San Salvador

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San Salvador

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San Salvador is the capital city of El Salvador, approximately in the center of the country in a valley near the base of the San Salvador volcano. The city has a long history, with origins dating back to the Spanish conquest of the Pipil tribes.

coat-of-arms and flag of San Salvador


San Salvador lies in the "Valle de las Hamacas" (literally "Valley of the hammocks", as it was named by the colonizing Spaniards, due to its intense earthquake activity) at the foot of the San Salvador volcano. It covers an area of 600 square km and is home to nearly 2 million people. It is home to one-third of El Salvador's population and one-half of the country's wealth. The downtown area is filled with shops and modern buildings, but unfortunately earthquakes have damaged or destroyed many of the city's historic buildings.

The new National Cathedral, facing Plaza Barrios in the city centre

The people of San Salvador are generally friendly, though as in any large city, less inclined to engage in conversations with strangers on the street as opposed to other parts of the country. The wealthy live in exclusive suburbs behind tall security walls or luxury condominium buildings. Wealthier areas such as San Benito, Colonia Escalon, Colonia San Francisco, Colonia Maquilishuat, Santa Elena (where the US embassy is located) and Ciudad Merliot have tree-lined avenues, luxurious shopping malls, bars, clubs, gyms, restaurants, luxury hotels, modern high-rise buildings, plazas, boutiques, cafes, luxury salons, jewelry stores, etc. Some of these neighborhoods are located in the hills surrounding the city and have breathtaking views. A number of new gated housing communities complete with parks, swimming pools, fitness facilities and tight security are popular with middle class families. Most of the city's hotels can be found in these suburbs.

There are middle class neighborhoods and residential areas close to the wealthy neighborhoods. Poorer areas are located in the northern and eastern districts, along with an abundance of shanty towns sprawling along the city's fringes.

San Salvador's climate is tropical, although the weather can vary; the nights may be cool (especially in December), however, most of the time it is sunny and warm. Wearing t-shirts, jeans, and possibly a light rain jacket is usually sufficient.

Whilst not on most tourists' "to do" list in El Salvador, the capital provides a good base for exploring the rest of the country as it's a transportation hub, with most major roads running through it due to its central location. Spending a few days exploring this cosmopolitan and internationally-conscious city can be a rewarding experience. Whilst parts can seem like a maze of confusion, rich vs poor, modern vs dilapidated, cars vs pedestrians, the city has played a major role in defining and shaping the rest of this small yet intriguing country, once at the forefront of the Cold War. To understand this polarized country, it is essential to understand its political, cultural and social headquarters.

Get in

Travelers arriving by air will fly into Comalapa International Airport (SAL), the biggest airport in Central America, which is located 45 minutes by highway from the city. One important thing to note about the airport is that it is located on the beach, and therefore only 20 minutes away from major beach destinations. Often tourists think they must go to the city in order to reach the beach, making what should be a 20-30 minutes drive 1.5 hours instead!

For budget travelers the local bus can take you from the airport into downtown San Salvador for $0.70 US. It is slower than the shuttles and can take up to an hour to get into town. To reach the local buses; cross the big parking lot. Then go through an open building to reach the road. There is a bus-stop.

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.

Get around

Old Micro Bus in San Salvador. These "micros" were replaced by new ones in 2010

By far the cheapest option to get around is the public bus system. Generally speaking, bus fares run about $.60 per hour, making transportation to almost any tourist destination in the country less than $5 per person. Despite tourists' complaints, there are schedules to the busses; they run pretty regularly and reach any destination you wish to go.

Major car companies in El Salvador have a habit of being unreliable and for charging for damages that renters did not do. Safeguard yourself by thoroughly checking the car and taking good photos of it before leaving. Alamo has a particularly bad reputation for service and quality. National Rental Car has a fair reputation. The others fall in between. Private parties often rent their vehicles and are more honest than dealing with chains. Just make sure that the car comes with insurance as you will be responsible for damages in an accident or end up in jail until things can be sorted out!

Taxis also provide good ways of getting around. Negotiating the cost of your taxi before you step in is common practice and expected. Expect to pay around $25-35 between the airport and San Salvador or the airport and Playa El Tunco. Carry small denominations of money and have exact change for your taxi fare. It is not common to tip taxi drivers, although they may try to convince you to leave some spare change!

Distances between sights make walking an unpopular option for those in a hurry 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 the short, 15 minute walk between Zona Rosa and Las Terrazas (Sheraton hotel) which are close together and within sight of one another. If you are interested in Art Deco and Salvadoran architecture, walking is a perfect option to get around the city. One favorite stroll is along Paseo General Escalon (Colonia Escalon) to Central San Salvador - a 45 minute walk that takes you past many historical sites and interesting photo ops. Another great walking option is through Parque Bicentenario, a large green space in Antiguo Cuscatlan with paths and playgrounds, perfect for families.


The main entrance of the National Palace, seat of the government in the early 1900's, now a museum


San Salvador has wide avenues and boulevards, including the two widest boulevards in Central America: Boulevard de los Proceres and Boulevard de los Heroes. Other important boulevards include Alameda Roosevelt, Paseo General Escalon, Av. Jerusalem, Boulevard Constitucion and Av. Juan Pablo Segundo.

Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo, also called Plaza Las Americas


San Salvador has many beautiful monuments, some of them dating back to the early 20th century, while others are more modern. Some of the most important monuments include the National Palace, Plaza Gerardo Barrios, Plaza La Libertad, Plaza Morazan, Water Clock, Monument to the Sea, Atlacatl Monument and the Proceres Monuments (it has 10 busts of famous Salvadorans that line the street).

One of the most recognizable monuments in El Salvador is the Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo, or "Monument to the Saviour of The World". The Saviour is San Salvador's Patron Saint and is celebrated with massive festivities during the first full week of August every year.

The Metropolitan Cathedral has the tomb of Monsignor Oscar Romero (enter from right-side entrance), open from 8 AM to 12 PM, 2 PM to 4:45 PM daily.

One of the most surprisingly beautiful architectural gems in El Salvador is the Iglesia Rosario, a church built by sculptor Ruben Martinez in the 1970's. Resembling an airplane hangar from the outside, it is visually stunning as you step through the doors. The best time to visit is 4-5 pm.


Feria Internacional de El Salvador is the largest convention center in Central America. Some of the very wealthy business families in San Salvador and throughout El Salvador are Siman (owners of the largest department store chain in Central America), Poma (owners of Grupo Roble and Grupo Poma), Quiros (owners of Grupo Q in Central America), Kriete (owners of TACA Airlines), Dueñas (owners of La Gran Via), the family that owns Biggest, Pops, Nash and Mister Donut, and a lot of other important families. In addition, San Salvador is one of the only two cities in Central America that have a World Trade Center.


San Salvador has a large urban park, the "Parque de los Pericos". There is another park called Parque Cuscatlan (close to downtown), which is very elegant, with lights, trees and paths. Popular with locals, the beautiful botanical gardens of La Laguna located at the bottom of a volcanic crater showcase much native fauna. Zoologico Nacional (The National Zoo), and Parque Saburo Hirao (with a collection of native plants) are in the SE part of the city by the old Presidential House.

A statue of the Aztec god Xipe Totec in the David J Guzman Museum

If you don't get a chance to visit smaller towns and villages outside the capital, a must see destination is Los Planes De Renderos. 1000 Meters above sea level, and it offers a spectacular view of San Salvador. This is a popular oasis for locals from the hectic city life. Check out the restaurants, and near-by parque Balboa, (Balboa Park) with lots of trees and green lawns, ideal for picnics. Indulge yourself eating the tasty salvadorean treat known as pupusas! Puerto del Diablo is another interesting place near Los Planes, a natural rock formation that holds a morbid place in El Salvador's historical civil war. Rock climbing is abundant near here and you can find climbing activities with the Federacion Salvadorena de Montanismo Escalada. Visit the nearby colonial town of Panchimalco, one of the few towns in the country with a large indigenous population.

The David J Guzman Museum of Anthropology


San - Salvador has many museums, the two most important are "Museo David J Guzman" and "Museo de Arte MARTE". David J Guzman National Museum of Anthropology[7] contains a variety of Mayan and Pipil artifacts, while Museo de Arte MARTE[8] displays an extensive collection of international art. Both are located in the Zona Rosa district. There is also a children's museum, the Tin-Marin [9] museum, where kids can experience the world in a fun way. The old national palace is being restored to house the "National Archives," and the "National Museum." Also a new display of early mammal fossils, including a giant sloth, mastodon and more than twenty other species is being set up in the "Museo de Historia Natural," or "Natural History Museum" situated in the SE section of Saburo Hirao park by the National Zoo. Close to the zoo is the "Museo Militar," or Military Museum which is housed in the old castle-like "El Zapote" barracks built in 1895. In the military museum you can find weapons and army uniforms from the 17th, 18th, and early 20th centuries, which were historically used by the Salvadoran army. Other highlights of this museum include the original copies of the 1992 peace accords and the Pope Mobile used when Pope John Paul II visited the country. Entrance is free and a guide service is provided at no charge.

View of MARTE museum's courtyard and Teatro Presidente in the background


San Salvador has numerous theatres, including the beautiful Teatro Presidente (located near Zona Rosa), where the symphony regularly performs expensive and inexpensive concerts, and the Teatro Nacional (downtown), which was recently restored to its full splendor. Here you can step back and experience the grandeur once reserved for the city's elite in the early 1900s.

The National Theatre (Teatro National) in downtown built in the early 1900's


There are plans for an aquarium to be built in El Salvador. This Aquarium will be built in El Parque de los Pericos, next to the Multiplaza mall.


San Salvador has several entertainment venues. You can go to restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos, or if you are traveling with kids you can go to the cinemas, bowling, bingo, arcades etc. Cinemas in San Salvador include

  • Cinemark Various locations throughout El Salvador, Ph:503 22294315, Merliot,[10].
  • Multicinema Various locations throughout El Salvador, Ph:503 22439269, Multiplaza [11].
  • Cinepolis, Galerías Escalón, [12].

You can also play video games at World Games and El Mundo Feliz. Families may also want to visit Central America's largest toy store:

  • Jugueton San Salvador. boulevard de los proceres #2000. Ph:503 22481253 [13] this a toy store similar to toys r´ us you will find all types of variety of toys and other fun crafts.
  • Also, you can go via cable car to an amusement park on top of Cerro San Jacinto mountain (no longer in use).

The trendiest night spot to visit is called Zona Rosa. Some of the best hotels are located there, including the Sheraton Presidente as well as one of the most luxurious hotels in Central America, the Hilton Princess. Although Zona Rosa doesn't cover a large area (around 1sq mi), it's home to many exclusive, upscale bars and nightclubs (Los Alambiques, Code), and the best restaurants in town (Paradise, 503, A lo Nuestro). If you want to visit a nightclub without the probable inconvenience of not being let in, you should visit Las Terrazas (Stanza, Envy) at Multiplaza Mall.


One of the best Spanish Language Schools is:

Started by the former guerillas and a network of foreign aid, CIS strives to better the lives of the Salvadoran people. Their popular language school offers private and group classes, and often hosts lectures by former combatants and other notable people from El Salvador's recent history.

Top international schools (K-12) are:

  • The American School (Escuela Americana), San Benito, ph:503 2257-8336, [14]
  • The British Academy (Academia Britanica Cuscatleca) in front of CA1, Santa Tecla. Ph:(503) 2241 4400, [15].
  • The Panamerican School (Escuela Panamericana), Colonia Escalón, ph:503 2209-6000, [16].
  • Escuela Biligue Maquilishuat Ph: +503 2263-8008
  • The German School (Deutsche Schule) Jardines de Guadalupe. Ph: 503 22438120, [17].
  • The French School (Lycée Français St Exupéry) Next to the British Academy, Santa Tecla , [18].
  • The International School of San Salvador Calle La Reforma. Ph: (503) 224-1330, [19]


  • La Casita. Locations in both Centro comercial multiplaza, San Benito and Centro comercial Plaza San Benito.
  • Bookmarks [20], Centro Comercial Basilea [21], Zona Rosa (Next to the Hilton).
  • La Ceiba, Galerias, Col.Escalon Av. Paseo Gral.Escalon. There are Many other la ceiba stores in the city.
Multiplaza, one of the new malls in the country, San Salvador volcano is in the background


Some of the shopping malls include: Loma Linda, Multiplaza [22], Las Fuentes, Galerias [23] (elegant), Metrocentro (said to be the largest in Central America), El Paseo (expensive), Plazamundo [24], Plaza Merliot [25], La Gran Via [26] (a lifestyle center / "city walk"), Las Cascadas, Basilea [27] (unique), Plaza San Benito, Villas Españolas and many more. These malls have luxury boutiques, the latest in international fashion, specialty stores, large foodcourts (some even have 3 food courts) and many other amenities.

Inside Multiplaza Mall

Local Crafts

For local arts and crafts, visit the Ilopango markets east of the city. Test your bargaining skills and take home some unique, handmade goods. For cheap souvenirs such as hammocks and other local crafts try the Mercado Cuartel. A good hammock can be yours for under $15 US, depending on bargaining skills. For Fair trade crafts from all over the country you can shop at the NGO Centro de Intercabio y Solidaridad[28]. They have a store with diverse products and they support many small artisans.


There are many gas stations - the most notable being Texaco, Puma and Uno throughout the city. Many offer full-service for a higher price, so be sure to check if you are at the full service or the self-service pumps. Gasoline fluctuates between $4-$5 a gallon, averaging about $4.50 for Premium gas. Regular gas is often mixed with kerosene and other cheap liquids, which will eventually ruin your engine. It's advised to buy the premium at all gas stations, unless you want to deal with blown head gaskets!

All gas stations will raise their prices as much as $.50 per gallon for 2-3 weeks before any major holiday - first week of August, Easter and Christmas being the biggest ones in the country.

Department stores

San Salvador and some Mexican cities are the only cities in Latin America with Sanborns (restaurant and store chain) and Dorians (or Sears). Other department stores include Siman [29], Carrion and Almacenes Europa.

Supermarkets and Other Retail Stores

  • Super Selectos The most common supermarket chain in the city - although not all are created equal. The SS located in Redondel Masfarrer and Las Palmas Shopping Center (located on the road to Puerto La Libertad just south of the city) usually have a healthier stock of imported items that foreign tourists may be craving.
  • Walmart Located in Centro Comercial Las Cascadas - for many items, Walmart is more expensive than shopping in the local markets or other stores; however they do often carry things that are difficult to find elsewhere.
  • La Despensa de Don Juan. Everywhere in the city - Local shopping place.
  • Pricesmart (Costco in the U.S.A.), South of Blvd. De los Heroes and in Santa Elena.


The restaurant scene in San Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian [30], 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 referenced in this article.


  • Mr. Donut
  • Burger King
  • McDonald's
  • Wendy's
  • Biggest
  • Pollo Campero
  • Pollo Campestre
  • Pollo Tip-Top
  • KFC
  • Subway
  • Quiznos
  • Pollo Tropical
  • Pizza Hut
  • Domino's
  • Little Caesar's
  • NASH
  • Típicos Margoth

When you are in El Salvador you won't have to worry about finding a place to eat, there is food everywhere you go.

Mid range

  • Tony Romas, Blvd. el Hipódromo, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Ph: (503) 2-298-5050, Fax:(503)2-298-5964, [31]. American casual. There are 3 more Tony roma's in the city.
  • La Panetière, San Benito, Zona Rosa Ph: (503) 2-263-8792, Fax: (503) 2-264-1759. There are many other La Panetière in all San Salvador.
  • Punto Literario. In El Museo de Arte Marte col. San Benito. Zona Rosa.
  • Sal y pimienta, Tercera calle poniente #3877 entre 73 y 75 av. Norte Col. Escalon, Ph: (503) 2-298-1766, Fax: (503) 2-245-0998.
  • Restaurante Chileno Hey, 97 av Nte. calle Pte. #4509, Col. Escalon. Ph/Fax: 503-22637281
  • Restaurante Basilea, Blvd. El Hipódromo 2-502, col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Ph: 503-22236818 Fax:503-22790056
  • Pasquale, Paseo Gral. Escalón, Col. Escalón frente a Galerías shopping center. Ph:503-2263-1693 Fax: 503-22635445. Italian food.
  • Tre fratelli, Blvd. El Hipódromo #307, Zona Rosa Ph/fax: 503-2224-2951 Italian Food.
  • Al Pomodoro, Paseo Gral. Escalón #3952 Ph: (503) 2514-4455 or 2257-2545 [32] Italian food.
  • Diva, Blv. El Hipódromo, centro comercial San Benito, Zona Rosa PH:503-22790814 Fax:503-2223-6026
  • Dynasty, Frente a Blv. el Hipódromo y Av. Las mangolias Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Ph: 503-22639955 Fax:503-22638615. Chinese food.
  • Sushi-Itto. Zona Rosa Ph:503-22241900 Fax:503-22982676
  • Chili's, Paseo Gral. Escalón #4220 col. escalon Ph: 503-2637556 Fax:503-22638352
  • Café Café, calle el tanque #13099 av. Norte y 7a calle poniente Bi. Col. Escalon, Ph: (503) 226-32413, Fax: (503) 226-34024, [33]. Peruan food.
  • Pueblo Viejo, Blvd. Los Heroes, MetroSur 2 nivel. Ph/Fax:503-22611256
  • Tequila y Botanas Hotel Real Intercontinental , Blvd. de Los heroes Ph:503-22113333 fax:22114444 Mexican food.
  • Los Balcones, km 40.5 autopista al aeropuerto Ph:503-23660000 fax:...01
  • Tanoshii sushi bar, Centro Comercial El Paseo, Col. Escalón, Paseo Gral. Escalon. and Tanoshii Hotel Real Intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes Ph: (503) 221-13333, Fax: 221-14444, [34]. Japanese food.
  • Royal, Col. Escalón in front of Pops escalón. Chinese Food.
  • Sanborns rastaurant and store, Multiplaza, mexican food.
  • Rj, multiplaza. Peruan food
  • Inka Grill, Blvd. El Hipódromo, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Peruan food.
  • Voi-la, Av. Masferrer infront of Texaco. French food.
  • Restaurante Club Campestre, Av. masferrer , Col Escalón 550 mts arriba de Redondel Masferrer. Buffet and à la carte. Ph:503-22633555.
  • Diva Bistro Multiplaza.
  • San Martín Multiplaza and El Paseo. Bakery.
  • El Rincon de mi Tía Multiplaza. Café and restaurant.
  • Olivos Multiplaza and Hilton princess Hotel at Zona Rosa. Salads and Sandwiches.
  • Benihana La Gran Via - International Japanese Steak House
  • Bennigans La Gran Via - International - Irish
  • Señor Tenedor, Av.Olimpica #3544 plaza Jardin, Ph: 2-298-1766, Fax: (503) 2-245-0998.
  • La Media Cancha, Steakhouse Restaurant and Sports Bar with TV's for watching sport - 79 Avenida Sur #48, Zona Rosa
  • Basilea, Centro Comercial Basilea, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa, Ph: (503) 2223-6818 [35]. International food.
  • 168ChineseRestaurant, 89Av. Nte y 9a calle poniente #4612 Col. Escalon, Ph: (503) 2264-1168, 2264-6168, [36]. Chinese food.
  • Cuatro Restaurante Bistró, Calle Padres Aguilar No. 4, Colonia Escalón, Ph: (503) 2263-4593 [37]. Spanish Fusion and Tapas.


  • 503, Blvd. del Hipódromo, Zona Rosa. Upscale, international cuisine and sushi lounge. Ph: (503) 2223-4770.
  • A lo Nuestro, Calle la Reforma #225-A Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Ph:503-22235116 Fax:503-22791920
  • La Pampa Argentina, In Zona Rosa, in Col. Escalon 1000mts arriba del redondel masferrer, in Santa Elena Boulevard Orden de Malta, and Boulevard. Constitución Col. Escalón Ph: 2-2786057.
  • Los Ranchos, Calle La Mascota #232 Interseccion Pje. A y Pje #3 Col.La Mascota, Zona Rosa.
  • Angus, La Gran Vía
  • Hacienda de los Miranda, Jardines de Guadalupe frente a CA1, La Libertad Ph:503-22431108, Fax: 503-22434841. Buffet and à la carte. [38]
  • Finisterre, Col. La Mascota Pje. A#30 Ph/Fax: 503-22637691
  • Escorial, Hotel Real intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes Ph:503-22113333 Fax:503-21144444, [39] or [40]
  • Las Orquideas, Hotel Terraza 85Av. Sur y calle Padres Aguilar Ph:503-22630044 Fax: 503-22632828
  • El Mirador, Hotel Radisson Col. Escalón. Buffet and à la carte.
  • Hunan, Upmarket Chinese Restaurant specialising in Szechuan and Shanghai in elegant surroundings - Paseo General Escalón y 99 Avenida Norte. Plaza Villavicencio
  • Paradise, Blvd. El Hipódromo, Zona Rosa. Ph: 503-2223-4832 fax: 503-22244201 [41]
  • Faisca Do Brasil, Authentic Brazilian 'Rodizio' style dining in luxurious surroundings. Hotel Real intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes Ph:503-22113333.
  • Fire Of Brazil, Brazilian Steakhouse - Churrascaria. Modern Restaurant and Bar with indoor and outdoor dining. Plaza Futura, San Salvador [42]
  • Jeques, Middle Eastern Cuisine. Plaza Futura. Calle el Mirador, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador

If you need to buy something, there are a lot of supermarkets in this city. Some are international, which come from Guatemala, the USA and other countries that are interested in bringing supermarkets to San Salvador. The supermarkets contain products such as food, clothing, candies, tools, shampoos, toys, cosmetics, soaps, etc.


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.

  • wine-o (the wine outlet), Blvd. del Hipodromo #575, San Benito, San Salvador, +503 2263-5576, [1]. 9AM-10PM. the place for excellente value wine with the best selection $9.

Bars and Clubs

  • Los Rinconcitos, Zona Rosa.
  • Code(Mario's), Zona Rosa.
  • Zanzibar [43], Zona Rosa. Great live party music on Saturday afternoons and Acoustic Thursdays quality faves. Centro Comercial Basilea.
  • La Taberna, Beer House 79 Av. Norte. Col. Escalon and Santa Tecla
  • Tabú, Zona Rosa. Next to Code
  • Stanza, Las terrazas (multiplaza).
  • Bliss, Las terrazas (multiplaza).
  • MaiThai, Las Terrazas (multiplaza).
  • Envy, Las Terrazas (Multiplaza).
  • Dolce Fiero, Popular with younger Salvadorans
  • Malibu Santa Elena, Boulevard Orden de malta, Santa Elena.
  • El Arpa, San Salvador - Popular with expats, Avenida "A" 137, Col. San José
  • La Ventana, Colonia Escalon. This is not a club, more of a lounge/coffee spot with food available, and a full bar. Owned by a German who now resides in El Salvador.
  • Scape (Gay),Centro Comercial Juan Pablo Segundo, Local 311A, Prolongacion Juan Pablo Segundo, San Salvador.
  • Millenium (Gay), 50 meters south of Scape.

For the latest information on gigs, raves,dance parties, international acts and concerts in San Salvador check here: [44](Spanish). Larger events and conventions are generally held in the Feria Internacional [45].


Headline text


Owned by expat, Malcolm Collins who married a Salvadoran and has a passion for exploring his new home, Hostel Cumbres del Volcan is the quintessential bed and breakfast experience. Malcolm and his staff make visitors feel at home and can answer any questions you have about San Salvador. Ask Malcolm to see his photo collection of San Salvador dating back to the 1920's - he can point out the exact places in the city where the old building still are or were! Walking distance to many great bars, malls and all the amenities you might need. Dorms - $8 (tax included), Private rooms start at $25 (breakfast and tax included).

  • Mariscal Hotel & Suites, Paseo Escalón 3658 (comfortable), from $28
  • The Hotel Tazumal House , 35 Avenida Norte, Casa 3. A/C, cable TV, free internet use. From $10 to $40.
  • Ximenas Guest House, Calle San Salvador 202, (503)2260-2481, Cell: 7981-4517 (), [2]. A small guesthouse open for over 25 years. Located in a quiet residential area in the Blvd. de Los Heros district, it is within walking distance to malls, banks, pharmacies, post offices, coffee shops, bars and restaurants. The building is well-lit with a tranquil, homey atmosphere with a common area with cable TV, as well as a roof-top terrace with sparse vegetation. Services available include book exchange, modest cafe/restaurant, laundry service, safe deposit lockers, luggage storage and free tourist information. Wireless internet is also available, but there is a small one-time charge to obtain the access code. Computers are also available for $2/hr. Dorms $7, $9 w/hot shower, privates $18-35, varying by AC, number of beds, hot water, TV.

Mid range

The staff of all the hotels speak English and Spanish, but there are also others who speak other languages. All the hotels include room service.

  • Real Comfort inn, Calle el Carmen y Prolongacion Juan Pablo, (503) 2237-7000, Fax: (503) 2237-7001, [46]. 4-Stars Located in the heart of the business district close to important residential areas. Special in-room amenities for long stay guests include mini fridge, microwave, and coffeemaker. Check in time:1:00 PM Check out time is 12:00 PM. Take Prolongacion Juan Pablo II north until you reach 75th Avenue where you will turn left. Advance on 75th Avenue and then turn left again onto Calle El Carmen.
  • Ramada Inn, 85 Ave. Sur y Calle Juan José Cañas, Col. Escalón San Salvador, Ph: (503) 2263-0033, Fax: (503) 2263-4099. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 4-stars.
  • Quality Real Hotel Aeropuerto San Salvador, KM 40.5 Carretera Al Aeropuerto de El Salvador, (503) 2366-0000, Fax: (503) 2366-0001, [47]. Just 3 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the sandy beaches of Costa del Sol. In house restaurant. Room service, business center, bar and pool. Check in time is 12:00 PM, check out time is 4:00 PM.
  • Hotel Happy House, Avenida Los Sisimiles, #2951, Colonia Miramontes, Phone and Fax (503) 22 60 15 68. Hotel includes air conditioning, double bed rooms and free wireless internet access. [48], [49]. 3-stars
  • Siesta Casino-Hotel, Hotel Siesta Final Boulevard Los Proceres, Ph: (503) 2-283-0100, Fax: (503) 2-283-0125, [email protected], [50]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 4-Stars.
  • Holiday Inn, Urbanización y Boulevard Santa Elena a 400 mts. de la Embajada Americana, Ph: (503) 2-241-4000, Fax: (503) 2-241-4070 or (503) 2-241-4067, [51]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 4-Stars.
  • Terraza Hotel, 85 Ave. Sur y Calle Padres Aguilar Colonia Escalón, Ph: (503 )2263-0044, Fax: (503) 2263-3223, [email protected], [52]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 4 stars.
  • Hotel Alameda, 43 Ave. Sur y Alameda Roosevelt #2305, Ph: (503) 2267-0800 / 2267-0801, Fax: (503) 2260-3011, [53]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 3-Stars.
  • Hotel Alicante, Col La Sultana, calle las rosas y ave los Laureles #1, Ph:(503) 2243-0889 / 2243-5838, []. The hotel includes air conditioned, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 3-Stars.
  • Hotel Casa Berlin, Avenida El Espino Lote No 62-64, Santa Elena, Madreselva, Antiguo Cuscatlán, Ph: (503) 2243-8877, Fax: (503) 2243-8872, [54]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities. The staff speaks Spanish, English and German. 3-Stars.
  • Hotel Capital, Autopista Sur, Boulevard La Sultana y Pasaje Monelca, Ph:(503) 2247-7100, Fax (503) 2243-8018, [55]. The hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities.
  • Hotel Good Luck, Avenida Los Sisimiles Pje. #5 casa 2943, Colonia Miramonte, Ph: (503)2260-1666 / (503) 2260-1655 / Fax: ext. 109, [56]. We offer comfortable rooms with air conditioner, Chinese restaurant, private parking, free internet, excellent location, only two block from Metrocentro and many other amenities at very low price.
  • Hotel Grecia Inn, Avenida Sisimiles 2922, Colonia Miramonte, Ph: (503)2261-0555 / (503) 2261-0566 / (503) 2261-0577, [57]. A 50 metros de Hotel Real Intercontinental, frente a Metrocentro, the hotel includes air conditioning, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities. The staff speaks English, Spanish and Greek. 4-Stars.
  • Hotel Mediterraneo Plaza, 15 Calle Pte. No. 4319, Col. Escalón, Ph: (503) 2263-4592, Fax: (503) 2263-4612, [58]. The hotel includes air conditioned, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities.
  • Hotel Mirador Plaza, Calle El Mirador y 95 Ave. Norte Col. Escalón, Ph: (503) 2244-6000, Fax: (503) 2244-6099, [59]. The hotel includes air conditioned, king size beds,double bed rooms,restaurant, bar and many other amenities.
  • Novo Aparthotel, Final 61 Ave. Nte. Col. Escalon, Ph (503) 2260-2288, Fax: (503) 2260-5053, [60]. The hotel includes air conditioned, king size beds, double bed rooms, restaurant, bar and many other amenities. 4-Stars.
  • Hotel Merliot, Col. Jardines de cuscatlan, Polígono G, No. 24, Av. L-A, Ciudad Merliot. (503) 2278-4417, [email protected] Our comfortable and elegant single, double and triple, with breakfast included (6AM-10AM) have cable TV, telephone, free wireless Internet, private bath with hot water, closet, executive desk, air conditioning.
  • Courtyard San Salvador, Esquina Calle 2 y calle 3, Centro de Estilo de Vida La Gran Via, Ph: (503) 2249 3000, [61]. The hotel is centrally located within walking distance to fine restaurants, coffee shops, entertainment and shopping.


  • Real InterContinental San Salvador, Boulevard de Los Héroes. San Salvador, 544. El Salvador, +503 2211 3333 (fax: +503 2211 4444), [3]. The InterContinental San Salvador Hotel has 228 rooms, 6 suites and 2 Club InterContinental floors. It has 13 conference rooms, 3 restaurants, gym, spa, pool and business center. Prices range between $100 - $450.
  • Hilton Princess San Salvador, Av. Magnolias y Boulevard del Hipod, Ph: (503) 2268-4545, Fax: +503-2268 4500, [62]. Located in the center of Zona Rosa, and offering quality comparable to Hilton Hotels found elsewhere in the world. Rooms from $109 per person, per night. Wi-Fi in All Rooms
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel, 89 Avenida Norte y 11 Calle Poniente, Colonia Escalón, Ph: (503) 2-257-0700, Fax: (503) 2-257-0710, [63]. Rooms from $139 per person, per night.
  • Sheraton Presidente, San Benito (in front of El Chulon), Avenida la revolucion, Ph: (503) 2-283-4000, [64].
  • Suites Las Palmas Aparathotel, Av. Las Palmas y Pje. 6 Col. San Benito, Ph: (503) 2210-3111, Fax: (503) 2210-3100, [65].

Visit the hotel websites for specials.

Stay safe

San Salvador has had a history of violence. San Salvador was considered the most dangerous city in the world in 1992 due to the 13-year civil war that was just ending. Since then, San Salvador has seen a significant reduction in crime rates; however, until recently, it experienced some of the highest homicide rates in the world, next to Honduras and Guatemala. All three countries have been battling high amounts of gang activity although, in El Salvador, it was rarely directed towards foreign tourists. Within the last year, the Catholic Church has brokered a deal with gang members to reduce violence in exchange for job training programs, special amenities for leaders in prison and other requests made by the leaders of the MS 13 and 18th Street gangs. Since the beginning of this gang "truce" homicide rates have dropped by more than half. [66]

Some advice to staying safe:

  • Don't walk on streets that look abandoned and dark.
  • Use only licensed taxis or rent a car. Most major hotels have taxis that they have approved as safe and legitimate. If unsure about a taxi, call your hotel and they can generally have a safe taxi dispatched to your location.
  • When using the public buses, keep your valuables out of sight and don't wear expensive looking jewelry.
  • Thefts in El Salvador are rare and usually go one of two ways - they will break into your car while you are gone, in which case, you should always try to park in a lot with a parking attendant. Secondly, you may be approached on the street or on the bus (more common) and asked to hand over your phone and/or valuables. In this case, it's best to do what they ask and almost always, they walk away after getting what they want.
  • As a woman, dress conservatively. Short dresses and skirts are mostly for clubs. Spaghetti strap tank tops, short shorts, and bikinis are for the beaches. In a machismo society such as El Salvador, you don't have the same "equality" as men do and revealing clothing speaks volumes about how men should treat you.
  • As a man, be aware of women that you approach. Often women in bars are with a man, and are, for lack of a better word, "theirs". If you you think they are together, do not try to flirt with the woman - it will sometimes start a fight. If you don't think they are together, it is polite and appropriate to ask the man if he minds you flirting with his companion. It is usually not ok to show up to a salsa club without a date, generally speaking, most men will not want to "share" their dance partner.

Salvadorans consider malls, major stores and museums to be the safest places to spend time in the city. Often, wealthy Salvadorans will not go anywhere not surrounded by a high wall, barbed wire and an armed security guard. Foreign tourists are afforded a little more safety as the gang members do not know their private history, family name and how much money they have, and therefore should be relatively safe when using common sense while walking around the city and talking to people.

Some areas considered safest by Salvadoran standards are: Colonia Escalon, Colonia San Benito, Zona Rosa, Santa Tecla and Antiguo Cuscatlan.

Areas considered more dangerous are: Soyapango, Mejicanos and Apopa, although with common sense and daylight hours, there are many interesting areas to explore in these parts of the city as well.


Health services

San Salvador is a city full of pharmacies. Hospital services are also very good and facilities include Hospital de Diagnostico in Villavicencio Plaza.


Finding a bank is not a problem within the city. Banks include HSBC, Citibank, Banco Agricola, BanTpym, Banco Centromericano, Scotiabank, Procredit and others.


  • Br-flag.png Brazil, 2298-7888, [4].
  • Ca-flag.png Canada, Centro Financiero Gigante 63 Av. Sur y Alameda Roosevelt, Local 6, Nivel Lobby II, (503) 2279-4655, [5].
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 77 Avenida Norte 335, Colonia Escandon, +503 263-3402 (fax: +503 263-3403).
  • Us-flag.png United States, 2501-2999 (fax: 2501-2150), [6].

Get out

You can get out of Comalapa International Airport or rent a plane for a moderate fee in Ilopango Airport to give you a ride to other of the countries important cities. The rent a plane service is available to go to Santa Ana, San Miguel and La Union (on Tamarindo, near the Gulf of Fonseca where you can board a ferry to take you to the other Islands)

If you are looking for an excursion out of the city, check the classified section of the newspaper El Diario de Hoy ("Asesores de Viaje y Excursiones" heading) for any reasonably priced tours that may be departing soon.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!