How safe is El Salvador for Visitors in 2023

El Salvador attracts tourists due to its pleasant climate and affordable entertainment options, making it a popular destination. Generally, El Salvador is reasonably safe for tourists to explore.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the country has a recognizable history of ongoing gang violence, stemming from its complex political past. It’s worth noting that despite this history, the homicide rates in El Salvador are at their lowest point in over a decade. This positive trend suggests that the country is currently safer to visit than in previous years.

As of March 2023, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for El Salvador, indicating a suggestion to “Reconsider Travel.”

What should visitors look out for in El Salvador?

In the country, the most prevalent safety concern for tourists is theft. Theft is a commonly reported crime, and it’s noteworthy that theft incidents in El Salvador have a higher tendency to escalate into violence compared to other countries with similar theft rates.

Due to this situation, travelers should exercise caution with their personal belongings. While the intentional homicide rate in El Salvador has shown a decline from 2015 to 2018, it’s still noteworthy that the intentional homicide rate remains relatively high at 52 homicides per 100,000 people.

In addition to theft, there are other safety considerations for tourists in El Salvador, including robbery, assault, and carjacking.

Areas to Avoid

Travelers should exercise caution and steer clear of hazardous areas whenever possible. The three regions considered most dangerous in El Salvador are Ciudad Delgado, Apopa, and San Salvador.

Ciudad Delgado encompasses sections of the rural and urban north-central areas of San Salvador. Fortunately, Ciudad Delgado is situated at a considerable distance from popular tourist sites like the Monument to the Divine Savior of the World. It’s advisable for tourists to avoid Ciudad Delgado entirely. If, by chance, a tourist finds themselves in this area, seeking guidance from local shop owners or vendors to navigate out of Ciudad Delgado is recommended.

Apopa is positioned even farther north within El Salvador than Ciudad Delgado. This municipality is situated well away from the usual paths taken by tourists, and this distance is prudent for their safety.

Stay away from the Apopa municipality and mark it as a no-go zone on the itinerary. If one goes to San Salvador, one should stay in the central area of San Salvador. 

The central area of San Salvador is heavily policed. The Monument to the Divine Savior of the World is part of the safest area in the metropolitan portion of the country. 

El Salvador is moderately safe

Tourists face a moderate level of risk when visiting. This risk can be mitigated by staying within the well-populated areas located in the western part of San Salvador.

Overall, the country doesn’t rank as a particularly safe destination for tourists. Nonetheless, with prudent planning and a focus on tourist zones characterized by high population density in the western area of San Salvador, visitors can explore El Salvador in a safer manner.