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Santa Ana (El Salvador)

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Santa Ana is the second largest city of El Salvador and a very important one in terms of agriculture and coffee production (coffee plantations - called fincas - cover much of the land outside town and up the hills). Its historic center offers some of the best preserved architecture in El Salvador, including the Cathedral of Santa Ana, a marvel of neo-gothic architecture, the Teatro de Santa Ana, a beautifully decorated theatre of the early 1900's; and the Palacio Municipal, in front of the main plaza with giant palm trees shooting out from its courtyard.


Citizens of Santa Ana call themself Santanecos. Every year in July they celebrate the 2 weeks Fiestas Julias (July festival), one of the biggest in El Salvador, in honor of Señora Santa Ana, the city's patron. Activities end on the 26th with a large procession. Don't miss the amusement park 1/2 mile south of Metrocentro (towards the Panamericana highway)! At the end of the year, Christmas (Dec 24) and New Year's Eve (Dec 31) are celebreted with tons of firework and firecrackers, and Parque Colon turns into to a big firework selling spot. Be very careful as firecrackers are powerful and accidents happen frequently.

Get in[edit]

Santa Ana lies 65km northwest of the capital San Salvador, just off the Panamericana (Highway 1), from where several exits lead into town. Being close to the border, it's also a convinient stop if coming from Guatemala.

By bus[edit]

  • from Guatemala City's international terminal (aka Pezzarossi) at 3 Ave y 1 Calle in Zona 9 (one block south of the infamous Zona 4 terminal), buses leave at 5:30am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm towards San Salvador, passing thru Santa Ana after 4h-4.5h, $16/120 Quetzales (same fare as for San Salvador), Tel (+502) 2331 0874. They don't have a website but bus times and price confirmed November 2015

    Some buses go via the San Cristobal border where immigration procedures are straight forward and hassle-free, while others use the busy border at Valle Nuevo (aka Las Chinamas on the salvadorian side) where aggressive money changers await you. Be very careful here and don't hand out the immigration's paper slip to anyone. First stop is Guatemalan immigration where you get an exit stamp and a paper slip. After crossing the bridge over the Rio Paz you don't need to visit the Salvadorian immigration (the officer boards the bus to check your documents), and no entry stamp is provided as your still in the CA-4 area. When arriving Santa Ana, the only stop will be at the office's new location at La Ceiba. Take a taxi or local bus into downtown (Route R-A will drop you just behind the Teatro).

    Buses of the following companies pass by on their way from Guatemala City to San Salvador, but do not enter Santa Ana and might drop you at the intersection of Highway 1 (Panamericana) and Highway 12 a few km south of town (locally known as La Ceiba). Catch a taxi for $5 or one of the frequent urbanos (local bus) for $0.20-$0.25 into town.

    • Pullmantur, 1a Avenida 13-22 Zona 10 (Hotel Holiday Inn), Tel (+502) 2495-7000. departs 6.15am (except Sun), 7.00am, 1.15pm (Sun only), 2.00pm, 3.00pm. $35 (tourist class), $39 (executive class), $51 (first class).
    • Galgos, 7a Avenida 19-44 Zona 1, Tel (+503) 2232-3661 / 2220-6018 / 2230-5058. departs 1pm. $17.
    • King Quality/Platinum Centroamerica, 4 Ave 13-60 Zona 10, Tel (+502) 2501-1000. departs 6.30am and 2.45pm. $35 (one-way).
    • Comfort Lines, 4 Ave 13-60 Zona 10, Tel (+502) 2501-1000. departs 6.00am and 1.30pm. $23 (one-way).
    • Ticabus, Calzada Aguilar Batres, 22-55 Zona 12, Tel (+502) 2473-3737. departs 6.00am and 2.00pm. $22.40 (one-way).
    • Transportes del Sol, departs from Hotel Crowne Plaza, Tel (+502) 2422 5000 / 4147 3104. departs 3.00am and 4.00pm. $28 (one-way).

  • from San Salvador's Terminal de Occidente on Bulevar Venezuela Entre 49a y 59a Ave Sur, two bus companies operate the service to Santa Ana (departure times about every 15min, see Destinos/Horarios at [8]):

    TUDO (Transportes Unidos de Occidente) bus 201 uses the Panamericana Highway and doesn't stop along the road except in Santa Tecla, 1h, regular $0.85, special service $1.35. Arrival stops are at Metrocento, 31a Calle Poniente y Santa Ana California (INSA), 31a Calle Poniente y Ave Fray Moraga, roundabout Ave Fray Moraga y 15a Calle Poniente (Terminal), and finally at the bus depot at Antigua Carretera Panamericana 4km southwest of town.

    SEISABUS 201 goes via the old road (via Santa Tecla, Santa Lucia, Ciudad Arce, and Coatepeque) with frequent stops, and arrives at east side of town at roundabout next to Universidad Catolica (UNICAES), also several stops along 9a Calle towards Parque Colon, 2h, regular $1, special service $1.50.

By plane[edit]

Transportation to / from international airport at Comalapa [9] [10] costs at least $65 for a minibus (no matter how many persons), 2h, organize the day before your flight (ask at your hotel).

The small airstrip know as Pista Singuil about 18km northwest of town (right off Panamericana Highway 1) is closed and now used for car racing.

By train[edit]

All train services were suspended in 1990, but parts of the station (a wooden shack) still exists 17a Ave Sur at the end of 7a Calle Oriente. Be careful here as locals consider this part of town as unsafe. Railway enthusiasts might check the web sites [11] and [12]

Get around[edit]

Most places within the historic center can be reached within a few minutes walk, there's no need to take a taxi or board local buses. The Tourist Office outside the Palacio Municipal (just across from the Theater) has city maps and other information.


Most touristic sights are located right at the center of town around Parque Libertad. 4 blocks west of it is Parque Menendez, and again roughly 6 blocks further south Parque Colon.

Avenida Independencia runs north-south from central Parque Libertad, while Calle Libertad runs east-west. Calles (streets) north of Libertad have even numbers (2-4-6), while Calles south of Libertad have odd numbers (1-3-5). So don't be confused! Avenidas west of Independencia have even numbers (2-4-6), the ones east of Independencia have odd numbers (1-3-5).

What's in an address?
25a Calle Poniente Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur #6 translates into 25th Street West (of Ave Independencia) between 10th and 12th Avenue South (of Libertad Avenue) House Number 6. (Short version 25C Pte Ere 10 y 12Av Sur #6)

When asking for directions remember that house numbers are often out of sequence and might repeat in other blocks. Similar, street numbers are not well established (although well signed), and locals - including taxi and bus driver - usually navigate by these landmarks:

Parque: Parque Libertad (Central Park)

Centro: Downtown area, though buses are not allowed to pass Parque Libertad and usually drop passengers 1 or 2 blocks from the Parque.

Terminal: Bus station south of Mercado Colon, buses stop at the roundabout at Ave Fray Moraga y 15a Calle Poniente.

Pollo Campero: Fast food restaurant at Ave Independencia y 5a Calle, 3 blocks south of Parque Libertad.

Hospital: Public hospital at Calle Libertad Oriente y 17a Ave Sur.

Metrocentro: Shopping Mall (roundabout) at south entrance of town. Often shorten to Metro to avoid confusion with Centro (Downtown).

ISSS (Regional hospital): Ave Santa Ana California Sur, next to the stadium.

INSA (Instituto National de Santa Ana), Ave Santa Ana California y 31a Calle.

DUI (Center issuing Documento Único de Identidad), 25a Calle Poniente Entre 18a Ave Sur y Calle Internacional.


Local buses (called Urbanos) serve almost every part of Santa Ana and its colonias, operate roughly between 5am and 9pm, and can be very crowded especially during rush hour. Routes are complicated, difficulte to follow, and no route map is published. Flat fare is $0.20 for the bigger buses, $0.25 for micro buses, and $0.35 for a/c buses on selected routes; board in front and pay the driver. Some useful lines are...

  • R-8 from Metrocentro to downtown, via Bulevar Los 44 (commonly known as bypass) to Universidad Catolica, then along 7a Calle and 5a Calle Oriente (get off at Pollo Campero).
  • R-9 from Metrocentro to downtown, follows Ave Independencia (get off at Pollo Campero and then walk 3 blocks to Parque Libertad).
  • 51-E from downtown (Scotiabank behind the Palacio Municipal) via INSA to UES (Universidad de El Salvador). In opposite direction 51-E goes from UES via INSA to Parque Colon.
  • 51-F from downtown (Scotiabank behind the Palacio Municipal) via INSA to Metrocentro. Don't take 51-F back to downtown unless you're ready for an 45min ride or want to go to Parque Colon (but if you do, ask the driver if he's going via IVU as two different 51-F routes exist!).


Unmetered yellow taxis charge $3 for short distances, but $4 (bargain hard) should bring you pretty much everywere in town. Most drivers have difficultes to find specific streets, better use hotel names, landmarks (see above), or the name of the Colonia (town district) of your destination.

See[edit][add listing]

Most visitors of course come to see the Cathedral and the Theatre, but Santa Ana has more to offer. According to La Secretaria de Cultura, its historic center (roughly within the limits of 4a Calle - 7a Ave - 9a Calle - Ave Jose Matias Delgado) counts 210 buildings in neoclassical style, 5 gotic, 64 neocolonial and 102 in traditional style. The most intact ensemble of colonial houses can be found east of Parque Libertad, although most houses are privately owned and therefore inaccessible. For a self guided tour follow Calle Libertad eastbound and discover the north & south leading Avenidas (1a, 3a, 5a, 7a, 9a).

  • Teatro de Santa Ana, 1a Calle Poniente y Ave Independencia Norte (Parque Libertad), Tue-Sat 9am a 12pm and 1pm-5pm, guided tours for foreigners $1.50, shows $3-6 [13]. A masterpiece of colonial architecture, build between 1902 and 1910. After the tour has finished, don't forget to have a look in the restrooms! Helds regulary performances (sometimes free entrance), check in advance.
  • Escuela de Artes y Oficios Jose Mariano Mendez, Calle Jose Mariano Mendez Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur (next to Parque Colon). Often overseen and re-opend to the public in 2016, this once impressive building was saved in the very last moment by the city goverment from demolishing. No plan for restoration exists so far.
  • Museo Regional de Occidente, Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Calle, [14], (+503) 2441-1215, Tue-Sat 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm (often opens later & closes earlier), entry price for foreigners $3. Located in the former building of Banco Central de Reserva. Dedicated to the history of El Salvadorian money, exhibition of coins and bills in the former strong room downstairs, don't miss the art exhibition upstairs.
  • Museo de Anatomia Humana de UNASA, 2a Ave Sur y Entre 3a y 5a Calle Poniente, Mon-Fri 8am-12pm and 1:30pm-5:30pm, Sat 8am-12pm, [15]
  • Mueso de Armas (Museo Militar), Segunda Brigada de Infantería, 3a Ave Sur Entre 11a y 13a Calle Oriente. The ruined building nearby (at the corner of 3a Ave Sur y 13a Calle Oriente) is the Casino Militar Centroamericano, which was destroyed by fire during the war in 1981.
  • Museo AJA, 6a Calle Poniente Entre 8a y 10a Ave Norte (if going there by taxi tell the driver its near Multi Familiares). This small and privatly owned museum is open Wen thru Fri, free entrance. [16]

Santa Ana has a classical colonial town layout with 4 churches forming the cristian cross:

  • Catedral de Santa Ana, at Parque Libertad. Build in gothic style 1906 and with its splendid facade now completely restored (almost, the lower parts are still crumbling), this is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Central America. Don't miss it!
  • Iglesia El Calvario at Parque Menendez, was badly damaged during the 2001 earthquake but is now completely restored.
  • Iglesia Catolica El Carmen, 7a Calle Oriente y 1a Ave Sur (4 blocks south of Parque Libertad).
  • Parroquia San Lorenzo, 10a Calle Oriente y 1a Ave Norte (4 blocks north of Parque Libertad), within a school compound, access only durning school hours.

A fairly new addition is...

  • Mosque Palestina Tierre Santa, built in 2011, at 4a Ave Sur Entre 5a y 7a Calle Poniente. Dedicated to Santa Ana's small islamic community.
  • Parque Ecologico San Lorenzo, a small zoological garden which is a bit disappointing but maybe to only chance to see local primates such as Mono Araña (Spider Monkeys). Also has attached picnic area with ponds and swimming pools (not too clean). Popular at weekends but deserted during the week. 11a Ave Norte 2.5km north of downtown, entry $2 for adults, tel (+503) 2442-4584, open daily 9am-5pm (zoo 9am-12pm and 2:30pm-4pm). To get there take bus 51-D from Parque Colon, or R-2 or 51-D from Calle 6a Oriente y 1a Ave Norte (2 blocks downhill from Teatro) and get off at the bus stop right in front of the park (ask driver).

Do[edit][add listing]

Santa Ana makes a excellent base for discovering western El Salvador's archaeological and natural spots. FUNDAR (Fundación Nacional de Arqueología de El Salvador) maintains the excellent website [17] with tons of information, although its participation ended in 2009.

Tazumal Maya pyramid in the town of Chalchuapa
  • Parque Arqueológico Tazumal pyramid, one of the most important and most impressive pre-Columbian sites in El Salvador. Excavated ruins cover an area of 10 sq km and are the largest Mayan temple in El Salvador. Located 15km west of Santa Ana, open Tue-Sun 9am-4pm entry fee $3 for foreigners. To get there take bus 218 (passing along 31a Calle Poniente - 4a Ave Sur - 11a Calle Poniente - Ave Fray Felipe Sur) to Chalchuapa town; it will drop you almost in front of the entrance gate, $0.30 1/2h. Don't take bus 210 to Ahuachapan as it bypasses Chalchuapa town. On the way back to Santa Ana don't take bus 202 as it goes direct to San Salvador and bypasses Santa Ana. Entry fee for foreigners $3, includes museum. [18], [19]
  • Casa Blanca Archaeological Park, open Tue-Sun 9am-4pm, entry fee $3 for foreigner including museum and indigo workshop. Take bus 218 towards Chalchuapa town (details see Tazumal) and get off at the turnoff into Chalchuapa, $0.30 1/2h. Bus 210 (towards Ahuachapan) from terminal also passes here. [20], [21]
  • San Andrés Archaeological Park. To get there take SEISABUS 201 from 25a Calle towards San Salvador, it will drop you right in front of the entrance gate. Note that TUDO bus 201 also passes here but only the regular service stops will stop, while the special service doesn't. [22], [23]
  • Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park. Take SEISABUS 201 from 25a Calle towards San Salvador, or bus 276 from terminal towards Apopa, get at the turnoff to Opico & Quetzaltepeque (2km east of San Andrés), then change to bus 108 towards Opico. The park can be easily visited in concunction with San Andrés. More information at [24], [25]
Coatepeque Lake
  • Lago Coatepeque, a beautiful lake that was once an active volcano caldera. To get there take bus 220 from terminal (ask for Lago), travels via Coatepeque and El Congo, or bus 59 from 31a Calle via Metrocentro and Panamericana to El Congo where you can transfer to bus 220. Last bus 220 back from Lake to Santa Ana at 4pm. Access to the lake shore is difficult due to many private properties, try at one of the hotels or restaurants.
  • Cerro Verde, a must for eco-tourists, and the starting point for climbing Santa Ana and Izalco vulcano. Bus 248 departs from bus station "Transportes Vencedora" at Ave Fray Felipe y 11a Calle Poniente (more stops along 25a Calle and at Universidad Catholica) at 7:40 and 11am, returns at 10:30am and 4pm. Beware, sometimes buses are marked 209 (normaly going to Sonsonate, but at these times they go to Cerror Verde). The ride takes 2 hours and costs $0.90. The park is the final stop on the line, so don't worry about missing it. Entrance fee to the park $3 for foreigners. Inside the park, a small comedor serves breakfast for $1.50 and lunch for $3. Cabins can be rented for $36 per night (up to 3 people per cabin).
  • Santa Ana Vulcano, next to Cerro Verde, is noteworthy for the turquoise lake in its crater. A guided and police escorted tour (they don't let you do the hike without a guide) leaves Cerro Verde at 11am to the vulcano, $1 for guide, plus $1 to pass through some private property, plus $6 for MARN (ministerio del ambiente y resurcos naturales) to climb the volcano itself. The hike up takes 2h and 1.5h down, and is moderately difficult. Trekking boots recommended. The weather is chilly at the high altitude (2381m / 7812ft) so long pants, a jacket, and a windbreaker are also recommended. Bring at least 1 liter of drinking water with you! Best time for climbing is during dry season (between Nov and April) when perfect sky is the rule, but even in rain season (between May and October) good weather is not uncommon. For volcanic activity check [26], last eruption was in 2005.
  • Izalco Vulcano. A guided and police escorted tour (they don't let you do the hike without a guide) also leaves from Cerro Verde at 11am to the vulcano. Important note: unless there is a large enough group intending to hike up Izalco, no tour will leave to climb it. Unfortunately there's no way to know in advance whether there will be such a group without arriving there; hence, it is best to collect your own group in advance and arrive at the site to force the park's hand.
  • Ruta de las Flores is a beautyful route across the mountains south of Santa Ana, with several lakes and waterfalls along the road. To get there, take bus 210 (very frequently) from terminal to Ahuachapan, $0.50 1h. Get off at its final stop and transfer to bus 249 departing from the intersection across mainstreet (goes via Ataco, Apaneca, Juayua, to Sonsonate), or bus R-20 (via Ataco as far as Apaneca), $0.40 to Ataco resp $0.55 to Apaneca. From Juayua bus 238 brings you back to Santa Ana 4 times a day (last bus Mon-Sat at 4pm, Sun at 2pm) $0.80, or continue to Sonsonate and take bus 216 (last one at 6:40pm) from main terminal to Santa Ana, $0.90. All towns offer plenty of accommodation.

    The Rutas de las Flores can be done as a day trip (although you might miss a lot of its beauty), but it's best to travel the opposite way around: Take bus 238 from terminal to Juayua at 6:40am, 9:30am, 12:30pm, and 5pm. Then change to bus 249 towards Apaneca, Ataco, and finally Ahuachapan (ask driver to make sure you're on the right bus!). In Ahuachapan you can transfer to the 210 bus back to Santa Ana. Note, times are approximate. It is better to arrive a bit early and wait around.

  • Los Naranjos. While not part of the Ruta de las Flores per se, this tiny village located 23km southeast of town at an altitude of 1450m (4754ft) is the closest place if you seek relief from Santa Ana's heat. Several hostals, hotels, and fincas in the area offer accomodation (eg Paso Alaska Resort, from $75, [27],or Hostal Casa Blanca, $22-$40). As everywhere in the region, ask locals for security advise (and guide, or even police escort) before setting out in the surrounding countryside. You cannot climb Santa Ana vulcano from here! Take bus 216 from terminal (towards Sonsonate), or bus 238 (towards Juayua, departure times see above), and get off at the gas station which marks the middle of the village. 1h $0.70.


  • Academia Europea, local branch of its San Salvador operation, offers classes in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and even Mandarin. 23a Calle Poniente y 6a Ave Sur, Tel (+503) 2440-2045, [28]. Also has job opportunities for native speakers, part time and full time, salary around $3.50 - $4.50 per hour.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Smaller shops are usually closed between 12pm and 2pm (for lunch break) and after 6pm, and most shops are closed on Sundays (except Supermarkets and Metrocentro).

Commercial areas[edit]

Santa Ana has 3 main commercial areas:

Metrocentro Mall in Santa Ana
  • Downtown covers a few blocks mainly to the south and west of Parque Libertad.
  • Ave Jose Matias Delgado Sur and 10a Ave Sur, streching from Parque Menendez south to Parque Colon.
  • Metrocentro, Ave Independencia Sur (20 blocks south of Parque Libertad), is a large mall (greatly expanded in 2017) with expensive shops and cafes, a department store (Siman), a food court, plus a Cinepolis cinema [29]. In the same area you'll find fast food restaurants such as Burger King, McDonalds with McCafe, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, plus the Salvadorian chains Mr Donut and Pollo Campero.


  • Mercado Central (Central Market), occupies 2 blocks between 1a Calle Poniente - 3a Calle Poniente and 4a Ave Sur - 8a Ave Sur. The usual things, fruits, vegtables, meat, and cloths. Very busy in daytime.
  • Mercado Colon. Santa Ana's larges market occupies several blocks south of Parque Colon and all the way up to the bus terminal. The market hall opposite Parque Colon is dedicated to hardware & electronic goods (mostly mobile phones), also bicycle parts can be found here. Can be very crowded, so keep an eye on your beloggings as pocket thives are active in this market.
  • a tiny Fleamarket can be found along Calle Jose Mariano Mendez Poniente Entre 8a y 10a Ave Sur. Mostly used mobile phones and used hardware stuff.


  • Super Selectos [30] has three branches in town: Downtown at 2a Calle Poniente y 2a Ave Norte (behind the Palacio Municipal). 2) Ave Fray Moraga Sur Entre 11a Calle y Calle J M Mendez. 3) at Metrocentro, groundfloor.
  • La Despensa de Don Juan (owned by Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica), Ave Fray Moraga Sur Entre 31a y 33a Calle Poniente, Santa Ana's biggest and best stocked supermarket, but fairly expensive by Salvadorian standarts. Bus 51-D can drop you at intersection then walk 1/2 block uphill. Also accomodates a Subway fast food place.
  • Queso de Metapan, offers delicious locally produced cheeses, with several outlets in town: 1a Calle Poniente Entre 4a y 6a Aveninda Sur (outside the Central Market building), and 31a Calle y Ave Independencia, and (since July 2014) at 2a Calle Poniente y 2a Ave Norte (1 block west of the Theater).


  • Plaza Artesania, 1a Ave Sur y Calle Libertad (1/2 block south of Parque Libertad, opposite Centro de Artes). Has the usual tourist schnick-schnack.
  • Artesania y Dulce Tipicos, 1a Ave Sur Entre 2a y4a Calle Norte (1/2 block north/downhill from the Cathedral).

Eat[edit][add listing]


Virtually hundreds of comedores (cantins) offer salvadorian standard meals (comida tipica) for as little as $2. Mostly self service (comida a la vista). Usually open for lunch between 11am and 2pm (for dinner head out to pupuserias). Be early as food is often prepared in advance and may not stay fresh in the tropical heat. Also places sometimes run out of food after 1pm. Beware that virtually all comedores are closed Sundays.

  • café 33:3, 25a Calle Poniente y 10 Ave Sur (front Pampa Argentina). Desserts, Sandwiches, Cold-Drinks (not alcoholic) & Hot-Drinks.  edit
  • Rancho Santaneco (do not mistake with Cantina Santaneco which is only a few doors away), Calle Libertad Poniente Entre 2a y 4a Ave Sur #7 (roughly opposite Scotiabank), open from 7am until 3pm, nice setting & good food, be early (before 12pm) as it is very popular, meals around $3-5.
  • China Hermosa, Calle Libertad Oriente Entre 3a y 5a Ave Sur (1½ block east of Parque Libertad), lunch (set meal) $1.95, a la carte $3.50-4.50.
  • Magic Wok, 7a Calle Oriente Entre 11a y 13a Ave Sur (bus 55-A/55-B pass in front), claims to be the best chinese restaurant in town. Also new branch in downtown at Plaza Florida next to the municipalidad building.
  • Pupuseria La 31, 31a Calle Poniente Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur, open from 5pm, delicious pupusas which are not as greasy then usual.


  • Quattro Estaciones, 29 Calle Poniente y Ave Santa Ana California Sur (10a Ave Sur) (in same building as Casa Frolaz), (503)2440-1564, [1]. 12m-10pm. This is the only place in the city with Mediterranean Food. Entrees, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta, Chicken, Beef, Desserts and one of the best Coffee in Town. Wines, Drinks & Teas. $1-$12.  edit
  • La Pampa Argentinian Steak House, 25a Calle Poniente Entre 10 y 12a Ave Sur, [31]. Maybe Santa Ana's best meat place.
  • Lover's Steak House, Colonia San Miguelito, 21a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia y 3a Ave Sur #6, Tel (+503) 2440-5717 and (+503) 2440-0995, e-mail [email protected], breakfast $3-4.50, main course $14-20, large portions on huge plates, open from 7am for breakfast, free WiFi.
  • Si Chuan, Chinese and Japanese dishes, Colonia San Miguelito, 21a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia y 3a Ave Sur #4, tel (+503) 2440-0225, main dishes $6-8, but don't expect authentic cusine. Owned by the same family as Lover's next door.
  • El Patio, 21a Calle Poniente entre Av.Independencia y 2a Ave Sur #3, (+503) 2440-4221. Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & 5pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 11am-9pm. Nice location around a patio. Excellent meat, but side dishes are not worth mentioning. Soups $5-10, Salads $5-7, Mains $10-20, Foreign beer (German Paulaner & Erdinger) $3.50-5.50, Coctails $5-10..  edit Email: [email protected]


  • Banban, a Santa Ana institution, serves delicious pastries and good coffee, all have AirCon, and most have free WiFi, several branches throughout town. [32][33]. The largest one is at Ave Independencia Sur Entre 11a Ave y Ave Jose Mendez (6½ blocks south of Parque Libertad). Best downtown location is at Calle Libertad y Ave Independencia (just of Parque Libertad). Also at Plaza Prisma, Ave Jose Delgado Sur y 1a Calle Poniente (1 block southwest of Parque Menendez or 1 block north of Hotel Sahara). And a smaller one at 25a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur. Also in Metrocentro, 2nd floor.
  • El Sin Rival, another Santa Ana institution, serves delicious sherbet ice cream. Several branches throughout down: Calle Libertad Entre 1a y 3a Ave (½ block west of Parque Libertad), Calle Independencia Sur Entre 9a y 11a Ave, and many more. [34]
  • Expresión Cultural, 11a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur, [2]. Good for drinks, coffee & pastries, but lunch meals are not exceptional. Superfriendly, nice shady patio, sometimes live music in the evening, free WiFi.  edit
  • Café Expresso (formerly Star Mon's), Ave Independencia Sur Entre 11a Calle y Calle Jose Mariano Mendez (next to Banban), open 8am-12pm, 2pm-6pm Mon-Sat, inexpensive but good coffee & home made cakes served in a peaceful patio, free WiFi.
  • Guazapa Cafe, 11a Calle Oriente y 5a Ave Sur (same compound as ALBA gas station), open daily 6am-10pm, Tel (+503) 2441-2709, [35], excellent coffee and simply the best carrot cake in town ($2.75), but the waffles are very small and not worth the $3.25, AirCon & free WiFi. Attracts Santa Ana's wealthy crowd.
  • Panizzimo, 23a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur, small but cozy, free WiFi. Another branch is located at 4a Ave Sur y 9a Calle Poniente, no WiFi.
  • Bites Bakery, 21a calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia y 3a Ave Sur, Tel (+503) 2440-7227, [36], open daily 10am-9pm, good coffee & pastries, Aircon, free WiFi. Next to Si Chuan Restaurant, same owner as Lover's.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Villa Morena is Santa Ana's small outgoing area, 2a Calle Poniente (between Parque Libertad and Parque Menendez). Turns into a pedestrian zone Fri and Sat evenings, many bars and restaurants with street side tables, safe as guarded by police.
  • La Taberna del Capitan, 4a Ave Sur y 17a Calle Poniente (west of Colegio Bautista), Tel (+503) 2440 9461. Mon-Thu 12pm-10pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-11:30pm. Bar & Restaurant, open until late.
  • The Super Selectos supermarket (check different locations) has a reasonable selection of Spirits and Argentinian/Chilean/European Wines. Also sells German Köstritzer, Belgium Leffe, and original Czech Pilsener beer. An even larger selection can be found at La Despensa de Don Juan, including chinese Tsing Tao and german Erdinger beer.
  • La Despensa de Don Juan, (see supermarkets). Has an even larger selection, including chinese Tsing Tao and german Erdinger beer. edit

Warning: Under no circumstances visit the drinking holes along 11a Calle Poniente Entre 8a Ave Sur y Ave Fray Felipe Moraga Sur (Parque Colon area)!

Sleep[edit][add listing]


  • Casa Verde (Hostal), 7a. Calle Poniente (Between 8 and 10 Avenida Sur; 4 blocks south from Parque Menendez, just around the Corner from Hotel Livingston, look for the big green house), (503) 7840- 4896 (), [3]. checkout: 1 pm. Casa Verde is safe and secure and offers modern, spotless, comfortable rooms and bathrooms, 2 incredibly well-stocked kitchens, free coffee, water, and WiFi (and a computer), a laundry area, parking, and pick up/drop-off service, beautiful patios, hammocks, TV/movie room, a swimming pool, and rooftop deck. Centrally located, a short walk to the main square, bus terminal, and a large grocery store. Carlos, the owner, lives on site and is an excellent source of information for the Santa Ana area and travelling in El Salvador. Info: [4], [email protected] Dorm from $10, private rooms are also available.  edit
  • Casa Frolaz (Hostal), 29a Calle Poniente #42-B (Between 8 and 10 Avenidas Sur), (503) 2440 1564 (), [5]. checkout: 11am. A gorgeous beautifully decorated house for backpackers with clean and large dorm rooms. Hot shower, free Wi-Fi and DVDs, tropical garden. Safe and secure location near Metrocentro Mall and just 7 blocks south of Bus Terminal, but quite a way from Central Park (bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown). Speed Internet, and Restaurant. If coming from San Salvador on TUDO bus 201, get off in 31a Calle at INSA and walk 1 block downhill. Info: Dorm from $8.  edit
  • Vital Yek (Hostal), Barrio Santa Cruz 15av norte Calle Libertad y 2da Calle Oriente #9, (503) 7893-0954, [6]. checkout: 11am. The property is in a great location, 3 blocks from the historic district of Santa Ana, surrounded by the best preserved architecture in El Salvador. Friendly staff and many local restaurants nearby. Dorms from $7, private rooms available as well.  edit
  • Hotel Continental, 23a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur. Popular and safe, a good option although not central, limited car parking.  edit
  • Hotel Libertad, 4a Calle Entre 1a y 3a Av (1 block north / downhill from the Cathedral). Friendly and very central but basic. 9$ per double room.  edit
  • Hotel Livingston, 10a Ave Sur Entre 7a y 9a Calle Poniente (4½ blocks south of Parque Menendez resp 4½ blocks north of terminal), (+503) 2441-1801. A simple but good place if you're on a budget, WiFi, secure car park. $15 double, $10 economic room.  edit


  • Hotel Sahara, 3a Calle Poniente Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur (2 blocks south of Parque Menendez), +503 2447 8865 (). The rooms are great and comfortable. It's not a run down or bad hotel at all (as mentioned in some guide books) but probably the only one in downtown in this category. WiFi, guarded car park. $54.00 (double).  edit
  • Hotel Tolteka Plaza, Boulevard Los 44 (between Panamericana highway and Metrocentro roundabout), [7]. The best place to stay in Santa Ana, but a long way out of town (get a taxi to downtown). Bus 201 (TUDO company) coming from San Salvador can drop you right in front of the hotel, ask driver. Bus 59 from/to El Congo also passes here. $70 (double).  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Most parts of the city are completely deserted after 7pm. The Metrocentro area, the Parque Libertad, and the pedestrian street Villa Morena (2a Calle Poniente) are considered safe at night as police and security guards are present. Avoid Parque Colon and surroundings after dark, as many homeless and drunken individuals hang around the area.

Be very careful when walking on sidewalks because many manhole covers are missing (stolen for there value as scrap metal) and openings can be several feet deep. Especially after dark it's recommended to walk on the street (if traffic permits).

Do not climb the hills surrounding the city without local security advice and/or police escort, as robberies have occured.

Stay healthy[edit]

Do not go to the public hospital (San Juan de Dios), unless your financial situation is desperate and you're willing to queue for hours with the poor of the poor (but then be early). Much better are the private hospitals:

  • CLIMESA (Clínica Médica Santa Ana), 2a Calle Oriente y 21a Ave Norte, Tel (+503) 2487-1100, [37].
  • Centro Medico de Santa Ana, 6a Ave Sur Entre 23a y 25a Calle, probably Santa Ana's best hospital, Tel (+503) 2484-0200, [38]


  • Correos de El Salvador (Post Office), at intersection Ave Independencia Sur Entre y Calle Jose Mariano Mendez, open Mon-Sat 7.30am-5pm. International postal rates are similar to the Unites States Postal Service. Leave parcels open so they can check for prohibited goods.
  • URBANO / DHL [39], [40] . Ave Santa Ana California (10a Ave) Entre 23a y 25a Calle #80. Take Bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown. Local & world wide express delivery services for parcels and envelopes (address on all web pages is outdated).

Internet cafes a fairly common and charge roughly $0.50 per hour. If you have your own equipment, visiting one of the many cafes and restaurants offering free and unlimited WiFi might be the better option.

  • e-center, 4a Calle Oriente y Ave Independenica Norte (1 block downhill from Parque Libertad, behind the Teatro).
  • RC Servicios, 4a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia y 2a Ave Norte, has aircondition.
  • Ciber Fenix, 2a Ave Sur Entre 7a y 9a Calle Poniente, claims to have fast 7.5 Mbps connection.
  • [email protected], 2a Ave Sur y 7a Calle Poniente.



Most banks have several branches in town, and ATM's are fairly common. Expect your bags checked by security staff when entering the bank. Try to avoid payment days (around 15th and 30th of each month) as long queues occur; the only ATM not affected by this phenomena is at Banco G&T Continental (opposite Banco Cuscatlan) which accepts Visa and Master/Maestro cards.

  • Scotiabank, downtown at 2a Ave Entre Ave Libertad y 2a Calle Poniente (just behind Palacio Municipal), Ave Jose Matias Delgado Entre 1a y 3a Calle Poniente, and in Metrocentro Shopping Mall. Has ATM (which strangly does not accept 6 digit PIN).
  • Banco Cuscatlan (formerly Citibank), downtown at 3a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Ave Sur, also at Metrocentro roundabout, has ATM (accepts all major credit cards, and debit cards such as Maestro).
  • Banco Agricola, downtown at 5a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Ave Sur, has ATM (accepts all major credit cards, and debit cards such as Maestro).
  • Davivienda (used to be HSBC until 2012), 2a Ave Sur y 5a Calle Poniente, has ATM which accepts Visa only. Another branch is located near Metrocentro roundabout.

If you just arrived from Guatemala and want to get rid of your quetzales, ask around street vendors at 1a Calle Poniente y Ave Independenica Sur (1 block south from Parque Libertad). Current rate (Nov 2014) is $12 for 100 quetzales.


Entry level digital cameras and memory cards are sold in many shops, but for professional cameras check the following places. Prices for cameras are up to 50% higher than in the US and Europe. Both places also sell and develop photographic films.

  • Westerhausen, 5a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 2a Calle Sur.
  • RAF, Ave Independencia Sur Entre 5a y 7a Calle, and in Metrocentro.


Notebooks and tablets are sold in many electro domestic shops throughout town. For more specific needs check these shops.

  • Medicomp, 3a Calle Oriente Entre 1a Ave Sur y 3a Ave Sur, good service, but make sure you ask for a discount.
  • Digital Service, Corner of Ave Independencia Sur y 13a Calle Oriente, good for computer parts and repair.
  • Electronica 2001, 1a Calle Oriente Ave Independencia Sur, 2nd floor, electronic parts, tools, equipment, plus some computer parts. Also has a large selection of music instruments and PA.
  • Repuestos Electronicos 2000, 2a Ave Sur y 7a Calle Poniente, electronic parts, tools, and equipment.

Cell Phones[edit]

Pushy street vendors at the intersection of Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Calle Poniente and along Ave. Jose Matias Delgado offer SIM cards for $3 including free talk time (sometimes as low as $1), and cell phones. If you don't trust them, better visit one of the many shops, or the carrier's customer center (bring identification document). All carriers have offices in Metrocentro, and at the following downtown locations:

  • Claro (América Móvil), Calle Libertad y 5a Ave Norte (1½ blocks east of Parque Libertad), [41].
  • Digicel, 2a Ave Sur y 5a Calle Poniente, [42].
  • Movistar (Telefónica), 1a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 2a Ave Sur (opposite La Bomba store), [43].
  • Tigo (Millicom International Cellular), 9a Calle Poniente Entre 2a y 4a Ave Sur [44].

If you buy a 2nd hand cell phone, ask for unlocked (liberado), and the battery's endurance. Replacement parts (keyboards, batteries, memory cards, etc) for cell phones are sold by numerous shops.

  • Eurocell, Ave Independencia y 13a Calle Poniente (8 blocks south of Parque Libertad), maybe the best equipped shop in town with the largest selection, new parts only.


The La Ceiba bookstore [45] in Metrocentro (2nd floor) has a small selection of english books.


  • Super Fitness Gym, 2a Ave Norte y 8a Calle Poniente (aka Calle Don Bosco). Claims to be the biggest gym in town, very loud music.
  • Golden Gym & Fitness, 9a Ave Norte Entre Calle Libertad y 2a Calle Oriente, open Mon-Sat.


  • Winner's Dry Clean y Lavanderias (Laundry), 2a Ave Sur Entre 13a y 15a Calle Poniente (1/2 block north of Colegio Bautista. Bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown passes nearby), tel (+503) 2479-0896, email [email protected] Mon-Fri 7:45am-12pm and 1:45pm-5:30pm, Sat 8am-12pm.

Get out[edit]

  • San Salvador, 2 bus companies provide services to the capital's Terminal del Occidente:

    TUDO bus 201 travels via the Panamericana. Regular service. The more comfortable special service (mostly aircon) does not stop along the highway (first stop is in Santa Tecla). Departs every 15min (first at 4:15am) from bus depot on Antigua Carretera Panamericana (4km southwest of downtown), at least 1h depending on the traffic situation. Take a taxi or local bus marked Cd Paraiso (9, 15, R-3SA, R-4SA, R55-B, or regional bus 210, 218, 236) to get to the bus depot. More convenient boarding points are 31a Calle Poniente y Ave Fray Moraga Sur, INSA at 31a Calle Poniente y Ave Santa Ana California, or Metrocentro.

    SEISABUS 201 follows the old Carretera via Coatepeque and C.Arce, with frequent stops, up to 2h, regular service. Departs every 5min, first at 3:10am (from depot at La Ceiba), last at 6:10pm. Boarding points along 25a Calle and also at Universidad Catolica (UNICAES).

  • Guatemala City (direct bus, only stop is at the border), Puerto Bus Route 415 (joint operations of Pezzarossi, Vencedora, Taca), Tel. (+503) 2415-0069, leaves from new office location at La Ceiba (next to Seisabus depot; behind Puma gas station, take a taxi or local bus R-A from downtown to get there). Departs 5am (except Sun) 6am 7am 8:30am 10am 12pm 1:30pm 3pm, 4h-4.5h, $16 (same fare as from San Salvador). If possible book a day in advance (bring your passport) so they can put you on the immigration list and you can stay aboard the bus, otherwise you have to visit the salvadorian immigration counter when departing the country.

    A cheaper but less convenient option is bus 236 (ordinario) or 236A (especial) from terminal to San Cristobal Frontera, then visit both immigration offices, and catch ongoing bus to Jutiapa and Guatemala City. The shaky Mendez Express bus 402 also departs from terminal at 11:30am (unreliable, check in advance) to Jutiapa and Jalapa, where you can transfer to a Guatemala City bus.

  • Central North of El Salvador (Chalatenango, Suchitoto, border with Honduras at El Poy) avoiding San Salvador. Take bus 276 from terminal via Coatepeque and Quetzaltepeque to Apopa (2.5h). Get off at final stop (at Puma gas station) and transfer to one of the buses going north along the main highway: Bus 125 for Chalatenago, 141 for Nueva Conception, 119 for San Igancio & Border. For Suchitoto take any bus to Aguilares and change there. Be aware that Apopa has the reputation of being the 'gang capital' of El Salvador, so be careful here.
  • Metapán, for Parque National Montecristo. Bus 235 does not leave from terminal but from bus depot near intersection Calle Aldea San Antonio y 25a Calle Poniente (almost opposite Texaco gas station). A more convenient boarding point is at Calle Aldea San Antonio (1/2 Block southwest from Parque Colon), or one of the stops along 6a Calle, $0.90. Bus 201-A coming from San Salvador also goes to Metapán, board at Boulevard Los 44 (Metrocentro roundabout).

    From Metapán you can also cross into to Guatemala at the border of Anguiatú (bus every 1/2h, very convinient if going to Rio Dulce, Puerto Barrios, or Copán Ruinas via Chiquimula), and into Honduras at the border of El Poy (take bus 463 from Metapán terminal, at 5:00am and 12pm, 3h).

  • Sonsonate and on to the pacific coast. Bus 209 (directo) every 25min from bus station "Transportes Vencedora" at Ave Fray Moraga Sur y 11a Calle Poniente, via El Congo, travels along the rim high above Lago Coatepeque with occasional views on the lake, 2h. Also bus 216 from terminal via Los Naranjos (1¾h), a very scenic ride over the mountains.

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