Country guides South & Central America
Breathtakingly lush and home to world-class surfing, dark-sand beaches and blossom-filled villages, El Salvador may be Central America's best-kept travel secret. Visitors are in for a treat of sublime coffee, intriguing history, and some of the warmest welcomes on the planet.
Interspersed between the forest, mountains, and 21 volcanoes are the best-preserved ruins of Mayan civilisation. A highlight is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Joya de Cerén, which is all that remains of a Mayan settlement buried under volcanic ash 1,400 years ago. The San Andrés region and the ruins of Tazumal are other vestiges of this ancient people.
Getting around the small country is easily achieved by bus or taxi. The longest journey is between San Salvador and La Palma, and that lasts a meagre four hours, making internal flights redundant. San Salvador and San Sebastian are the main attractions. The latter is a popular, picturesque beachside resort village, a town of quaint Romanesque sights and simple beauty.
San Salvador, by contrast, is the hub of a rapidly industrialising country. It is densely populated and crime-ridden. Still, visitors can enjoy a wide range of sights in the city; colonial cathedrals and buildings including the Catedral Metropolitana, St Ignatius Loyola, and the Spanish façade. Atop San Jacinto Mountain visitors can enjoy a panoramic vista of the city as well as an amusement park and cable car rides.