Alegría, El Salvador

High in the mountains, Alegría is an unsung gem and one of El Salvador’s most picturesque towns. At 1593m above sea level it’s the country’s highest town. Young artists and new businesses are infusing energy into the quaint village of philosopher Alberto Masferrer. That’s not to say it’s bohemian – on certain nights rousing fire-and-brimstone sermons rock the plaza. Once coffee country, Alegría is now the nation’s flower-growing capital, evidenced by some 230 viveros which fill porches, fields and backyards, leaving sweet smells in the air.

The friendly tourist agency (tel: 2628 1087; 1a Av Norte at 1a Calle Pte) can offer information about sights, nurseries and accommodations. Look for the kiosk or ask in the municipal office, both on the parque central. It also offers some worthy guided hikes (US$10 to US$15 per half-day) to coffee plantations, geothermal plants and sites related to philosopher and native-Alegrían Alberto Masferrer. The scenic crater lake La Laguna de Alegría (admission US$0.25) is a 2km downhill walk from town. Its icy waters are said to be medicinal. Don’t miss the beautiful view from the Mirador de las Cien Grados – a vista point at the top of one hundred steps. Take the road toward Berlín to the steps.

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