What to do in El Salvador for 3 Days
El Salvador is a beautiful place to visit and safe. I went there for three days during the beginning of their winter, and it was still warm, and it just rained daily. I had so much to do, and there was something for every interest. If you are interested in visiting El Salvador, here is a guide for a three-day visit to the Central American country.
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About El Salvador
It’s a misconception that El Salvador is a dangerous country to visit. I felt incredibly safe when I was there, and the people were very welcoming. El Salvador is a country that suffered a civil war from 1979-to 1994, where many lives were lost. Despite that, the people are resilient and cheerful. I was surprised at the beautiful and diverse landscape of the county. There is something for every interest, from beautiful surfing beaches to mountainous terrain.
As of May 2022, there are no Covid testing entry requirements or vaccine requirements. However, to leave, you need a rapid antigen or PCR test to re-enter the United States. Upon arrival, there is a $12 fee for tourists to pay at customs, and the whole process takes about 10 minutes.
Taxi and Uber
El Salvador has uber and taxis. You may find you do not have internet service as I did in some areas. I connected with the Airports free wireless to order an Uber, and my ride from the airport to our hotel in San Salvador was about $28, which is very reasonable for the distance!
Uber is very affordable; however, be aware some uber drivers want you to pay in cash and may cancel if you’re going to pay through the app. They will ask where you are going before they pick you up and how you are paying. Just let them cancel and call a new one. I did not use taxis on this trip.
We did not rent a car, but some travelers we met had a car rental. Parking was easy to find and free in most places. If it were me, I would not drive on my own. There is a lot of traffic, and the roads are windy at points.
There are many private driver options through tour companies and just searching on Instagram. Many of the activities are spread out between 30 minutes to 2 hours away, so you will want to venture out if you choose to stay in San Salvador. We hired a driver to head to a famous beach town for the day, and it was very affordable. We hired him through EC Tours in El Salvador.
Where to Stay
We stayed in the middle of San Salvador. Our hotel was the Crowne Plaza, and it had the most beautiful views. It is a top-rated hotel, as several events and conferences are happening daily. It’s centrally located and connected to La Placita, a plaza with several food options. We booked through booking.com, and it included their delicious buffet breakfast.
What To Do
I only had three days, so I wanted to hit the most notable areas in a small amount of time. Even though I hit many popular spots, there were still I missed, so I guess I will have to go back! Here is what I did.
Free walking tour with EC Tours San Salvador
I always book a free walking tour wherever I go because it is an excellent introduction to the country, and you can find resources for other things to do. My guide Yesenia was engaging and set up our transportation to Playa Mizata for our activity the following day. On the tour, we visited the most popular place in downtown the Iglesia El Rosario for a $2 entry fee and saw everyone dancing to live music. We finished off with a drink and pupusas on a rooftop watching the sunset.
NAWI Beach House
I’ve seen so many travelers visit NAWI that I wanted to see it myself. You can visit the beach house that sits on a resort by purchasing a day pass that costs $20 in advance and $25 at the door. This is where we hired a driver to take us on a 90-minute drive round trip for as long as we wanted.
The day pass includes horseback riding that you should reserve in advance and use the facilities. The food is affordable and delicious. They also have a mini jungle gym and ample seating. I met so many other travelers there, and it was a fun vibe for the day. There is a live DJ for dancing and watching the sunset. You can book through WhatsApp by clicking the link on their Instagram or heading to their website.
Picnic Steakhouse Slide
I slid down the iconic rainbow slide at picnic steakhouse. We got back to our hotel around 4:30 pm, and I hurried up and changed to head over to the slide, which was about 20 minutes away, including traffic. Everyone goes in the daytime, but I had no choice but to go at night. The slide was $5, and there was barely a wait. It was best I went at night, so I did not see how high up I was. Wear closed-toed shoes and long pants to avoid getting injured. It looked cooler at night, in my opinion.
Santa Ana Volcano Hike
The Santa Ana Volcano was the highlight for me because I like doing active tours when I travel. We booked a tour through Viator, which included transportation from our hotel, a guide, and a stop at the beautiful Lake Coatepeque. The hike is moderately challenging if you consider yourself physically active, and children were doing the same hike, so it is doable.
The scenery was breathtaking along the way and at the top. Santa Ana is the largest active volcano in El Salvador, and you can still see the center bubbling. Make sure you bring a jacket because it gets a little chilly at the top. After the tour, we ate at a restaurant at the lake and enjoyed the view and delicious food.
Other Activities to add to Your List.
Although I only had three days, here are some other popular activities to add to your list.
- Visit Surf City and El Tunco Beach– El Salvador is a popular surfing destination, and these two areas are close to San Salvador and have a lot to do.
- Ruta De Los Flores– A region that encompasses colonial towns and waterfalls with ziplining
- Coffee Farm– Because there are many volcanos, it makes an excellent climate for delicious coffee. You can even view one of the farms from the Sana Ana volcano.
- The Mayan Ruins
- Hot Springs
If you decide to take a tour of these locations, many of them combine the ideas above for the biggest bang for your buck. I like using guides to get anecdotal history and tips.
El Salvador is part of Central America, including Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. While you are there, you have 90 days to travel between all four of these countries without getting a visa. Their national dish is the pupusas, and they are about .50 cents. They have a lot of fresh fish and other national cuisines to choose from. Finally, they are the first country to adopt bitcoin as a currency, and you can see areas around the beaches to use the coins. The US dollar is their widely used currency, so there is no need to exchange money.