El Salvador

Santa Ana is the second largest city in El Salvador, located 64 kilometers northwest of San Salvador, the capital city. Santa Ana has approximately 274,830 (2006) inhabitants and serves both as the capital of the department of Santa Ana and as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. For its administration the municipality is divided into 35 colonias (neighborhoods) and 318 small villages.

Info Santa Ana


Santa Ana is the second largest city in El Salvador, located 64 kilometers northwest of San Salvador, the capital city. Santa Ana has approximately 274,830 (2006) inhabitants and serves both as the capital of the department of Santa Ana and as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. For its administration the municipality is divided into 35 colonias (neighborhoods) and 318 small villages.

A major processing center for El Salvador's sizable coffee bean industry is located near Santa Ana.

Santa Ana, which is the second city in importance in El Salvador, has become a very popular tourist destination, especially for tourists eager to learn about Salvadoran culture and traditions.

Currently, the mayor of Santa Ana is Mario Moreira, from the ARENA(Nationalist Republican Alliance ), a right-wing political party.

POPULATION :• City 245,421
• Urban 280,000
• Metro 290,000
FOUNDED :   1569
LANGUAGE : Spanish
RELIGION :Roman Catholic 57.1%, Protestant 21.2%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.9%, Mormon 0.7%, other religions 2.3%, none 16.8%
AREA : 400.01 km2 (157.5 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 665 m (2,182 ft)
COORDINATES : 13°59′N 089°32′W
SEX RATIO : Male: 47.4%
 Female: 52.6%
ETHNIC : mestizo 90%, white 9%, Amerindian 1%


Santa Ana is the second largest city of El Salvador and a very important one in terms of agriculture and coffee production (coffee plantations - called fincas - cover much of the land outside town and up the hills). Its historic center offers some of the best preserved architecture in El Salvador, including the Cathedral of Santa Ana, a marvel of neo-gothic architecture, the Teatro de Santa Ana, a beautifully decorated theatre of the early 1900's; and the Palacio Municipal, in front of the main plaza with giant palm trees shooting out from its courtyard.

Citizens of Santa Ana call themself Santanecos. Every year in July they celebrate the 2 weeks Fiestas Julias (July festival), one of the biggest in El Salvador, in honor of Señora Santa Ana, the city's patron. Activities end on the 26th with a large procession. Don't miss the amusement park at the antiguo campo de aviación (just south of the stadion)! At the end of the year, Christmas (Dec 24) and New Year's Eve (Dec 31) are celebreted with tons of firework and firecrackers, and Parque Colon turns into to a big firework selling spot. Be very careful as firecrackers are powerful and accidents happen frequently.

Most visitors of course come to see the Cathedral and the Theatre, but Santa Ana has more to offer. According to La Secretaria de Cultura, its historic center (roughly within the limits of 4a Calle, 7a Ave, 9a Calle, Ave Jose Matias Delgado) counts 210 buildings in neoclassical style, 5 gotic, 64 neocolonial and 102 in traditional style. The most intact ensemble of colonial houses can be found east of Parque Libertad, although most houses are privately owned and therefore inaccessible. For a self guided tour follow Calle Libertad eastbound and discover the north & south leading Avenidas (1a, 3a, 5a, 7a, 9a).


Pre-Columbian era

The city of Santa Ana has a pre-Columbian origin. There is evidence of Preclassic settlements in the area of the city, mainly in the archaeological site of Villa Rosita, where the dominant centre was located in the area. This and other settlements were depopulated by the eruption of Lake Ilopango at 250 DC.

The city was founded by the Maya Pocomanes in the classical period. The first name of the settlement is unknown, however, it is known that when the Pipil entered and conquered the area in 1200 during the post-classic period, translated the original Nahuatl name, which was Sihuatehuacán, which means place of priestesses. Sihuatehuacán was located in what is now the suburb of Santa Barbara near the rivers Apanchacal and Apanteos.

Conquest and colonization

The town was conquered by the Spanish between 1530 and 1540. On July 26, 1569 the Guatemalan Bishop Bernardino Villalpando Sihuatehuacán renamed the Santa Ana, La Grande. In the year 1532 was given to Diego de Usagre and from 1540-1786 served on the Mayor of San Salvador . In 1550 he was entrusted to Antonio Docampo. San Salvador, the city of Santa Ana, and the western and central part of the current Salvadoran territory (except St. Vincent and the paracentral area) was administered by the mayor of the department of San Salvador. Since 1770 the central parish of the city (located where the cathedral was built later) was the head of the parish of Santa Ana. From the year 1786-1824 was the capitol of the Santa Ana district, which was part of the Municipality San Salvador (Intendencia de San Salvador).

19th century

In 1806 was established the council of the town of Santa Ana, being its first mayor José Mariano Castro. Five years later, there were two uprisings in the town as part of the uprising in San Salvador, the first on November 17 another on 24 June 1812. In November it was designated with the title of town.

On December 21, 1821 the council declared the independence from Spain. In 1824, it received the title of city, being part of the department of Sonsonate and in 1835 became the department head of that department. In 1854, the town Santa Lucia Chacalcingo became part of Santa Ana as one of its neighborhoods. A year later, the department of Santa Ana was created.

Later, the "revolution of the 44" that overthrew President Carlos Ezeta, who ruled the country from the current headquarters of the Second Infantry Brigade of Santa Ana. Since then, the town earned the nickname of the heroic city because the 44 rebels were from the municipality. The rebels stormed the government headquarters, leading the d'coup that would free the country from the dictatorship. 

Postwar 20th century and Civil Santa Ana in 1916

In the so-called "golden age of coffee" in El Salvador, Santa Ana was the most prosperous city in the country, because many of the businessmen who lived in that town owned important coffee processing plants that prepared the coffee for sale. La Hacienda El Molino, owned by the Colombian Rafael Alvarez, was the main plantation and coffee processing plant because of its fame and its technological modernism at the time. During the civil war in El Salvador (1980–1992), the municipality of Santa Ana was also affected by armed conflict, which led to the emigration of many residents of the city. After the war, Santa Ana and all of El Salvador began to address the problem of rising crime rates, mostly due to the existence of "maras" or gangs, mainly generated by the deportation of illegal immigrants from the United States. This scourge has been fought with government programs and ordinances issued by the council municipal.

Since the civil war, the municipality has received allowances sent by Salvadorians living abroad to their friends and family. This money has become the largest source of revenue for Santa Ana and El Salvador. In 1999 the Urban Development Master Plan (PLAMADUR) was launched by the municipal administration of Moses Macall Monterrosa. The PLAMADUR spurred the growth, expansion and management of ciudad.

Also in 2004, the Salvadorian government introduced the National Land Management Plan and Territorial Development (PNODT) that promotes the development, integration and competitiveness of Salvadoran municipalities. For the purposes of planning and development of municipalities, these have been grouped into regions, subregions and microregions. The municipality of Santa Ana was incorporated into the region, "West Central subregion, Santa Ana - Resume" and "microregion of Santa Ana ".


The city and the entire municipality of Santa Ana are located in the tropics and are located in the tropical savannah climate hot or warm land (according to the Köppen climate classification). So has a semi warm weather which have two distinct seasons, which are: the dry season (November to May) and rainy season (May to November). The municipality of Santa Ana has a mean annual temperature 24 °C (75 °F) with a temperature around 17 °C (63 °F) and 34 °C (93 °F) minimum and maximum. Although at times the maximum temperatures often exceed 35 °C (95 °F), since it is a city with a very hot climate. It also has an annual relative humidity between 70% and 75%. The city is dominated by winds from the southwest and west, both during the dry season and during the rainy season, these winds have an annual rate of 7.8 km/h.24 . In addition, any municipality, including the city, is affected by the hurricane season in the Atlantic (June–November). In which, the continuous tropical storms and hurricanes increase the flow of rivers, damaging some areas with flooding.

Climate data for Santa Ana, El Salvador

Average high °C (°F)27
Average low °C (°F)15
Record low °C (°F)10


The city of Santa Ana is located on a meseta about 665 meters above sea level. The city has year-round warm climate with an average temperature of around 25 °C (77 °F). The main river is the Guajoyo river which is a major tributary of the much larger Lempa River. There is a major Hydroelectric Power station at the Guajoyo river that provides electricity to most of the western sector of the country.

The city is situated among many beautiful green hills such as Tecana hill and Hills of Santa Lucía, among others. In the southern part of the municipality is the Ilamatepec volcano, the highest volcano in the country, which had a moderate eruption in 2005 that killed two people. Close to it is another famous volcano, Izalco, known to sailors throughout the mid-19th century and early 20th century as "The lighthouse of the Pacific" due to its constant eruptions.


Santa Ana today is the second largest city in population and importance in El Salvador. The main economic engines of the city are in retail and manufacturing. In the north and west of the city are factories and assembly plants mostly of foreign origin. The southern part of the city is more commercially developed, containing many restaurants, commercial banks, hotels and shopping malls. The largest shopping mall in the city is metrocentro.

Santa Ana has two main markets: the Colón and Central Markets, only a few streets from one another, offering a great variety of products.

With respect to tourism, the city has many old buildings such as: Catedral de Santa Ana(The Cathedral of Saint Anne), Alcaldía Municipal de Santa Ana (Santa Ana City Hall) and the Teatro de Santa Ana (Santa Ana Theater).

The only museum in the city registered by the Concultura is the Occidental Regional Museum, also known as the Museum of the West. However El Museo Aja is also located in the city. There are also the Apanteos and Sihuatehuacán water parks.

Fiestas Julias is a big traditional celebration in Santa Ana during the 15 through the 31 of July. Every year they usually take place in the Oscar quiteño stadium.



Most touristic sights are located at the center of town around the Parque Libertad. 4 blocks west of it is Parque Menendez, and again roughly 6 blocks further south Parque Colon.

From central Parque Libertad Avenida Independencia runs north-south, while Calle Libertad runs east-west. Calles (streets) north of Libertad have even numbers (2-4-6), while Calles south of Libertad have odd numbers (1-3-5). So don't be confused!Avenidas west of Independencia have even numbers (2-4-6), the ones east of Independencia have odd numbers (1-3-5).

When asking for directions remember that house numbers are often out of sequence and might repeat in other blocks. Similar, street numbers are not well established (although well signed), and locals - including taxi and bus driver - usually navigate by these landmarks:

Parque (Central Park). Parque Libertad.

Centro (Downtown area). Buses are not allowed to pass Parque Libertad and usually drop passengers 1 or 2 blocks from the Parque.

Metrocentro. Shopping Mall (roundabout) at south entrance of town. Often shorten to Metro to avoid confusion with Centro (Downtown).

Terminal. Bus station south of Mercado Colon. Local buses stop at the roundabout at Ave Fray Felipe Moraga y 15a Calle Poniente.

Pollo Campero. Fast food restaurant at Ave Independencia y 5a Calle, 3 blocks south of Parque Libertad.

Hospital (Public hospital). Calle Libertad Oriente y 17a Ave Sur.

ISSS (Regional hospital). Ave Santa Ana California Sur, next to the stadium.

INSA (Instituto National de Santa Ana / High School). Ave Santa Ana California y 31a Calle.

DUI (Center issuing the Documento Único de Identidad). 25a Calle Poniente Entre 18a Ave Sur y Calle Internacional.

Internet, Comunication
  • Correos de El Salvador (Post Office), Ave Independencia Sur Entre 7a y 9a Calle #30 (1½ block south of Pollo Campero). Open Mon-Sat 7.30am-5pm. Located in a purple building which has now a sign outside (since Aug 2014). International postal rates are similar to the Unites States Postal Service.
  • URBANO / DHLAve Santa Ana California (10a Ave) Entre 23a y 25a Calle #80 (take Bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown). Local & world wide express delivery services for parcels and envelopes (address on all web pages is outdated) .

Internet cafes a fairly common and charge roughly $0.50 per hour. If you have your own equipment, visiting one of the many cafes and restaurants offering free and unlimited WiFi might be the better option. The public WiFi network Alcaldia Municipal de Santa Ana is available around the town hall but usually overloaded, while the mesh network indiNET (password: stardust) is more reliable and found at many locations in town.

  • e-center4a Calle Oriente y Ave Independenica Norte (1 block downhill from Parque Libertad, behind the Teatro).
  • RC Servicios4a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia y 2a Ave Norte. Has aircondition.
  • Ciber Fenix2a Ave Sur Entre 7a y 9a Calle Poniente. Claims to have fast 7.5 Mbps connection.

Transportation - Get In

Santa Ana lies 64km northwest of the capital San Salvador, just off the Panamerica (Highway 1), from where several exits lead into town. Being close to the border, it's also a convinient stop if coming from Guatemala.

Transportation - Get In

By bus

  • from Guatemala City's international terminal (aka Pezzarossi) at 3 Ave y 1 Calle in Zona 9 (one block south of the infamous Zona 4 terminal), buses leave at 5:30am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm towards San Salvador, passing thru Santa Ana after 4h-4.5h, $16/120 Quetzales (same fare as for San Salvador), Tel (+502) 2331 0874.Some buses go via the San Cristobal border where immigration procedures are straight forward and hassle-free, while others use the busy border at Valle Nuevo(aka Las Chinamas on the salvadorian side) where aggressive money changers await you. Be very careful here and don't hand out the immigration's paper slip to anyone. First stop is Guatemalan immigration where you get an exit stamp and a paper slip. After crossing the bridge over the Rio Paz you don't need to visit the Salvadorian immigration (the officer boards the bus to check your documents), and no entry stamp is provided as your still in the CA-4 area. When arriving Santa Ana, buses do not pass along 25a Calle anymore (since mid-Jan 2014) but drop you at the office's new location in Calle Aldea San Antonio just before turn off into 31a Calle Poniente.

    Buses of the following companies pass by on their way from Guatemala City to San Salvador, but do not enter Santa Ana and might drop you at the intersection of Highway 1 (Panamericana) and Highway 12 a few km south (locally known as La Ceiba). Catch a taxi for $5 or one of the frequent urbanos (local bus) for $0.20-$0.25 into town.

Pullmantur1a Avenida 13-22 Zona 10 (Hotel Holiday Inn),  (+502) 2495-7000.departs 6.15am (except Sun), 7.00am, 1.15pm (Sun only), 2.00pm, 3.00pm. $35 (tourist class), $39 (executive class), $51 (first class).
Galgos7a Avenida 19-44 Zona 1,  (+503) 2232-3661 / 2220-6018 / 2230-5058. departs 1pm. $17.
Platinum Centroamerica (King Quality), 4 Ave 13-60 Zona 10,  (+502) 2501-1000. departs 6.30am and 2.45pm. $35 (one-way).
Comfort Lines4 Ave 13-60 Zona 10,  (+502) 2501-1000. departs 6.00am and 1.30pm. $23 (one-way)
Ticabus (Transportes Internationales Centromaericanos), Calzada Aguilar Batres, 22-55 Zona 12(+502) 2473-3737. departs 6.00am and 2.00pm. $22.40 (one-way).
Transportes del Sol (Hotel Crowne Plaza),  (+502) 2422 5000 / 4147 3104.departs 3.00am and 4.00pm. $28 (one-way).
  • from San Salvador's Terminal de Occidente on Bulevar Venezuela Entre 49a y 59a Ave Sur, two bus companies operate the service to Santa Ana (departure times about every 15min, see Destinos/Horarios at [www]):
TUDO (Transportes Unidos de Occidente). Bus 201 uses the Panamericana Highway and doesn't stop along the road except in Santa Tecla. Arrival stops are at Metrocento, 31a Calle Poniente y Santa Ana California (INSA), 31a Calle Poniente y Ave Fray Felipe Moraga, roundabout Ave Fray Felipe Moraga y 15a Calle Poniente (Terminal), and finally at the bus depot at Antigua Carretera Panamericana 4km southwest of town. Regular $0.85, special service $1.35, 1h.
SEISABUS. Bus 201 goes via the old road (via Santa Tecla, Santa Lucia, Ciudad Arce, and Coatepeque) with frequent stops, and arrives at east side of town at roundabout next to Universidad Catolica (UNICAES), also several stops along 9a Calle towards Parque Colon. Regular $1, special service $1.50, 2h.

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Transportation to / from international airport at Comalapa IATA: SAL [www] [www] costs at least $65 for a minibus (no matter how many persons), 2h, organize the day before your flight (ask at your hotel).

The small airstrip know as Pista Singuil about 18km northwest of town (right off Panamericana Highway 1) is closed and now used for car racing.

Transportation - Get In

By train

All train services were suspended in 1990, but parts of the station (a wooden shack) still exists 17a Ave Sur at the end of 7a Calle Oriente. Be careful here as locals consider this part of town as unsafe. Railway enthusiasts might check the web sites [www] and [www]


Transportation - Get Around

Most places within the historic center can be reached within a few minutes walk, there's no need to take a taxi or board local buses. The Tourist Office outside the Palacio Municipal (just across from the Theater) has city maps and other information.


Local buses (called Urbanos) serve almost every part of Santa Ana and its colonias and operate roughly between 5am and 9pm. They can be very crowded especially during rush hour. Routes are complicated, difficulte to follow, and no route map is published. Flat fare is $0.20 for the bigger buses and $0.25 for micro buses; board in front and pay the driver. Some useful lines are...

  • R-8. Metrocentro to downtown, via Bulevar Los 44 (commonly known as bypass), Universidad Catolica, then along 7a Calle and 5a Calle Oriente (get off at Pollo Campero and walk 3 blocks to Parque Libertad).
  • R-9. Metrocentro to downtown, follows Ave Independencia (get off at Pollo Campero and then walk 3 blocks to Parque Libertad).
  • 51-E. Downtown (Scotiabank behind the Palacio Municipal) via INSA to UES (Universidad de El Salvador). In opposite direction 51-E goes from UES via INSA to Parque Colon.
  • 51-F. Downtown (Scotiabank behind the Palacio Municipal) via INSA to Metrocentro. Don't take 51-F back to downtown unless you're ready for an 45min ride or want to go to Parque Colon (but if you do, ask the driver if he's going via IVU as two different 51-F routes exist!).


Unmetered yellow taxis charge $3 for short distances, but $4 (bargain hard) should bring you pretty much everywere in town. Most drivers have difficultes to find specific streets, better use hotel names, landmarks (see above), or the name of the Colonia (town district) of your destination.






Smaller shops are usually closed between 12pm and 2pm (for lunch break) and after 6pm, and most shops are closed on Sundays (except Supermarkets and Metrocentro).

Commercial areas

Santa Ana has 3 main commercial areas:

  • Downtown. Covers a few blocks mainly to the south and west of Parque Libertad.
  • Ave Jose Matias Delgado Surand 10a Ave Sur. Streching from Parque Menendez south to Parque Colon.
  • MetrocentroAve Independencia Sur(20 blocks south of Parque Libertad). A large mall with expensive shops and cafes, a department store (Siman), a food court, plus a Cinepolis cinema [www]. In the same area you'll find fast food restaurants such as Burger King and Pizza Hut, plus the salvadorian chains Biggest, Mr Donut, and Nash.


  • Mercado Centraloccupies 2 blocks between 1a Calle Poniente - 3a Calle Poniente and 4a Ave Sur - 8a Ave Sur. Central Market offering the usual things, fruits, vegtables, meat, and cloths. Very busy in daytime.
  • Mercado Colonoccupies several blocks south of Parque Colon and all the way up to the bus terminal. Santa Ana's larges market. The market hall opposite Parque Colon is dedicated to hardware & electronic goods (mostly mobile phones), also bicycle parts can be found here. Can be very crowded, so keep an eye on your beloggings as pocket thives are active in this market.
  • Fleamarket13a Calle Poniente Entre 8a y 10a Ave Sur. Mostly used mobile phones and used hardware stuff are sold at this small fleamarket.


Centro (downtown), 2a Calle Poniente y 2a Ave Norte (behind the Palacio Municipal).
ColonAve Felipe Fray Moraga Sur Entre 11a Calle y Calle J M Mendez(2 blocks west of Parque Colon).
  • La Despensa de Don JuanAve Fray Moraga Sur Entre 31a y 33a Calle Poniente (Bus 51-D can drop you at intersection then walk 1/2 block uphill). Santa Ana's biggest and best stocked supermarket (owned by Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica), but fairly expensive by Salvadorian standarts.
  • Queso de Metapan1a Calle Poniente Entre 4a y 6a Aveninda Sur(outside the Central Market building). offers delicious locally produced cheeses. Other outlets in town: 31a Calle y Ave Independencia, and (since July 2014) at 2a Calle Poniente y 2a Ave Norte (1 block west of the Theater).


  • Plaza Artesania1a Ave Sur y Calle Libertad (1/2 block south of Parque Libertad, opposite Centro de Artes). Has the usual tourist schnick-schnack.
  • Artesania y Dulce Tipicos1a Ave Sur Entre 2a y4a Calle Norte (1/2 block north/downhill from the Cathedral). A small artesania shop selling souvenirs and more.



Virtually hundreds of comedores (cantins) offer salvadorian standard meals (comida tipica) for as little as $2. Mostly self service (comida a la vista). Usually open for lunch between 11am and 2pm (for dinner head out to pupuserias). Be early as food is often prepared in advance and may not stay fresh in the tropical heat. Also places sometimes run out of food after 1pm. Beware that virtually all comedores are closed Sundays.

  • café 33:325a Calle Poniente y 10 Ave Sur (front Pampa Argentina).Desserts, Sandwiches, Cold-Drinks (not alcoholic) & Hot-Drinks.
  • Don Armando2a Ave Sur Entre 9a y 11a Calle Poniente. open between 11am and 2pm Mon-Sat. Better then the average, but be early as it gets full around noon. And yes, the photo on the wall shows Don Armando, the current owner's father. less then $3.50.
  • Rancho Santaneco (do not mistake with Cantina Santaneco which is only a few doors away), Calle Libertad Poniente Entre 2a y 4a Ave Sur #7 (roughly opposite Scotiabank). 7am until 3pm. Nice setting & good food, be early (before 12pm) as it is very popular. meals around $3-$5.
  • China HermosaCalle Libertad Oriente Entre 3a y 5a Ave Sur (Calle Libertad Oriente Entre 3a y 5a Ave Sur). lunch (set meal) $1.95, a la carte $3.50-4.50.
  • Magic Wok7a Calle Oriente Entre 11a y 13a Ave Sur (bus 55-A/55-B pass right in front). Claims to be the best chinese restaurant in town.
  • Taqueria Tacomilote21a Calle Oriente y 3a Ave Sur (next to Lover's),  2417-8167 and 2468-0765. 12pm-10pm. Mexican Restaurant, tacos, burritos in different sizes (S/M/L/XL) and more. $2.50-$5.
  • Pupuseria La 3131a Calle Poniente Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur (take bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown, get off at INSA, and walk 1/2 block). open from 5pm. Offers delicious pupusas which are not as greasy then usual.


  • Quattro Estaciones29 Calle Poniente y Ave Santa Ana California Sur (10a Ave Sur) (in same building as Casa Frolaz),  (+503) 2440-1564.12m-10pm. This is the only place in the city with Mediterranean Food. Entrees, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta, Chicken, Beef, Desserts and one of the best Coffee in Town. Wines, Drinks & Teas. $1-$12.
  • Lover's Steak House21a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia y 3a Ave Sur #6, Colonia San Miguelito,  (+503) 2440-5717 and (+503) 2440-0995, e-mail: . Large portions on huge plates, open from 7am for breakfast, free WiFi. breakfast $3-4.50, main course $14-20.
  • Si Chuan21a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia y 3a Ave Sur #4, Colonia San Miguelito,  (+503) 2440-0225. Chinese and Japanese dishes, but don't expect authentic cuisine. Owned by the same family as Lover's next door. main dishes $6-8.
  • El Patio21a Calle Poniente entre Av.Independencia y 2a Ave Sur #3(+503) 2440-4221, e-mail: . Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & 5pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 11am-9pm. Nice location around a patio. Excellent meat, but side dishes are not worth mentioning. Soups $5-10, Salads $5-7, Mains $10-20, Foreign beer (German Paulaner & Erdinger) $3.50-5.50, Coctails $5-10.


  • La Pampa25a Calle Poniente Entre 10 y 12a Ave Sur. Argentinian Steak House, maybe Santa Ana's best meat place.

Coffe & Drink


  • Owl Coffee Jazz Housecorner of 4a Ave Sur y 9a Calle Poniente(only 3 blocks east of Hostel Casa Verde - ask Carlos). Opens tuesday to saturday 10.30 am to 9.00 pm. Amazingly cozy coffeeplace in vintagestyle. Cesar the highly motivated and very kind owner serves great coffee as well as really special food with an international touch. He tries to combine different cuisines and creates new tastes. The whole Menu is great but try the Eggrolls and ask Cesar to put on a vinyl for you. Free Wifi is available as well.
  • Banban ([www]). A Santa Ana institution, serves delicious pastries and good coffee, all have AirCon, and most have free WiFi. Several branches throughout town:
Calle Libertad y Ave Independencia (just of Parque Libertad). 8am-6.30pm. Convenient downtown location.
Ave Independencia Sur Entre 11a Ave y Ave Jose Mendez (6½ blocks south of Parque Libertad). Main location with the largest choice.
Ave Jose Delgado Sur y 1a Calle Poniente (at Plaza Prisma; 1 block southwest of Parque Menendez or 1 block north of Hotel Sahara). Closed Sundays.
Metrocentro Shopping Mall (2nd floor). Nice terasse, very crowded around 4pm.
25a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur. No WiFi here.
  • El Sin Rival. Another Santa Ana institution, serves delicious sherbet ice cream. Several branches throughout down:
Calle Libertad Entre 1a y 3a Ave (½ block west of Parque Libertad).
Calle Independencia Sur Entre 9a y 11a Ave (5 blocks south of Parque Libertad).
  • Expresión Cultural11a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur. Good for drinks, coffee & pastries, but lunch meals are not exceptional. Superfriendly, nice shady patio, sometimes live music in the evening, free WiFi.
  • Star Mon's Café ExpressoAve Independencia Sur Entre 11a Calle y Calle Jose Mariano Mendez (next to Banban). open 8am-12pm, 2pm-6pm Mon-Sat. Inexpensive but good coffee & home made cakes served in a peaceful patio, free WiFi. Very friendly owner (speaks english) and staff.
  • Guazapa11a Calle Oriente y 5a Ave Sur (same compound as ALBA gas station),  (+503) 2441-2709. open daily 6am-10pm. excellent coffee and simply the best carrot cake in town ($2.75), but the waffles are very small and not worth the $3.25, AirCon & free WiFi. Attracts Santa Ana's wealthy crowd.
  • Cafe Museo5a Ave Norte y Calle Libertad Oriente. Located in a colonial house with nice patio, good for lunch. Accommodates branch of El Sin Rival.
  • Panizzimo23a Calle Poniente Entre 6a y 8a Ave Sur. Small but cozy, free WiFi. Another branch is located at 4a Ave Sur y 9a Calle Poniente, no WiFi.
  • Bites BakeryAve Independencia Sur Entre 23a y 25a Calle Poniente(6½ blocks north of Metrocentro resp 13 blocks south of Parque Libertad),  (+503) 2440-7227. Daily 10am-9pm. Good coffee & pastries, simple lunch meals, Aircon, free WiFi, same owner as Lover's. A newly open branch (since Nov 2014) is located at 2a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia y 2a Ave Norte (½ block from Parque Libertad).

Sights & Landmarks

Most visitors of course come to see the Cathedral and the Theatre, but Santa Ana has more to offer. According to La Secretaria de Cultura, its historic center (roughly within the limits of 4a Calle, 7a Ave, 9a Calle, Ave Jose Matias Delgado) counts 210 buildings in neoclassical style, 5 gotic, 64 neocolonial and 102 in traditional style. The most intact ensemble of colonial houses can be found east of Parque Libertad, although most houses are privately owned and therefore inaccessible. For a self guided tour follow Calle Libertad eastbound and discover the north & south leading Avenidas (1a, 3a, 5a, 7a, 9a).

  • Teatro de Santa Ana1a Calle Poniente y Ave Independencia Norte(right at Parque Libertad). Tue-Sat 9am a 12pm and 1pm-5pm. A masterpiece of colonial architecture, build between 1902 and 1910. Regulary helds performances (sometimes free entrance), check in advance. Guided tours available; after the tour has finished, don't forget to have a look in the restrooms! Tour $1.50 (for foreigners), shows $3-6.
  • Escuela de Artes y Oficios Jose Mariano MendezCalle Jose Mariano Mendez Entre 10a y 12a Ave Sur (next to Parque Colon). Often overseen and currently closed, this once impressive building was saved in the very last moment by the city goverment from demolishing. No plan for restoration exists so far.
  • Museo Regional de OccidenteAve Independencia Sur y 1a Calle(+503) 2441-1215. Tue-Sat 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm (often opens later & closes earlier). Located in the former building of Banco Central de Reserva. Dedicated to the history of El Salvadorian money, exhibition of coins and bills in the former strong room downstairs. Don't miss the art exhibition upstairs. $3 for foreigners.
  • Museo de Armas (Museo Militar)3a Ave Sur Entre 11a y 13a Calle Oriente. Segunda Brigada de Infantería. The ruined building nearby (at the corner of 3a Ave Sur y 13a Calle Oriente) is the Casino Militar Centroamericano , which was destroyed by fire during the war in 1981.
  • Museo AJA6a Calle Poniente Entre 8a y 10a Ave Norte (if going there by taxi tell the driver its near Multi Familiares). Wen & Thu. Small and privatly owned museum. free entrance.

Santa Ana has a classical colonial town layout with 4 churches forming the cristian cross:

  • Catedral de Santa Ana (at Parque Libertad). Build in gothic style 1906 and with its splendid facade now completely restored (almost, the lower parts are still crumbling), this is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Central America. Don't miss it!
  • Iglesia El Calvario (at Parque Menendez). This church was badly damaged during the 2001 earthquake but is now completely restored.
  • Iglesia Catolica El Carmen7a Calle Oriente y 1a Ave Sur (4 blocks south of Parque Libertad). 
  • Parroquia San Lorenzo10a Calle Oriente y 1a Ave Norte (4 blocks north of Parque Libertad). within a school compound, access only durning school hours.

A fairly new addition is...

  • Mosque Palestina Tierre Santa4a Ave Sur Entre 5a y 7a Calle Poniente. Built in 2011, dedicated to Santa Ana's small islamic community.
  • Parque Ecologico San Lorenzo11a Ave Norte 2.5km north of downtown (Take bus 51-D from Parque Colon, or R-2 or 51-D from Calle 6a Oriente y 1a Ave Norte (2 blocks downhill from Teatro) and get off at the bus stop right in front of the park (ask driver)),  (+503) 2442-4584.Daily 9am-5pm (zoo 9am-12pm and 2:30pm-4pm). A small zoological garden which is a bit disappointing but maybe to only chance to see local primates such as Mono Araña (Spider Monkeys). Also has attached picnic area with ponds and swimming pools (not too clean). Popular at weekends but deserted during the week. $2 for adults.

Things to do

Santa Ana makes a excellent base for discovering western El Salvador's archaeological and natural spots. FUNDAR (Fundación Nacional de Arqueología de El Salvador) maintains the excellent and highly recommended website [www] with tons of information, although its participation ended in 2009.

  • Tazumal (Parque Arqueológico[www]), Located 15km west of Santa Ana (take bus 218 passing along 31a Calle Poniente, 4a Ave Sur, 11a Calle Poniente, Ave Fray Felipe Sur, to Chalchuapa town. It will drop you almost in front of the entrance gate, $0.30 1/2h. Don't take bus 210 to Ahuachapan as it bypasses Chalchuapa town. On the way back to Santa Ana don't take bus 202 as it goes direct to San Salvador and bypasses Santa Ana).Tue-Sun 9am-4pm. One of the most important and most impressive pre-Columbian sites in El Salvador. Excavated ruins cover an area of 10 sq km and are the largest Mayan temple in El Salvador. $3 for foreigners, includes museum.
  • Casa Blanca (Archaeological Park [www]) (Take bus 218 towards Chalchuapa town - details see Tazumal- and get off at the turnoff into Chalchuapa, $0.30 1/2h. Bus 210 from terminal towards Ahuachapan also passes here). Tue-Sun 9am-4pm. $3 for foreigner including museum and indigo workshop.
  • San Andrés (Archaeological Park [www]) (take SEISABUS 201 from 25a Calle towards San Salvador, it will drop you right in front of the entrance gate. Note that TUDO bus 201 also passes here but only the regular service stops will stop, while the special service doesn't).
  • Joya de Cerén (Archaeological Park [www]) (take SEISABUS 201 from 25a Calle towards San Salvador, or bus 276 from terminal towards Apopa, get at the turnoff to Opico & Quetzaltepeque (2km east of San Andrés), then change to bus 108 towards Opico). The park can be easily visited in concunction with San Andrés.
  • Lago Coatepeque (take bus 220 from terminal (ask for Lago), travels via Coatepeque and El Congo, or bus 59 from 31a Calle via Metrocentro and Panamericana to El Congo where you can transfer to bus 220. Last bus 220 back from Lake to Santa Ana at 4pm). A beautiful lake that was once an active volcano caldera. Access to the lake shore is difficult due to many private properties, try at one of the hotels or restaurants.
  • Cerro Verde (Bus 248 departs from bus station "Transportes Vencedora" at Ave Fray Felipe y 11a Calle Poniente, (more stops along 25a Calle and at Universidad Catholica) at 7:40 and 11am, returns at 10:30am and 4pm. Beware, sometimes buses are marked 209 (normaly going to Sonsonate, but at these times they go to Cerror Verde). The ride takes 2 hours and costs $0.90. The park is the final stop on the line, so don't worry about missing it). A must for eco-tourists, and the starting point for climbing Santa Ana and Izalco vulcano. Inside the park, a small comedor serves breakfast for $1.50 and lunch for $3. Cabins can be rented for $36 per night (up to 3 people per cabin). Entrance fee to the park $3 for foreigners.
  • Santa Ana Vulcano (next to Cerro Verde). Is noteworthy for the turquoise lake in its crater. A guided and police escorted tour (they don't let you do the hike without a guide) leaves Cerro Verde at 11am to the vulcano. The hike up takes 2h and 1.5h down, and is moderately difficult. Trekking boots recommended. The weather is chilly at the high altitude (2381m / 7812ft) so long pants, a jacket, and a windbreaker are also recommended. Bring at least 1 liter of drinking water with you! Best time for climbing is during dry season (between Nov and April) when perfect sky is the rule, but even in rain season (between May and October) good weather is not uncommon. For volcanic activity check web, last eruption was in 2005. $1 for guide, plus $1 to pass through some private property, plus $6 for MARN (ministerio del ambiente y resurcos naturales) to climb the volcano itself.
  • Izalco Vulcano. A guided and police escorted tour (they don't let you do the hike without a guide) also leaves from Cerro Verde at 11am to the vulcano.
  • Ruta de las Flores. A beautyful route across the mountains south of Santa Ana, with several lakes and waterfalls along the road. To get there, take bus 210 (very frequently) from terminal to Ahuachapan, $0.50 1h. Get off at its final stop and transfer to bus 249 departing from the intersection across mainstreet (goes via Ataco, Apaneca, Juayua, to Sonsonate), or bus R-20 (via Ataco as far as Apaneca), $0.40 to Ataco resp $0.55 to Apaneca. From Juayua bus 238 brings you back to Santa Ana 4 times a day (last bus Mon-Sat at 4pm, Sun at 2pm), $0.80, or continue to Sonsonate and take bus 216 (last one at 6:40pm) from main terminal to Santa Ana, $0.90. All towns offer plenty of accommodation.The Rutas de las Flores can be done as a day trip (although you might miss a lot of its beauty), but it's best to travel the opposite way around: Take bus 238 from terminal to Juayua at 6:40am, 9:40am, 12:30pm, and 5pm, $0.80. In Juayua change to bus 249 towards Apaneca, Ataco, and finally Ahuachapan (ask driver to make sure you're on the right bus!). In Ahuachapan you can transfer to the 210 bus back to Santa Ana. As always, times are approximate. It is better to arrive 15min early and safe your seat.
  • Los Naranjos (take bus 216 from terminal (towards Sonsonate), or bus 238 (towards Juayua, departure times see above), and get off at the UNO gas station which marks the middle of the village. 1h $0.70). While not part of the Ruta de las Flores per se, this tiny village located 23km southeast of town at an altitude of 1450m (4754ft) is the closest place if you seek relief from Santa Ana's heat. Several hostals, hotels, and fincas in the area offer accommodation (eg Paso Alaska Resort, from $75,[www], or Hostal Casa Blanca, $22-$40). As everywhere in the region, ask locals for security advise (and guide, or even police escort) before setting out in the surrounding countryside. You cannot climb Santa Ana vulcano from here!

Festivals and events

Every year in July the 2 week Fiestas Julias (July festival) is celebrated. It's one of the biggest in El Salvador in honor of Señora Santa Ana, the city's patron. Activities end on the 26th with a large procession. Don't miss the amusement park at the antiguo campo de aviación (just south of the stadion)!

At the end of the year, Christmas (Dec 24) and New Year's Eve (Dec 31) are celebreted with tons of firework and firecrackers, and Parque Colon turns into to a big firework selling spot. Be very careful as firecrackers are powerful and accidents happen frequently.

Things to know


Most banks have several branches in town, and ATM's are fairly common. Expect your bags checked by security staff when entering the bank. Try to avoid payment days (around 15th and 30th of each month) as long queues occur; the only ATM not affected by this phenomena is at Banco G&T Continental (opposite Citibank) which accepts Visa and Master/Maestro cards.

  • Scotiabank2a Ave Entre Ave Libertad y 2a Calle Poniente (downtown, just behind Palacio Municipal). Has ATM (which strangly does not accept 6 digit PIN). Other locations are Ave Jose Matias Delgado Entre 1a y 3a Calle Poniente, and in Metrocentro Shopping Mall.
  • Citibank1a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Ave Sur(downtown). Has ATM (accepts all major credit cards, and debit cards such as Maestro). Another branch can be found at Metrocentro roundabout.
  • Banco Agricola5a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Ave Sur (downtown). Has ATM (accepts all major credit cards, and debit cards such as Maestro).
  • Davivienda2a Ave Sur y 5a Calle Poniente. Used to be HSBC until 2012, has ATM which accepts Visa only.

If you just arrived from Guatemala and want to get rid of your quetzales, ask around street vendors at 1a Calle Poniente y Ave Independenica Sur (1 block south from Parque Libertad). Current rate (Nov 2014) is $12 for 100 quetzales.


Entry level digital cameras and memory cards are sold in many shops, but for professional cameras check the following places. Prices for cameras are up to 50% higher than in the US and Europe. Both places also sell and develop photographic films.

  • Westerhausen5a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 2a Calle Sur. The shop next door (Foto Servis) also does camera repair.
  • RAFAve Independencia Sur Entre 5a y 7a Calle. Also in Metrocentro.


Notebooks and tablets are sold in many electro domestic shops throughout town. For more specific needs check these shops.

  • Medicomp3a Calle Oriente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Ave Sur.Good service, but make sure you ask for a discount.
  • Digital ServiceCorner of Ave Independencia Sur y 13a Calle Oriente.Good for computer parts and repair.
  • Electronica 20011a Calle Oriente Ave Independencia Sur (2nd floor).Electronic parts, tools, and equipment, plus some computer parts. Also has a large selection of music instruments and PA. Best selection can be found in San Salvador main shop.
  • Repuestos Electronicos 20002a Ave Sur y 7a Calle Poniente.Electronic parts, tools, and equipment.

Cell Phones

Pushy street vendors at the intersection of Ave Independencia Sur y 1a Calle Poniente and along Ave. Jose Matias Delgado offer SIM cards for $3 including free talk time (sometimes as low as $1), and cell phones. If you don't trust them, better visit one of the many shops, or the carrier's customer center (bring identification document). All carriers have offices in Metrocentro, and at the following downtown locations:

  • Claro (América Móvil), Calle Libertad y 5a Ave Norte (1½ blocks east of Parque Libertad). 
  • Digicel2a Ave Sur y 5a Calle Poniente
  • Movistar (Telefónica), 1a Calle Poniente Entre Ave Independencia Sur y 2a Ave Sur (opposite La Bomba store).
  • Tigo (Millicom International Cellular), 9a Calle Poniente Entre 2a y 4a Ave Sur.

If you buy a 2nd hand cell phone, ask for unlocked (liberado), and the battery's endurance. Replacement parts (keyboards, batteries, memory cards, etc) for cell phones are sold by numerous shops.

  • EurocellAve Independencia y 13a Calle Poniente (8 blocks south of Parque Libertad). Maybe the best equipped shop in town with the largest selection, new parts only.


  • La CeibaMetrocentro (2nd floor). The bookstore has a small selection of english books.


  • Super Fitness Gym2a Ave Norte y 8a Calle Poniente (aka Calle Don Bosco). Claims to be the biggest gym in town, very loud music.
  • Golden Gym & Fitness9a Ave Norte Entre Calle Libertad y 2a Calle Oriente. open Mon-Sat.


  • Winner's Dry Clean y Lavanderias (Laundry), 2a Ave Sur Entre 13a y 15a Calle Poniente (1/2 block north of Colegio Bautista. Bus 51-E or 51-F from downtown passes nearby),  (+503) 2479-0896, e-mail:. Mon-Fri 7:45am-12pm and 1:45pm-5:30pm, Sat 8am-12pm.

Safety in Santa Ana

Stay Safe

Most parts of the city are completely deserted after 7pm. The Metrocentro area, the Parque Libertad, and the pedestrian street Villa Morena (2a Calle Poniente) are considered safe at night as police and security guards are present. Avoid Parque Colon and surroundings after dark, as many homeless and drunken individuals hang around the area.

Be very careful when walking on sidewalks because many manhole covers are missing (stolen for there value as scrap metal) and openings can be several feet deep. Especially after dark it's recommended to walk on the street (if traffic permits).

Do not climb the hills surrounding the city without local security advice and/or police escort, as robberies have occured.


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