Suchitoto almost feels like a bit of a time and space journey after visiting busy San Salvador. The city’s name originates from the Nahutal language and translates into “place of flowers and birds.” As the cultural capital, Suchi’s colorful historic houses are home to art galleries, boutique hostels, and NGOs.
El Salvador’s finest city
The tiny town charms you with its tranquil vibe as you wander around the cobblestone streets. Suchitoto’s affectionately planted and decorated streets and laid-back inhabitants radiate an authentic appeal. Located just 50 km northeast of San Salvador, Suchitoto is often visited on the weekends when streets come alive for arts and food festivals.
- Sight Seeing 85% 85%
- Culture 95% 95%
- Activities 100% 100%
- Nightlife 70% 70%
From a turbulent past to a flourishing future
Guanaco pride is celebrated and lived in Suchitoto. Everyone we met told us affectionately how Suchi must be the best place to live in all of El Salvador. On top of that, little Suchitoto offers exciting surroundings for outdoor and history enthusiasts. El Salvador’s largest artificial lake, Lago Suchitlán, offers relaxing walks and excellent bird watching. The more active and history-interested shouldn’t miss a hike of volcán Guazapa, a former guerrilla stronghold.
Take in the view from a mirador
We arrived shortly before lunch with growling stomachs. We liked Suchitoto from the very first moment. It was challenging to stop for food before exploring the city. We were so eager to see more. After we asked some locals for recommendations, we ended up at a lovely and delicious Mexican restaurant called Suchimex. As the only visitors, we quickly befriended the staff and heard the first stories about Suchitoto. It seemed like everyone was fond and proud to live in such a beautiful, quiet town. After we feasted on some tasty burritos, the kind staff showed us a little mirrador from which we could look down on the red roofs of Suchitoto. We could even make up Lago Suchitlán in the distance.
Enjoy the laid-back vibe and stroll around the colonial city
Revitalized from our delicious lunch, we wandered the cobblestone streets and started discovering the city. The roads are seamed with colorful colonial buildings, which automatically brighten your mood.
Iglesia Santa Lucia
Iglesia Santa Lucia shines so brightly that it can’t be missed. The church is one of El Salvador’s oldest religious sites and was built when Suchitoto was still a Mayan town. The city’s streets are picturesque, so it’s a lot of fun just strolling around. In addition, there are plenty of artistic boutiques.
Casa de Museo
If you want a deeper understanding of Suchitoto’s role in the civil war and how it escaped destruction we recommend visiting Casa de Museo de Los Recuerdos Alejandro Cotto. Suchitoto’s most famous arts patron played a crucial role in saving the town. Today, the former house is home to a museum.
Go bird watching at Lago Suchitlán
El Salvador’s biggest artificial lake is a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts. Suchitoto’s spectacular backdrop was built in 1973 and now provides electricity to about 500 000 people in El Salvador. In addition, you can easily arrange boat tours at the port. Costs vary from $25 for a 45 minutes tour to the tranquil island of Isla de Ermitano and $30 for a one-hour bird-watching tour. It will take about 1 hour to visit Isla las Pájaros, the island of the waterbirds. ($30) A ferry across the lake also connects Suchitoto and San Francisco de Lempa.
Explore Volcán Guazapa and learn about the guerilla history
The extinct volcano does not only offer beautiful hikes but also provides its visitors with profound insights into El Salvador’s past. During the 1980s, the guerrilla stronghold became a war zone. The national army undertook massive military operations to fight the “Rebel Army.” Due to its strategic location, the rebels referred to Volcáno Guazapa as “a dart in the ribs enemy.” As a result, many families and veterans of the civil war live in this area. Nowadays, ex-guerrillas give visitors an insight into the life of a rebel during the civil war. You’ll see underground tunnels, shelters, and even a hospital as you wander around. It’s profoundly moving to listen to the stories of those who fought and have been fought.
Hike Cascada Los Tercios
This hike is super easy to do on your own. You’ll find Cascada Los Treciosis just 1.5 km outside of town. The 10-meter high wall of the waterfall consists of Basalt, which can also be found on the moon. Basalt is packed with tiny quartz crystals which sparkle in the sun and give the waterfall a distinct from-another-world look. Unfortunately, the rushing waterfall is only active from June to November. Usually, there are no security concerns if you want to walk alone, but make sure to ask around beforehand as the situation might change quickly.
Practical travel tips for Suchitoto, El Salvador
What is the best time to visit Suchitoto?
Suchitoto is the perfect all year destination.
How to get to the Suchitoto, El Salvador by bus?
You can comfortably reach Suchitoto by bus from San Salvador's Terminal de Occidente for $1. Our hostel also offered tours costing around $35. Getting to Suchi is very straightforward. The bus from Suchitoto to San Salvador leaves at the same corner you got off. Once you are back in San Salvador, exit the bus as it circles and will take you right back. Don't laugh. It almost happened to us...
Is Suchitoto safe for travelers?
Yes, Suchitoto is maybe El Salvador's safest city.
Can I drink tap water in El Salvador?
Do not drink tap water in El Salvador; bring your water purifier instead! While water from the National Water Company (ANDA) is generally safe, you never know the water source the restaurant, hotels, and so on may use.
What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?
Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water filter or UV bottle to avoid having to buy bottled water.
Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!
Packing List Nicaragua
Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!
Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!
Places to visit in El Salvador
Don’t skip El Salvador – our favorite Central American country <3
Golfo de Fonseca, an archipelago shared by Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, a former playground for pirates, afforded us with the most stunning and relaxing border crossing experience in our backpacking history.
San Salvador, El Salvador’s resilient heart. The capital bears deeps scares, many of them still visible at Centro Histórico and in the hearts and memories of its inhabitants. Its heartache was omnipresent, yet the city’s fierce determination for a better future, its hopes and aspirations are infectious and the reason why San Salvador is our favorite capital in Central America.
El Cuco is a sleepy little village. It’s busier on the weekends as many El Salvadorians come to enjoy the stunning beaches. El Cuco is winged by two impressive beaches on either side, Playa Esteron, a remote white-grey sand beach, and Playa Las Flores, which boasts world-class waves for surfing.