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Why It’s Wonderful: More than a quarter-century after its difficult civil war, El Salvador is finally coming into its own as a tourist destination—still off the normal beaten path for most Central American visitors, but with worlds of exciting wonder and relaxing charms awaiting. Despite a US State Department warning about travel to the country, gang-related violence is almost exclusively confined to a few dangerous neighborhoods in San Salvador, which you needn’t (and obviously shouldn’t) go near. In most other areas of the capital, and even more so outside of it, you’ll feel completely safe.
Joya de Cerén, sometimes called the Pompeii of the Americas, showcases the archaeological remains of a Mayan village buried by a local volcano more than 12 centuries ago. Tazumal, near the Guatemala border, is one of the country’s best surviving Mayan pyramids. Along its Pacific coastline, El Salvador offers excellent surfing, especially at Punta Roca and El Sunzal. In San Salvador, don’t miss the stunning beauty of the modern El Rosario Church. And countrywide, enjoy plenty of delicious pupusas, El Salvador’s national dish—thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with meat, cheese, beans, or all three.