How to spend a week in El Salvador – Our guide
To start off, you’re heading to Central America and wondering if you should visit this little gem of a country?
The answer? YOU SHOULD!!
Where is EL Salvador?
El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated of the seven Central American countries.
Is El Salvador safe?
To point out, it’s important to note that El Salvaodor was previously known as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
However, in recent years El Salvador was elected a new president who put a huge emphasis on increasing safety levels. Meanwhile, San Salvador, the capital, still seems to get a bit of a bad name but we never felt particularly in danger there. There is a huge market in the centre of San Salvador which was a little overwhelming but other than that we felt safe.
Where did we visit?
During our time in El Salvador we stayed just about a week. Here are the places that we stopped off in;
💦 The first place we visited was; Lake Coatepeque
⛱️ The second place we visited was; El Tunco (stunning beach area).
🏙️The third place we visited was; San Salvador (the capital city).
How to spend a week in El Salvador: Lake Coatepeque (visit Santa Ana Volcano from here)
✈️ How to Lake Coatepeque
To get to Santa Ana from Guatemala we got a shuttle bus from Antigua to Guatemala City which took an hour. From here, it’s then best to get another bus from the city across the border and into El Salvador. In terms of cost, the bus was 30USD each, which was expensive. Transport in Central America is nearly always the most expensive thing.
Once you get in El Salvador theres very little tourist transport between cities and towns so the only choice really is the local chicken buses.
🛌 Where to stay at Lake Coatepeque
A friend recommended Captain Morgans to us and we loved it. Why did we like it? We liked it because it’s quite a chill hostel but it’s what you need when you’re up early to hike the volcano.
Casa Verde hostel is also a very popular hostel here, but it was booked up for us!
🗺 What to do at Lake Coatepeque
- Hike Santa Ana Volcano which last erupted in 2005. Check out my blog post with all the details about climbing Santa Ana volcano here. http://mypassporttohappy.com/how-to-hike-santa-ana-volcano/
- The lake is really beautiful and is nice to chill out by for the day.
How to spend a week in El Salvador: El Tunco
🚌 How to get to El Tunco
El Tunco is El Salvador’s best surfing town. If you’re coming from chicken buses the 102,107 or 177 go every twenty minutes from Simón Bolívar Park in San Salvador, they run from 6am until 7pm! The time from San Salvador to El Tunco is usually around 1 hour. There are shuttle services going and coming from Antigua in Guatemala, Copan in Honduras and Leon in Nicaragua.
🛏️Where to stay in El Tunco
We stayed in Papaya Lodge. It was a nice hostel, close to all the restaurants and the beach. It had a mini pool and a couple gym machines too. Not only that, it also had really good air con!
🗺️ What to do in El Tunco
- El Tunco is a small little town but is currently “under construction” and is becoming much more developed. There isn’t a whole lot to do here apart from surf and relax at the beach. There are two surf spots; La Bocana and Sunzal surf spots. This beach is known for the famous stone that forms the image of a Tunco (Pig) that is located on the shore of this place.
- Watch the sunset at the beach.
✅ Extra tips:
- There are 3 ATMs in town, 90% of the time restaurants take card. Our hostel, Papaya Lodge needed cash though! There’s also loads of restaurants and bars that accept Bitcoin as a payment.
- If you drive you’ve to pay a fee of $1 per car between Friday and Sunday at the main entrance.
How to spend a week in El Salvador: San Salvador
🚌 How to get to San Salvador
The only way to really get around this country is to take the local chicken buses, they are cheap and actually easy to work out. Take the 102, 107 or 177 chicken bus into the city.
🛏 Where to stay in San Salvador
We stayed in the Hotel Villa Florencia Centro Histórico which we booked through booking.com and really liked it. The area was safe and the rooms were spacious and clean.
🗺️What to do in San Salvador
- Take an Uber out to the Picnic Steakhouse and slide down the imagine slide.
- Take a walk around the city and visit the local markets.
- Visit Central America’s largest shopping mall ‘Galerias’ and grab a cake in ‘Ban Ban Galerias’.
- Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral.
- There’s loads of tours and museums to visit in the city too.
To recap, El Salvador is a stunning country and definitely one not to be missed! As mentioned above it gets such a bad reputation for being extremely dangerous but if you’re careful and not to anything to draw too much attention to yourself you should be so fine!