From gorgeous beaches to bustling cities, El Salvador has something for everyone.
The seaside Central American country — long a popular tourist destination for bargain-hunting travelers and influencers on a quest for that Perfect Instagram Post — made a splash in 2021 when it announced that it would accept Bitcoin as legal tender. As our sister site, AfroTech, reported, El Salvador — which also accepts the US Dollar as a form of legal tender — is the first Central American country (and in fact, the first country in the world) to adopt the popular digital fiat as a form of legal tender.
By the way: in case Salvadoran food isn’t your thing (which begs the question…why not? I mean, pupusas are the stuff of legend…), the country also has 19 McDonald’s scattered throughout its square footage — and you can get a Desayuno Tradicional (the equivalent of a “Big Breakfast” and featuring eggs, a biscuit, hash browns, and sausage patties) for about .0001 Bitcoin, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Mickey D’s aside, if you only have one day to spend in El Salvador, these five must-see spots are essential for your short sojourn. And the best part of all: they’re all affordable and beautiful!
Hike the Santa Ana Volcano
Standing tall at nearly 8000 ft. above sea level, the Santa Ana volcano — located in the Santa Ana district of El Salvador — is a famous (and, thankfully, inactive) volcano with a gorgeous blue-green lagoon at its apex. TripAdvisor offers a variety of guided walking tours beginning at about $85 per person, with special group rates available. Be sure to check out the Chorros de la Calera waterfalls, and the Izalco volcano, while you’re in the area — each is about 6 miles away from the Santa Ana volcano.
Go Cliff-Jumping on the Tamanique Waterfalls
Got a little adventure in your blood? Looking for a way to get your heart racing? Go cliff-jumping on the Tamanique Waterfalls, located more inland in the town of Tamanique in El Salvador. Because of the nature of the activity, TripAdvisor recommends going on a guided cliff jump, as the locals will know where it’s safe — and where it’s not! — to avoid plunging to your untimely death. Fortunately, a guided cliff jump only costs about $85 per person, with special group rates available.
Just Do A Guided 'Combo Tour'
Short on time and have no idea where to begin? Take a guided “combo tour.” The local tour guides in the area (Nahuat Tours in San Salvador gets consistently high marks) know how to make your short sojourn in El Salvador worth your time.
Explore El Salvador's Mayan Roots at Joya De Cerén
While Mexico holds the lion’s share of Central America’s pre-colonial history, the Mayan ruins at the Joya de Cerèn in the Libertad district of El Salvador are also worth checking out. According to the historical site’s official website, the Joya was an ancient farming community that —like Pompeii in Naples, Italy — was preserved when a nearby volcano (the Laguna Caldera) erupted in 600 CE. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Joya is well worth checking out if you’re a history buff.
Relax in Luxury at the Royal Decameron Salinitas
Hotels in El Salvador can be a “hit-or-miss,” especially since their rating system isn’t equivalent to the American star-rating system. However, when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with the Royal Decameron Salinitas. This all-inclusive resort located right on the beach in Sonsonate features both freshwater and saltwater pools, several restaurants, and a spa — to name but a few amenities. At just $200 a night for a deluxe room, the Royal Decameron Salinitas is the perfect place to get a good night’s sleep at the end of your very busy 24 hours.