The Only El Salvador Itinerary You Need
No fillers here, cutting to the chase. I just got back from a 5 day trip to El Salvador and I think we had a near-perfect El Salvador itinerary that balances relaxation and adventure.
I flew nonstop from Dulles International Airport to San Salvador International Airport on Avianca. All of our transportation was done through Taxi and Express tours, you can find their page here on Instagram. All prices are in USD as that is the currency used in El Salvador.
Arrive at SAL airport
Check-in at Mandala Eco Villas in La Libertad ($120 a night for the room)
La Bonita Beach Club at El Tunco for sunset drinks(free entrance)
Dinner at Hotel y Restaurante Mamaguaya
This was our first day in El Salvador so we decided to take it nice and easy. Our hotel, Mandala Eco Villas is located about 45 minutes away from the San Salvador Airport. Mandala is near El Tunco beach, a popular surfing spot that's perfect for nightlife. We headed over to the La Bonita Beach Club for drinks (get a mojito) and then off to Mamaguaya to try El Salvador's national dish- pupusas. The pupusa revulitas were my favorite.
Nawi Beach House for a day pass (comes with a free welcome drink and horseback riding) $25
Dinner at Hotel y Restaurante Mamaguaya (loved it so much we came back)
We promised each other we'd do one day on the beach. Unfortunately, the coast of El Salvador doesn't have the calmest swimming beaches so we opted for Nawi Beach House for the day. This beach house has a beautiful infinity pool and the entrance to the property gives you a free welcome drink and a short horseback ride. The food at the beach house is also incredible. Afterward, we headed back to El Tunco for dinner.
If you're looking to do something more adventurous this day, I would opt for a hike to Santa Ana Volcano (tours usually start from Cerro Verde National Park) or a surf lesson in El Tunco Beach.
Lago de Coatepeque for jet skiing and lunch on a boat $30 for a 30-minute jet ski for two people
Transport to Airbnb in San Salvador Airbnb$86 a night
Dinner at Brutto in San Salvador
We were torn on Day 3. I heard amazing things about Cascada de Tamanique, a waterfall that's supposed to boast stunning views. But... I was being really lazy and honestly was not in the mood #sorrynotsorry. We opted to visit the beautiful Coatepeque Lake, a volcanic lake. The lake has these floating restaurant boats (something I had never seen before) and we enjoyed some drinks before taking a ride on some jet skis. I'm not sure if this lake is swimmable, but many restaurants had water slides that emptied into the lake.
Following the lake, we took the few-hour journey to the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador to check into our Airbnb. To close out the night, we had a fabulous dinner at Brutto. This restaurant was the definition of fine dining on a budget.
Salto de Malacatiupan (hot springs and waterfall) $5 entrance for your vehicle
Ruta de Las Flores Food festival (only on weekends) is free to enter, food is about $6-10
Cafe Albania for ziplining about $48 to ride
Santa Teresa hot springs $10 ticket cost
This was a truly jam-packed day for us so if you can split it into two different days, I'd do it. We started in the early morning at Salto de Malacatiupan, a hot springs waterfall. There's a short 10-minute hike down until you're greeted by the most beautiful waterfall. This feels like a more local spot as we saw very few tourists. Afterward, make sure to hike towards the thermal pools. Once you cross those pools, you should see a small path down to get to the area of the falls that you can swim in. Don't skip this experience!
After the waterfalls, we visited the Ruta de Las Flores food festival. This festival only happens on the weekend and is a must-visit for a local taste of food. Fill up, but not too much as you'll be visiting the adventure park Cafe Albania afterward. If you're not an adventure or thrill seeker- you can skip a visit here. But if you want to ride on the famous bike zipline, you're gonna want to come here.
And following Cafe Albania, you'll head to Santa Teresa Hot Springs for some more beautiful thermal baths. If you run out of time, feel free to skip this.
Picnic Steakhouse for the Imagine Slide (rainbow slide) $5 per ride
Lunch at Restaurante Pupusas Las Vegas
Transfer to SAL airport for departure back home
We rode out on our last day in El Salvador with a bang! The Imagine Slide is probably the most famous landmark in El Salvador and is worth the visit. Please note- there's a little bit of a hike to get back up the slide once you go down but I promise you you're going to want to ride this one several times.
Afterward, we headed to lunch for our last pupusas of the trip, and then back to SAL for our flight back home.
El Salvador was an incredible trip and I'm counting down the days until I can get back. Be sure to check out my other blog posts on El Salvador. Have a question? Leave a comment below.