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Suchitoto: Backpacker’s Exploration of the most Elegant Town in El Salvador

El Salvador has a bad reputation for formerly being one of the most violent countries in the world. Even more, the sheer beauty of this country is then almost unknown. One hour north of the country’s capital is one of the original colonial sites – Suchitoto. Which dates back to the 1800s. In addition, the colonial architecture looks pristine and that’s what makes it worth a visit.

How to get to Suchitoto

Due to the fact that El Salvador has an essentially non-existent public transport system there are very few options for getting to Suchitoto from San Salvador. However, if you can drive I envy you as that’s the easiest option to just rent a car, second option is Uber although it’s only a one way option and the third option is to go by bus.

From the perspective of a visitor, taking the bus can be daunting, this is because it’s very disorganised and taking the bus can be a chaotic experience. They make sharp turns and drivers will try to get as many people into the bus as possible. To get to Suchitoto and back, you must take the 140 bus which departs from San Salvador near Plaza Libertad and departs from Suchitoto next to the market.

Furthermore, if you’re unsure about which bus to get, ask someone or ask the bus driver. On my way back, I ended up getting a bus that didn’t go back to the historical centre. The bus driver told me which bus to take and when I got on to the bus, I didn’t have any quarters to pay my fare. The person next to me paid my fare which made me feel humbled by the hospitality of the Salvadoran people.

Enjoying Coffee at Pan Lillian

After arriving at Suchitoto, I felt like I needed to sit down, have a coffee and something to eat. I found Pan Lillian which is a bakery and I was able to sit outside and admire the architecture. The coffee was good and I’m sure it was straight from the source as El Salvador is known for its coffee farms.

Alejandro Cotto’s House

After walking down one of the streets there was a sign which pointed to Alejandro Cotto’s house, I don’t even know who this man was and I found out upon visiting his house. It costs $2 to enter and have to say it’s worth it, Cotto was a Salvadoran writer and his house has been preserved to how it was as a museum. Moreover, I had the whole place to myself as the only tourist and what makes this place truly remarkable is the garden. The garden is absolutely massive and it has incredible views of the jungle.

Coto’s bedroom
The garden
Views of Lake Suchitlán

Walking down to Lake Suchitlán

From Alejandro Coto’s house, I took a 15 minute walk down to the lake and once I arrived I had to pay a dollar to enter. The lake is worth taking a look at and when I was there, there were absolutely no other foreign tourists. In addition there are a few places next to the lake like a few restaurants and shops to buy water.


Admiring the Buildings of the Town

The old style of the buildings of Suchitoto is what makes it truly brilliant. Right in the centre of the town there is a big white church. The Iglesia Santa Lucía which looks absolutely pristine. Nearby is a decent souvenir shop called Casa de la Abuela where I bought a postcard for my collection. Along the following streets there are colourful houses which look well-maintained and have the colonial feel.

Iglesia Santa Lucía

Streets of Suchitoto

What Else to Know About Visiting Suchitoto?

I think it’s worth mentioning that the Salvadoran humidity makes walking around feel like you’re in a sauna. So make sure you have lots of water. Furthermore, because I only spoke Spanish with people I encountered. I am not confident that everyone here will speak English. However, Salvadoran people are incredibly warm and will help you if you need anything.

In terms of safety, this place did not feel like I was in a country that was formerly the most violent in the world. Moreover, there is a very laidback feel here and I did not encounter anyone who wanted to harm me. If you enjoyed this be sure to check out my over posts backpacking in Latin America, such as in Medellín and Mexico City.

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