El Salvador's best-known natural wonder is Izalco, an active volcano often referred to as the Lighthouse of the Pacific because its smoke and flames are a guide to ships. Noteworthy are the cathedrals and churches of San Salvador, Santa Ana, and Sonsonate; the parks, gardens, and architecture of San Miguel; and the colonial atmosphere of San Vicente. Archaeological ruins of pre-Columbian origin are found in many parts of the country. Among the most striking are those at Tazumal, near Santa Ana, which include large pyramids and buildings with ancient carvings and inscriptions; there are more than 100 pyramid sites in El Salvador, many still unexcavated. The Pacific coast contains excellent beaches, and there is large-game fishing in the Gulf of Fonseca and in the ocean. Football (soccer) is the national sport. A valid passport and visa are required for entry into El Salvador by all visitors except other Central American nationals, who need only a passport.
After the 1989 installation of the Christiani regime, tourism rebounded, rising from 130,602 visitors in 1989 to 541,863 in 1998. In 2000, 794,678 tourists arrived in El Salvador and tourism receipts came to about $254 million.
In 2001 the US government estimated the cost of staying in San Salvador at $163 per day. Outside the capital, daily expenses are an estimated $91.