Is El Salvador Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On November 7, 2023
El Salvador
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data
User Sentiment:
* Rated 69 / 100 based on 23 user reviews.

El Salvador FlagEl Salvador : Safety by City

El Salvador is a country located in Central America though geographically, it is part of continental North America.

On the southwest, it exits on the Pacific Ocean and is squeezed in between Guatemala and Honduras.

The country of El Salvador is a country that offers a diverse landscape: it boasts impressive countryside with volcanoes and mountains to feast your eyes, a number of gorgeous, secluded beaches for summer lovers, forests for the adventurers and explorers, yet if you were to move away from El Salvador’s nature into its capital, San Salvador, you would encounter an atmosphere of a real cosmopolitan city, filled with restaurants, hotels, shopping opportunities, and a vibrant nightlife.

Back to the rural part of the country, as it is the most beautiful part of the country, you can travel to the little picturesque village with warm and welcoming people in Montecristo Cloud Forest and secluded coconut islands in La Isla de Méndez.

Then there is the gorgeous eco-tourism destination Isla de Olomega and the colonial towns of Ataco, Apaneca, Juayua, Panchimalco, and Suchitoto.

Warnings & Dangers in El Salvador

Overall Risk


El Salvador is somewhat safe to visit, though it has many dangers. You should be aware that tourist hotspots, restaurants, shops, and public transportation are places where most thefts and pickpocketing occur, and that violent crime exists on the streets, too.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Transportation is not very safe or reliable. There have been robberies in public transport and the roads are poorly maintained. Be wary of unlicensed taxis since you might get kidnapped and robbed.

Pickpockets Risk


As for pickpocketing and bag snatching, it is a recurring concern on the streets of El Salvador, so be careful and hold your bags tightly by your side. Make sure you don't flash your valuable possessions on the street, or better yet, leave them in your accommodation.

Natural Disasters Risk


As for natural disasters, there are threats from earthquakes, since El Salvador is located in an active seismic zone, and flooding as well as landslides during the rainy season. Floods are especially common in the lower Lempa River area. There are also risks of hurricanes from June to November.

Mugging Risk


Mugging is also an issue in El Salvador. In such a situation, hand over all your possessions immediately and do not resist. Avoid poorly lit and deserted areas.

Terrorism Risk


The risks of terrorist attacks in El Salvador are low, but since they shouldn't be ruled out, it is important that you remain vigilant at all times and aware of your surroundings.

Scams Risk


As in almost any country, there is a great risk of getting scammed. Always check everything twice and negotiate everything in advance. Taxi drivers might try to trick you into paying more, giving you wrongful information about the price of the ride.

Women Travelers Risk


Many women have traveled to El Salvador and haven't had any problems at all. However, this country isn't the safest in terms of females traveling solo, especially at night and you should exercise precaution measures at all times and avoid dark and empty streets and locations.

So... How Safe Is El Salvador Really?

El Salvador is not really the safest tourist destination.

On the streets of El Salvador, as many as 4,000 murders occur yearly.

The most common form of violence is gang crime and the majority of crime that happens on the streets is related to gangs and drug trafficking.

The place to be most careful at is San Salvador, where most of the violent attacks take place.

Just imagine gangs that don’t just carry pocketknives: instead, many of them own military-style weapons, grenades, and automatic guns.

However, the crime in this country is rarely directed at tourists, but you should still be extremely cautious.

Keep in mind that there have been grenade attacks on buses, restaurants, and businesses, with lethal consequences, killing dozens of people, as well as children and tourists.

Be extremely cautious when going to the Tica bus stations as it is an area notorious for violent street crimes.

Avoid walking alone around this bus station, even during the day.

Shootouts aren’t rare either and they also start up around gang members: keep in mind that many Salvadorians carry firearms.

Muggings and robberies are also common in public transport and buses.

Passengers commonly get robbed at roadblocks or bus stops so be very careful when using public transport and if you do use it, make sure you don’t carry your valuables with you.

How Does El Salvador Compare?

CountrySafety Index
El Salvador50

Useful Information



Most countries either need a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card to enter El Salvador. The tourist card can be purchased for 10 USD upon arrival. Make sure your passport is valid upon arrival. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.



United States Dollar is the official currency in El Salvador. ATMs are widespread throughout the country and credit cards, especially visa cards, are accepted in most establishments.



El Salvador has a tropical climate characterized by very distinct wet and dry seasons. Temperatures vary depending on the ground elevation and there is little seasonal change in temperatures. Generally speaking, Pacific lowlands are hot and humid while the central and mountainous areas are milder.



Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport is the busiest airport in El Salvador. It is located about 50 km from San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. It is also the third-busiest airport in Central America.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Just like anywhere else, we advise getting travel insurance when traveling to El Salvador, because it would cover not only medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

El Salvador Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 24° C
Feb 25° C
Mar 25° C
Apr 26° C
May 25° C
Jun 25° C
Jul 25° C
Aug 25° C
Sep 25° C
Oct 24° C
Nov 24° C
Dec 24° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

El Salvador - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
San Salvador43

Where to Next?

23 Reviews on El Salvador

  1. M
    Miss my Dad says:

    American Dies in El Salvador due to hospital neglect

    My father went to El Salvador 8 weeks ago (2nd boat) with the intent to open an orphanage.

    He got sick, Montezuma‘s revenge ( vomiting and diarrhea). He was taken to the hospital. Communication was terrible with not only the hospital and local contact but, also the US Embassy.

    By the time we were able to get enough information, two family members traveled to El Salvador.

    They found his skin and bones, in a diaper and unable to speak or move. When questioned, what was being done for him, even the Chief physician was not aware of my father’s condition.

    When asked if he were given antibiotics the responded that they did not have any. They asked for morphine to make him comfortable.

    Again, they were told they had none at the hospital. They had not been feeding him because they said he would pull out the feeding tube. In the US efforts don’t stop there and let them starve to death. MediVac was considered ($30009).

    A family acquaintance there offers to drive him 1000 miles to get him home.

    He died at 4am the next morning. He was at the ‘free’ hospital but, no one made us aware that he was not receiving care and that there was another hospital we should move him too.

    From that point on the embassy was much more helpful. 🤬 Lesson to all: make sure to buy travel insurance to bring you home. There is no guarantee you will receive care and die needlessly.

    1. A
      A proud Salvi says:

      It's getting better!

      oh, i’m sorry that happened! But the new president is strengthening the healthcare system. He is also working on the corrupt government. I promise El Salvador will get better to visit in the future!

    2. M
      Maggie j says:


      So sorry, Something similar just happened to
      My dad in Poland in a public hospital, he suffered a stroke on vacation , finally managed to get him home after 3 months , he got Covid and pneumonia in the hospital, c,diff , and bad uti , was tested Ted like garbage , there is no real
      accountability so they can do whatever they want , such a huge lesson that in the second and third world you have to have insurance for immediate air evacuation to the first world or you can literally die in one of their public hospitals or at least come back with so many
      More issues.

  2. E
    Eaglesniper says:

    If you are planing to go to el Salvador be careful…if u speak English…try not to for you will be a bigger target…because they will think you have money(gang members)…remember we are poor and not rich…also never go out at night time….never go alone…police will always be around to help you…we have a lot of tourist places u can go to…volcanos and etc….so if u plan to come here be careful and enjoy our beautiful country

  3. Stay away

    El Salvador is not a good place to visit if you are an American or a Canadian as you will likely be confused for one. The people there HATE Americans and it just isn’t safe for us there. I went on a 6-day trip and stayed in my hotel 80% of the time. I didn’t enjoy the trip at all and I will NEVER go back.

    1. Lol, you never went to El Salvador. You’ve probably never even left the USA or Canada.

    2. We don’t hate gringos, we love to see tourist coming to our country and as for the fact that is dangerous place, where in the world it’s not danger?

  4. C
    Crissy Morgan says:

    Find somewhere else to go

    I just have to say, I have never been in such a state as to when my husband went to El Salvador! He went with a few friends as his buddy works with animals and travels a lot. He likes to help him out when he has free time. Needless to say, they were being cornered a few times. My husband’s friend needed to see a doctor and they refused to treat him. He scraped his leg on a nail in a fence. At one point, I didn’t hear anything back from any of them and I had thought someone jumped them and left them in the back of a dumpster or something. I made him promise to never go back there again!

    1. E
      EvilWhiteMan says:

      “I made him promise to never go back there again!”

      ROFL! Is he your husband or your daddy, little girl? You speak of him like you’re 13 years old. Emotional codependency is treatable with meditation and other spiritual work. Give it a try and maybe someday you will be able to act like a grown up.

      1. T
        To the baby above says:


        Evil Human

        You are such a baby to be giving advice on what a woman should discuss with her husband 😂 you must be so lonely.

  5. V
    Víctor S Alcantar says:


    I am planning on going to El Salvador for vacation , would it be okay to act like salvadorian since I am Mexican

    1. N
      Nicholas says:

      Welcome to El Salvador!

      You will be welcome to El Salvador. However, make sure to say that you sheer for America. Now and then, you mind find a Chivas fan, but that’s not the norm. Enjoy it!

  6. Thy hate mexicans and negros and lesbians

  7. L
    Lisa Rodriguez says:

    I Belong in the USA! And here is where I will remain.
    No need to put my self in that position or danger for that matter..just keep them damn slave trucks
    Where they belong.

    1. A
      Anonymous says:

      I live in St. Louis and there are a lot of countries safer than here. Planning on going to Thailand for 2 months and the Philippines for 1 month. Leaving in 2 weeks, both countries are safer than here, and yes I have been to both before. This will be my 11th trip to Thailand.

  8. We (me, wife and 10 yr old daughter) were there in 07. Had a great time and toured around the beautiful country but not in San Salvador. People were genuinely friendly. We’re Canadian but i found people don’t hate Americans, just perhaps the American government and to be honest, after what they went through, i don’t blame them. Yes theres crime, but mostly hard working, very poor people.

  9. El Salvador is not very safe

    I have traveled to many places, and yes, it’s easy to say about anywhere that it’s safe because nothing happened to you, but just because nothing happened to you, it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen to others, keep a lookout for yourself, it’s a dangerous world we live in.

    I felt unsafe when I traveled to El Salvador, when you see a lot of homeless and poor, you know there is a lot of crime, there’s just no way around it. unfortunately.

    1. E
      Expat traveler says:

      Homeless and poor people make a country unsafe?

      “when you see a lot of homeless and poor, you know there is a lot of crime, there’s just no way around it. unfortunately.”
      That’s about what we see at any city in the US. So what’s your point.? Is that how you describe a country, based on homelessness and poor people?

  10. So cool

    Been there two times and my take is that it is safe for tourists as long as you don’t venture outside well-known tourist hotspots.

    El Salvador is a beautiful place to visit, with so many great cities and places to explore. One of those is the Parque National El Boqueron, make sure not to skip it as it’s amazing. Playa El Tunco is nice and if you are into some adrenaline or/and extreme stuff make sure to try Tunco Life which organizes tours in the area. We’ve loved them.

  11. Cycling

    El Salvador was a great country with fantastic people, felt very safe, wild camped several nights on a cycle trip through Central America.

  12. G
    Greg, UK says:


    El Salvador was a great country with fantastic people, felt very safe, wild camped several nights on a cycle trip through Central America.

  13. Safest place in Latin America

    I felt very safe travelling through the whole country, thefts aren’t an issue anymore and public transport was very reliable and safe.

  14. A
    Anonymous says:

    Have visited El Salvador twice. Over a decade ago and again this year. A decade ago it was an awful experience. We did not feel comfortable even leaving the hotel, unfortunately. Step outside and get accosted. This year was much better. I’m sure we’ve all read the headlines. I hope El Salvador continues to improve. My wife and I look forward to our next visit.

El Salvador Rated 3.43 / 5 based on 23 user reviews.

Share Your Experience

Facebook Pinterest Review