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The Ruta de Las Flores: Explore El Salvador Off the Beaten Path

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Welcome to rural, colonial and artistic El Salvador. The Ruta de las Flores can be explored from village to village, along a path that is adorned with white flowers in May. Along the way: a Feria Gastronomica packed with flavours and entertainment, beautiful waterfalls to cool off in, a well-hidden pupuseria, a visit to a coffee finca, an adrenaline-pumping cable car ride and a well-deserved rest in rustic cabañas.

Here are our six favorites, if we had to choose. Because El Salvador is also about volcano hiking, surfing like no other, and absolutely irresistible villages.

Where is La Ruta de Las Flores en El Salvador?

The Ruta de Las Flores is Spanish for “Route of Flowers”. It’s a unique tourist trail that stretches for approximately 35 kilometers and passes through some of the most popular places and beautiful villages in El Salvador.

  • Sonsonate, the starting point
  • Nahuizalco
  • Salcoatitán
  • Juayuá
  • Apaneca
  • Ataco
  • Ahuachapán, the arrival point

These stops are connected by a scenic route that is one of the most beautiful in El Salvador. But why does the region have this name? It’s because of the coffee plantations. In fact, in May, the entire route is white thanks to the blossoming coffee trees.

To visit La Ruta de las Flores, you can rent your own car for a few days and go at your own pace, or join a group tour with a specialized local guide. Keeping in mind that this guide only focuses on our favourite spots! There’s also hikes, colonial towns, street art, nice churches and other interesting stops along the way.

Things to do in the village of Apaneca

Jardin de Celeste

El Jardín de Celeste: a paradise on earth

You could almost smell the whole village of Apaneca from El Jardín de Celeste Hotel and Restaurant. Ten private cabañas with all mod cons overlook a fragrant garden and a mini-farm with geese, chickens and sheep. The restaurant, reached through a maze of flowers and tropical plants, serves delicious specialities from El Salvador such as sopa de tortilla and perfectly grilled meats. Lunch is also delicious!

Adrenaline on the zip line

Why not add some adrenaline to your La Ruta de las Flores itinerary? The Apaneca Zipline is a real winner with its 14 routes, hilly landscapes and impressive gaps. With the right equipment and in complete safety, you can zip through the rainforest. What a thrill!

2) Adrenaline on the zip line

The Apaneca Zipline is a real winner with its 14 routes, hilly landscapes and impressive gaps. With the right equipment and in complete safety, you can zip through the rainforest. What a thrill!

Things to do in the village of Juayùa

Chorros de la Calera

Gastronomic Fair

Pupusas, cocteles de camarones, chicharron a la plancha… every weekend the small village of Juayùa welcomes locals and visitors to the heart of a colourful Feria Gastronomica… and a very tasty one at that! Dozens of temporary food stalls are set up in the main square, offering hearty dishes at low prices, which you can eat on the go on a bench or plastic table, huddled up with the locals. It’s really fun!

A cool dip in Los Chorros de la Calera

About 10 minutes by tuk-tuk from Juayùa lies a beautiful waterfall with free access, in which young and old alike enjoy a good-natured dip. The water is crystal-clear and quite nice, albeit cool. The bravest, usually young Salvadorans, even climb over a few rocks and jump in with both feet. Refreshing!

To get there, it’s a six-kilometre hike along a wild, little-travelled trail. The route is very pleasant, however, as it is punctuated by fruit trees such as mango and avocado. It’s one of the best things to do on La Ruta de los Flores to get a real feel for Salvadoran nature.

Things to do in the village of Ataco

Pupuseria y tortelleria

The best pupusas on La Ruta de las Flores

Pupusas are the number one Salvadoran speciality to try during your trip. These corn cakes filled with fresh cheese, vegetables, seafood or meat are as delicious as they are affordable. The best we’ve had are at La tortilleria y pupeseria Lilian, at the back of Ataco’s fruit market. The locals will be happy to show you the way to this very authentic, family-run restaurant, where the exquisite pupusas cost only a few cents. A great experience!

El Carmen Estate: behind the scenes of a coffee finca

If you’re curious to learn more about coffee plantations in El Salvador, take a tour of this coffee estate, which has been using traditional methods for four generations. More than just a finca for tourists, it’s a true witness to the history of coffee growing in El Salvador.

For about an hour and a quarter, a guide will explain and show you all the steps involved in obtaining different qualities of coffee beans. Of course, the best ones are exported. This is followed by a walk through the coffee plantations where you can observe the different varieties of coffee trees and the workers at work.

The experience, one of the best things to do in El Salvador, concludes with a tasting of Ataco gourmet coffee. It takes place on the beautiful patio of La Casona, the original farm founded in 1930. This is where the traditional coffee machines are located and where the roasting and grinding processes take place.

All photo credits: Laure Juilliard

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