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Best Things To Do In Suchitoto – How To Make The Most From Your Visit

Last updated on April 7th, 2024 at 09:58 am

The colonial city of Suchitoto is located in northern El Salvador, just 47km from the capital San Salvador. Its quiet, cobblestoned streets and brightly coloured buildings however mean it couldn’t be more different from the sprawling commercial centres characteristic of capital cities.

Small in size but looming large in El Salvador’s history, the colonial city of Suchitoto has become a must see destination for tourists.

I visited Suchitoto during the dry season (February) as part of a group trip travelling through Central America and was only in Suchitoto for a little over a day and a half. Despite that relatively short stay, there was much that I managed to see and do.

To help you make the most out of your visit, here are my travel tips and suggestions of the best things to do in Suchitoto.

Is Suchitoto Worth Visiting?

Absolutely! Suchitoto offers visitors a great mix of natural beauty, interesting history and colonial architecture whilst the quiet, slower pace of the city has a restorative effect if you’ve been travelling in the days before.

Getting to Suchitoto

As I mentioned earlier, I visited Suchitoto as part of a group trip travelling by bus. We had travelled from Honduras so our route may well be different to the one you will need to take.

Whether you are travelling from San Salvador, San Miguel or Santa Ana there are bus routes running to Suchitoto – check here for route details. Alternatively, you could consider renting a car.

Image shows a bus in Suchitoto, El Salvador

If you are interested in day trip only options however, then consider this half day tour or these tour options.

Currency

The currency to have with you to use in Suchitoto, and El Salvador generally, is the US dollar.

Where to Stay in Suchitoto

There are a variety of accommodation options available in Suchitoto. Check tripadvisor.com, booking.com and expedia.com for available options that suit you.

A Brief History of Suchitoto

The region encompassing Suchitoto has been inhabited since before the period of Spanish colonisation and includes the site where the original town of San Salvador was founded in 1528. However, it was abandoned 17 years later and never reoccupied. Suchitoto gained town status in 1836 and city status in 1858.

In the 19th century, indigo was a driving force behind the region’s economy until synthetic alternatives were discovered.

El Salvador’s turbulent political and social life culminated in a Civil War from 1979 to 1992, with some of the earliest fighting beginning in Suchitoto. The United Nations has reported that the war killed more than 75,000 people together with approximately 8,000 ‘disappeared’. With Suchitoto at the centre of much of the fighting and atrocities, the residents abandoned the city resulting in a population decline from some 34,000 in 1971 to 13,850 by 1992.

Since hostilities ceased, the population has continued to return and grow. The colonial architecture and cobblestoned streets have survived and tourists, together with supporting services, have boosted the local economy. Today, Suchitoto is a thriving, albeit small, quiet city.

Seeing the brightly coloured buildings are a must do in a visit to Suchitoto

Things to Do in Suchitoto

To help you plan and get the most out of your time in this beautiful city, here is my list of things to do in Suchitoto:

1. Explore Suchitoto on Foot

The historic city of Suchitoto is known for its well-preserved cobblestoned streets and colonial buildings. Given its small size, Suchitoto is easily accessible on foot so pack your comfortable shoes and plenty of water! A walking tour or simply taking some time to wander the cobbled streets will give you a sense of its colonial past and buoyant future.

2. Relax in Central Park

Central Park is always a good place to stop and people watch – it’s also one of the free things to do in Suchitoto! There are, however, small stalls in the square selling goods if you are in a spending mood or you could have coffee at Casa De La Abuela – you can’t miss the bright yellow building near the Santa Lucia church!

3. Shop at Central Market

The central market near Central Park is worth a visit, especially if you are hungry! There are plenty of stores selling food and goods or you could dine in the food hall.

4. Visit the Museums

Unfortunately, I did not get to visit any of the museums in Suchitoto, however there are a few that I have heard good things about including:

  • the Art Centre for Peace – an organisation set up to promote peace
  • the Alejandro Cotto museum – the home, now museum, dedicated to the former filmmaker, writer and poet who died in 2015
  • the plate museum – that’s right, a museum which houses an interesting array of plates from around the world

5. Visit Iglesia Santa Lucia

Iglesia Santa Lucia is a catholic church located in Suchitoto’s Central Park. Taking 9 years to build, it was finally completed in 1853. The Towers sitting above the 6 columned atrium are topped by dinner plates donated by a grateful bride! The strikingly white colour of the exterior makes the church stand out against the bright blue sky and surrounding greenery.

6. Join an Indigo Workshop

Indigo has been used for centuries, including by ancient civilizations such as the Maya. In El Salvador, Indigo was once a key export until the emergence of synthetic substitutes in the 19th century.

Today, Suchitoto has become a central player in the re-emergence of the industry. A workshop is a great way to learn more about indigo and to come away with your very own garment. I joined one at Arte Anil located near Central Park which was great fun and I can highly recommend the experience. Be warned though, the smell of the fermenting indigo is not for the faint-hearted!

Image shows scarves drying in the sun following an indigo dyeing class, one of the things to do in Suchitoto
My scarf is on the far left.

7. Take a Trip on Lake Suchitlán

Lake Suchitlán is an artificial lake created between 1973 and 1976 following the construction of the Cerron Grande Hydroelectric Dam. As a result, several villages, farm and grazing land and archeological sites were flooded. Many people were also displaced and many relocated.

The lake is the largest body of fresh water in El Salvador and is a popular destination for those seeking boat trips, kayaking adventures and bird watching. For a sunset birdwatching trip, check out Suchitoto Ecotours. It’s a great way to end a day of sightseeing!

8. Eat Pupusas

Pupusas are El Salvador’s national dish and they are good! Made from cornmeal or rice flour, they are rolled into balls and your choice of filling is pushed into them before they are then flattened and cooked on a hot grill. Fillings can include cheese, garlic, beans, meat, vegetables etc. They are usually accompanied by a fermented cabbage mix.

Pupusas are available in various locations in Suchitoto – Pupuseria Nenita is a popular spot near Central Park. You may even want to try your hand at making your own at a pupusa making class. My advice for budding chefs – select your fillings with care and make sure you use enough!

9. Learn About Suchitoto’s Civil War Past

As I mentioned above, Suchitoto saw its fair share of fighting during El Salvador’s Civil War. There are several opportunities to join tours visiting the guerrilla stronghold of Cinquera, some 18 km from Suchitoto and to listen as a former guerrilla fighter shares his story. Check out Suchitoto Ecotours for a great option (including a waterfall swim!).

10. Visit Casa 1800

If you prefer to view Lake Suchitlán rather than travel on it, then head to Casa 1800. One of Suchitoto’s best hotels, Casa 1800, with its restaurant and iconic platform, is a popular spot for those looking for wonderful views.

Image shows the platform and rocking chair at the Casa 1800 hotel in Suchitoto with view over the lake. A visit here is one of the things to do in Suchitoto.
Casa 1800 (Photo credit: Krishna Sookrit)

Final Thoughts

Suchitoto has an array of amazing things to see and do. Whether you are interested in colonial architecture, modern history, food, the environment or taking a different kind of workshop, Suchitoto really is a must see destination during any trip to El Salvador. 

I hope this Suchitoto travel guide will help you in planning your own itinerary and making the most of your visit to historic Suchitoto.

If you need any help in planning your visit to Suchitoto or to El Salvador more generally, be sure to visit my Resources page here and for my other posts featuring Central American destinations, click here.

Enjoy the colonial architecture and brightly coloured buildings on a  visit to Suchitoto

Disclaimer – Information correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

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