Visiting El Salvador? Read about some must-do’s in the city and beyond

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  • Visiting El Salvador? Read about some must-do’s in the city and beyond

Whenever one of our international clients asks us about investing in El Salvador real estate, the first thing we recommend is that they visit our beautiful country. Getting your feet in the ground in El Salvador is important as that way you’ll be able to see and experience the country firsthand. International investors on their first visit stay for as little as a long weekend, most stay around a week or two, and some just decide to stay permanently. El Salvador is a very compact country, with a total of 21,041 km2 (8,124 square miles, a little bit smaller than the state of New Jersey) so it’s easy and fast to get around. 

Our recommendation is for you to rent a car and get to know the country that way. We can always drive you between your hotel and property showings but we recommend you rent a car to experience El Salvador fully. The road network is in good condition, traffic is manageable in the city and once you get out of San Salvador the highways are clear and in good condition. All major car rentals like Hertz, Avis, National and Budget are available in the El Salvador international airport, we recommend reserving with them first.

Distance is relative. What might feel far to us Salvadorans might be close to you. The farthest you can get, by car, from the capital city is about 3 hours in any direction. From the airport, about the same distance. El Salvador has good infrastructure in general. By car, from the capital city to the beaches of Surf City in La Libertad is just an easy 25 minute drive down the Surf City highway. El Zonte, or Bitcoin Beach, is a little under an hour in the same direction.

We always recommend checking out TripAdvisor for hotel insights but you will find most large international chains in the city with 4 and 5 star properties at a reasonable price in the city. AirBNBs are also widely available at many price points; they’re a great way to experience the San Salvador condo investment opportunities firsthand. In terms of all the prices you’ll see El Salvador’s official currency since 2001 has been the US Dollar, and effective early September 2021, Bitcoin will become legal tender. See the countdown to the El Salvador Bitcoin law taking effect here.

When you’re exploring the beaches of Surf City read our article on our favorite restaurants in Surf City, La Libertad. Don’t miss a chance to have lunch in a river. 

Since most of our clients stay in San Salvador, the capital city, during their visit, we wanted to recommend a few places to check out during your stay. While San Salvador can be a great base to stay, we also encourage you to explore the country and there’s plenty of hotels and AirBNBs on the main beaches and picturesque mountain towns. 

Visit a San Salvador Brewery: 

Craft beer flight at Cadejo Brewing Company, Zona Rosa, San Salvador

Do you enjoy craft beer? There’s a thriving craft beer scene in San Salvador that even stretches to the beaches of Surf City. While there are a few breweries in town we recommend you check out Cadejo in Zona Rosa first. They have a few locations in the city like Santa Rosa and Cadejo even stretches to the beaches of Surf City in La Libertad. They bottle most of their beers and are available at all supermarkets and gas stations and most restaurants but if you want to have the full experience we recommend you visit their Zona Rosa location. They have great food and plenty of choices of fresh locally made craft beer on tap made right in house. They even offer a tour of the brewery (the actual brewery is located in the Zona Rosa location). They also have great souvenirs and have an airport location if you’d like to bring some home.

While you’re there read about the Cadejo, a mythical salvadoran dog-like creature. You can find the legend of the legend of the Cadejo here.

Also check out La Crafteria and Squirrel Eye Brewers for brewery tours and for a large international variety check out Arte Cerveza and Beer Station.

Experience El Salvador coffee:

Hand picked coffee cherries on drying beds in El Salvador.

How does having an espresso made by a World Barista Champion sound to you? El Salvador has a long history of growing coffee, some of the best coffee in the world. Up until before the civil war El Salvador was amongst the top 5 coffee exporters in the world. Nowadays specialty coffee offering traceability from farm to cup is the standard. You can go to any specialty coffee shop in the city and you’ll be able to try different varieties, down to the farm. Pick your favorite method, variety, roast and even farm. All freshly roasted for your enjoyment. 

An actual V60 brewing Pacamara coffee from Ataco, El Salvador

“I’d like a V60 made with Pacamara coffee, at a medium roast, from so-and-so farm in Ataco, El Salvador” would be a totally reasonable request here. Baristas know their skill and numerous San Salvador baristas have been finalists and even won the World Barista Championship. 

S&P Coffee in Sonsonate’s old railway station

Places we recommend? You can’t go wrong with Ben’s Coffee, Café la Casona, Crafters Coffee, Viva Espresso, Biscuit Factory and many more locations. If you’re around Bitcoin Beach, El Zonte, check out great coffee shops inside Covana and in Garten. Interested in a great coffee in a cool location? It’s about an hour drive from San Salvador but the former Sonsonate railway station now has a S&P Coffee (Salaverria & Pillersdorf, a salvadoran coffee producer). 

Taste great chocolate:

A selection of El Salvador chocolate

Well before Bitcoin became legal tender in El Salvador, before the dollar, before the colón and even before Spanish colonial currency, cocoa beans were money. Believe it or not, cacao beans ranked about gold dust for the ancient mesoamericans. 

One early observer, the Italian historian Peter Martyr d’Anghiera was reported to say in the early 1500s about cocoa beans “oh, blessed money with yieldeth sweet and profitable drinks for mankind, and preserveth the possers thereof free from the hellish pestilence of avarice because it cannot be long kept hid underground”

In El Salvador, and most of mesoamerica, we have two main varieties of chocolate. Western style, which you might be familiar with from home, starting at 31% cocoa with milk, all the way to 80% cocoa chocolate bars, and even 100% bars when used for baking. We also have chocolate, the drink, which is very different from western hot chocolate. We recommend you give both a try. 

My favorite places? Shaw’s is probably the main one. They started in 1980 and have chocolate from bean to bar through their Cacaotera brand. If you visit any of our properties you’ll get to try them for yourself with our complimentary chocolates on every visit. We also recommend checking out JEZ chocolate boutique, Xocolatisimo, and Belú Cacao chocolates. You can find them at their stores or in most supermarkets in the city.  Shaw’s also has good coffee for you to try and great desserts.

Cocoa beans were currency in most of Mesoamerica for centuries, in the modern day you can get chocolate cryptocurrencies in El Salvador

These are just a few of the things to check out during your visit, but San Salvador has plenty of activities. Museums, galleries, national parks and even churches with great architecture (check out El Rosario church in downtown San Salvador if you get a chance). These are just a few suggestions but remember to visit TripAdvisor for reviews. 

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