Why all the talk about El Salvador being the top new destination to travel to in Latin America? From the Bitcoin buzz, eased travel restrictions and of course, incredible surroundings to explore, the country is experiencing a major tourism boom that can’t be ignored.
Here’s what you should know if you’re looking to visit El Salvador in 2022.
What Are The Travel Restrictions For El Salvador?
El Salvador was the first country to remove all entry requirements and eased all travel restrictions last November, so no proof of vaccination or negative test is required for entry. Entering El Salvador in 2022 is much like visiting in 2019 when it comes to border entry rules.
Once inside El Salvador, there are very few covid-related restrictions, however, masks are still required in most indoor spaces. El Salvador’s easy entry rules and lack of restrictions while inside the country have raised the nation’s popularity greatly with those seeking a more freedom-based lifestyle or worry-free vacation.
Travelers from the U.S., Canada, and the UK can visit El Salvador visa-free for up to 90 days. You’ll have to purchase a tourist card for $12 USD upon arrival at the airport, which will also allow you access to visit neighboring Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
El Salvador: The First Bitcoin Nation
Last September, El Salvador made history by becoming the first nation to adopt the cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal tender. The nation has officially used USD as its main form of currency since 2001, following the failure of its colón.
El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, was elected in 2019 and at the forefront of the historic decision. Leaders in the crypto industry recently met with the president to discuss opportunities for the country when it comes to bitcoin in preparation for CrytoWorldCon scheduled to take place this April in Miami.
The change has also undoubtedly piqued the interest of crypto traders and enthusiasts across the globe, as they look to visit El Salvador to see how the cryptocurrency is implemented throughout the country. Following the decision in September, some of our readers reported that they were able to use bitcoin to purchase food and goods at some major chain restaurants.
What It’s Like To Travel In El Salvador
Often overlooked by other Central American countries like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama, more travelers are looking to El Salvador in 2022. And for good reason.
El Salvador is blessed with lots of stunning natural and cultural sights. The country has a number of beautiful beaches along its Pacific coast, not to mention Mayan ruins, 25 volcanoes, and 14 lakes. When planning your trip here, you’ll be surprised with how much you can fill in your El Salvador itinerary.
The country is divided into Central, East, and West El Salvador. In Central you’ll find the capital city of San Salvador, West El Salvador’s main city is Santa Ana and the largest city in East El Salvador is San Miguel.
Getting Around El Salvador
Many travelers land at the international airport located just outside the capital of San Salvador and opt for a private taxi to one of the main beach towns; either to El Tunco or to El Cuco Beach in the San Miguel region. The ride should cost between $35-40 USD.
Local buses, also known as “chicken buses” throughout Central America, are colorful school bus-style vehicles that connect people to the cities and most towns in El Salvador. They are cheap and frequent, and cost tourists between $0.35-$1.00 USD per ride. It’s important to exercise some degree of caution when riding the buses as they will be packed and petty crime is not unheard of.
There’s also the option to rent a car for your trip, and the major companies of Alamo or Hertz are available. The nation’s train system was suspended in 2002.
Traveling In El Salvador: What To See And Do
Beaches, volcanoes, historic ruins, tasty food, and even hot springs – it’s time to fall in love with El Salvador. Here are some major spots and hidden gems to check out during your trip.
El Tunco in La Libertad: A popular beach town in west El Salvador where you can find resorts and other hotel accommodation for all budgets. Dip your toe here before setting off to more remote parts of the country.
This area is also known as “surf city” and is part of why El Salvador is becoming one of the top surfing destinations in the world. You can also organize a trip to nearby waterfalls and hot springs with a local guide. If you’re looking for something a little calmer, head to the neighboring beach town of El Cuco.
Ruta de las Flores: Discover and sample amazing coffee along this route in the mountains of west El Salvador. The route takes travelers through six colorful colonial villages, where you can enjoy the markets, food, and festivals. You can even organize a tour of a coffee plantation with an agency in one of the villages.
Playa El Esteron: This beach near San Miguel in the east is arguably one of the best in the country. It’s much lesser-known and a great spot for swimming and kayaking. El Esteron is also home to some of the region’s best seafood.
El Boqueron National Park: This national park is home to El Salvador’s most picturesque volcano. Located near San Salvador, the trail here is well-marked and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views.
Mayan ruins: While Mayan ruins are a sought-after attraction in southern Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala, El Salvador is also home to a number of impressive sights from the Mayan era. Just 12 km outside of the city of San Andres is Joyas de Ceren, an abandoned Mayan village that dates back 1400 years.
What Are The Direct Flights To El Salvador?
New airlines and inaugural routes to El Salvador popping up this year, this Central American destination is easier to get to than you think. International air travel is serviced from San Salvador International Airport. Direct flights to El Salvador are available from the following cities:
- From the United States: New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Ontario (CA), San Francisco, Washington D.C.
- From Canada: Toronto Pearson Airport
- From Mexico: Mexico City, Cancun
- From Central and South America: Guatemala City, San Pedro and Comayagua (Honduras), Belize City, Managua, San Jose (CR), Panama City, Bogota, Quito, Lima
- From Europe: Flights are available from Madrid via JFK.
El Salvador is currently undergoing a rapid change, one of which is very attractive for foreign tourists, digital nomads, and expatriate investors. The nation’s welcoming approach for tourists during the pandemic while other nations remained closed has exploded its popularity with travelers seeking a care-free destination.
There’s new construction everywhere, including a sparkling new airport terminal in the nation’s capital, and economic growth is exploding with double-digit GDP gains. President Nayib Bukele is headstrong on continuing the incredible tourism boom, reducing crime, and making El Salvador the world nation on everyone’s lips.
Visiting El Salvador in 2022 is easier and more interesting than ever before and should be at the top of your travel wish list this year.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories