Our Route to San Salvador Turns 50, and Here Are Some of Its Highlights


How time flies – it’s already been a half century´s worth to the capital of this Central American country – which despite being the region´s smallest is packed with wonderful sights and experiences. And here we explore a few of them in San Salvador.


Plaza de La Libertad

Right in the middle of downtown, it’s a hub of activity for locals and visitors alike, and home to some key landmarks, including the National Palace, finished in 1911 in Neoclassical style with some Renaissance and Gothic-Revival elements (once home to all three branches of the national government (these days it’s open to visitors as well as housing salons for ceremonies and special events) and the Metropolitan Cathedral (see below). 

San Salvador Metropolitan Cathedral

Neoclassical but completed just 25 years ago, the main focus of Catholicism in El Salvador, with a soaring interior whose major draw is the tomb of beloved archbishop Óscar Romero, – canonised as a saint by Pope Francis in 2018 and considered an unofficial patron saint of El Salvador – murdered by rightwing assassins in 1980 in the first year of the country’s terrible civil war (away from downtown at the Central American University, you can learn more about this towering figure at the Centro Monseñor Romero). 

Rosario Church

A modern masterpiece, some consider it Central America’s most beautiful church. Built in 1971 on Plaza La Libertad several blocks southeast of the cathedral, this concave, 24-metre-high (78-foot) concrete shell houses a striking, soaring interior awash in the light of its stained-glass windows. It’s also home to the tomb of the brothers NicolásVicente, and Manuel Aguilar, heroes of the country’s early-19th-century struggle for independence from Spain.

Plaza Gerardo Barrios

Another square where you can relax and soak up the atmosphere of San Salvador is the A space dedicated to the history of the country’s independence, much loved by the locals and home to an impressive equestrian statue of the eponymous Gerardo Barrios, who was an important three-time president of the country in the 19th century.

Futura Tower and Square

Located in the World Trade Centre complex (a 15-minute drive from Plaza de la Libertad) and completed in 2009, the Torre Futura is at 92 metres (302 feet) high one of Central America´s tallest buildings, and it´s home to Plaza Futura, with 3,000 square metres (32,000 sq. ft.) of shopping and dining options as well as an observation deck with sweeping views over the city. 

Cuscatlán Park

Inaugurated downtown just five year ago, this expansive green space is a beautiful place to stroll; enjoy a picnic; have a bite in one of its little restaurants; and just generally hang out. also has several areas of interest. It´s also home to the Tin Marin Museum, aimed at educating kids and grownups alike in science, art, technology, and the environment, and the the Salarrué National Exhibition Hall, showcasing sculptures and paintings by Salvadoran artists. And also don´t miss the Monument to Memory and Truth, erected in honour of the victims of the devastating civil war of the 1980s and 90s.


Day Trips from San Salvador

Less than a half hour´s drive northwest of the city, Boquerón National Park atop the dromant San Salvador Volcano offers nature trails where you can take in the exuberant flora, spot fauna including raccoons, armadillos, and foxes, and get an eyeful of the caldera, 1.5 kilometres (just under a mile) wide and some 550m (just over 1,800 ft.) deep.

About the same distance to the south of San Salvador, Puerta del Diablo (Devil´s Gate) is a distinctive rock formation on one of the country´s higher peaks, Cerro Chulo (1160m/3,806 ft.). It´s popular with locals and visitors alike for its refreshing climate and a panoply of ecotourism and adventure options, including hiking, rock climbing, rapelling, paragliding, and ziplining.

A little farther afield, in an idyllically sited volcanic caldera near the city of Santa Ana and around an hour from San Salvador, Lake Coatepeque is a 25.3 km² (nearly nine-sq.-mi.) oasis for swimming, diving, water skiing, and other aquatic sports. And if you´re lucky, you might catch a cool natural phenomenon which occurs here from time to time, in which the water suddenly turns a beautiful turquoise color for reasons not yet fully understood.