Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a prime vacationer vacation spot. In case you are searching for a visit out of the extraordinary, be certain that so as to add this lovely 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 because of our staff.
Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala
As some of the various international locations on the planet 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 perfect 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
If you happen to converse to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll doubtless have heard some rave critiques. Climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike in contrast to another. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are lively volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will notice some of the spectacular.
It entails 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 known as Fuego that actually makes the general expertise.
Fuego is a really lively volcano that sits parallel to the camps on Acatenango. It erupts each jiffy, placing on a present of exploding lava for the entire excited hikers to see. The volcano erupts roughly each 4 to five years and it was most just lately lively in December of 2022.
A number of totally different tour corporations supply two-day excursions from Antigua for as little as $90 USD together with tenting tools, meals, and a information. This extremely rated in a single day tour enables 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 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 4am 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 approach to the bottom of Acatenango. The quick period, low cost value, and excursions together with all tools make the Acatenangovolcano hike a greatl exercise for many vacationers.
I might fee the Acatenango Volcano hike as some of the thrilling and distinctive journey experiences I’ve ever had. For extra details about reserving and getting ready for the Acatenango Volcano hike try 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 drawn to 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 immediately, it’s a widespread vacationer hot-spot for good cause. When visiting Antigua a part of the appeal is to get misplaced in its cobblestone streets as you get pleasure from historic excursions of the town, museums, buying, markets, wonderful eating places, and road meals.
Iglesia de La Merced interprets to the Church of Our girl 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 biggest in Central America and it’s price visiting for its Spanish baroque model structure with its lovely yellow and white facades.
The place to Keep in Antigua
- Luxurious: Resort Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minutes stroll from the town heart. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa and fitness center.
- 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 suddenly. Stroll via 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 study Guatemala’s delicacies. Different sights you will notice on this tour embody the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, some of the recognizable buildings in Antigua.
Antigua has develop into very touristy, however that’s not a nasty factor, the excessive quantity of vacationers has made the town a lot wealthier, and subsequently safer, than the likes of Guatemala Metropolis or different locations within the nation.
The best 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 may be quite simple. Colectivos in Guatemala is frequent and low cost, permitting one to entry the town from just about another metropolis within the close by neighborhood.
3. Chocolate museum / ChocoMuseo
No go to to Guatemala could be full with out tasting some chocolate. Study concerning the historical past and cultural features of chocolate on the ChocoMuseo positioned 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 unit 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 lovely artwork of creating 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
Positioned in northern Guatemala sits what many contemplate to be the “greatest Mayan Ruins on the planet.” I do know we did! That is attention-grabbing contemplating Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins are just a few hours from Tikal and had 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 crammed with excavated and unexcavated ruins which might 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 virtually the entire 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 then most different historical smash websites I’ve visited prior to now with lots of the pyramids nonetheless buried below the earth.
The best way to Get to Tikal
Tikal is positioned solely about an hour’s drive from the vacationer city of Flores and might simply be visited on a day journey.
Day excursions are low cost and simply organized from Flores for about $10USD. Flores has many finances hostels for backpackers in addition to good waterfront resorts for these searching for a bit extra luxurious.
I might suggest a information as they are going to make the expertise extra vital providing a number of info and ensuring you don’t get misplaced. It is usually greatest to go to Tikal early within the morning when the animals are lively. After I was there at 7am 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
Positioned close to Tikal is Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten Itza), a scenic lake positioned in Northern Guatemala. Its 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 positioned alongside its shores.
In the present day there are some luxurious resorts on Lake Peten Itza making for a fantastic 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 numerous guests attributable to its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with a number of walkable areas, resorts, lodges, and different residential services. Paseo Cayala is fashionable, cozy, and secure always. You may spend an entire day strolling round. Plenty of eateries to select from all serving totally different cuisines.
6. Maya biosphere reserve
Maya biosphere reserve is the second-largest rainforest in Central America and the biggest in Guatemala. Tikal is positioned throughout the huge reserve. This reserve is among the most vital tropical forests exterior the Amazon.
It consists of 4 nationwide parks and three wildlife reserves. There is just one approach to describe the reserve – nature at its greatest. Spanning greater than 2.5 million acres, it’s house to elusive animals comparable to jaguars and pumas.
Count on to see a number of howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. If you happen to’re fortunate, you may even come upon 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 best 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 positioned 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 sizzling. It’s nonetheless heat sufficient for a day swim within the lake although. Different widespread actions across the lake embody boat excursions, kayaking, climbing, yoga lessons, watching sunsets, and guided tuk-tuk excursions.
The place to Keep at Lake Atitlan
There are many villages positioned alongside Lake Atitlán and they’re simple to journey inside. Listed here are just a few selections to assist get you began.
Lush Atitlan is a boutique resort in a wonderful 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 biggest “backpacker-oriented city” with low cost meals (a number of it), good buying, and finances locations to occasion at evening. It isn’t essentially the most stress-free space however undoubtedly has a enjoyable vibe. This small city positioned within the Southwest of Lake Atitlán has heaps to supply for outside lovers. Take Spanish language lessons or a cooking class in a locals house.
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 recent produce or handcrafted souvenirs. Spend a full day exploring and taking within the sights and sounds of the Lake.
This vacation house has a fantastic location on the lake and inside strolling distance to eating places and outlets. Newly renovated house with non-public balcony and shared kitchen.
9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán
San Marcos can also be positioned. on Lake Atitlan and is widespread with vacationers however is far smaller than San Pedro and extra relaxed. San Marcos is often often called the “hippie city” which has attracted many yoga-enthusiast ex-pats.
The opposite much less widespread 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 can even go to Santiago Atitlén and San Antonio which you’ll go to by boat.
Getting Round Lake Atitlan
The beauty of Lake Atitlan is that regardless 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 generally stay chickens whereas vacationers lug on suitcases. The entire boat system as the primary type of public transport is a enjoyable and attention-grabbing expertise in itself.
10. San Juan La Laguna
Not so far-off from San Pedro is San Juan La Laguna additionally positioned 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 lovely artwork murals painted in placing colours.
Plenty of actions to do right here comparable to; visiting Cerro de la Cruz for scenic views of the cities, having fun with regionally grown artisanal espresso, visiting the native market, purchasing 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 life-style 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 need you too can enroll and study with locals of their houses. Apart from, understanding Spanish is step one to understanding Mayan tradition.
Fashionable 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 might be there.
12. Atitlan Nature Reserve
Positioned simply exterior Panajachel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve, a sanctuary was constructed to assist unfold consciousness and lift assist for the conservation work being carried out by scientists and college students.
Out of doors lovers will get pleasure from ziplining over waterfalls and occasional plantations. There’s a butterfly dome for nature lovers. The strolling trails are simple, well-maintained, and really stress-free. Stroll all the way down to the waterfall, or the seashore. You can even 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 known as Semuc Champey. Many vacationers skip it as a result of 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 via lots of 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’s 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 will possibly simply be loved on a tour or independently. Excursions run from resorts, 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 attainable 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 just a few 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 known as Lanquin is simply over an hour’s drive from the park. Right here there are inexpensive resorts with swimming pools or finances backpacker lodging. For extra info on visiting Semuc Champey try our weblog right here.
14. Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya Volcano is one other lively volcano that isn’t fairly as troublesome 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 providing you with lovely 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 identified to roast marshmallows within the steaming vents and warmed pizza on the recent lava rocks.
15. Xela (Quetzaltenango)
Quetzaltenango is sometimes called 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 get pleasure from loads of outside markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the biggest outside market in Central America. Be sure to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)
One of the widespread locations to go to in Xela is Fuentes Georginas sizzling springs positioned within the city of Zunil.
16. Discover the Rio Dulce
In Rio dulce, you have got 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 in opposition to 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 referred to as the candy river is thought for its calm waters and delightful surroundings. It additionally connects Lake Izabel, the biggest lake in Guatemala to Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Plenty of birds comparable to pelicans overhead as you get pleasure from a ship trip. There are additionally sizzling springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce must be on prime of your listing when visiting Guatemala.
One of the best ways to expertise Rio Dulce is to e-book a hut on the river. Boutique Resort is a resort and marina positioned on the river with water sports activities, and jungle actions. There’s a terrace and bar and rooms vary from non-public tree tents to jungle view rooms.
17. Monterrico Seashore
In case you are searching for some seashore time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seashore on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is among the hottest seashore cities within the nation.
The black sand seashore makes for a fantastic 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 issues to-do lists, however chances are high 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 the entire highlights in a single afternoon. Discover La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, the cultural, enterprise and spiritual heart of Guatemala. Your information will take you thru the colonial structure combined with its fashionable constructing. There are many museums and monuments to see. As the biggest metropolis in Central America, you’ll start at Las Americas Avenue to Berlin Plaza and a view of the Pacaya volcano. Extra fashionable buildings embody the Supreme Court docket, 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 every of our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala Metropolis has loads of sights which might be price seeing.
18. Journey in a hen bus
A go to to Guatemala is not going to 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 preferred mode of native transport. As a customer, it is a nice approach to expertise modern-day Mayan tradition.
The buses are identified by foreigners as hen buses as they usually 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 historical ruins to beautiful cities, Guatemala is essentially 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 cherished my time spent in Guatemala and can encourage anyone who’s contemplating a visit to Latin America to plan for 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.