While tourists are gathering on the beaches of Cancun, at the ruins of Chichen Itza and in the forests of Costa Rica, most are still overlooking El Salvador.
It's time to reconsider skipping this tiny nation, because the civil war ended over 20 years ago and what’s left is a friendly, welcoming country with plenty to see (and no crowds).
Here are just some of the reasons to visit this little gem in Central America:
One of the prettiest towns in El Salvador, Suchitoto is a cobblestoned, colonial city beautifully situated on Lake Suchitlan. The lake was created in 1974 when a dam flooded, and it is sometimes possible to see remains of villages and buildings under the water. The lake is also a top destination for birdwatchers with its islands home to ducks, egrets and herons, among others. Suchitoto itself has a thriving arts community and is a great jumping off point for exploring the lake, waterfalls and mountain surrounding the area.
2. El Imposible National Park
Name for a pass which used to be a difficult crossing for farmers transporting their coffee, El Imposible is no longer impossible, but it is rugged. The park is home to over 500 different species of butterflies as well as 100 species of mammals and large numbers of birds, including some indigenous species that are unique to El Salvador. Cat lovers will want to keep an eye out for the elusive tigrillo.
Mmm... pupusas! A traditional Salvadoran street food snack made from a thick tortilla stuffed with cheese, meat or beans. It's simple local food at its delicious best.
4. San Salvador
Considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world during the civil war, San Salvador has now got its crime levels under control and is a very interesting city to visit. You’ll find the usual churches, museums and monuments here but there is also a vibrant arts community, bohemian, left-wing coffee shops, and some of the best nightlife in Central America.
5. Cerro de Guazapa
This mountain was a stronghold of the FMLN (the anti-government side) and here you can still see destroyed buildings, caves where the guerrillas hid out during the war, medical camps and trenches. It is a great place to get to know the recent history of El Salvador and try to understand what went on here during the civil war.
There are many more great reasons why El Salvador deserves the attention of travellers.