Planning a Trip
By Bus -- From San Salvador, take bus no. 201 to Santa Ana's Metrocentro terminal (at 10a Av. Sur; no phone). The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and costs $1 to $1.50 (50p-75p).
Buses to and from Metapán leave from Santa Ana's Metrocentro terminal. Bus no. 218 to Tazumal leaves from the corner of 4a Av. Sur and 9a Calle Poniente. Lago de Coatepeque can be reached via bus no. 209 from either the Metrocentro terminal or in front of La Universidad Catolica de Occidente. All these buses leave approximately every 20 minutes, and rates start as low as 35¢ (20p).
By Car -- Simply follow the signs on your 1-hour drive west from San Salvador along the well-paved and well-marked Pan-American Highway, and you'll reach Santa Ana.
Santa Ana is a large city but is easily navigated, as most everything you need is immediately on or near Parque Libertad (the center of the city). The main east-west thoroughfare near the central plaza is Calle Libertad Poniente, which becomes Libertad Oriente east of Parque Libertad. And the main north-south route is Avenida Independencia Sur, which becomes Independencia Norte north of the plaza. The character of the surrounding neighborhoods around Parque Libertad can change quickly, especially after dark, so don't wander too far off the main plaza.
By Bus -- The only bus you'll likely take while in Santa Ana will be bus no. 51, which runs every 5 minutes from 8am to 10pm daily from the main square to the Metrocentro mall. Keep in mind that the main terminal at 10a Av. Sur is crowded and the buses there often take awhile to depart. Rates within the city run 25¢ (15p).
By Taxi -- Taxis are easily found on or near Parque Libertad and cost $4 to $6 (£2-£3) to most parts of Santa Ana. Taxis are not easy to find off the main square, so you'll need to ask your hotel or restaurant to call you a cab in other areas of town; always take a taxi at night, even if it's just for a few blocks.
By Car -- Like San Salvador, it's best to park your car immediately upon arrival. Many of Santa Ana's streets are poorly marked, so it's easy to get lost. And the character of Santa Ana's neighborhoods can change abruptly, so you don't want to take too many wrong turns. Off-street parking is recommended.
On Foot -- Most everything you'll want to see is right on Parque Libertad or within a couple of blocks of the square. You'll need a taxi to reach a few of the better hotels and restaurants in town, but otherwise you can easily walk from sight to sight.
Santa Ana does not have a tourist office, so your best source of tourist information will be your hotel staff or an English-language tour guide provided by a company such as Nahua Tours (tel. 503/7874-8402). If you speak Spanish, Santa Ana's Casa de la Cultura (2a Calle Poniente; tel. 503/2447-0084) can also provide information.
Fast Facts -- Scotiabank is 1 block off the Parque Libertad behind the Municipal Palace at the corner of Calle Libertad and 2a Avenida Norte. The bank has two external ATMs. Internet access can be found at SGD/Soluciones Graficas Digitales (Calle Libertad Poniente; tel. 503/2447-2750), which is upstairs in a small shopping center on the southeast corner of the square, as well as at the national Internet chain InfoCentros (1a Calle Poniente and Av. Jose Matías Delgado; tel. 503/2447-7750).
Santa Ana's post office is 4 blocks south of the square at 7a Calle Poniente No. 30, near the corner of 7a Calle Poniente and Avenida Independencia Sur (tel. 503/2441-0084). The city's main hospital, Hospital Nacional Regional San Juan de Dios, is at Final 13 Av. Sur No. 1. (tel. 503/2447-9037). And an outlet of El Salvador's supercenter grocery store La Dispensa de Don Juan, which offers just about everything you won't find in smaller towns, is on Parque Libertad's southeast corner.