Santa Ana is the second city of El Salvador and the capital of the province. The city is a good starting point for amazing volcano tours in the surroundings, a visit to Lake Coatepeque and the Mayan ruins of Tazumal. But the center is also worth exploring. In this article I will tell you more about the best things to do in Santa Ana in El Salvador, including tips for landmarks, tours, restaurants and hotels.
Things to do in Santa Ana El Salvador
Visit downtown Santa Ana El Salvador
The central square in Santa Ana is Parque Libertad. Here you will find the cathedral, which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. During my visit it was unfortunately covered in scaffolding, but hopefully not anymore next time. Other things to do in downtown Santa Ana El Salvador include the Municipal House and the National Theater, which is known for its great acoustics. It is nice to stroll around the center and sit on a bench once in a while to observe daily life.
Hike to the top of the Santa Ana volcano – top things to do in El Salvador
One of the top things to do when you are in Santa Ana in El Salvador is the hike to the Ilamantepec volcano. Something you simply can’t miss. The Santa Ana, as it is often called, is the highest volcano in the country at 2300 meters. Where in some countries you have to hike for hours to reach the top of a volcano, you can reach the Santa Ana within 1.5 hours. At the top you look straight into the crater, which consists of a beautiful green crater lake. Moreover, on a clear day you have an amazing view of the surroundings.
But the hike up the volcano, is also beautiful. You walk through a misty forest and pass special trees and plants. Of course there are a few steep parts, but the walk is doable for anyone with a normal physical condition.
Do you also want to hike the Santa Ana volcano? A guide is mandatory. You can book a tour here.
Mayan ruins of Tazumal – cultural things to do in Santa Ana El Salvador
Less than a 30-minute drive from Santa Ana in El Salvador you will find the most important Mayan ruin in the country: Tazumal. This Mayan pyramid is located in the middle of the town Chalchuapa, near the border with Guatemala, and is part of a larger archaeological complex. The pyramid was used as a temple and consists of several platforms, connected by long staircases. There would be tombs under the pyramid.
Tazumal is one of the things to do in Santa Ana El Salvador if you are interested in history. Do you want to visit Tazumal from Santa Ana? You can easily book a tour here.
During your visit, you can walk around and observe the temple from different sides. Along the way you will come across a number of small structures and a former ball court, which played an important role in Mayan life.
Tazumal was an important Mayan settlement between 100 BC to about 1200 AD. Do you want to read more about Mayan ruins in Central America? In the next article you will find an overview of the most beautiful Mayan temples in Mexico and in the following articles I will tell you more about a visit to Tikal, Yaxha and El Mirador in Guatemala.
Enjoy views at Cerro Verde
Cerro Verde offers one of the best views of the Santa Ana Volcano and Lake Coatepeque. And when it is clear, you can even see the coast and Guatemala with volcanoes such as Fuego, Acatenango and Pacaya in the distance.
You can drive to the to by car, take short walks, visit an orchid garden and go for some bird watching.
Cerro Verde is located 2030 meters above sea level. The crater is eroded and covered by a thick cloud forest. It is estimated that the last eruption was 25,000 years ago. Cerro Verde is part of El Salvador’s Los Volcanes National Park, which consists of five volcanoes: Santa Ana, Izalco, San Marcelino, Coatepeque, and Cerro Verde.
Spend the night at Casa 1800 Cerro Verde
Try to make a reservation at Casa 1800 Cerro Verde, one of the most beautiful hotels in El Salvador, located on the Cerro Verde volcano. From the restaurant but also from your own room you look straight out over the Santa Ana volcano.
During sunset you can walk to a platform and enjoy the most magical view.
Check the latest prices and availability at Casa 1800 Cerro Verde here.
Hike the Izalco volcano
Another volcano that you can climb around Santa Ana in El Salvador is the Izalco. This volcano is located at an altitude of 1950 meters but is more difficult to reach because you first have to walk all the way down to climb up again. And then of course the same way back. A guide is also required here. Don’t feel like a steep climb? Then you can also book a tour where you enjoy views of both the Cerro Verde and the Izalco volcano.
Because of its location, the Izalco volcano is also called the “The lighthouse of the Pacific”. The erupting volcano is said to have served as a landmark for ships for years up to 1966. The black-colored cone volcano is the youngest in the country with a height of 1950 meters.
Go to Coatepeque lake – scenic things to do in Santa Ana El Salvador
Lago de Coatepeque, surrounded by volcanoes, is half an hour’s drive from Santa Ana. It s the best place to go for a little walk or take a boat trip. You can also eat delicious fish in one of the surrounding restaurants, such as Octavo Maravilla. Make sure to try the mojarra with shrimps. Delicious!
Lago de Coatepeque is a crater lake located in the Los Volcanes national park. It originated more than 70,000 years ago and is one of the largest lakes in El Salvador (26 km2). Due to the rapid growth of algae, the color of Coatepeque sometimes changes from dark blue to turquoise, depending on the season. The Coatepeque lake is one of the things to do in Santa Ana in El Salvador that you should definitely visit.
Lunch at Simmer Down
The popular place Simmer Down, on the plaza serves tasty pizzas, pastas and salads. On top of the covered terrace you have a good view of the plaza. Highly recommended and a place where you want to come back again and again!
Mini travel guide Santa Ana El Salvador
Hotels in and around Santa Ana
Are you looking for a hotel in the center of Santa Ana? Then have a look at the Remfort Hotel. Looking for something outside the city? Around the Lago Coatepeque I can recommend Hotel Equinoccio. Would you like to spend the night in a unique hotel with a view of the Santa Ana volcano from your room? Then you want to spend the night at Casa 1800 Cerro Verde.
Check the latest prices and availability at Remfort Hotel, Hotel Equinoccio and Casa 1800 Cerro Verde. Looking for more hotels in and around Santa Ana in El Salvador? Here you will find a comprehensive overview.
In the next article you will find the most beautiful hotels in El Salvador – my personal favorites, sorted by region.
How to get to Santa Ana in El Salvador
Santa Ana is about 1.5- hours drive from the capital, San Salvador. You can easily rent a car in San Salvador and drive there yourself. The roads are fine and safe. Make sure you download google maps or waze so that you always have the route in your pocket. Don’t want to rent a car? Then you can of course also book transportation to one of the destinations. Here you will find more information about transport from San Salvador to Santa Ana and the surrounding area.
Need a rental car for your trip to El Salvador? Use Rental Cars to search and compare your car rental options. A quick and easy tool and no need to have up multiple tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. They also have great discounts and cancellation policies.
Tours in and around Santa Ana
Looking for tours? This is an overview with tours and things to do in Santa Ana El Salvador.
- Hike the Ilamantepec – Santa Ana volcano
- Cerro Verde + Izalco volcano tour
- Volcanoes, Coatepeque lake and villages tour
- More tours in Santa Ana
El Salvador is a hidden gem with beautiful beaches, shimmering lakes, volcanoes you can climb, national parks and pretty colonial villages. In the next article you will find the best things to do in El Salvador.
More hotels in El Salvador
In every country I look out for the most beautiful and unique place to stay. Interior design, a nice atmosphere, a lovely setting and good service are important topics for me, when choosing a hotel. In addition, I like to support the locals and love a sustainable approach around a hotel. Are you curious about my favorite hotels in El Salvador? In the next article you will find an overview of the best boutique hotels in El Salvador.
More about El Salvador
Did you enjoy reading this article with tips and things to do in Santa Ana? El Salvador is a small country in Central America with so much to offer. Let me take you on a journey along the most beautiful destinations and things to do in El Salvador. In the next article you will find more inspiration and tips.
- Best things to do in El Salvador
- El Salvador itinerary
- Things to do in Suchitoto – a comprehensive travel guide
- San Salvador city guide
- Conchagua volcano – everything you want to know
- Ruta de las Flores – everything you want to know
- Boutique hotels in El Salvador
This article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of our links, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you, which helps us keep this blog alive. Thank you for your support! Please see our disclosures for more information.