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San Salvador is the capital city of El Salvador, approximately in the center of the country in a valley near the base of the San Salvador volcano. The city has a long history, with origins dating back to the Spanish conquest of the Pipil tribes.
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Points of Interest in San Salvador
San Salvador has wide avenues and boulevards, including the two widest boulevards in Central America: Boulevard de los Proceres and Boulevard de los Heroes. Other important boulevards include Alameda Roosevelt, Paseo General Escalon, Av. Jerusalem, Boulevard Constitucion and Av. Juan Pablo Segundo.
San Salvador has many beautiful monuments, some of them dating back to the early 20th century, while others are more modern. Some of the most important monuments include the National Palace, Plaza Gerardo Barrios, Plaza Morazan, Water Clock, Monument to the Sea, Atlacatl Monument and the Proceres Monuments (it has 10 monuments). One of the most recognizable monuments in El Salvador is the Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo, or "Monument to the Saviour of The World".
The Metropolitan Cathedral has the tomb of Monsignor Oscar Romero (enter from right-side entrance), open from 8 AM to 12 PM, 2 PM to 4:45 PM daily.
Feria Internacional de El Salvador is the largest convention center in Central America. El Salvador is rated the third best place for investment in Latin America by Moody's. Some of the very wealthy business families in San Salvador and throughout El Salvador are Siman (owners of the largest department store chain in Central America), Poma (owners of Grupo Roble and Grupo Poma), Quiros (owners of Grupo Q in Central America), Kriete (owners of TACA Airlines), Dueñas (owners of La Gran Via), the family that owns Biggest, Pops, Nash and Mister Donut, and a lot of other important families. In addition, San Salvador is one of the only two cities in Central America that have a World Trade Center.
San Salvador has a large urban park, the "Parque de los Pericos". There is another park called Parque Cuscatlan (close to downtown), which is very elegant, with lights, trees and paths. Popular with locals, the beautiful botanical gardens of La Laguna (close to the the U.S. embassy) showcase much native fauna. Zoologico Nacional (The National Zoo), and Parque Saburo Hirao (with a collection of native plants) are in the SE part of the city by the old Presidential House.
If you don't get a chance to visit smaller towns and villages outside the capital, a must see destination is Los Planes De Renderos. 1000 Meters above sea level, and it offers a spectacular view of San Salvador. This is a popular oasis for locals from the hectic city life. Check out the restaurants, and near-by parque Balboa, (Balboa Park) with lots of trees and green lawns, ideal for picnics. Indulge yourself eating the tasty salvadorean treat known as pupusas! Visit the nearby colonial town of Panchimalco, one of the few towns in the country with a large indigenous population. Another interesting spot not to be missed is the spectacular natural formation and viewing area known as Puerta del Diablo (devil's gate).
San - Salvador has many museums, the two most important are "Museo David J Guzman" and "Museo de Arte MARTE". David J Guzman National Museum of Anthropology contains a variety of Mayan and Pipil artifacts, while Museo de Arte MARTE displays an extensive collection of international art. Both are located in the Zona Rosa district. There is also a children's museum, the Tin-Marin museum, where kids can experience the world in a fun way. The old national palace is being restored to house the "National Archives," and the "National Museum." Also a new display of early mammal fossils, including a giant sloth, mastodon and more than twenty other species is being set up in the "Museo de Historia Natural," or "Natural History Museum" situated in the SE section of Saburo Hirao park by the National Zoo. Close to the zoo is the "Museo Militar," or Military Museum which is housed in the old castle-like "El Zapote" barracks built in 1895. In the military museum you can find weapons and army uniforms from the 17th, 18th, and early 20th centuries, which were historically used by the Salvadoran army. Other highlights of this museum include the original copies of the 1992 peace accords and the Pope Mobile used when Pope John Paul II visited the country. Entrance is free and a guide service is provided at no charge.
San Salvador has numerous theatres, including the beautiful Teatro Presidente (located near Zona Rosa), where the symphony regularly performs expensive and inexpensive concerts, and the Teatro Nacional (downtown), which was recently restored to its full splendor. Here you can step back and experience the grandeur once reserved for the city's elite in the early 1900s.
San Salvador has several entertainment venues. You can go to restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos, or if you are traveling with kids you can go to the cinemas, bowling, bingo, arcades etc. Cinemas in San Salvador include
- Cinemark, ☎ 503 22294315. Various locations throughout El Salvador, Merliot.
- Multicinema, ☎ 503 22439269. Various locations throughout El Salvador, Multiplaza.
- Cinepolis. Galerías Escalón.
You can also play video games at World Games and El Mundo Feliz. Families may also want to visit Central America's largest toy store:
- Jugueton San Salvador, ☎ 503 22481253. Boulevard de los proceres #2000. this a toy store similar to toys r´ us you will find all types of variety of toys and other fun crafts.
- Also, you can go via cable car to an amusement park on top of Cerro San Jacinto mountain (no longer in use).
The trendiest night spot to visit is called Zona Rosa. Some of the best hotels are located there, including the Sheraton Presidente as well as one of the most luxurious hotels in Central America, the Hilton Princess. Although Zona Rosa doesn't cover a large area (around 1sq mi), it's home to many exclusive, upscale bars and nightclubs (Los Alambiques, Code), and the best restaurants in town (Paradise, 503, A lo Nuestro). If you want to visit a nightclub without the probable inconvenience of not being let in, you should visit Las Terrazas (Stanza, Envy) at Multiplaza Mall.
About San Salvador
San Salvador lies in the "Valle de las Hamacas" (literally "Valley of the hammocks", as it was called by the Pipil, due to its intense earthquake activity) at the foot of the San Salvador volcano. It covers an area of 600 square km and is home to nearly 2 million people. It is home to one-third of El Salvador's population and one-half of the country's wealth. The downtown area is filled with shops and modern buildings, but unfortunately earthquakes have damaged or destroyed many of the city's historic buildings.
The people of San Salvador are generally friendly, though as in any large city, less inclined to engage in conversations with strangers on the street as opposed to other parts of the country. The wealthy live in exclusive suburbs behind tall security walls or luxury condominium buildings. Wealthier areas such as San Benito, Colonia Escalon, Colonia San Francisco, Colonia Maquilishuat, Santa Elena (where the US embassy is located) and Ciudad Merliot have tree-lined avenues, the biggest malls in Central America, bars, clubs, gyms, restaurants, luxury hotels, modern high-rise buildings, plazas, boutiques, cafes, luxury salons, jewelry stores, etc. Some of these neighborhoods are located in the hills surrounding the city and have breathtaking views. A number of new gated housing communities complete with parks, swimming pools, fitness facilities and tight security are popular with middle class families. Most of the city's hotels can be found in these suburbs.
There are middle class neighborhoods and residential areas close to the wealthy neighborhoods. Poorer areas are located in the northern and eastern districts, along with an abundance of shanty towns sprawling along the city's fringes.
San Salvador's climate is tropical, although the weather can vary; the nights may be cool (especially in December), however, most of the time it is sunny and warm. Wearing t-shirts, jeans, and possibly a light rain jacket is usually sufficient.
Whilst not on most tourists' "to do" list in El Salvador, the capital provides a good base for exploring the rest of the country as it's a transportation hub, with most major roads running through it due to its central location. Spending a few days exporing this cosmopolitan and internationally-conscious city can be a rewarding experience. Whilst parts can seem like a maze of confusion, rich vs poor, modern vs dilapitaded, cars vs pedestrians, the city has played a major role in defining and shaping the rest of this small yet intruiging country, once at the forefront of the Cold War. To understand this polarized country, it is essential to understand its political, cultural and social headquarters.
The restaurant scene in San Salvador is influenced by many different cultures. Food options include Italian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, French, Chilean, American, Peruvian, Mexican, Spanish, Middle Eastern, German, Chinese, Argentinian and others. Local food options include Tipicos Margot where one can purchase the famous Salvadoran Pupusas. Perhaps the biggest indictment against the quality of the San Salvador restaurant scene however is the sheer number of chain restaurants referenced in this article.
- Mr. Donut
- Burger King
- Pollo Campero
- Pollo Campestre
- Pollo Tip-Top
- Pollo Tropical
- Pizza Hut
- Little Caesar's
- Típicos Margoth
When you are in El Salvador you won't have to worry about finding a place to eat, there is food everywhere you go.
- Tony Romas, ☎ (503) 2-298-5050, fax: (503)2-298-5964. Blvd. el Hipódromo, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa. American casual. There are 3 more Tony roma's in the city.
- La Panetière, ☎ (503) 2-263-8792, fax: (503) 2-264-1759. San Benito, Zona Rosa. There are many other La Panetière in all San Salvador.
- Punto Literario. In El Museo de Arte Marte col. San Benito. Zona Rosa.
- Sal y pimienta, ☎ (503) 2-298-1766, fax: (503) 2-245-0998. Tercera calle poniente #3877 entre 73 y 75 av. Norte Col. Escalon.
- Restaurante Chileno Hey, ☎ 503-22637281. 97 av Nte. calle Pte. #4509, Col. Escalon.
- Restaurante Basilea, ☎ 503-22236818, fax: 503-22790056. Blvd. El Hipódromo 2-502, col. San Benito, Zona Rosa
- Pasquale, ☎ 503-2263-1693, fax: 503-22635445. Paseo Gral. Escalón, Col. Escalón frente a Galerías shopping center. Italian food.
- Tre fratelli, ☎ 503-2224-2951. Blvd. El Hipódromo #307, Zona Rosa. Italian Food.
- Al Pomodoro. Paseo Gral. Escalón #3952 Ph: (503) 2514-4455 or 2257-2545 Italian food.
- Diva, ☎ 503-22790814, fax: 503-2223-6026. Blv. El Hipódromo, centro comercial San Benito, Zona Rosa
- Dynasty, ☎ 503-22639955, fax: 503-22638615. Frente a Blv. el Hipódromo y Av. Las mangolias Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa. Chinese food.
- Sushi-Itto, ☎ 503-22241900, fax: 503-22982676. Zona Rosa
- Chili's, ☎ 503-2637556, fax: 503-22638352. Paseo Gral. Escalón #4220 col. escalon
- Café Café, ☎ (503) 226-32413, fax: (503) 226-34024. Calle el tanque #13099 av. Norte y 7a calle poniente Bi. Col. Escalon. Peruan food.
- Pueblo Viejo, ☎ 503-22611256. Blvd. Los Heroes, MetroSur 2 nivel.
- Tequila y Botanas, ☎ 503-22113333, fax: 22114444. Hotel Real Intercontinental, Blvd. de Los heroes Mexican food.
- Los Balcones, ☎ 503-23660000. Km 40.5 autopista al aeropuerto fax:.01
- Tanoshii sushi bar, ☎ (503) 221-13333, fax: 221-14444. Centro Comercial El Paseo, Col. Escalón, Paseo Gral. Escalon. and Tanoshii Hotel Real Intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes. Japanese food.
- Royal, Col. Escalón in front of Pops escalón. Chinese Food.
- Sanborns rastaurant and store, Multiplaza, mexican food.
- Rj, multiplaza. Peruan food
- Inka Grill, Blvd. El Hipódromo, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa Peruan food.
- Voi-la, Av. Masferrer infront of Texaco. French food.
- Restaurante Club Campestre, ☎ 503-22633555. Av. masferrer, Col Escalón 550 mts arriba de Redondel Masferrer. Buffet and à la carte.
- Diva Bistro Multiplaza.
- San Martín Multiplaza and El Paseo. Bakery.
- El Rincon de mi Tía Multiplaza. Café and restaurant.
- Olivos Multiplaza and Hilton princess Hotel at Zona Rosa. Salads and Sandwiches.
- Benihana La Gran Via - International Japanese Steak House
- Bennigans La Gran Via - International - Irish
- Señor Tenedor, ☎ 2-298-1766, fax: (503) 2-245-0998. Av.Olimpica #3544 plaza Jardin.
- La Media Cancha, Steakhouse Restaurant and Sports Bar with TV's for watching sport - 79 Avenida Sur #48, Zona Rosa
- Basilea, ☎ (503) 2223-6818. Centro Comercial Basilea, Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa. International food.
- 168ChineseRestaurant. 89Av. Nte y 9a calle poniente #4612 Col. Escalon, Ph: (503) 2264-1168, 2264-6168. Chinese food.
- Cuatro Restaurante Bistró, ☎ (503) 2263-4593. Calle Padres Aguilar No. 4, Colonia Escalón. Spanish Fusion and Tapas.
- 503, ☎ (503) 2223-4770. Blvd. del Hipódromo, Zona Rosa. Upscale, international cuisine and sushi lounge.
- A lo Nuestro, ☎ 503-22235116, fax: 503-22791920. Calle la Reforma #225-A Col. San Benito, Zona Rosa
- La Pampa Argentina, ☎ 2-2786057. In Zona Rosa, in Col. Escalon 1000mts arriba del redondel masferrer, in Santa Elena Boulevard Orden de Malta, and Boulevard. Constitución Col. Escalón.
- Los Ranchos, Calle La Mascota #232 Interseccion Pje. A y Pje #3 Col.La Mascota, Zona Rosa.
- Angus, La Gran Vía
- Hacienda de los Miranda, ☎ 503-22431108, fax: 503-22434841. Jardines de Guadalupe frente a CA1, La Libertad. Buffet and à la carte.
- Finisterre, ☎ 503-22637691. Col. La Mascota Pje. A#30
- Escorial, Hotel Real intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes Ph:503-22113333 Fax:503-21144444,  or 
- Las Orquideas, ☎ 503-22630044, fax: 503-22632828. Hotel Terraza 85Av. Sur y calle Padres Aguilar
- El Mirador, Hotel Radisson Col. Escalón. Buffet and à la carte.
- Hunan, Upmarket Chinese Restaurant specialising in Szechuan and Shanghai in elegant surroundings - Paseo General Escalón y 99 Avenida Norte. Plaza Villavicencio
- Paradise, ☎ 503-2223-4832, fax: 503-22244201. Blvd. El Hipódromo, Zona Rosa.
- Faisca Do Brasil, ☎ 503-22113333. Authentic Brazilian 'Rodizio' style dining in luxurious surroundings. Hotel Real intercontinental Blvd. de los Heroes.
- http://www.fireofbrazil.com/ Fire Of Brazil], Brazilian Steakhouse - Churrascaria. Modern Restaurant and Bar with indoor and outdoor dining. Plaza Futura, San Salvador
- Jeques. Middle Eastern Cuisine. Plaza Futura. Calle el Mirador, Colonia Escalón, San Salvador
If you need to buy something, there are a lot of supermarkets in this city. Some are international, which come from Guatemala, the USA and other countries that are interested in bringing supermarkets to San Salvador. The supermarkets contain products such as food, clothing, candies, tools, shampoos, toys, cosmetics, soaps, etc.
San Salvador is well-known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars can be found in the Zona Rosa, Basilea Mall, La Terraza (Sheraton Hotel), Las Terrazas (Multiplaza Mall), Boulevard de Los Heroes, Temptation Plaza, and the bars and restaurants area in La Gran Via (Mall and night lifestyle center). These places have many bars, discos, restaurants, DJ centers and boutiques.
Visit the laid back bohemian bars (university crowd) around Calle San Antonio Abad to meet interesting locals or head to the Zona Rosa/Multiplaza Mall area to dance the night away with the city's style-conscious upper class youth.
- wine-o (the wine outlet), Blvd. del Hipodromo #575, San Benito, San Salvador, ☎ +503 2263-5576. 9AM-10PM. the place for excellente value wine with the best selection $9.
Bars and Clubs
- La Luna Casa Y Arte]' - Art Gallery/Restaurant/Bar, popular with artists, art exhibitions, poetry, live acts, reggae nights, jazz nights etc, check out their website for extensive list of events.
- Los Rinconcitos, Zona Rosa.
- Code(Mario's), Zona Rosa.
- Zanzibar. Zona Rosa. Great live party music on Saturday afternoons and Acoustic Thursdays quality faves. Centro Comercial Basilea.
- La Taberna, Beer House 79 Av. Norte. Col. Escalon
- Tabú, Zona Rosa. Next to Code
- Stanza, Las terrazas (multiplaza).
- Bliss, Las terrazas (multiplaza).
- MaiThai, Las Terrazas (multiplaza).
- Envy, Las Terrazas (Multiplaza).
- Dolce Fiero, Popular with younger Salvadorans
- Malibu Santa Elena, Boulevard Orden de malta, Santa Elena.
- El Arpa, San Salvador - Popular with expats, Avenida "A" 137, Col. San José
- La Ventana, Colonia Escalon. This is not a club, more of a lounge/coffee spot with food available, and a full bar. Owned by a German who now resides in El Salvador.
- Scape (Gay),Centro Comercial Juan Pablo Segundo, Local 311A, Prolongacion Juan Pablo Segundo, San Salvador.
- Millenium (Gay), 50 meters south of Scape.
For the latest information on gigs, raves,dance parties, international acts and concerts in San Salvador check here: (Spanish). Larger events and conventions are generally held in the Feria Internacional .
- La Casita. Locations in both Centro comercial multiplaza, San Benito and Centro comercial Plaza San Benito.
- Bookmarks, Centro Comercial Basilea , Zona Rosa (Next to the Hilton).
- La Ceiba, Galerias, Col.Escalon Av. Paseo Gral.Escalon. There are Many other la ceiba stores in the city.
Some of the shopping malls include: Loma Linda, Multiplaza, Las Fuentes, Galerias (elegant), Metrocentro (said to be the largest in Central America), El Paseo (expensive), Plazamundo, Plaza Merliot, La Gran Via (a lifestyle center / "city walk"), Las Cascadas, Basilea (unique), Plaza San Benito, Villas Españolas and many more. These malls have luxury boutiques, the latest in international fashion, specialty stores, large foodcourts (some even have 3 food courts) and many other amenities.
For local arts and crafts, visit the Ilopango markets east of the city. Test your bargaining skills and take home some unique, handmade goods. For cheap souvenirs such as hammocks and other local crafts try the Mercado Cuartel. A good hammock can be yours for under $15 US, depending on bargaining skills.
There are many gas stations, including Texaco, Shell, Puma, Petrotec, Esso and others all over the city. Many offer full-service.
San Salvador and some Mexican cities are the only cities in Latin America with Sanborns (restaurant and store chain) and Dorians (or Sears). Other department stores include Siman, Carrion and Almacenes Europa.
Supermarkets and Other Retail Stores
- Super Selectos. Everywhere in the city.
- Hiperpaiz, Blvd. Los heroes and Las cascadas hipermall Antiguo cuscatlan. A Wal-Mart company.
- DeTodo. Everywhere in the city.
- La despensa de Don Juan. Everywhere in the city.
- Pricesmart (Costco in the U.S.A.), Blvd. De los Heroes and Santa Elena.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article San Salvador on Wikivoyage.