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San Salvador

Travel Guide Central America El Salvador San Salvador

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Introduction

San Salvador - Iglesia El Rosario

San Salvador - Iglesia El Rosario

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San Salvador is the capital and largest city of El Salvador and one of the biggest in all of Central America with a population of around 2,3 million inhabitants living in the metropolitan area. The city itself has well over half a million people. San Salvador is home to 1 out of 3 people in El Salvador. It is located in the central parts of the country in a valley at an elevation averaging 560 metres on the skirts of the Quezaltepeque. It is an area with high seismic activity and as a consequence the city has been struck hard in history. The city is the cultural, administrative and economic heart of the country and is a lively mix of old and new, of rich and poor.

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Neighbourhoods

  • San Benito
  • Paseo General Escalon
  • Downtown, historical centre

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Sights and Activities

  • National Museum of Anthropology
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Catedral Metropolitana
  • Teatro Nacional de El Salvador
  • Palacio Nacional
  • Casa Presidencial

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Events and Festivals

Holy Week

This important El Salvador Tradition is a religious festival known as Semana Santa in the Spanish-speaking world and features a carnival-like atmosphere across Latin America. Best experienced in San Salvador with street parades and performance art, the week-long event is usually held in late March through Easter Sunday.

August Festival

Of all El Salvador Holidays, Fiestas Agostinas, in early August is one of the most popular ones. Held in the capital of San Salvador, a marching band wakes the city up at 4:00am, after which parades, sports, food, and art exhibitions take place.

Independence Day

September 15 marks El Salvador's independence from Spain in 1821 with flag-waving, parades and fireworks on the beaches, in the cities and mountain towns. The biggest national day celebrations take place in San Salvador.

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Weather

San Salvador has a hot and humid climate with average daytime temperatures between 28 °C and 32 °C and night time temperatures of around 20 °C. April to September is the rainy season, although it is not as wet as many other places in Central America. Best time to visit is the dry season from November to March.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max30.3 °C30.1 °C32 °C32.2 °C30.8 °C29.5 °C30.1 °C30 °C29 °C29.1 °C29 °C29.6 °C
Avg Min16.3 °C16.8 °C17.7 °C19 °C20 °C19.6 °C19.1 °C19.3 °C19.4 °C19 °C17.9 °C16.9 °C
Rainfall5 mm2 mm9 mm36 mm152 mm292 mm316 mm311 mm348 mm217 mm36 mm10 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

Cuscatlán International Airport (SAL) near San Salvador receives a number of international flights, for example with the national airline TACA, which is actually comprised of 5 different Central American airlines. It mainly flies to cities in the United States, Canada and countries in Central America, but also has flights to Bogota in Colombia, Lima in Peru and to Madrid in Spain.

By Car

If you drive to San Salvador from Comalapa, please exercise extreme caution. There are many residents who walk this highway as well as cross it. There are many accidents with vehicles speeding as well as people who are hit.

By Bus

Trans Mermex offers services between San Salvador and Guatemala, while Pullmantur has buses to Guatemala and Tegucigalpa in Honduras. Transnica has buses between San Salvador and Managua in Nicaragua. Ticabus has a wide range of services, from Tapachula in Mexico through Guatemala and on to San Salvador and buses from San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa in Honduras to San Salvador. There are even buses from as far as Panama, through Costa Rica and Nicaragua to San Salvador.

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Getting Around

If driving, rental car agencies include Budget, Alamo and Hertz. Buses and taxis also provide good ways of getting around. Negotiating the cost of your taxi, Before you step in, is common practice and expected. Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. If you do not have exact change, taxi drivers will try to convince you to make the change a tip instead. Distances between sights make walking an unpopular option, as does the street layout in the city; San Salvador is not a square city but has long avenues that are straight and streets that are not. That said, in some areas walking is a great option, such as from Zona Rosa to Las Terrazas (Sheraton hotel) which are close together and within sight of one another.

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Eat

The restaurant scene in San Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, Chilean, American, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, Chinese, Argentinian and others. Local food options include Tipicos Margot where one can purchase the famous Salvadoran Pupusas. Perhaps the biggest indictment against the quality of the San Salvador restaurant scene however is the sheer number of chain restaurants.

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Drink

San Salvador is well-known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars can be found in the Zona Rosa, Basilea Mall, La Terraza (Sheraton Hotel), Las Terrazas (Multiplaza Mall), Boulevard de Los Heroes, Temptation Plaza, and the bars and restaurants area in La Gran Via (Mall and night lifestyle center). These places have many bars, discos, restaurants, DJ centers and boutiques.

Visit the laid back bohemian bars (university crowd) around Calle San Antonio Abad to meet interesting locals or head to the Zona Rosa/Multiplaza Mall area to dance the night away with the city's style-conscious upper class youth.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Hostal PortadaOctava Calle Poniente #2326 Colonia Flor Blanca, San SalvadorGuesthouse53
Hotel San MateoColonia San Mateo, Calle Caracas 20 San Salvador, El SalvadorGUESTHOUSE82
Mariscal Hotel & SuitesPaseo Escalón #3658Hostel-
San José HostalBoulevard universitario 2212 Col. San JoséGUESTHOUSE-
Tazumal Guesthouse35 Avenida Norte, Casa 3 Reparto Santa FeGuesthouse76
Hotel Nueva Villa Santander8 calle pte No.2321 San SalvadorHOTEL-
Joan´s HostelCalle del Mediterraneo No. 12 Colonia Jardines de GuadalupeHostel-
Hostal Cumbres del Volcan85 Avenida Norte #637 Colonia EscalonHOTEL86
Ximena's Guest HouseColonia Centroamérica, Calle San Salvador 202GUESTHOUSE78
Hotel Las MagnoliasAv. Las Magnolias Zona RosaHotel-
Hostal Dona MartaBulevar venezuela, 1-b Urbanizacion Venezuela, Pje. MaracaiboHOTEL-
Casa PalancapaFrente a La Gruta, Barrio Concepcion, Suchitoto, CGUESTHOUSE-

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Learn

There are many private schools and universities, including numerous language schools.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are available in pretty much every town and charge around US$1-2 per hour. There is almost always wifi (usually free of charge) in hostels, mostly in midrange and luxury hotels (but less so in budget hotels and guesthouses), but connection speeds and reliability varies dramatically. Be aware that many high-end hotels charge between $3 and $10 per day for internet use although some will let you log on and print an airline boarding pass free of charge.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The international country code for El Salvador is 503. The general emergency number is 911.

To place a call within El Salvador, simply dial the eight-digit number beginning with 2 for landlines and 7 for cellphones.

The main companies are Movistar, Tigo, Digicel, and Claro, with Tigo reputedly giving the best overall reception. When using your own cell phone, the roaming can cost anywhere between $1 and $4 a minute and internet charges are extremely high as well. It's better to buy a local SIM card, which can be bought for about US$25-30 and have much lower rates. Especially when you are in the country for a longer time and wish to use internet and make a call regularly, this might be a better option.

Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased in the airport, the cheapest of which cost $60. Make sure to ask if the phone can take international calls and how much this costs, as packages vary and can be restrictively expensive. Look out for promotions such as free incoming calls and cheap international calls for US$0.10 a minute with certain networks.

Post

Correos de El Salvador is the country's postal service. Most towns in El Salvador have post offices marked by a blue sign reading correos. Post offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm in larger cities, and 7:00am to noon and 2:00 to 5:00pm in small towns. To mail a standard letter or a postcard from El Salvador to the United States costs around US$0.70 and US$1 to Europe and Australia. It might take anywhere from a week to the USA to a few weeks further afield. If you'd like to send a package, it might be better to use an international company like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx, as they are fast, reliable and not overly expensive.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 13.703416
  • Longitude: -89.20733

Accommodation in San Salvador

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in San Salvador searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in San Salvador and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as Hien (4%)

San Salvador Travel Helpers

  • jorsiegrist

    Hey there, I'm from Argentina and now I'm living in San Salvador. I came here about 5 months and now I'm studying Tourism .So if you're planning to come here to visit do not hesitate asking me. I can recomend you some places, beaches... anything you'd like to know.

    Cheers!!

    Ask jorsiegrist a question about San Salvador

This is version 15. Last edited at 12:53 on Dec 5, 16 by Utrecht. 22 articles link to this page.

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