In 2-3 days
You’d be mad to visit El Salvador for just a couple of days, unless you’re coming or going from other Central American destinations. If you only have a couple of days up your sleeve though, don’t waste any time in the capital, San Salvador. Instead, grab a seat on a chicken bus and bomb down to the surfing towns and cranking waves around El Zonte, Sunzal and La Libertad. El Zonte and Sunzal are fairly clean and laidback, but the water around La Libertad is often polluted, although it does offer the best waves in the area.
If you’re not a surfer, the beaches are still pleasant to hang out at, with protected swimming areas and lots of beachfront cafes serving cold drinks and, yep, you guessed it, pupusas!
In a week
Hang around El Zonte, Sunzal and La Libertad until you’ve scored a decent swell or two. Afterwards, spend the rest of your time exploring the colonial charms of Santa Ana, making sure to check out city’s handful of architectural jewels such as
the gothic Cathedral of Santa Ana and the Teatro de Santa Ana.
In two weeks +
With plenty of time up your sleeve, hang around the La Libertad area for a good week, scoring plenty of quality waves and working on your base tan before heading to Santa Ana for several days.
Afterwards, meander along the Pan American Highway, stopping off at some of the towns to practise your Spanish. Then spend the rest of your time on the war tourism trail. The town
of Perquin is a good one to visit. It was once known as El Salvador’s guerrilla capital, and today
is home to a revolution museum with cannons, uniforms and Soviet weaponry
once used by the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front).
Cap off your time in El Salvador with a visit to one of the country’s national parks. They’re not a patch on the cloud forests of Costa Rica or the preserved jungle of Honduras, but are worth a visit nonetheless.