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47km (29 miles) N of San Salvador

Guatemala has Antigua, Nicaragua has Granada, and El Salvador has Suchitoto. If the chaotic modernity of San Salvador makes you question your visit to El Salvador, the delightful quaintness of Suchitoto (47km/29 miles north of San Salvador) will confirm you made the right decision. Its laidback, cobbled streets, low colonial town houses,and gorgeous church are only some of the things that make this little town worth a visit. Incredible views of the surrounding countryside, a central location, and a thriving arts scene may coax you into choosing it as a base of operations instead of the nearby capital.

Suchitoto was a volatile and fought-over territory during El Salvador's civil war, and many battles unfolded on the nearby mountain and former guerrilla stronghold of Cerro Guazapa. But it has since recovered and remade itself into one of El Salvador's premier scenic and arts destinations. With a mix of international arts, upscale boutique hotels, natural beauty, and famously friendly people, it's now a place where you might plan on coming for a day but end up staying for a week.

This small, walkable town and surrounding area offer camera-ready mountain views and a charming main square filled on weekends with locals and visitors enjoying the weekly market. The town has also become an international arts center, with the opening of galleries by an array of international owners and the renovation of Suchitoto's Teatro Las Ruinas. Over the last few years, some of El Salvador's finest boutique hotels, including the exquisitely designed Los Almendros and Las Puertas on the main square, have made the town a destination, too.

With all the opportunities for day trips, like boat rides on the country's largest man-made lake, Lago Suchitlán, and tours to an historic village called Cinquera, it becomes obvious that Suchitoto is one of El Salvador's must-go destinations.