Why travel to El Salvador? Nobody goes to El Salvador. That’s what a family member said when she found out we were planning to visit El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America. It’s not your usual tourist destination, certainly not for family travellers, but we felt it was well worth a look.
Why Visit El Salvador.
Our trip to El Salvador came by chance, we just needed a cheap, easy light out of Florida at the end of a long USA trip.
The flights out of Florida at the end of our USA road trip were the cheapest we could find as we searched for bargains and inspiration on Skyscanner. It was listed as $62 each on Spirit Airlines. Taxes and baggage fees bumped it up to $100 each, but still, it’s a good deal. It got us into Central America, an area which we’ve never had the chance to travel or explore. A new country is always a good idea, we think.
Is El Salvador Safe to Visit?
The USA has a travel warning in place for El Salvador, they tell people not to visit.
Once I started Googling travel safety, I discovered that the crime rate in El Salvador is lower than that in several US cities and that crime is mostly limited to gang members and drug production. The civil war ended over 20 years ago and El Salvador is trying to turn things around and develop a tourist industry. I even read an article from The Guardian recommending El Salvador as a good place to visit, so it must be OK.
I found a few travel blogs from intrepid travellers who have absolutely loved El Salvador, several of them family travellers like us. There are a lot of surfers who come here, too, this coast was featured in the movie Big Wednesday.
In San Salvador, I felt totally safe in our accommodation. Guards with guns were everywhere in the city and there are a lot of high walls and razor wire, but our warm family guest house was a pleasure to be in. Salvadorean families live here, so why can’t we?
Don’t forget your guide book!
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Why Visit El Salvador.
- El Salvador has its own Mayan pyramid at Tazumal with a tiny admission fee compared to the big draws in Guatemala
- It has volcanoes and crater lakes, treks and wildlife encounters.
- It has Central America’s answer to Pompei. Ceren, a town buried in volcanic ash for 1400 years.
- Surfing is big news and the beaches are beautful. El Salvador has great breaks.
- There are some beautiful buildings and churches.
- El Salvador has interesting food, culture and people.
- The Museum National of anthropology in San Salvador has some spectacular Mayan displays.
- El Salvador is not stuffed full of tourists. There are no tourist traps or ( in our experience) people waiting to rip you off. We have met some wonderful warm and happy people as we try to bumble our way around in our non-existent Spanish. Even the taxi drivers have done their best to help us out.
What Are Prices Like in El Salvador?
Prices are pretty good. A family room with breakfast is costing us under $50 in San Salvador.
Street food costs almost nothing, a dollar a head maybe and the supermarkets are cheap and extremely good. To be honest they are some of the best supermarkets I’ve ever seen in terms of variety, price and quality produce.
A beer will cost you around $1.50.
Buses are cheap, 25c a trip around San Salvador. Taxis are reasonable, $30 from airport to San Salvador or to the coast, $4-5 around town
Admission prices seem fixed at $3. A great deal for Central America.
We liked El Salvador a lot. It’s not the easiest place to travel and we were ultra careful when we’re out exploring. English isn’t widely spoken so you will most certainly need to buy a phrase book if , like us, you are totally inept at Spanish.
Click here for El Salvador Phrase Books.
A good guide-book will help you out too, we didn’t have one and it’s taken us days of online research to work out where we need to go and what to see, there is little tourist support available on the ground here.
Click here for El Salvador Guide Books.
Hostel in San Salvador.
We stayed at Hostal Donna Marta and would recommend it to other travellers. We enjoyed a large family room with 4 beds in a quiet residential area. Our bathroom was shared but right outside our door and nobody else seemed to use it. Breakfasts were delicious, local and home cooked and our host and his family couldn’t have been any nicer or more helpful. The owner is a doctor, he even helped us out with buying medications.
An en suite room was also available.
We took a taxi from the airport to Hostal Dona Marta, arranged by the owner, everything went smoothly and we had a great stay.
The main road and bus routes are a short walk from the hotel or taxis are great value.
You can check out other hotel options in San Salvadore here, Agoda brings you latest discounts with the added benefit of reward points.
You can read more about how we got in and out of El Salvador to Guatemala and Florida in this post. The buses to Guatemala city were the best I’ve ever travelled in, that’s no exaggeration. We only stayed in El Salvador for a week but it was great to have seen something of this little country. El Salvador certainly took me out of my comfort zone for the first time since we left Port Douglas. Travel around Asia, where everyone speaks English and whole countries appear set up with tourists in mind is a totally different experience. The best answer I can think of to that question, “Why travel to El Salvador?” is the simplest one. Visit to learn about it. That is enough.