El Salvador is home to some of the most exciting tourist destinations in the world. But, when visiting, you can’t take the “one size fits all” approach. That said, most people would agree that the dry season (summer) is perfect for outdoor activities such as sightseeing, hiking, and sunbathing on exquisite beaches.
However, this is not to say that the wet season is not a good time to visit El Salvador as you can enjoy surfing or visiting museums. It all comes down to your intentions and preferences as you prepare for your visit to El Salvador. We’ll show you why below.
Why You Should Visit El Salvador
El Salvador is bountiful, from the best surfing destinations around the globe to roaring waterfalls and high volcanoes. Much of El Salvador remains undiscovered by most tourists.
You can visit the country in the low season, before people flock to the stunning sites in this Central American Country, and get some of the most exclusive experiences.
From incredible national parks and mountainous areas to its long stretches of excellent beaches and lakes, El Salvador has a plethora of inland and coastal attractions to behold. From kayaking on the lakes to surfing in the ocean, there is little to miss in this gorgeous country.
The culture in El Salvador is as warm as its summers, with unique traditions, a welcoming community, delicious and unique dishes, and towns full of captivating history.
You will have a mind-blowing experience on the trails across the mountainous landscape and unwind as the sun sets on the beautiful beaches. Planning a trip to the smallest country in Central America is more of a good idea than it sounds.
Overall Best Time to Visit El Salvador
The dry season is the best overall time to visit El Salvador. Beginning in November and ending in late April, this season grants access to well-maintained trails with minimal risk of mudslides and flash floods.
If you are looking for a hiking opportunity in El Salvador, the country presents some of the most picturesque yet challenging trails in Central America that you can explore during the dry season.
For those who want to explore the history of El Salvador, San Salvador is the place to begin your cultural and historical experience. It’s also best to visit El Salvador’s capital during the summer when the rainfall is less prevalent, and the climate is warmer.
That way, you will have a better view of the town’s architecture and participate in hikes across the countryside. The best time to schedule your visit to the capital, San Salvador, is between January and April or November.
You can consider not visiting El Salvador in December to avoid peak holiday hassles and overcrowding in attraction sites. You can also consider visiting in March and April, which offer perfect weather and the tranquility lacking in holiday periods.
Cheapest Time to Visit El Salvador
If you want to take advantage of lower costs and fewer crowds, visiting from May to November is best. There are also fewer crowds flocking to attraction sites, unlike in peak holiday periods, like December.
August and September are particularly conducive for people looking for quiet and peace but prefer lower costs. Meals and accommodation are also cheaper during the hot season in El Salvador, which typically runs from May to October.
Since there are not as many tourists gracing the restaurants and marketplaces, some essentials can be affordable during these months. Nevertheless, costs are generally low in El Salvador, even in the high season, with average meal prices going for as low as $7.
These costs may rise during peak seasons (mostly December and January) and fall during low seasons, but they are significantly lower than in other Central American countries.
Least Busy Time to Visit El Salvador
Tourists are least likely to flock to El Salvador’s attractions in February, and you will likely find it the least expensive month to tour various sites across the country.
In February and March, the atmosphere in El Salvador towns is more laid back, and the nightlife is calm. Most tourists have already left during this time, and calm is returning after the December holidays.
For those who love tranquility on the beach and would love some time to unwind, it’s best to schedule a visit to El Salvador around February and March.
April is not much busier than the latter, but with Easter celebrations, it’s livelier than the two previous months. The public transport is also less crowded in February than in other months of the year in El Salvador.
As such, it’s cheaper to tour various attractions in the beautiful mountainous areas and coastal towns. Moreover, tour guides are not swamped with duties around these low-traffic seasons, allowing them to take you to rare spots and see the hidden gems in the country.
Worst Time to Visit El Salvador
The worst time to visit El Salvador is in August. It’s a school holiday, and the streets are flocked with local tourists. While public transportation is still considerably cheaper than it’s back home, the buses are often crowded and lack luggage racks.
Moreover, hotels and restaurants take advantage of the influx of tourists and hike their accommodation and meal prices. Tourist attraction sites also lack the serenity that often attracts people to them in the first place.
The beaches are overcrowded mostly with locals, and hiking can be dangerous with the wet season leaving the soils wet and flaky. The only good thing with August is the buzz, particularly in San Salvador, with local cultural celebrations in high gear.
The food is fantastic during these months, and the welcoming culture of the locals is never more evident. However, the weather is humid with the potential for rainfall, which can disrupt your outdoor activities.
Things to Consider
When visiting a destination far from home, it’s natural to be cautious with your interactions, leisure activities, and sentiments. There are several factors you need to consider before packing up your costumes and essentials for El Salvador.
- The transportation system. El Salvador is a tiny country with hundreds of thousands of tourists flocking in to participate in its various holidays and celebrations, so internal travel is often a hassle in peak seasons. While buses are very affordable, they are often crowded and lack luggage racks, which, for luxury travelers, is often unwelcome. The popular choice is renting a car or hiring a minivan driver.
- Your destination. Your time in El Salvador might be limited, and you don’t want to miss out on some fantastic experiences you can have in the small country. Your choice of destination should depend on the time of year you visit El Salvador. During the warm months (November – April), you could opt for hiking, as the trails are safe from mud and less covered by foliage.
- Safety. Avoid walking around in the dark in El Salvador’s cities, especially the capital, San Salvador. Whenever it’s dark, take a taxi, even if your destination is just five blocks away. Don’t show off your jewelry or money when outside; if you’re mugged, give the robbers what they ask for -your wallet is worth nothing compared to your life.
- Nature conservation. Approximately 85% of El Salvador’s forest cover has been lost to illegal logging and climate change in the last 30 years. Avoid dropping plastics on your tours in national parks to help sustain the ongoing conservation efforts. Your effort will go a long way towards saving the over 500 bird species and mammals that consider the park home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about El Salvador:
Is it safe to travel to El Salvador?
Most tourists visiting El Salvador leave without witnessing any criminal incidents. However, it’s essential to be cautious of your surroundings when touring different parts of El Salvador since street crimes are not unheard of in various towns across the country.
Is it costly to visit El Salvador?
One of the most attractive features of El Salvador is its pricing. Since the country adopted the US dollar as a legal tender, the costs of various commodities, including meals, have been extremely low. For $3, you can have an average meal in just about any restaurant in El Salvador.
How good is El Salvador’s infrastructure?
El Salvador is a small country, and it’s not easy to get around when its streets are flocked with tourists from across the globe. The public transportation system is inexpensive.
But the buses are crowded and luggage racks are often full. The best way to get around for tourists is by renting a car or hiring a minivan, but be ready to brace the traffic jam in San Salvador.
Should I have health concerns when visiting El Salvador?
It’s advisable to vaccinate against Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B before visiting El Salvador. Make sure your physician is comfortable with your trip and that you’re up to date with all prescribed boosters. If you will be entering the rural areas in El Salvador, it’s recommended that you take Malaria prophylaxis and chloroquine.
What language is spoken in El Salvador?
Spanish is the national language of El Salvador. However, the Spanish spoken in El Salvador differs in pronunciation and usage from other countries in Central America and is therefore referred to as El Salvadorian Spanish.
Is tipping mandatory?
Unlike in the US, tipping is not as prevalent in El Salvador. Nevertheless, it’s customary to leave a small token at hotels and restaurants, which is sometimes added to the bill. Be on the lookout for hotels and restaurants in San Salvador and El Tunco that add tips to your total bill.
Is El Salvador welcoming to LGBTQ travelers?
There is national legislation that protects locals as well as tourists against discrimination surrounding their sexual orientations and homosexuality.
There are also clubs and cultural centers across El Salvador that are LGBTQ-friendly. However, there is general social isolation of the LGBTQ community and systematic aggression throughout El Salvador societies.
So, When Should You Visit El Salvador?
You can visit El Salvador any time of the year and still have a good time. While most people prefer the dry season from November to April, it’s entirely up to you to find the most suitable time to visit the small Central American country.
Either way, you will have a wonderful time touring the various attractions across the country.
You may not know a lot of Spanish or don’t understand the culture in some El Salvador towns, but you need not fret – the locals are very welcoming to tourists, and they will gladly engage you in their sensational celebrations.
So, with so much to see and do in every season of the year, what are you waiting for — book your trip to this gorgeous country today!