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San Salvador has been the epicentre of El Salvador's bad reputation for years, known for gang violence and an unusually high number of murders! However, these days the capital reminds you much more of a bustling, modern Western City than the war zone you expect to face!
How to get there
The most likely method you'll be using to reach San Salvador is by air, in which case you'll be landing at the International Airport located South East of the capital and around a 1 hour car journey from zone in which we'd recommend you stay.
If you're arriving from Guatemala, Nicaragua or Honduras then you might be arriving by bus. The buses drop off at several different bus terminals, all located within the City centre.
Uber works great in the City so we'd recommend taking an Uber from either the bus terminal or airport to your destination.
Where to stay
Now although we found San Salvador to be perfectly safe and tourist friendly, this is because we did our research and spoke to the locals to find out the areas that we should and shouldn't plan on spending a lot of time in.
The West of the city is the area that has seen huge development in the last couple of years. It's now full of high rise apartment buildings, the big hotels, large malls and fancy restaurants and is the area you'll most likely want to stay in.
To make things simple, any of the neighbourhoods to the left of the line below are generally safe for tourists and is where we'd recommend staying. In particular, the neighbourhoods of Colonia San Benito (and surrounding area within the highways), the Santa Elena neighbourhood and Santa Tecla are all great places to start your search.
What to do & see
El Boquerón National Park
This is a great way to spend a morning and gets you out of the City and into nature! Take an Uber from the City up to the National Park volcano crater entrance (your driver will know where this is, the ride should cost around $7).
TIP - Ask your Uber driver to wait for you to finish because you can't call an Uber back down from the top! Ours didn't charge us any extra for waiting.
The entrance to the park is $2 per person and once you're in you can take a short walk up to the summit to look down into the crater below. The whole experience will take around 30 minutes to an hour depending on how fast you walk the trails and how long you stop to look at the views!
The Santa Elena area is home to numerous new malls and outside patio restaurants and bars and is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening for drinks!
La Gran Via, Las Cascadas and the Multiplaza are all within walking distance of eachother, with smaller shopping outlets inbetween and spots to hang out in between.
San Salvadorians love to party, and the night life around the City is therefore pretty good!
If you prefer a more lowkey vibe than we'd recommend checking out one of the Cerveceria Chapultepec's around town (San Benito has a popular one, as does Las Cascadas mall). For a later night spot we'd recommend The Rooftop to the North of the City which offers incredible views over the entire City at night! This spot has a chilled bar area as well as a night club if you can make it past 11pm!
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