Best Central America Destinations

El Salvador Travel Guide

When measured by land mass, El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. But don’t be fooled by its modest size — El Salvador is packed with opportunities for adventure!

The country’s Pacific coast is home to impressive swells, making it a surfer’s paradise. El Salvador is also the “Land of Volcanoes”, with more than 100 within its borders. 

You can also explore five archaeological parks containing pre-Columbian Mayan ruins.

At Martsam Travel, we provide a range of El Salvador tour packages that allow you to experience everything this incredible country has to offer. For more information about our unforgettable tours, please feel free to get in touch.

Our team loves going the extra mile to turn dream vacations into reality. This is why we also offer fully bespoke custom tours in El Salvador tailored to your unique interests and travel preferences.

But perhaps most importantly, El Salvadorans are warm, welcoming, and hospitable!

For now, though, we present our El Salvador travel guide. We hope that it’s full of all the inspiration and information you need.

However, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Where is El Salvador?

If Central American geography isn’t your specialist subject, let’s just get our bearings first.

El Salvador sits toward the middle of Central America’s southern coast. To the north/northeast, it shares a border with Honduras, while Guatemala is to the northwest. The entirety of the southern coastline looks out over the Pacific Ocean.

This position means that Belize and Mexico sit further north/northwest, while Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama lay to the southeast.

Because of this location on the Central American subcontinent, El Salvador is a popular destination for visitors to the region; especially those looking to travel through multiple countries.

If you are planning a trip beyond El Salvador, our Costa Rica Travel Guide and Belize Travel Guide are both useful resources.

The Best Time to Visit El Salvador for Weather, Safety, and Tourism

Let’s start with the best time to go to El Salvador weather-wise. We’ll address safety and tourism in the next section.

Given its location north of the equator, El Salvador has a tropical climate with pronounced dry and rainy seasons. 

The former typically lasts from November to April, while the latter usually occurs between May and October.

The annual peak for rainfall is between June and September, with an average of 358mm in September. In comparison, February receives an average of 10mm of rain.

With moderate temperatures year-round, El Salvador doesn’t experience a winter season to speak of. El Salvador’s mean temperatures range from 22°C in December to 25°C in April.

Of course, with low-lying coastal areas and inland plateaus, mountains, and volcanoes, temperatures vary between regions and with altitude. It can get especially cold in mountainous areas during winter.

Is it Safe to Travel in El Salvador Now?

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced traveler, you will have your own sense of safety. Influences on this can vary from gender to previous travel experiences. As such, we will avoid sweeping generalizations here.

The travel and tourism sector contributes around 10% to El Salvador’s GDP, so it’s a cornerstone of the country’s economy. As such, most areas and destinations catering to tourists are safe and welcoming.

Of course, you should take precautions to better ensure your personal safety, as you would when traveling to any other country outside your own.

One of the best ways to improve safety during your trip is to plan everything well in advance of arrival. A proactive approach provides ample time to research attractions and locations in detail.

What’s more, this pre-travel period allows you to assess which tour companies have the best reviews and reputation, such as Martsam Travel.

El Salvador Driving Guide

Are you planning to rent a car and hit the road during your time in El Salvador? You’ve made a great decision! This is a fantastic way to explore the wonders of this special place.

If the driving license from your home country is in English or Spanish, you don’t need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). 

However, if your license is written in any other language, you must obtain an IDP.

Most car rental companies will ask you for your home driving license and an IDP when renting a car for verification purposes.

And when you get out on the road, you should always have your IDP, local license, visa, and passport to hand for police and border checks.

Other important information for driving in El Salvador includes:

  • In El Salvador, you drive on the right-hand side of the road
  • You overtake other vehicles on the left
  • The minimum age for driving in El Salvador is 18
  • You have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car
  • Watch out for tumulos (large speed bumps)
  • When parking, be aware of your surroundings 
  • Plan your route well before heading out
  • Speeding results in large fines
  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Do not drink and drive!

What Languages do People Speak in El Salvador?

El Salvador’s official language is Spanish and it is spoken throughout the country. However, English is taught in schools as a second language. 

As such, in urban areas and on the tourist trail, it’s highly unlikely that you won’t be able to communicate.

For even more peace of mind, the team at Martsam Travel is multilingual, so communication is never an issue on our tours of El Salvador.

What are the Visa and Passport Requirements for El Salvador?

Upon arrival in El Salvador, you must present a valid passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card.

You can buy a tourist card upon arrival from immigration officials in airports, seaports, or at land border crossings.

At the time of writing, a tourist card costs $12 USD and is valid for 90 days.

What are Some of the Weird Laws in El Salvador?

The last thing any traveler wants is to break a law they didn’t even know existed. However, El Salvador doesn’t have too many surprises in store.

The truth is, you will be able to go about your life on vacation without many concerns. Many of the most severe laws are ones you wouldn’t attempt to break through common sense.

For example, the possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs carries severe penalties. If convicted, you will face a lengthy jail sentence and a hefty fine.

El Salvador takes a similarly hard line with driving under the influence. The legal limit is 0.1, which is, for all intents and purposes, a zero-tolerance policy.

It comes as no surprise, then, that anyone convicted of driving under the influence faces a large fine and possibly jail time.

It’s also worth noting that abortions are illegal in El Salvador.

What Should I Pack for a Trip to El Salvador?

There’s no such thing as a perfectly packed suitcase for El Salvador. What works for a beach or surfing vacation doesn’t apply to a hiking adventure in the mountains.

However, there are some staple items that everyone should consider bringing with them, including:

  • Swimsuit
  • Quick-drying T-shirts
  • Lightweight Clothing
  • Raincoat
  • Sun Hat
  • Flowy Dresses
  • Sturdy Shoes
  • Sandals/Flip Flops


The above list is only a starting point. Needless to say, you should always travel with the appropriate documents (and copies), personal medication, and spares of essential clothing.

When it comes to clothing, the primary consideration should be heat management for your comfort.

As with travel to any other destination, we advise packing a copy of your passport as well as any essential medications you require.

The official currency of El Salvador is the US dollar. In September 2021, Bitcoin also became legal tender. However, it may not be accepted everywhere as yet.

Best Things to Do in El Salvador: “The Land of Volcanoes”

From El Salvador History and Culutre Tours to Adventure Tours in El Salvador, this fun and fascinating country has a diverse range of activities and attractions to choose from. How you decide to fill your time here will depend on your interests.

Some of the most popular things visitors love to see and do here include:

  • Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site
  • Tazumal Archaeological Site
  • San Andrés Ruins
  • Santa Ana Cathedral
  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Volcan Ilamtepec (Santa Ana Volcano)
  • Cihuatán Archaeological Site
  • Holy Spirit Grotto (Corinto Cave)
  • Coffee Plantation Tour
  • Lake Ilopango
  • Lake Suchitlán
  • El Tunco and El Sunzal Beaches
  • Coatepeque Caldera
  • Ruta de las Flores

The list above is a great introduction to all the things you can see and do in El Salvador, but it’s also far from exhaustive.

A land of adventure is waiting in El Salvador — when are you coming?

Dive into an Authentic El Salvador Experience with Our Tours!

We hope this comprehensive El Salvador travel guide has inspired you to visit this incredible, vibrant, life-affirming country.

At Martsam Travel, our local guides and trip planners have carefully crafted various tours in El Salvador. With a focus on culture, history, and adventure, there’s something for everyone!

If you would like more information about our pre-planned or custom tours in El Salvador, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

For the ultimate in flexibility and freedom, consider a tailor-made itinerary. Our custom tour packages let you design your own experience. The type of hotel, methods of transport, and places to visit — the choice is yours!

Adventure Tour

El Salvador Adventure Tour

Discover the culture and history of El Salvador, visiting the capital town, colonial cities, archaeological sites and fantastic touristic routes
Culture Tour

El Salvador Classic Tour

Discover the culture and history of El Salvador, visiting the capital town, colonial cities, archaeological sites and fantastic touristic routes
Culture Tour

El Salvador History & Culture Tour

Discover the culture and history of El Salvador, visiting the capital town, colonial cities, archaeological sites and fantastic touristic routes

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Visiting the Maya ruins in Peten Guatemala is a fabulous travel experience. Lily and the team at Martsam Travel in Guatemala are experts at making your travel plans come true. ln addition to the immense cultural value of the sites, you have chances to see unusual tropical animals. Totally great experience!


5 star reviews
A travel agency that makes you feel assisted every step of the trip – what a nice experience. Lily was checking every day to make sure things were going as well as possible, and went out of the way to accommodate last minute changes to my trip.


5 star reviews

I am beyond thankful that we found Martsam as they made our 10 day trip so perfect. We learned so much about Guatemalan and Mayan history. The hotels they booked for us were beautiful, luxurious, and affordable. I HIGHLY recommend using Martsum to plan a trip to Guatemala!!!


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