Set in a natural basin and surrounded by volcanoes like the San Salvador Volcano, San Salvador has potential to be beautiful but falls quite short. It is a crumbling explosion of concrete and traffic, and the crime rate is high. Many buildings have been neglected and are in a sad state of ruin.
Nonetheless, San Salvador is located fairly close to many of El Salvador’s tourist attractions and can easily be a base for daytrips or short overnight trips to nearby beaches, volcanoes and lakes if you choose to stay for a couple of days.
Among the highlights in the city are:
The El Rosario church across from the Plaza Libertad is a beautiful example of modern architecture in San Salvador’s historic center.
The Palacio Nacional is one of three buildings that surround the Plaza Barrios along with the Cathedral and the National Library.
The exciting Mercado Ex-Cuartel (market) northeast of these two attractions is a stimulating mixture of colors, odors, sounds and, of course, tastes. This area is also home to some of the cheapest hotels in the city.
Behind the presidential palace of San Jacinto, the Museo Militar de las Fuerzas Armadas has an interesting collection chronicling El Salvador’s violent past with exhibits of weapons including those captured from FMLN guerillas.