El Salvador Travel: From Rainbow Slide To Flower Route
When you look at Central America travel blogs, it feels like every blogger/traveler is following the same route.
Guatemala- Belize- Roatan or Utila Island-Nicaragua, Costa Rica-Panama.
Or the other way around. It’s a very backpacker-friendly chain- you just country hop. But everyone skips El Salvador. The maximum attention this tiny country gets is a look out of a shuttle window when another backpacker crosses El Salvador by on the way to Guatemala or Honduras.
El Salvador: From Rainbow Slide to The Little Prince’s Park
And you know, it’s kind of fair, El Salvador held the crown for the most dangerous country in the world in 2019. Usually, it just tops the list of the most dangerous countries. “Reconsider travel to El Salvador,” the travel advisory website says.
I don’t backpack, but in my personal experience, the last time I saw a “reconsider” message before heading to Pakistan – it turned out to be the most incredible trip I’ve ever had.
Believe it or not, El Salvador’s travel experience was just the same for me – fantastic.
The absolute friendliest people in Central America, the best roads in Central America, the food festival (with 98% of locals attending it) that could kick any US food festival’s butt…and I can go on and on.
Why El Salvador is a great country to travel to ( and why you should travel to El Salvador)
- El Salvador is one of the most convenient in Central America for traveling – transportation and proximity of all the main sights is perfect.
- The country is compact. You can see all the main sights in the shortest period of time.
- USD is the local currency, which makes it super easy for US travelers. No need to go through a currency exchange hustle.
- It’s not crowded with tourists. While there’s still a lot to see in El Salvador, you can almost have it all to yourself. You will surely appreciate the benefit of traveling to El Salvador if you are a selfish traveler like me!
- Locals are super friendly – the friendliest in Central America. And that is the consequence of the previous point. Every tourist in El Salvador is worth his/her weight in gold. You will feel welcome anywhere you go.
Best attractions in San Salvador and surroundings
Rainbow Slide to Imagine Slide in El Salvador
Rainbow Slide El Salvador is located inside Picnic steakhouse. It’s not the easiest attraction to get to. Some layover tours make a stop there. However, since the slide is new and not a part of the classic San Salvador day tour, you might need to ask your guide to make a stop.
Where is the rainbow slide located?
The Rainbow slide in El Salvador is a must-see! The giant colorful slide is located inside of a restaurant called Picnic Steak House, 20 minutes away from San Salvador city, the capital of El Salvador. The Picnic Steak House restaurant is located at the beginning of the San Salvador volcano or also known as El Boqueron volcano.
Getting to the Rainbow Slide/ Picnic Steakhouse
Take the Monsenor Romero highway, exit on the 7th ave, drive up the volcano for about 10 minutes, and you’ll find the restaurant on the right side.
Once you arrive at Rainbow Slide El Salvador, you’ll be amazed by the vibrant colors of the slide and will definitely want to take a ride down!
How much is it to ride a rainbow slide?
Rainbow Slide El Salvador is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It costs $5.00 per rider, but you can go as many times as you want. You can order something to eat while you wait if there is a big line. We got in right away.
Pro tip: Make sure you buy your Imagine slide ticket before 5pm
When was Rainbow Slide built?
The slide is a pretty new sight. It was constructed during COVID. And gained fame right away thanks to TikTok.
Our guide jokingly said that it’s one of the top attractions in the country after surfing. Well, it was for me. I saw the rainbow slide video on youtube and booked a trip to El Salvador a week later.
Talk about the power of color.
The Rainbow Slide gets its name from its colorful build, and it’s a 60-second rush of adrenaline that you can’t miss when visiting El Salvador. Not only it’s an adrenaline-pumping little adventure, but the slide also offers fabulous views of San Salvador – the city is just below the hill! So whether you’re looking for a delicious meal or an adventurous activity, Picnic Steakhouse in El Salvador is a must-stop.
Is it safe to ride the Imagine slide?
It’s very safe and kid-friendly. The Picnic steakhouse is located in the elite neighborhoods of San Salvador, and talking from a tourist safety perspective, it’s as safe as it gets. You’ll see a lot of posh locals spending a day at the steakhouse.
San Salvador What To See
El Rosario Church
From the outside, El Rosario looks more like a stable than a place of worship. However, El Rosario is insanely beautiful on the inside.
The metaphor is obvious: The real divine beauty is on the inside.
Some of the sculptures are made from scrap metal.
It is constructed with standard building blocks and has multi-colored stained-glass windows that replace windows. The marble floor and dark wooden benches seem to merge together, thanks to the fantastic play of colors. El Rosario is one of the main places of worship in El Salvador.
Entrance to the Rosario church is $1 for locals and $1.5 for tourists
Must Visit – Club de billares mas antiguo de El Salvador
Club de billiards – is the oldest billiard club in El Salvador and Central America. It feels like you’ve stepped into a different era when you walk through the doors. A more wealthy, colonial era. It was a top spot for the local bohemians, where they held artsy gatherings. Imagina Havana early in the 20th century or San Juan?
Club de billares’ premises have a long and fascinating history – they served not only as a billiard room but also as the center of the cultural life of El Salvador.
Planes de Renderos
Planes de Renderos is a whole picturesque area located less than 10km from San Salvador.
Locals and tourists visit Planes de Rendero primarily because it offers the best view of San Salvador.
El Mirador is a great spot to take in panoramic views of San Salvador and sample traditional Salvadoran dishes from one of the many small restaurants in the area.
La Puerta del Diablo
La Puerta del Diablo, or the Devil’s Doorway, is a must-see landmark outside the Salvadoran capital. Its main attractions are the three huge rock formations that create an otherworldly passage. Supposedly 3 centuries ago, the mountain Cerro El Chulo – collapsed, creating three rocks. Today, visitors can explore all three rocks and imagine what secrets they may hold.
El Parque El Principito – The Little Prince Park in El Salvador
The Little Prince Park is a park located in the division between Santa Tecla and Antiguo Cuscatlán. The park, as the name suggests, is celebrating Saint-Exupéry’s most famous novel – “The Little Prince.”It’s a super safe and family-friendly attraction in El Salvador.
With its extensive Monseñor Romero Cycleway, the park is ideal for walking and exercising, and its connection to the Bicentennial Park makes it a great place to learn about the urban culture of El Salvador. In addition to its cultural significance, the park is also a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the scenery. With its lush trees and brightly-colored flowers, El Parque El Principito is a must-see for any visitor to El Salvador.
Did you know that Saint-Exupéry’s wife was Salvadorian? Though he wrote the actual book in Atitlan lake (Guatemala), legend has it that it’s Salvador that inspired “The Little Prince.”
Joya de Ceren – The Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site
Joya de Ceren, aka known as “The Pompeii of the Americas” is an open air museum. It’s pretty compact because the excavations are ongoing – the biggest part of the village is still under the ashes!
Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic (Mayan) farming community burried under volcano eruption in AD 600.
Joya de Cerén is unique because it is the best-preserved example of a pre-hispanic village in Mesoamerica. It is also important because it provides information about how people lived during that time period. The Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site is an important place to visit for anyone interested in history or archaeology.
8 things you must do during your stay
- Eat Pupusas – this is the first thing you should do in El Salvador. Immediate addiction + absolute satisfaction.
- Slide down the Imagine Slide or Rainbow Slide
- Visit at least one volcano Boqueron is the most accessible, and you can visit it on a day or layover tour of El Salvador.
- Take a photo with fabulous graffiti in Ruta de Las Flores
- Surf or just chill at the Pacific Ocean and El Salvador’s beaches.
The most famous beaches are Costa del Sol and La Barra de Santiago.
- Eat like a king at the food festival Takes place every Sunday and sets a gold standard of how food festivals should be
- Visit a coffee farm or have a cup of local coffee on your tour
- Visit at least one Mayan Ruin
Is it worth it to visit Rainbow Slide ?
For just $5, anyone 12 years or older can go down the Rainbow slide – which is an impressive 35 meters in length. The Rainbow Slide gets its name from its colorful build, and it’s a 60-second rush of adrenaline that you can’t miss when visiting El Salvador. You don’t have to eat at the restaurant to go down the slide, though the views are great and the restaurant grounds are meticulous. There are animals, pools, and ships – the place is super family-friendly.
Transportation and how to get around
El Salvador’s buses are brand new, air-conditioned, and have a clean interior and no funky smell. Most buses even have toilets and hot water coolers. This is a far cry from the days when the locals carried roosters and piglets under their arms on a bus ride.
El Salvador’s bus system is very efficient and can get you around the country quickly and easily.
Whether you’re looking for an international or local bus, Tica is the way to go and pretty much a monopoly. Tica operates throughout El Salvador but also connects Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? ! And don’t let the prices fool you. Local routes may be cheaper, but they are just as comfortable and reliable as the international ones.
Enjoy the ride!
The best way to enjoy a long trip to El Salvador is to have your own transportation. Driving in El Salvador will give you the freedom to explore all the amazing sites, sounds, and flavors the country has to offer.
One thing to convince you to rent a car in El Salvador: the roads are phenomenal. In fact, some of the best (the best if you ask me) in Central America.
Renting a car in El Salvador is also a good idea for those who are traveling to neighboring countries.
There are seven border crossings in total :
four with Guatemala
three with Honduras
All border crossings are safe and not crowded at all.
Pan-American Highway (CA-1) or Carretera Panamericana is El Salvador’s main highway.
Tourism and safety in El Salvador
El Salvador is an up-and-coming tourist destination. The tourism industry offers entertainment, hotels and restaurants in large cities are still developing.
What really attracts travelers to El Salvador are its countless rivers, majestic volcanoes, amazing lakes and mysterious buildings of the Mayan civilization.
So, the most popular tourist attractions in El Salvador are:
- archaeological sites
- natural attractions – hikes, volcanoes
- surfing and other outdoor activities
- kayaking and rafting
Did you know that El Salvador is a great destination for rafting? The turbulent waters of the Lempa River are especially good for kayaking and rafting.
Among travelers, El Salvador’s most attractive regions are the western areas of the country.
That’s where the tourist infrastructure is in the development stage. El Salvador is a hidden gem- no wonder local tour agencies are using and promoting the hashtag #dontskipelsalvador
When is the best time to travel to El Salvador?
If you’re looking for the best time to visit El Salvador, December is your best bet. The rainy season has just ended, leaving the landscape green and the air clean and fresh. Dry season is also the perfect time for wildlife-watching. However, if you’re looking to surf, the best time to visit is during the rainy season (Mar-Nov). The dry season is still good for surfing, but it is more suitable for beginners. The tourist infrastructure is not very developed in El Salvador yet. So, book your hotel in advance if you are travelling to El Salvador in the peak season.
There’s no bad time to travel to El Salvador, as the country is blessed with year-round good weather. However, there are definitely peak times when hotels and other tourist attractions will be more crowded and expensive.
Plan your trip accordingly and you’re sure to have a great time traveling to El Salvador!
Other things to know when planning El Salvador travel getaway
El Salvador is a country with a rich and fascinating history. First gaining independence from Spain in 1821, El Salvador has since experienced 130 coups d’état as a result of the continuous struggle between local conservatives and liberals.
Despite this, El Salvador is often referred to as “the land of lakes and volcanoes” due to its beautiful landscape.
The main part of El Salvador’s territory is a volcanic highland lying above 600 m above sea level. This provides for a rather hot climate throughout the year. Basically, we can divide El Salvador’s climate into
the dry season (November-April)
the rainy season (May-October)
Fun fact: Dry and wet season in El Salvador determins the school year! The school year in El Salvador lasts 8 months - February through the end of October. The holidays fall on the dry season (November-February) for a reason - most kids help at the their parents at the coffee farms.
75% of El Salvador’s population lives on the highlands. The highlands are perfect climates with fertile volcanic soils and cool weather.
Chech out my other helpful El Salvador Travel Guides