Eco-friendly travel guide to El Salvador advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to travel in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in El Salvador, Central America, North America.
- Air quality: 4 / 5
- Bus connections: 4 / 5
- Train connections: 3 / 5
- Hitchhiking: 3.5 / 5
- National parks: 3.5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 2 / 5
- Safety: 4 / 5
- Accommodation: US$10 - $150
- Budget per day: US$40 - $200
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 Regions
- 11 Cities
- 12 Getting There and Moving Around
- 13 Sustainable Shopping
- 14 Recycling
- 15 Work and Study Abroad
- 16 See Also
Among all the seven Central American countries, El Salvador is the smallest one. However, the country is very well populated despite the size. This country is also known as the Republic of El Salvador. Located on the side of the Pacific Ocean, it is not a popular tourist destination. However, it makes it more interesting to explore the country and find some of the best places. You will be able to get a lot of places in the country that will help you to get a very good experience.
The country is also known as the land of Volcanoes for having a lot of volcanic activities and earthquakes frequently. The country offers a lot of special spaces that will help you to know about the culture, people, lifestyle, and others. However, there are some things that you need to know before visiting the country as an eco-friendly traveler.
- Make sure to visit the city park of the country to both enjoy the green and get far from the crowd of the cities. Being a populated country, most of the places are packed with people. Make sure to visit the city parks that will help you to get close to nature and promote green
- You will need to choose a mode of accommodation among the other ones to boost the traveling to El Salvador. As an eco-friendly traveler, make sure to spread the awareness of green and environmental improvement by staying at green hotels
- Like all the traditional foods, street foods of a country is also a must-try that will help you to get a very good food experience. It will both help the small vendors of the country to get some support and you to save a lot of money
- Transportation is one of the most common reasons for all of the countries having air pollution. You will find a lot of different transportations available in the country to move around. Choose the ones that are eco-friendly and not run by fuel such as bicycles, electronic cars, and bikes
- On your trip to El Salvador, try to use the small shops and vendors as much as you can. You will get them in almost all the major cities and most of them need support to keep providing good items or foods to customers. It will also help you to save a lot of money as these shops offer items at a very low cost
Air Quality and Pollution
Before planning anything else about the country, know the air quality to ensure the safety of your health. The pollution of the air plays a very crucial role to make you feel sick. The air quality of the country is very good despite the high population. The average Air Quality Index (AQI) of the country stays between 20-40 for the whole year. You will be able to stay safe in this country without any risks. The air pollution is also very low and does not pose any threat to the health of travelers. However, you can carry some of the things like masks and medicines for extra safety. Other than that, you will need to be extra careful if you have conditions like asthma or serious breathing problems. It is best to consult a doctor and know what precautions you need to take before stepping into the country.
Respect the Culture
Apart from all the beautiful places in the country, culture is one of the things that attracts tourists from all around the world. The culture and traditions of this country are unlike any other place in entire Central America. Most of the people that you will come across in this country are mixed native Salvadoran. Other than that, pure European descent, Spanish European, pure Indigenous descents, and others are also available.
You will see a lot of similarities of culture in this country with the Spanish culture. This is because most of the people are descended from the Spanish settlers. Churches play a very big role in the culture of this country and remind the people of the country about the civil war. If you visit the country at the time of festivals, then you will be able to catch the best glimpse at the culture of this country.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Today you will see that people from different parts of the world want to visit El Salvador. It is because the country has some wonderful cities where you would get the best places for your holiday trip. If you are really interested to know their names then just go through the ones which are mentioned below.
- National Palace (San Salvador) - This palace was built in the year 1889 and is responsible for promoting the cultural heritage of San Salvador city. Visit here and get to know a very interesting fact about the city's history. But if you miss it then you would regret and develop unnecessary frustrations among yourself.
- San Miguel Cathedral (San Miguel) - It is a church located in San Miguel city which has the best characteristics. In other words, it means that here you will get hundreds of worshippers and feel the real presence of Jesus. Without asking any questions, just try it out and see how lovely it is.
- Iglesia El Calvario (Santa Ana) - There is no doubt about the fact that this cathedral is the finest one and it has hundreds of worshippers. Here you can come and feel the real presence of Jesus Christ. Instead of thinking anything just go for it and get to see something very extraordinary.
- San Salvador Volcano (Santa Tecla) - As the name suggests you can call it a volcano of a mountain which is meant for hiking activities. It can give you an adventure which you have never thought of before. Therefore, you can also say that after visiting this place you can make all your holiday wishes come true.
- Puerta del Diablo (Soyapango) - You can call it a rocky mountain area where you can go and get a new thrill. The reason behind this thing is that here you will get many adventurous activities like rope climbing, rappelling and many more like them. Just try for once and if you still think that it is nothing then definitely give up the hobby of traveling.
- Sonsonate Cathedral (Sonsonate) - Believe it or not, but it is true that this cathedral was established in the year 1887. It is still famous today for its architecture and a greater significance behind it. Now if you are willing to know more about it then visit here as soon as possible.
- Salto de Malacatiupan (Ahuachapan) - This is a waterfall and here you would have a lot of fun. Here the water flows from anywhere and gives you a very fabulous experience. You will enjoy it to the fullest and get a very good amount of happiness and joy.
- Peace Arts Center (Suchitoto) - This place is not so famous but here you will get some famous paintings of various things. After seeing them it is guaranteed that you would like to leave your best reviews and ratings. In the beginning, you might not understand its value but later on, you will know everything about it.
- Joya De Ceren (Acajutla) - It is an archeological site where you would get some fossils of the early ages. After rediscovering them you would have a very nice memory to remember. Never miss this opportunity because it might not come again and again.
- El Tazumal (Chalchuapa) - People refer to this place as a fort but this is a site that was built during the time of pre-independence. It is famous for the memories of those martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the wars. This place is very essential and without it, you would not know any great thing.
So you have known about the places which are mentioned in the previous section. Now if you have to explore the cities of El Salvador then what would you do? The answer is easy to visit places like city parks and museums which can give you a different level of fun
- Chalatenango Central Park (Chalatenango) - This park is beyond any words and it has a friendly and calm ambiance. Come here during the daytime and feel the real beauty of it. In other words, missing this place is like missing the best part of your trip.
- Infantil San Vicente Park (San Vicente) - It is a place for children where they can get some fascinating games and rides. Besides them, you will also enjoy this place and feel like getting fully absorbed in it. Make a note of it and mark it as a very important one in your travel diaries.
- San Ignacio Central Park (San Ignacio) - If you want to have a picnic with your family then this is the most suitable place. Do it and see how memorable it is throughout your life. But the moment you say no to it then no one can help you to see the best thing.
- El Boquerón (Nejapa) - You can explore this park at any time of the season and see some interesting things. People say that it has nothing new to offer but you should come here and discover it yourself. And doing it you would want to recommend it to your beloved persons.
- Parque Nacional El Imposible (San Salvador) - Without any doubt, we can say that this park gives you the actual meaning of nature. From here the view of the city is amazing and it gives you an eye-appealing look. No one misses it because a place like this is nowhere there in El Salvador.
- Playa El Cuco (San Miguel) - The water of this beach is clean and here you can go for a nice bath. You can take it as an exploration that you have never thought of earlier. Make a fair attempt of coming here and have the best fun.
- Playa San Diego (Soyapango) - Here you cannot bathe as the waves are too huge. But come for an evening walk and see how eco-friendly the atmosphere is. During that time some food stalls are there and you can also taste some Salvadorian cuisines.
It is said that there are no famous landmarks in any city of El Salvador. But do not worry because the museums mentioned below are known by the name themselves.
- Tin Marin (San Martin) - This museum is for the kids as here they can have exposure to some of the interactive things. These can be various scientific experiments and a lot of things related to today's technology. Make them see it and they will have an addiction to it.
- Oratorio San Luis Gonzaga (Metapan) - In this place, you would know how the invaders invaded the city and the way the rulers protected it. A place like this is there in your history books and that too in a very brief manner. Just have a tour of it and you would never feel like returning back to your normal life.
If you do not taste the traditional food of the country, then you will miss out on a major part of the culture. Food is one of the things that will help you to know them a lot better and learn about their choices. In all the different cities of this country, you will find different types of foods available. After reaching the country, go straight for the traditional restaurants that are available in almost all the major cities and offer a wide collection of foods to travelers. All of these foods are rare and only available in this country.
To get the raw taste of the traditional food, you can also visit the street food stalls that offer foods at a very low cost. Most of the street food stalls provide different popular dishes at a low cost that helps to save a lot of money. You do not have to worry if you are vegetarian, as there are many vegan restaurants available in the country. Some of the traditional dishes such as Sopa de Pata, Pasteles, Pupusas, Yuca Frita, Panes Rellenos, Tamales, and others are must-try.
Drinks are an important part of the culture and you will be able to get them in almost all the areas. Although the drinks are different in all the cities of this country, some of them are very good. Some crafted beer and soft drinks are very famous and popular in the country that you must try during your trip. One of the best beers in the country is Pilsener, which is available in almost all corners of the country. When it comes to non-alcoholic beverages or drinks, then make sure to taste the Kolashampan, which is a flavored soda based on sugarcane. Some of the other juices and drinks that are available in the country are tamarind juice, Ensalada, horchata, and others. You can also visit the bars, pubs, and nightclubs of the country to find a lot of drinking options.
Before starting your trip and planning the whole journey, you need to know the tap-water quality of this country. Tap water is one of the things that can make you healthy or ill during your trip. So, knowing about tap water is very important. If the tap water quality is not good, then you will need to make your budget accordingly. However, the tap-water of El Salvador is not drinkable and can be bad for your health. If you want to drink the tap-water, then it is best to boil and filter the water very well before drinking. Many restaurants and cafes in the country offer tap-water as the main drinking water in the country. The local people use tap water for washing their face, teeth, and other purposes. If you want to use bottled water for drinking purposes, then most of the cities have the bottled water available at reasonable prices.
You can take part in many different activities in this country from the famous attractions to history stories. It might not be a very famous travel destination country, but you will be able to see a lot of impressive places. While some of the places in the country help you to know about the rich history, there are some others that help to enjoy nature. If you visit the country at the time of the festival, then you will be able to find some of the best cultural and traditional feelings. Apart from that, the land of volcanoes also offers a lot of outdoor activities to the people of this country. Some of the most common ones are hiking, trekking, rock climbing, and others. Make sure to explore the country very well for participating in different activities.
Based on the accommodation option in your whole journey, your total experience depends a lot. Unlike other countries, accommodation options are not very much available in all cities. But you will find some of them available such as hotels, hostels, apartments, and others. Having a good place to stay throughout your journey greatly increases the traveling experience. However, you need to choose accommodation based on your budget and staying time.
While some of them help you to get a comfortable stay with luxurious facilities, others are pocket friendly with basic benefits. As an eco-friendly traveler, you need to choose options like green hotels for your stay to keep the country clean from pollution and keeping your health in the best condition. No matter what accommodation you choose to stay in in the country, you will need to book them as early as possible using online services.
As mentioned earlier, green hotels are one of the best options for travelers all around the world for both staying comfortably and helping the country stay pollution-free. There are many green hotels available in the country that you can book and stay comfortable during the stay. Just like other accommodation options, you will be able to get all the benefits available in these hotels. The green hotels use all eco-friendly and recycled items that help to keep the environment very clean. You will be able to find a lot of different ranges of these green hotels. Try to book them in the center of cities to get connected to all the different places easily. You can both book rooms using online services or offline.
Hostels and Guest Houses
Hostels and guest houses are the best accommodation option for you as it helps to stay for a long time without spending a lot of money. Both of them range from very low to expensive with basic and luxurious features. For a tour of more than 2 weeks, it is best to stay in the hostels and guest houses. It will save you a lot of money and help you to get them easily in almost all the different regions of this country. From major cities to rural areas of the country, hostels and guest houses are available. You can share the hostel rooms with other travelers to stay in the country even cheaper. It is best to book the rooms earlier before visiting the country. It will ensure your room and prevent all the last time hassle.
Many travelers around the world prefer to stay at apartments during their trip. The most common reason is that it is cheaper than all the other accommodation options. You will be able to rent apartments in El Salvador in all the cities and regions. They are very well available and start from a low range. However, people tend to choose to stay in the apartments not only for a cheap price but to witness the culture from very close. In most of the apartments, the local people of the country stay on rent. So, you will be surrounded by the local people and get to watch them very closely. Nothing can be more exciting and a better opportunity for those who want to explore the culture and lifestyle of the local people. If you are staying for a long time, you might become friends with them and share the traditions.
Couchsurfing is one of the latest and popular ways of accommodation that helps travelers to stay without spending any money. Using this, you can stay in the home of other travelers who are local people in the country. They will offer you shelter and food during your trip to make your stay memorable. A community of travelers from all around the world is helping each other to enjoy the country as Couchsurfing. You will be able to find a lot of hosts using online services who are prepared to offer you hospitalities. The best thing about Couchsurfing is that you will be able to stay like a local in the country and enjoy all the traditions and culture very well.
If you want to have an adventurous experience, then camping is the best option for you. You will be able to get a very good experience and very close to nature by camping. As the country is very well known for having volcanoes, there are many tourists who love to camp at different spots close to volcanic mountains. However, there are many other places available that you can choose to have a very good camping experience. Make sure to book the spots earlier to ensure your stay in those beautiful places. You will be able to get all the basic benefits available in these spots such as toilets, electricity, food, and many others. Most of the camps also offer some outdoor activities as well such as trekking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and others. You will surely get a lifetime experience of staying in these camps.
Getting There and Moving Around
One of the main concerns of most of the travelers before visiting a destination is the available transportations. What is the best option for traveling to El Salvador depends on your home location. If you are from a country that is located a lot far from the destination, then you will get lesser options. Also, budget and reaching time plays a major part while choosing transportation. Although traveling by air is the best option to reach the country faster and from all countries.
There are many other options available that offer many more advantages. If you are thinking of moving around the country, then you do not need to worry as there are plenty of options available. As an eco-friendly traveler, it is best to pick a way of traveling that does to pollute the environment. Here are some details about all the most common ways of transportation options given below.
Air is the most chosen option around the world for travelers. If you are planning to visit El Salvador, then by flight is the fastest way to travel. Most of the other countries are connected to this country by air and offer a very comfortable time efficient journey. However, there are many other things that you need to keep in mind before traveling by flight. One of them is the price of the flights are the highest among all the other transportations.
Also, you will not be able to enjoy any views and side scenes on your way to the destination. It is best to book the tickets as early as possible to get flight tickets at a very low cost. When it comes to moving around, you will be able to find a lot of flights to travel from a city to another in the country. If you do not have much time to stay in the country and visit different places, then traveling by air is the best option for you. There are plenty of local flights available that travel frequently in the country.
Buses are known to be the cheapest way of traveling to any destination and help to get a very good experience. Compared to flights, you will be able to enjoy all the different things on your way to the destination from waterfalls to the scenic beauty. You need to have a lot of time on your hand while traveling by bus as it takes a very long time to reach the destination. From most of the neighboring countries, you will be able to find a bus to visit El Salvador.
If you are traveling from a country that is located far from, you might have to break your journey. As poverty is a serious issue in the country, most of the local people try to travel by bus in the local areas. You will be surrounded by local people while traveling in the country by buses. It will help you a lot to know more about the daily life of these people and others. You will be able to get buses very frequently from most of the regions of this country. Try to wait in the bus stations and stoppages to get buses very fast.
If you want to get a completely different experience of traveling, then choose trains as your transportation for reaching the country. If you are traveling from all the countries that are nearby to El Salvador, then you might be able to get a direct train. However, if you are traveling from a location that is far away, then you will need to break the journey as direct trains are not available. The best thing about traveling by train is you will be able to get a lot of views and a unique experience of traveling. The railway system of this country is not as good as other countries in the region. After entering the country, you will not get many options to travel by train. Although the country has railways that are operated by the FENADESAL, you will not be able to find any full-function passenger trains.
Hitchhiking managed to get a lot of popularity in a short time for offering an adventurous experience to travelers while traveling to the destination. Using this unique way, travelers can travel to their destination by taking lifts from strangers who are going the same way. It both helps to save a lot of money traveling and get a very good experience. After getting lifts, you have to hike your way to the next stop. As El Salvador is very well connected to other countries by road, you will be able to hitchhike your way from most of the countries.
Make sure to choose the busiest roads for this journey to get the lifts easily from all the people who are going the same way. Also, try to wait at places like petrol pumps, tolls, and others to get the lifts easily. Make sure to carry all the necessary things with you such as water, maps, dry fruits, and others. As the people of this country are very friendly, you will be able to get lifts easily and travel to all corners of the country using a hitchhike.
There are many other ways available that are not commonly chosen by travelers. You can take the help of these ways to reach El Salvador but they might not be available from all the countries. Some of the most common ways to reach the country are by roads such as using four-wheelers, bikes, and others. It will take a lot more time to reach the country but you will be able to get a different experience. On your way to the destination, you will need to take a lot of breaks and stay in various places for the best experience.
Apart from road trips, you can also visit the destinations by water to visit the country easily. As the country is located near the Pacific Ocean, You will be able to visit the country from many different places. When you are in the country, you can choose a cab, 4-wheeler, bike, and others to travel to different locations. While choosing these ways of traveling to different places, then make sure to have a lot of time on your hand.
Sustainable shopping is one of the best ways to help the country stay green and free from pollution. You will be able to find a lot of recycled items shops and flea markets in El Salvador. Being one of the countries with a lot of history and stories, you will be able to get a lot of antique and vintage items available in the country. Some of these items will help you very much to make your collection rare as they are one of a kind. Apart from these, there are some second-hand markets available in the country too that provide different items at very low cost.
These high-quality items are very good and help to reduce the waste of the country. It will not only save your money and help the local shops of the country but inspire the local people to adopt a green way of living. Make sure to visit these countries as fast as possible to find all the popular items at a low price.
Recycling is one of the most important things to keep a country free of pollution and save resources. All the countries in the world have started different initiatives to keep country pollution free and recycle goods as much as possible. Just like other countries, El Salvador and the local people of the country have taken many initiatives to improve the environment and recycle as many items as possible in the country. During your trip to the country, you will be able to see multiple recycling plants that help to recycle waste and save resources. In almost all the major cities, you will get green programs available from transportations to accommodation. Along with travelers, the locals of the country are also trying to do their best to welcome the green recycled items.
There are many problems available in El Salvador that make it less popular compared to all the neighboring countries. Apart from all the other ones, the waste problem is a very serious one that makes the country less developed. More than 25% of the annual waste is still not treated correctly and goes into rivers or other places that harm the environment. As the financial status of the country is not that good, they have not really taken the best effort for waste management. You will see people of the country are very well aware of the situation and trying to contribute as much as they can to keep them safe. However, They need to make a lot of changes to prevent landfill and others and separate the wastes very well.
Work and Study Abroad
Apart from all the famous attractions, there are many other things that attract foreign people to this country. Although the study quality is still not as good as other countries, they offer very good courses and opportunities for international students at a low price. You will get to see many students who are staying in the country and completing their studies. Workers from different places have also gathered in this country to work in different industries and get a less expensive lifestyle. If you are thinking of visiting the country to study or work, then you will get a lot of benefits that will help you get a good time. Here are some of them given below that will make your time in El Salvador special.
The exchange student program is one of the best ways to study in another country with low fees. Students all over the world are using this program to study higher education in other countries. You will be able to find a lot of students in El Salvador who are taking the help of exchange student to study. However, you will need to be nominated by the home university to get this program and your home university needs to have a partnership with the foreign university that you are thinking of studying in.
Au Pair is helpful for students, workers, and other travelers who want to get a place to stay for some days before organizing all the things. Au Pair helps to get shelter, food, and some pocket money in exchange for taking care of the household, older people, children, and others. Compared to all the other countries, the Au Pair job is hard to get in this country because of the high poverty issue. However, you will be able to get an Au pair job with the help of online services.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to help the country and the local people to improve the environment and other things. There is plenty of volunteering available that you can take part in to improve the overall country. Some of the most common ones are planting trees in different parts of the country, teaching languages like English, Spanish to people, keeping the famous attractions intact, and many others. It will help you to get close to the local people of the country as well.