San Salvador has the best shopping in El Salvador by a mile, making the rest of the country’s retail offerings seem inadequate. Its malls are particularly well appointed with good food options, nightclubs and plenty of swanky boutiques and markets. In comparison, other cities may only have the odd weekend market and tienda (basic store). Malls are open late (usually until 8:00 p.m.), while out-of-town shops usually observe an afternoon siesta and are closed midday.
The MetroSur in San Salvador is one of the largest malls and comes with an array of international fashion brands as well as local designers. Other malls in El Salvador include the vast La Gran Vía (not far from Zona Rosa) and Galerías. All of these are one-stop shopping hubs that you will not find anywhere else in the country, so stock up before you head out. There are also several good markets in San Salvador, including a crafts fair at San José Park north of the city on Saturdays. Souvenirs can also be found at the Mercado Cuartel (Avenida Sur) as well as in Ilopango.
Skilled Salvadoran artisans churn out fabulous handicrafts that range from ceramics to carvings and furniture. Ceramics are best sourced at Ilobasco in the capital, while La Palma in the north is a good place to pickup wooden trinkets. Nahuizalco is your go-to spot for wickerwork and furniture. Many of these items can also, invariably, be found at the malls in San Salvador, though you’ll pay the marked-up price.