Home to the murder capital of the world, El Salvador is a country full of armed guards, nice beaches, stunning lakes, and some of the friendliest and most helpful people you’ll find anywhere throughout your travels!
As mentioned above, San Salvador currently holds the title as being the murder capital of the world. In total, El Salvador has a staggering murder rate of 104 people per 10,000 which is enough to dissuade a lot of tourists from visiting. However, if you do decide to check out El Salvador, make sure to stop into the capital city!
San Salvador, without a doubt, is one of the most attractive Cental American capitals. Located in the Salvadorian highlands, the city is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes and is a beautiful place to walk around.
Although you probably want to walk the streets before sunset, as San Salvador can be a little dangerous ; ).
While I didn’t get robbed, threatened or killed, it was slightly jarring to see the streets completely empty after 6pm. Due to the alarming amount of violence, there is a city-wide curfew in place that most citizens don’t dare to ignore.
As you can see (above), houses are equipped with barbed wire. There are also a number of gated off/guarded communities (below) that feel like their own city.
One of the most noticeable things in San Salvador is the huge income discrepancy. I stayed with a couchsurfer who lived in one of the sectioned-off communities I mentioned, so it was interesting to see both sides of El Salvador’s capital.
Roughly a 20-minute bus from the downtown core is the well-off region of San Salvador. This area has a few massive malls – containing every major American fast-food restaurant and name brand store – and is full of gated-off communities with fully armed security guards. It is REALLY strange to see…
There’s a bit of a difference when you get closer to the downtown…
While the National Theatre and Metropolitan Cathedral – both extremely impressive buildings – are located in the downtown core, the rest of the area is pretty desolate. I was repeatedly told not to take out my camera in this area due to safety concerns, so I unfortunately can’t share photos of the downtown.
- This area is called Santa Tecla, a safe and relatively clean part of the city.
When reviewing the city of San Salvador, a summary wouldn’t be complete without mentioning its most famous food, pupusas!
Filled with anything from beans, cheese, chicken and beef, three of these delicious bread patties cost a measly $1USD.
Once finished with some pupusas, feel free get a little more adventurous and bite into one of the weirdest cobs of corn I’ve ever eaten!
Yep… that’s ketchup, mustard, cheese and some sort of soya sauce.. On a cob of corn…. Surprisingly not bad!
Overall, I really enjoyed my time in San Salvador. It definitely feels unsafe in places, but there is a certain charm and potential to El Salvador’s capital city. If/when the gang violence subsides, I have no doubt San Salvador will be one of the more popular destinations in Central America!
In my three days in San Salvador, I didn’t see one other person who looked like a tourist. If you’re coming from Nicaragua or Guatemala and want to break away from the regular trail, there’s no better destination than El Salvador!
Or… if you just want to eat at Texas Lone Star Grill… Yeah, they have that..
Hasta luego! : )