a number of ruins which date back to the Mayan times. What a lot of people do is combining the two ruins of San Andreas and Ceren, which are situated closely to one another. San Andreas was a place where ceremonies took place whereas Ceren used to be the place where the Mayans where actually living. El Salvador also has a number of other sights with Mayan Ruins but these are further away from El Tunco.
Ataco is a typical Salvadorian village, with a beautiful square in the centre of the town. The town’s largest church borders with the square while there’s a second church which is situated higher up the town. One of the ancient streets, leading to this second church, provides you with unreal views. Besides the culture, it’s one of the most well-known places to get your typical El Salvadorian souvenirs, without having to pay the jackpot. One of the most hilarious souvenirs we encountered is a so-called ‘sorpresa’ (surprise) but it’s up to you to go down there and find out what this has in store. Most people will stop for lunch in Ataco as well, as there are a number of restaurants with outstanding food options.
Visit Lago Cuatepeques
This beautiful lake provides you with an amazing scenery. This place is well worth a visit, where you can have lunch, hike around or do one of the several activities which are being offered. You can think of watersports, such as hiring jet skis.