Top 5 El Salvador Experiences

Leah Griffin March 5, 2014 9

El Salvador is Central America‘s smallest country and often overlooked by travellers looking to explore the region. It is bursting at the seams with amazing culture, landscape and flavours. Here are my top five favorite things about El Salvador from the time I’ve spent within its borders.

1. Pupusas

Pupusas are delicious corn tortillas filled with cheese, beans, pork or any combination thereof. It’s a Salvadorian empanada/arepa made on the spot and cooked right in front of you. Served with a tasty cabbage slaw and tomato sauce, a few pupusas suffice for a meal. Best of all, they cost less than $1 each. I lived off of pupusas for breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days straight on my first visit–I couldn’t get enough!

Devouring a plate of Pupusas. Photo by M. Lulu.

Devouring a plate of Pupusas. Photo by M. Lulu.

2. Coffee

El Salvador‘s neighbours tend to take all of the Central American coffee credit, but the beans harvested on its soil make a delicious cup of joe. Help out the local economy and buy a few bags of coffee to savour at home.

Fresh fair trade coffee beans. Photo by E. Torner.

Fresh fair trade coffee beans. Photo by E. Torner.

3. Ruta de las Flores (The Flower Route)

This picturesque area in western El Salvador is dotted with small towns that each have a slightly different flair and artisan craft specialty. Named after the many flowers that bloom during certain times of the year, it’s a beautiful, lush part of the country. The Ruta de las Flores has everything from a gastronomic festival on weekends in Juayua to coffee plants dotting its hills to bright, street art-style wall murals in Concepcion de Ataco.

Street art in Concepción de Ataco.

Street art in Concepción de Ataco.

4. Surfing and beaches

Surfers have been flocking to El Salvador for at least a decade now. Its surf towns aren’t as packed with travellers as those in other countries up and down the coast, and the waves are both stellar and consistent. Don’t surf? Enjoy the slow-paced beach life and be sure to sample the fresh seafood.

Playa El Tunco, El Salvador.

Playa El Tunco, El Salvador.

5. The people

Salvadorian people are some of the friendliest you’ll encounter in the region. They’ve been through a lot, including a brutal civil war that ended in 1992, but on the whole, they are quite resilient. Welcoming and proud, Salvadorians love to share their country with visitors.

A daily scene in Apaneca.

A daily scene in Apaneca.


  1. Alyson March 5, 2014 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Hi, we’re in El Salvador right now. Loving it! Papusas are so good and the people have been wonderful despite our total lack of Spanish.

  2. Veronica Lopez March 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I love this article Leah! I’m a proud Salvadorian and work in the Southern Cone team for G. Does G do tours in El Salvador?

  3. Janis Blackall March 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    You have pointed out to me that I may have missed something in not visiting El Salvador. That may mean a return to Central America:)!l

  4. Brenda Fuertes March 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you for showing appreciation for my country!!!

  5. Franca March 6, 2014 at 11:23 am - Reply

    These experiences sound all very interesting, the coffee and street art ones would probably be my favorite! :)

  6. Derek Freal March 10, 2014 at 12:56 am - Reply

    I haven’t thought about pupusas in years but now I’m craving them again SO BADLY! :D

  7. Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut) October 20, 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

    El Salvador is on my radar for very soon… possibly this winter! :) Thanks for sharing.

  8. Richard November 9, 2014 at 10:55 am - Reply

    My only concern is safety. I have traveled extensively but do need to draw the line if it is criminally dangerous. Thoughts?

  9. Leah Griffin November 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Richard, while El Salvador doesn’t have the cleanest of crime statistics, I have visited 4 or 5 times and have always felt safe. That said, I always recommend travellers be extra cautious regardless of where they’re travelling. Be extra careful at night (use taxis!), explore with a buddy if possible, and don’t flash money or expensive jewelry/electronics around. Things can happen wherever you’re at, be it San Salvador, NYC, Rome or Hanoi.

    Do read up on a place, ask locals about safety, and avoid places that are mentioned to be dangerous. Doing a bit of research before hitting the road and also travelling with a reputable tour operator can allow you to experience new destinations safely and with a clear mind.

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