Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a prime vacationer vacation spot. In case you are searching for a visit out of the odd, be sure so as to add this stunning nation in Central America to your listing.
This Guatemala journey information was initially written by Daniel of Destinationless Journey who spent a month exploring the nation. It has been up to date by The Planet D who additionally spent a month in Guatemala and we’ve added some new excursions and sights for 2023 due to our staff.
Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala
As one of the various nations on the earth with 37 volcanoes, 360 microclimates, lakes, seashores, and land on each the pacific ocean and the Caribbean Sea, how are you going to not go to Guatemala? These are the very best issues to do in Guatemala to swimsuit each sort of traveler. Are you able to fall in love with this wonderful Central American nation? Let’s get began.
1. Acatenango Volcano
In case you communicate to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll possible have heard some rave evaluations. Mountain climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike in contrast to every other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are energetic volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will note one of the spectacular.
It entails mountain climbing for 4-6 hours to a base camp on one aspect of the Acatenango Volcano. From this camp, it isn’t Acatenango that’s spectacular, it’s the neighboring volcano referred to as Fuego that basically makes the general expertise.
Fuego is a really energetic volcano that sits parallel to the camps on Acatenango. It erupts each couple of minutes, placing on a present of exploding lava for all the excited hikers to see. The volcano erupts roughly each 4 to five years and it was most not too long ago energetic in December of 2022.
A number of completely different tour firms supply two-day excursions from Antigua for as little as $90 USD together with tenting gear, meals, and a information. This extremely rated in a single day tour allows you to observe dawn and sundown from Acatenango the place you’ll sleep at Basecamp in entrance of Fuego Volcano
Breakdown of Journey
- Day one consists of a brief 1-2 hour drive to the bottom of Acatenango adopted by 4-6 hours of mountain climbing up in the direction of camp.
- The afternoon and night are spent round a campfire ready for any clouds to half to disclose Fuego’s unbelievable present.
- The next morning begins at 4 am for a hike to the height of Acatenango. From right here, the solar rises above the cloud line and the Fuego volcano continues to erupt proper in entrance of your eyes.
- Then, it’s a hike again down the identical strategy to the bottom of Acatenango. The brief period, low-cost worth, and excursions together with all gear make the Acatenangovolcano hike an important exercise for many vacationers.
I might price the Acatenango Volcano hike as one of the thrilling and distinctive journey experiences I’ve ever had. For extra details about reserving and getting ready for the Acatenango Volcano hike take a look at our weblog right here.
2. Antigua Guatemala
Sometimes called merely Antigua, Antigua Guatemala might be one of many first stops you’ll make within the nation. Most vacationers are interested in Antigua Guatemala as it’s the metropolis the place Acatenango Volcano excursions begin, however it’s rather more than that. This colonial metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Web site and was the previous capital metropolis of Guatemala.
Antigua Guatemala means Outdated Guatemala and at present, it’s a in style vacationer scorching spot for good cause. When visiting Antigua a part of the attraction is to get misplaced in its cobblestone streets as you take pleasure in historic excursions of the town, museums, buying, markets, wonderful eating places, and avenue meals.
Iglesia de La Merced interprets to the Church of Our woman of mercy was initially in-built 1545. Nevertheless, it was destroyed by two earthquakes and was later restored within the 1700s. It’s stated to be the most important in Central America and it’s price visiting for its Spanish baroque-style structure with its stunning yellow and white facades.
The place to Keep in Antigua
- Luxurious: Resort Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minute’s stroll from the town middle. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa, and gymnasium.
- Mid-Vary: Resort Soleil La Antigua is simply minutes from Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. There’s a spa, free parking and an out of doors pool. Plus a free shuttle to Antigua Central Park. Breakfast and WIFI included.
Vibrant Tradition of Guatemala
An effective way to immerse within the tradition of Guatemala is thru meals. This half day cultural tour takes you on a gastronomy and historical past tour . Stroll by way of its cobblestone streets as you admire its colonial structure. You’ll then go to a meals market earlier than tasting native dishes and as you find out about Guatemala’s delicacies. Different sights you will note on this tour embody the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, one of the recognizable buildings in Antigua.
Antigua has turn out to be very touristy, however that isn’t a nasty factor, the excessive quantity of vacationers has made the town a lot wealthier, and due to this fact safer, than the likes of Guatemala Metropolis or different locations within the nation.
The way to Get to Antigua
Antigua is only one.5 hours from Guatemala Metropolis and there are even frequent Collectivos from the Guatemala Metropolis worldwide airport to Antigua. As a result of Antigua is such a preferred vacationer vacation spot getting there’s quite simple. Colectivos in Guatemala is frequent and low-cost, permitting one to entry the town from just about every other metropolis within the close by neighborhood.
3. Chocolate museum / ChocoMuseo
No go to to Guatemala can be full with out tasting some chocolate. Study concerning the historical past and cultural facets of chocolate on the ChocoMuseo situated in Colonial Antigua. A enjoyable interactive hands-on expertise that takes you thru the method of remodeling cocoa beans into scrumptious wonderful chocolate. The chocolate museum has its chocolate processing manufacturing facility the place they make chocolate from Guatemalan cocoa beans.
Additionally they supply a chocolate-making workshop the place you get to play, eat and study concerning the stunning artwork of constructing chocolate. Style uncooked and roasted cocoa beans, drink chocolate tea, and different several types of chocolate drinks. A enjoyable expertise that the entire household will love.
4. Tikal Mayan Ruins
Situated in northern Guatemala sits what many take into account to be the “greatest Mayan Ruins on the earth.” I do know we did! That is fascinating contemplating Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins are only some hours from Tikal and have been named one of many new Seven Wonders of the World.
After visiting Tikal and Chichen Itza, I and Dave and Deb would agree that Tikal has extra to supply vacationers. One cause is that the ruins are throughout the protected Tikal Nationwide Park. It is a particular place stuffed with excavated and unexcavated ruins which can be thick within the jungle. As a result of it’s inside a protected space, there are many animals roaming round.
However the temples themselves are astounding. The North Acropolis 1 is the best and most spectacular, whereas the Plaza of the Seven Temples is among the largest plazas in Tikal courting again to 600 and 900 AD.
Persons are additionally allowed to climb nearly all the ruins and we extremely suggest going up for dawn to take heed to the sounds of howler monkeys roaring within the mist. The views are spectacular from above the jungle cover. The entire expertise feels genuine and is rather more adventurous than most different historic damage websites I’ve visited previously with most of the pyramids nonetheless buried beneath the earth.
The way to Get to Tikal
Tikal is situated solely about an hour’s drive from the vacationer city of Flores and may simply be visited on a day journey.
Day excursions are low-cost and simply organized from Flores for about $10 USD. Flores has many finances hostels for backpackers in addition to good waterfront inns for these searching for a bit extra luxurious.
I might suggest a information as they are going to make the expertise extra important providing numerous data and ensuring you don’t get misplaced. It is usually greatest to go to Tikal early within the morning when the animals are energetic. After I was there at 7 am I noticed Toucans, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, and Peacocks.
Flores is 8 hours by Collectivo from Laquin(Semuc Champey) or 4 hours from Belize Metropolis making it simple to get to.
5. Lake Peten Itza
Situated close to Tikal is Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten Itza), a scenic lake situated in Northern Guatemala. It’s most well-known for the town of Flores which is an effective jumping-off level to discover the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Once we visited Guatemala, we appeared to spend so much of time on this laid-back city of cobblestone streets and pastel buildings. There are seashores and different Maya ruins situated alongside its shores.
As we speak there are some luxurious resorts on Lake Peten Itza making for an important cease in your Guatemalan adventures to sit down again, loosen up and benefit from the surroundings.
Paseo Cayala is simply 20 minutes from Guatemala Metropolis and this small city attracts plenty of guests as a result of its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with numerous walkable areas, inns, lodges, and different residential amenities. Paseo Cayala is fashionable, cozy, and secure always. You may spend a complete day strolling round. Numerous eateries to select from all serving completely different cuisines.
6. Maya biosphere reserve
Maya biosphere reserve is the second-largest rainforest in Central America and the most important in Guatemala. Tikal is situated throughout the huge reserve. This reserve is among the most essential tropical forests exterior the Amazon.
It consists of 4 nationwide parks and three wildlife reserves. There is just one strategy to describe the reserve – nature at its greatest. Spanning greater than 2.5 million acres, it’s residence to elusive animals corresponding to jaguars and pumas.
Anticipate to see numerous howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. In case you’re fortunate, you may even come across a jaguar. Put aside a day or two for a full expertise.
Spend an evening on the jungle lodge and sleep to the sounds of nature and howling monkeys. A really magical expertise. That is additionally one of the simplest ways to make sure you don’t miss out on the dawn hike to the temple.
7. Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlan is a novel spot in Guatemala. It’s actually an enormous lake surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Small cities are situated alongside its shores, making for a chilled-out space for vacationers to loosen up for a few days.
The upper altitude of 1500m means it isn’t fairly so sweltering scorching. It’s nonetheless heat sufficient for a day swim within the lake although. Different in style actions across the lake embody boat excursions, kayaking, mountain climbing, yoga lessons, watching sunsets, and guided tuk-tuk excursions.
The place to Keep at Lake Atitlan
There are many villages situated alongside Lake Atitlán and they’re simple to journey inside. Listed here are a couple of decisions to assist get you began.
Lush Atitlan is a boutique lodge in a fantastic setting with lake and volcano views. Rooms are primary however good worth for the cash.
8. San pedro la laguna
The city of San Pedro is the most important “backpacker-oriented city” with low-cost meals (numerous it), good buying, and finances locations to get together at evening. It isn’t probably the most enjoyable space however positively has a enjoyable vibe. This small city situated within the Southwest of Lake Atitlán has tons to supply for out of doors fanatics. Take Spanish language lessons or a cooking class in an area residence.
Take a horseback trip as you discover espresso plantations, or take the Indian Nostril hike for scenic views of Lake Atitlán, and store at native markets for contemporary produce or handcrafted souvenirs. Spend a full day exploring and taking within the sights and sounds of the Lake.
This vacation residence has an important location on the lake and is inside strolling distance of eating places and retailers. Newly renovated condo with personal balcony and a shared kitchen.
9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán
San Marcos can be situated. on Lake Atitlan and is in style with vacationers however is far smaller than San Pedro and extra relaxed. San Marcos is usually often called the “hippie city” which has attracted many yoga-enthusiast ex-pats.
The opposite much less frequent choices are Santa Cruz, which is principally inhabited by locals with solely a few lodging choices or eating places, or Panajachel which is the most important metropolis with out an excessive amount of to supply vacationers. You may also go to Santiago Atitlén and San Antonio which you’ll be able to go to by boat.
Getting Round Lake Atitlan
The wonderful thing about Lake Atitlan is that irrespective of the place you select to remain, it’s simple and cheap to get across the lake. Transport across the lake is for locals and vacationers alike within the type of boats that function very similar to public buses in cities.
There are set fares from one vacation spot to the subsequent and set schedules. Locals bounce on the boats with baskets of produce and typically stay chickens whereas vacationers lug on suitcases. The entire boat system as the principle type of public transport is a enjoyable and fascinating expertise in itself.
10. San Juan La Laguna
Not so far-off from San Pedro is San Juan La Laguna additionally situated Southwest of Lake Atitlán. This charming city is price a go to when in Guatemala. San Juan La Laguna is commonly described as an artsy city as its stuffed with streets with stunning artwork murals painted in putting colours.
Numerous actions to do right here corresponding to; visiting Cerro de la Cruz for scenic views of the cities, having fun with domestically grown artisanal espresso, visiting the native market, searching for textiles, cooking lessons, and visiting different native communities round Lake Atitlán.
You may e book this extremely rated tour to go to the mountain villages and the villages of Guatemala’s indigenous individuals. Story a public boat throughout the lake to the colourful village of San Juan La Laguna. You’ll go to Santiago the place individuals nonetheless stay the Mayan tradition and way of life wearing conventional clothes. And the city nonetheless practices Mayan rituals. You’ll then head to Panajachel, a pre-Columbian city for lunch and extra sightseeing.
11. Join Spanish classes
Studying Spanish is among the greatest issues you are able to do to make your journey memorable. Having a grasp of primary Spanish will make your interactions with locals rather more nice and simpler. There are many Spanish faculties for foreigners. If you’d like you may also join and study with locals of their properties. In addition to, understanding Spanish is step one to understanding Mayan tradition.
Widespread locations to take Spanish lessons are in Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlán, and Quetzaltenango (Xela). It’s simple to discover a course as soon as you’re there.
12. Atitlan Nature Reserve
Situated simply exterior Panajachel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve, a sanctuary that was constructed to assist unfold consciousness and lift assist for the conservation work being completed by scientists and college students.
Out of doors lovers will take pleasure in ziplining over waterfalls and low plantations. There’s a butterfly dome for nature lovers. The strolling trails are simple, well-maintained, and really enjoyable. Stroll right down to the waterfall, or the seaside. You may also arrange camp on the grounds and sleep to the gorgeous sounds of nature.
13. Semuc Champey Pure Monument
On the opposite aspect of the nation is the well-known Nationwide Park referred to as Semuc Champey. Many vacationers skip it because of the lengthy bus trip from different locations near the Antigua space, which is a disgrace as a result of it’s implausible!
Semuc Champey is an space of brilliant turquoise water which flows by way of a whole bunch of small waterfalls and pure swimming pools.. Between these waterfalls, guests can swim in pure swimming pools, bounce off waterfalls, slide down them, or discover small caves. There may be additionally a brief one-hour lengthy hike to a viewpoint concerning the swimming swimming pools providing some superior picture alternatives.
One of many nice issues about Semuc Champey is that it may simply be loved on a tour or independently. Excursions run from inns, hostels, or the closest city of Lanquin.
Data and Prices for the Park
Excursions supply transport to the park, a information to discover the falls, a information for the hike, and a caving expertise. They’re fairly inexpensive at $25 USD for a full-day journey. Nevertheless, for these on a tighter finances, it’s doable to get public transport to the park for $2 and pay the doorway payment of $7.
The park is straightforward to discover independently as it’s well-marked with English indicators.
Lodging choices close to the park additionally make for an thrilling expertise. There are a couple of finances eco-lodge-type locations inside strolling distance of Semuc Champey.
These locations are enjoyable as they’ve little to no electrical energy and do family-style dinners and video games. For these happier to remain in a city, the city referred to as Lanquin is simply over an hour’s drive from the park. Right here there are inexpensive inns with swimming pools or finances backpacker lodging. For extra data on visiting Semuc Champey take a look at our weblog right here.
14. Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya Volcano is one other energetic volcano that isn’t fairly as tough because the Acatenango hike, and also you don’t want to remain in a single day on the mountain. It is just a 2-hour stroll to the summit supplying you with stunning views of the volcanoes, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango, the pacific lowlands, and even neighboring El Salvador. You may even see small eruptions and even flowing lava.
Some individuals have been recognized to roast marshmallows within the steaming vents and warmed pizza on the new lava rocks.
15. Xela (Quetzaltenango)
Quetzaltenango is also known as Xela (pronounced Shel-ha). That is the right place to get off the overwhelmed path and discover the Guatemalan Highlands. There are many volcano hikes right here together with the Tajumulco Volcano which is the best peak in Central America.
Town itself is the second largest metropolis in Guatemala after Guatemala Metropolis the place you’ll be able to take pleasure in loads of out of doors markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the most important out of doors market in Central America. Ensure to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)
One of the vital in style locations to go to in Xela is Fuentes Georginas scorching springs situated within the city of Zunil.
16. Discover the Rio Dulce
In Rio dulce, you’ve two issues. Water and an opportunity to discover native life inland. Begin by visiting Castillo de san Felipe, a fortress that was constructed to guard Rio dulce towards pirates. Work together with locals, study concerning the native tradition, and admire the wildlife and city earlier than heading out to the river.
The river Rio Dulce also called the candy river is understood for its calm waters and delightful surroundings. It additionally connects Lake Izabel, the most important lake in Guatemala to Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Numerous birds corresponding to pelicans overhead as you take pleasure in a ship trip. There are additionally scorching springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce must be on prime of your listing when visiting Guatemala.
One of the simplest ways to expertise Rio Dulce is to e book a hut on the river. Boutique Resort is a lodge and marina situated on the river with water sports activities and jungle actions. There’s a terrace and bar and rooms vary from personal tree tents to jungle view rooms.
17. Monterrico Seaside
In case you are searching for some seaside time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seaside on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is among the hottest seaside cities within the nation.
The black sand seaside makes for an important change of tempo from exploring the highlands. You may benefit from the surf, look ahead to sea turtles or go for a paddle amongst the mangrove forest of Hawaii-Monterrico Biotopo. It’s a special vibe from the Caribbean Sea that’s extra wild and never precisely nice for swimming. However it’s a good escape from the rugged volcanoes and treks you’ll be used to throughout the nation.
18. Guatemala Metropolis
Lots of people don’t put Guatemala Metropolis on their greatest things-to-do lists, however likelihood is you’ll be flying into Guatemala Metropolis, so why not spend a day or two within the capital metropolis earlier than taking off to discover Guatemala?
This Guatemala Metropolis tour is a extremely rated tour that permits you to uncover all the highlights in a single afternoon. Discover La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, the cultural, enterprise, and non secular middle of Guatemala. Your information will take you thru the colonial structure blended with its fashionable constructing. There are many museums and monuments to see. As the most important metropolis in Central America, you’ll start at Las Americas Avenue to Berlin Plaza and have a view of the Pacaya volcano. Extra fashionable buildings embody the Supreme Courtroom, Metropolis Corridor, and the Financial institution of Guatemala.
Different stops embody Nationwide Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Centenarian Park, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.
Spending time doing metropolis excursions is one in all our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala Metropolis has loads of sights which can be price seeing.
19. Journey in a hen bus
A go to to Guatemala won’t be full with a trip on the hen bus. It’s simple to identify these buses with their loud music and brilliant colours. Also called a Colectivo, for a lot of Guatemalans, that is the most well-liked mode of native transport. As a customer, it is a nice strategy to expertise modern-day Mayan tradition.
The buses are recognized by foreigners as hen buses as they typically carry hen as a part of their cargo. Learn extra: Night time Bus Journey: 11 Ideas for Security, Survival and Sleep
Why Go to Guatemala
From volcanoes to historic ruins to attractive cities, Guatemala is probably the most various nation in Central America with one thing to please everybody. I can see why it’s turning into a preferred journey spot.
I beloved my time spent in Guatemala and can encourage anyone who’s contemplating a visit to Latin America to plan for a very good period of time in Guatemala. It’s nonetheless a vacation spot that feels untouched and also you’ll have many genuine experiences. If you wish to get off the overwhelmed path, Guatemala is the place to journey.