I think this article is pretty helpful:http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g294475-...l.Salvador.html
What to see and do: There are a few things you shouldn't miss while you are in El Salvador. Here are a few activities that you could do Either on your own or with a driver/guide...
Cerro Verde and Lake Coatepeque: These two destinations are beautiful, close to each other and not to be missed. Cerro Verde National Park: a lush verdant park on a summit soaring above the lake with the famous view of Izalco’s Volcano and its still smoking cone. The lodge, where you may stay overnight, with volcano or lake view rooms, is run by the national tourist commission, reservations required. Currently, no permits are required to enter the park. The lake is very scenic with boat trips with local fishermen to the small island "Teopan" in the middle that is a holiday and weekend retreat for wealthy Salvadorians. Most of the island is a nature preserve and hiking on the trails is allowed, thousands of Monarch Butterflies in mating season and a bird sanctuary. Lake Coatepeque is a volcanic crater lake and there is a nice hotel and some small restaurants along the lake edge.
Montecristo Cloud Forest: This is one of the most beautiful hikes in all of Central America from the summit, which is reached by 4WD, coaster or minibus (standard vehicle not recommended) by winding dirt road 23Km. above the town of Metapan, located 35 Km. north of Santa Ana, near the Guatemalan frontier, a 1.5 hour drive from San Salvador. One of the few remaining cloud forests in Central America, Montecristo winds to the top where Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are all visible from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Orchid Gardens near to the Camping grounds…the park is administered by an NGO from the EU.
Life is a Beach! Ocean Highway - Calle Litoral from La Libertad to Acajutla This coastal highway runs along the ocean front for seventy or eighty kilometers. It is a beautiful drive that winds along the hills and through a set of five tunnels. Take time to snap some photos and have lunch in La Libertad or Sonsonate. If you're eating in La Libertad try La Curva one of the nicer oceanside restaurants with a great view and wonderful food. Acajutla is a thriving port city and the nearby Los Cobanos Beach offers the adventure traveller deep sea fishing and diving excursions. For more detailed information on El Salvador's coastal desinations, unique lodging places and resorts contact the writer. At present, besides the 'Decameron' there are two new resorts very close to to the International Airport under operation and several more new unique lodging places along the coast, as well, tourism in the colonial and crafts villages and the countryside is increasing.
Ruta de Las Flores - Carreterra from Sonsonate to Ahuachapan Stop off in Nahuizalco and buy a few wicker souvenirs. The nahuizalqueños set up their shops right along the highway, but if you have time, go into the small town and visit some of the shops. The handicrafts are worth a few minutes of your time as is the market. Drive through Salcoatitan and take the detour into Juayua. If you're driving through on a weekend, they often have a market with traditional dishes set up around the central plaza. These are generally very clean and safe to eat. After Juayua, visit Apaneca where you can have a bite to eat at the Cabañas de Apaneca and take in the view of the coffee fields and surrounding mountains. Continue to escape the heat by passing through Ataco on your way down to Ahuachapan.
Chorros de Juayua: The Chorros de Juayua are a set of waterfalls outside of the town of Juayua. The hike down is not difficult, but the path is not easy to traverse. It is definitely worth it, though. The secenery around the waterfalls is beautiful and the hike down is also very scenic. **If a single or a couple alone..Ask the local police in Juayua if they would be willing to provide an escort as local thieves occassionally hide out along the trail. If you do encounter a thief, however, simply give him some money and be on your way. They are usually local teens that do not intend to harm anyone, but are looking for an easy buck. If you are the type who would rather be "safe than sorry" then The El Salvadorian National Tourist Police are also able to escort small groups on day tours, including eco tours, anywhere within El Salvador if you give them about two weeks notice, there is no charge, however tipping is expected. Police are very helpful to tourists, and if driving a rental car and are stopped, show your licence and car papers and you'll be on your way.
Mayan Ruins: San Andres and Joyas de Cerén San Andres and Joyas de Cerén are two Mayan ruin sites. San Andres has a new museum that is excellent and offers free tours before examining the pyramids. If you have seen the majestic temple ruins in Copan, Mexico or Guatemala, don't expect much in "size" from these ruins, but more in "quality". There are native guides who are experts in every aspect of the Maya-Pipil culture. Joya de Cerén is the only "non royal" Mayan site existing in MesoAmerica, an ordinary village buried under volcanic ash some 1400 years ago after an eruption of the nearby volcano, Joya de Cerén is referred to as the "Pompeii of the Americas". It is a very interesting site for academics and a "must see" for visitors who wish to understand fully El Salvador's pre-Hispanic culture with some displays explaining what has been unearthed, but is not completely finished yet. Well worth the effort is a visit to Cihuatan, a ruins north of San Salvador, still under excavation, called "The City of Women"…
Santa Ana: Cathedral and Theater in the Central Plaza of Santa Ana. The catedral in Santa Ana is famous throughout El Salvador for its classic gothic design. Be prepared for the pigeons and local photographers trying to snap your photo and sell you a picture. The theater on the other side of the park is a rare work of art in El Salvador. They are attempting to restore it, and it seems very "out of place" for Santa Ana with its classic design and architecture. There is a nominal fee (less than 50¢) to get in, but it is an interesting stop if you are in Santa Ana.
Guatemala, just over the border: able to help to connect travelers with native guides, hotels and lodging places and tour operators in Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala, only 4.5 hours by vehicle or first class bus from San Salvador. Antigua, where most travellers choose to base, is only 45 minutes southwest of Guatemala City (42 Km.) by paved divided highway. For budget travellers buses to Antigua leave Zona (Zone)3 in Guatemala city every 10-15 minutes during the day.
No No's: Do not plan JUST for a "vacation". Plan for AN UNFORGETTABLE CULTURAL AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE! Do not bring expensive gifts to give out to beggars or street children... This sets up false expectations for other families and trravelers when they come to visit in the area. Many of the people you visit will be extremely poor, but the best thing to do is not to give them money, ESPECIALLY STREET CHILDREN, if you wish to donate, arrange to do so quietly with your native guide and a village leader or priest. Please do not offer anyone promises of visas or work in the United States, etc... Always respect local culture and customs, never become argumentative nor critical and always have your native guide smooth out any disputes that arise. Do everything possible to make all your own arrangements leaving from the United States, Canada, etc. and not burden others with those little minute travel details that you should be able to handle on your own. Invaluable to bring along with you are PRINT Guidebooks, up to date, such as Footprint, Lonely Planet and the 'On Your Own in El Salvador' (the only country specific guidebook for El Salvador) and detail maps available in bookstores and on the Internet..... so Let's Go Amigo!…