San Salvador City Holidays
While typically used as a gateway to the natural wonders beyond the El Salvador capital, San Salvador is an energetic, vibrant and cosmopolitan city that can definitely hold its own. Stay a while to listen to the stories of the friendly locals, uncover the rich cultural hubs, take in a few of the city’s excellent museums and throw yourself into the bustle of the Central Market before sampling some of Central America’s best nightlife after dark.
There’s one big attraction that will constantly draw your attention in this part of the world – the imposing San Salvador Volcano. Looming over the city at 1,960 metres above sea level, this natural marvel offers a stunning backdrop to San Salvador.
Kick off your San Salvador tour with a walk down the widest boulevards in all of Central America: Boulevard de los Heroes and Boulevard de los Proceres, where shopping, dining and high energy are the order of the day. In the city’s downtown area, make a trip to El Rosario Church. Despite its less-than-impressive exterior, this place boasts a surprisingly beautiful and unique interior that is well worth a look.
Get your cultural fix at the museums around town, including the centrally located National Museum of Anthropology and the nearby Museum of Popular Art, which delights visitors with its vibrant displays of Central American folk art. When it’s time to explore the outskirts of San Salvador, joining a tour that visits the ‘big mouth’ crater in the lush El Boqueron National Park followed by a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Joya de Ceren archaeological ruins will not disappoint.
Eat and Drink
Look past the chain restaurants around San Salvador to uncover its exciting culinary heart, which boasts up-market fine dining establishments, artsy cafés and humble canteens serving up delicious and authentic Salvadoran fare. International cuisines can be enjoyed in the city too, from Mexican and Chinese to Middle Eastern, French and Japanese, but sampling the local eats should be high on your agenda.
The must-try specialty is the mouth-watering pupusa, a thick and soft corn tortilla filled with cheese, refried beans or seasoned pork. San Salvador has a thriving nightlife scene that is well worth diving into during your stay. The Zona Rosa area and Boulevard de los Heroes are abuzz with cafés, restaurants, trendy bars and nightclubs, while Calle San Antonio Abad is known for its easy-going bars that cater to the more bohemian crowds.
Where to Stay
Zona Rosa is teeming with some of the city’s best eating and nightlife options, and it’s also home to a number of excellent hotels that put you right in the heart of the action. The hotels on Boulevard de los Heroes offer a safe and convenient area to stay while exploring San Salvador. For those seeking a little luxury, a number of 5-star hotels that boast premium facilities and impressive volcano and mountain views are scattered around the city.
First stop, Mercado Central where you can join locals shopping street-market style for all sorts of goodies while picking up some tasty snacks, too. Other markets to seek out include the handicraft and souvenir market Mercado Nacional de Artesanias and Mercado Ex-Cuartel, where you can purchase locally made hammocks, fabrics and crafts for a bargain price. San Salvador also has its fair share of shopping malls, including the lifestyle shopping centre La Gran Via with its big-name fashion brands, restaurants and cinemas set around a bright and open pedestrian square.
San Salvador City Like a Local
Follow the locals to Jardin Botanico La Laguna, a natural oasis nestled at the bottom of a lush volcanic crater. Enjoy wandering around the peaceful botanic gardens and spotting a variety of native animals including iguanas and turtles. Bring a book or a picnic and spend an afternoon soaking up the peace and tranquility before venturing back into the big smoke.