Useful Tourist Information
Things to see and do in and around Suchitoto
Points of Interest
Suchitoto Historic Center
Historic Center of Suchitoto is where it appears that time has stopped. Here one can appreciate the history, culture, cobble stone streets, panoramic views of the lake and of the Guazapa volcano. The life of the town itself, relaxed, the Antigua of El Salvador. Within the town, you can see the beautiful Santa Lucia church, the museum of Alejandro Cotto, The house of the sculptors, the Alejandro Cotto Theater previously known as the Theater of the Ruins, the artisans’ festival, the house of culture, the Arte Center for Peace, and the artisan form of pure cultural patrimony from long ago.
The Lake Suchitlan-Cerron Grande Reservoir
This is one of the main attractions not only for its vast extension but also for being an ecosystem that offers much ornithological interest for abundance as well as for the variety of species, pelicans, herons, storks, kingfishers just to mention a few. The reservoir being declared in the 2005 a RAMSAR site just another sign of its importance.
The Tourist center San Juan Port offers: food from eight restaurants, handicraft sales, snacks at easy accessed cafeterias and several different options for boat tours on the lake.
There is a boatman’s association as well as a few independent boatman which offer tours from as low as $15/boat to longer tours of up to $60/boat. The boatman’s association has a small kiosk at the end of the parking lot with information about the different options and posted prices. So there is no need to bargain as in other parts of Latin America
Prices for boat tours are per boat and valid for up to 10 persons. The boats can hold more and for larger groups the price per person, is added for the extra passengers. For example, if the price were $30 it would be $33 for 11 passengers. For safety reason it is uncommon for boats to carry more than 12.
Individuals and couples on a budget can ask to join other groups, enjoying a snack of coffee in any of the restaurants while waiting for other tour clients.
Some of the more common boat tour options include:
- Island of the donkey
- Island of the Hermit
- Trinidad Island,
- Bird Island.
Waterfall Los Tercios
Taking the highway to Cinquera and only about 1.5 kilometers from downtown on the left hand side of the road is the sign for the entrance to the waterfall Los Tercios. Its interest is in the spectacular composition of hexagonal basalt blocks formed by the abrupt cooling of magma. It measures 12 meters in height. It has its own legend as well. Los Tercios as referred to locally only has water during the rainy season but most still considered it one of the main attractions for its basalt columns during the dry season.
Since late 2019 there is now a charge to enter the private property where Los Tercios can be accessed. The price is $1/person and $1/vehicle if arriving by car. It is common on weekends to find snacks, typical foods and beverages for sale by the family that oversee the property.
4 km further down the road, you can find the hot springs of Agua Caliente, these are not well marked and we recommend you hire a local guide if you wish to visit.
You can visit Los Tercios on foot, by bicycle, small moto taxis or using the bus route 482.
There is now a separate tourism police station, it is located below the small gas station near the road to Los Tercios/Cinquera. With an early visit to the police station, you can arrange a free police escort to Los Tercios; these escorted hikes are on demand and generally depart every day when requested at 3:00 pm. You can also request the escort at the CAT-MiTur tourism office on the Southwest corner of the main plaza
The Guazapa Volcano
The communities of Ciudadela Manuel Guillermo Ungo, Palo Grande, El Sitio Zapotal and La Mora, are natural doorways to the famous Guazapa Volcano, rich in historical and natural patrimony; a tropical dry forest that is possible to visit, thanks to the walks and horseback rides offered by these communities.
Attractions: Panoramic views, beautiful natural springs, hidden waterfalls, caves, remains of indigo processing and memories from the civil war like: caves, trenches, guerilla camp grounds and tombs. Guazapa volcano offers nature in its purest form.
Hacienda La Bermuda
Hacienda La Bermuda is located only 6 km from Suchitoto on the main highway heading back to San Salvador.
Attractions: Remains of the historical hacienda La Bermuda. In 1528 in the valley La Bermuda the primer Villa of San Salvador was founded, and is today known as Ciudad Vieja. This historical site is now under the protection of CONCULTURA and is open to the public although the access road makes it difficult for anything less than a four-wheel drive vehicle.
If interested in visiting Ciudad Vieja we recommend you hire any one of several local tour companies or guides, as it is a difficult site to visit on your own, this again mainly due to the very poor access road. This may change in the near future as the current central government has mentioned improving the sites resources as well as access.
Other places and activities
Over the past years, many other places have opened up for travelers to visit as well as different types of activities. Some of the more common activities today are pupusa making and cooking classes, Indigo dyeing workshops, organic farm visits, birding, kayaking on the lake, nature hikes, agricultural tours, permaculture, and Spanish classes.
We recommend that you contact in preparation any of the several local tour companies, the technicians at the Ministry of tourism Office on the Plaza, the Municipal Tourism office or the tourism police to make arrangements.
If you have your own vehicle, have hired a guide/tour company or want to venture out on local buses make Suchitoto an ideal place to arrange several, other day outings.
Cinquera and the ARDM EcoForest
Cinquera is one of these options at only some 18 km east of Suchitoto and only around 30 minutes by car it offers authentic civil war history tours as well and nature with easy to arrange hikes of different length in the Eco forest just outside of town.
With additional attractions like their iguana farm, civil war museum and colorful and symbolic murals, it is easy to fill the day with a trip to Cinquera.
For those preferring to spend more time the ARDM association also runs a small eatery and hostel.
Ilobasco, clay and pottery
If you wanted to combine, your half-day trip to Cinquera the perfect complement is to continue on Eastwards to the city of Ilobasco. In Ilobasco, you will find that much of El Salvador´s traditional clay and pottery is still made by hand.
Although the city is hustling and bustling once you find a central place to park, the shops and stores are easy enough to navigate by foot, extending across several blocks with literally dozen and stores and workshops.
Whether buying handicrafts or just interested in seeing how the local handicrafts are produced Ilobasco is your place especially if you are interested in handmade pottery and clay handicrafts.
Today the city of Ilobasco offers a few different options for a nice lunch or coffee and dessert if you’re not that hungry.
When you finish up you have even more options; 1) you can return to Suchitoto heading back to the Pan-American Highway with some views of the Ilopango lake or if still early enough plan one more stop in San Sebastian another destination on El Salvador Artisan Route in the central part of the country.
San Sebastian, working floor looms and textiles
Although what we would be consider as typical Salvadoran textiles which at one time had been produced in several parts of the country, including even Suchitoto; today the vast majority that are sold locally and exported around the world are produced in the small city of San Sebastian.
San Sebastian can be accessed from the Pan-American Highway turning North at the city of Santa Domingo in the department of San Vicente. If going there directly from Suchitoto its less than 2 hours by car.
Several stores sell textiles of different types like hammocks, bedspread, tablecloths, dishtowels and napkins. Most of the bigger stores still have their own looms set up and working behind the house and these open to visit to travelers from around the world.
It is common to combine both San Sebastian and Ilobasco from Suchitoto with views of the Ilopango crater lake on the way there or when returning in the late afternoon to Suchitoto.
Heading West from Suchitoto
Cihuatán-La Palma-El Pital
The unique archeological site of Cihuatan with its Mayan ball court makes an easy half-day option to plan a visit from Suchitoto.
At only about 30 km from Suchitoto, and easily reached by car in about 45 minutes. The site is one of the largest archeological sites in El Salvador but is relatively flat and easy to explore in under two hours, this including the small museum. It can be very sunny and hot so bring a hat, sunscreen and water.
As all of our archeological sites, Cihuatan is open every day from 9:00 am through 4:00 pm but closed on Mondays and many main holidays.
Many travelers include a stop at Cihuatan on their way to the mountainous towns of La Palma and San Ignacio. If planning to visit these cities we recommend you plan your visit to Cihuatan in the morning, as it is common to spend more time in La Palma, San Ignacia and the highlands of El Pital.
The city of La Palma known for its colorful murals inspired by the art style of Fernando Llort as well as Alfredo Linares, as well as for the many storefronts and shops where much of the colorfully painted wood handicrafts are made. La Palma is considered by many to be like Suchitoto one of the country’s top 10 destinations.
The highlands of San Ignacio are the perfect destination for those who are looking for a nice hike, great views and the cool mountain climate.
Places like the El Pital reserve, Miramundo, Las Pilas and Los Planes are all accessible from the village of Rio Chiquito. We do ask that you beware that getting there is an adventure of its own and recommend you hire a tour or transportation as the 11 kilometers up and down are extremely steep and a decent vehicle and experienced driver are required to keep things safe.
Joya de Cerén-San Andrés
If looking for Mayan and Indigenous Archeological sites a nice full day can be done with visits to two of our main sites. Joya de Cerén is our only UNESCO World Heritage site and located only 20 minutes from our largest site San Andres.
Both sites are easy to visit on a one day outing from Suchitoto by car. Joya de Ceren where we recommend you start is a two-hour drive on some nice rural roads, which take you through the historic city of El Paisnal, then Tacachico and San Juan Opico before arriving to Joya de Cerén. After visiting this first site, you continue on to the Pan-American Highway, turning towards Guatemala and only minutes from the main gate to the San Andres site. On your way back to Suchitoto, you can take the new highway, which passed over the dry lava fields from the eruption of the Boquerón Volcano back in 1906, stopping for a photo at the lookout before continuing on back to Suchitoto.
San Salvador-El Boqueron
At just over an hour drive and some 47 km, many different parts of San Salvador are easily be explored from Suchitoto.
Common destinations include the Boquerón Volcano park, the historic downtown, a historic tour of San Romero, shopping tours, visits to Panchimalco and once reopened, the famous Puerto del Diablo (Devil’s Gateway).
Whether using local buses and Uber or Taxi in San Salvador, your rented vehicle, hiring a driver in Suchitoto or taking a tour, San Salvador is well worth a day or two depending on your personal interests and today safe enough to explore on you own if you have the correct and updated information.
Making Suchitoto your base to Explore El Salvador
Since this is site for tourism and travel information for Suchitoto, we do not provide more information about the many other beautiful destinations that El Salvador offers. It is important to mention to travelers considering spending time in Suchitoto and El Salvador that Suchitoto like several other national destinations make perfect places to use as a base, this especially important to those that don’t want to base in the bigger cities like San Salvador.
Above we mention several of the closer destinations which are very easy to visit from Suchitoto in just a half or full day outing. Today knowing that El Salvador is a small country, with improved highways and rural roads, decent signage and nationwide access to data and cellphone coverage so that travelers can use gps based mapping applications like Google Maps or Waze makes it possible to explore much more of the country while still maintaining Suchitoto as you’re base.