The capital of El Salvador has somewhat a bad reputation over the past couple of decades. Despite Central America being very much on the backpacker trail, often El Salvador is often skipped and those that do visit the country regularly go straight to the surf spots and miss the capital completely.
For the adventurous traveller who wants something a little different then San Salvador can be a lively and fun place to visit. Here are 10 suggestions as to what to do in San Salvador.
1. Try the beers at the La Cadejo microbrewery
In upmarket Zona Rosa this bar/restaurant and brewery makes it’s own beers (with 51 varieties) and also supplies nationwide.
It’s possible to have a tour of the brewery, and the location is a popular spot on an evening to watch sports and eat decent pizzas and a range of other filling dishes.
The real draw here however is the great selection of unusual brews. There’s a pumpkin spice, a strong ginger ale at over 5% and a strawberry, as well as IPA, APA and a few stouts.
2. Devour the local speciality, the pupusa.
These corn dough patties are served hot and often cheese filled and are cheap and filling way to eat. Many meals come automatically with these on the side but they also serve as a fantastic snack at any time of day and feel like a treat.
3. Rock out at Republik Bar.
San Salvador’s top rock venue and Irish bar Republik draws a cool fun loving crowd and after 9pm is full on most evenings, particularly a weekend. It’s an atmospheric place with a stage for the bands and a VIP area/whiskey bar upstairs with great views over the crowd and band.
They do a good range of food as well as good value cocktails. Check on their social media to see what’s on and for the top notch cover bands.
3. Visit the Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Savior is the main Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador and dominates the skyline of the city. It’s an important place for the people of San Salvador as it was visited twice by
Pope John Paul II, and because it is also the resting place of Archbishop Óscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980.
4. Take a walk around Mercado Central
Mercado Central stretches a number of streets and is a fun way to get to know the city. Walk through the busy streets with vendors shouting out prices and offers for all things imaginable. Navigate the tight streets between stalls and chat with the smiling locals whilst dodging the fruit carts.
5. Grab a bite to eat at the food area of Mercado Excuartel
A fairly difficult to navigate market with seemingly endless stalls selling On the lower level of the market are around 20 mini restaurants, almost all run by women offering home cooking style food cooked up fresh and piping hot for under 2/3 dollars. On top of the usual pupusas expect spicy chicken and chicken soups as well as empanadas with rice & salad options. 1a Calle Oriente, San Salvador, El Salvador.
6. Buy some fresh fruit from the street vendors. There are fruit sellers everywhere and for under a dollar you can quench your thirst with a fresh coconut juice plus all the flesh or a stack of sweet pineapple.
7. Check out the architecture at Teatro Nacionale.
Opened in 1903, it’s the oldest theater in Central America. It’s free to enter but with fairly varied entry times. It has a great French classical style and is worth a wander round, even to see the facade of the building if you’re short on time. If you have a little longer and fancy something different then catch a show in the evening.
8. Check out the pinatas on Calle San Antonio Abad
Somewhere between scary and fun this colourful street has endless pināta stalls on both sides with all shapes and sizes on offer. Expect unicorns, cars, emojis and giant beer bottles that you’ll have to duck and dive to get around.
9. Try to navigate the city on local buses.
Head to trendy Zona Rosa on the old American school buses in a variety of colours. Stand on the side of the road and listen for the bus callers shouting the destinations before you hop on and speed through the city.