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18 Best Things to do in Guatemala

18 Best Things to do in Guatemala


Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a high vacationer vacation spot. If you’re searching for a visit out of the extraordinary, ensure that to add this stunning nation in Central America to your listing.

This Guatemala journey information was initially written by Daniel of Destinationless Travel 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 points of interest for 2023 thanks to our staff.

Best Things to do in Guatemala

As one of the crucial numerous international locations in the world with 37 volcanoes, 360 microclimates, lakes, seashores, and land on each the pacific ocean and the Caribbean Sea, how will you not go to Guatemala? These are the most effective issues to do in Guatemala to swimsuit each sort of traveler. Are you prepared to fall in love with this wonderful Central American nation? Let’s get began.

1. Acatenango Volcano

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Acatenango Volcano

If you converse to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll probably have heard some rave critiques. Hiking the Acatenango Volcano is a hike not like every other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are lively volcanoes. During this trek, you will notice one of the crucial spectacular.

It includes 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 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 couple of minutes, placing on a present of exploding lava for all the excited hikers to see. The volcano erupts roughly each 4 to 5 years and it was most lately lively in December of 2022.

Several completely different tour firms provide 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 Trip

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 direction of camp. The afternoon and night are spent round a campfire ready for any clouds to half to reveal Fuego’s unimaginable present. The following 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 method to the bottom of Acatenango. The quick period, low cost worth, and excursions together with all gear make the Acatenangovolcano hike a greatl exercise for many vacationers.

I might charge the Acatenango Volcano hike as one of the crucial 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

things to do in guatemala antigua Guatemala
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Often referred to as merely Antigua, Antigua Guatemala might be one of many first stops you’ll make in the nation. Most vacationers are attracted to Antigua Guatemala as it’s the metropolis the place Acatenango Volcano excursions begin, however it’s way more than that. This colonial metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the previous capital metropolis of Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala means Old Guatemala and as we speak, it’s a fashionable 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 town, museums, purchasing, markets, wonderful eating places, and avenue meals.

Iglesia de La Merced interprets to the Church of Our girl of mercy was initially constructed in 1545. However, it was destroyed by two earthquakes and was later restored in the 1700s. It is claimed to be the biggest in Central America and it’s price visiting for its Spanish baroque model structure with its stunning yellow and white facades.

Where to Stay in Antigua

Luxury: Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minutes stroll from town heart. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa and gymnasium. Mid-Range: Hotel Soleil La Antigua is simply minutes from Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. There is a spa, free parking and an outside pool. Plus a free shuttle to Antigua Central Park. Breakfast and WIFI included.

Vibrant Culture of Guatemala

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A good way to immerse in the tradition of Guatemala is thru meals. This half day cultural tour takes you on a gastronomy and historical past tour . Walk via its cobblestone streets as you admire its colonial structure. You will then go to a meals market earlier than tasting native dishes and as you find out about Guatemala’s delicacies. Other sights you will notice on this tour embody the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, one of the crucial 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 town a lot wealthier, and due to this fact safer, than the likes of Guatemala City or different locations in the nation.

How to Get to Antigua

Antigua is only one.5 hours from Guatemala City and there are even frequent Collectivos from the Guatemala City worldwide airport to Antigua. Because 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 town from just about every other metropolis in the close by neighborhood.

3. Chocolate museum / ChocoMuseo

No go to to Guatemala could be full with out tasting some chocolate. Learn in regards to the historical past and cultural facets 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 facility the place they make chocolate from Guatemalan cocoa beans.

They additionally provide a chocolate making workshop the place you get to play, eat and study in regards to the stunning artwork of constructing chocolate. Taste uncooked and roasted cocoa beans, drink chocolate tea, and different various kinds of chocolate drinks. A enjoyable expertise that the entire household will love.

4. Tikal Mayan Ruins

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Tikal, Guatemala

Located in northern Guatemala sits what many take into account to be the “best Mayan Ruins in the world.” I do know we did! This is attention-grabbing contemplating Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins are only some 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 provide vacationers. One cause is that the ruins are inside the protected Tikal National Park. This is a particular place crammed with excavated and unexcavated ruins which are thick in the jungle. Because it’s inside a protected space, there are many animals roaming round.

But the temples themselves are astounding. The North Acropolis 1 is the best and most spectacular, whereas the Plaza of the Seven Temples is likely one of the largest plazas in Tikal courting again to 600 and 900 AD.

People are additionally allowed to climb nearly all the ruins and we extremely advocate going up for dawn to pay attention to the sounds of howler monkeys roaring in the mist. The views are spectacular from above the jungle cover. The complete expertise feels genuine and is way more adventurous then most different historical damage websites I’ve visited in the previous with most of the pyramids nonetheless buried below the earth.

How to Get to Tikal

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Temple I and Temple IV Above the Jungle Canopy in Tikal, Guatemala

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 funds hostels for backpackers in addition to good waterfront accommodations for these searching for a bit extra luxurious.

I might advocate a information as they may make the expertise extra vital providing numerous info and ensuring you don’t get misplaced. It can also be finest to go to Tikal early in the morning when the animals are lively. When I used to be 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 City making it simple to get to.

5. Lake Peten Itza

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Sunset at lake Peten Itza

Located close to Tikal is Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten Itza), a scenic lake positioned in Northern Guatemala. Its most well-known for town of Flores which is an effective jumping-off level to discover the Mayan ruins of Tikal. When we visited Guatemala, we appeared to spend loads of time in this laid-back city of cobblestone streets and pastel buildings. There are seashores and different Maya ruins positioned alongside its shores.

Today there are some luxurious resorts on Lake Peten Itza making for an amazing cease in your Guatemalan adventures to sit again, chill out and benefit from the surroundings.

Paseo Cayala is simply 20 minutes from Guatemala City and this small city attracts loads of guests due to its distinctive city design. Designed to mimic European neighborhoods with numerous walkable areas, accommodations, lodges, and different residential amenities. Paseo Cayala is fashionable, cozy, and protected always. You can spend an entire day strolling round. Lots of 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 biggest in Guatemala. Tikal is positioned inside the large reserve. This reserve is likely one of the most vital tropical forests exterior the Amazon.

It consists of 4 nationwide parks and three wildlife reserves. There is just one method to describe the reserve – nature at its finest. Spanning greater than 2.5 million acres, it’s residence to elusive animals reminiscent of jaguars and pumas.

Expect to see numerous howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. If you’re fortunate, you would possibly even encounter a jaguar. Set apart 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 very magical expertise. This can also be the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss out on the dawn hike to the temple.

7. Lake Atitlán

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Beautiful lake Atitlán and volcanos in the highlands of Guatemala, Central America

Lake Atitlan is a novel spot in Guatemala. It is 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 chill out for a few days.

The greater altitude of 1500m means it isn’t fairly so sweltering sizzling. It remains to be heat sufficient for a day swim in the lake although. Other fashionable actions across the lake embody boat excursions, kayaking, mountain climbing, yoga lessons, watching sunsets, and guided tuk-tuk excursions.

Where to Stay at Lake Atitlan

There are loads of villages positioned alongside Lake Atitlán and they’re simple to journey inside. Here are a number of selections to assist get you began.

Lush Atitlan is a boutique lodge in a wonderful setting with lake and volcano views. Rooms are primary however good worth for the cash.

8. San pedro la laguna

things to do in guatemala san pedroa la laguna on lake atitlan
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The city of San Pedro is the biggest “backpacker-oriented town” with low cost meals (numerous it), good purchasing, and funds locations to social gathering at evening. It isn’t probably the most stress-free space however positively has a enjoyable vibe. This small city positioned in the Southwest of Lake Atitlán has heaps to provide for outside fans. Take Spanish language lessons or a cooking class in a locals residence.

Take a horseback journey as you discover espresso plantations, or take the Indian Nose 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 in the sights and sounds of the Lake.

This vacation residence has an amazing location on the lake and inside strolling distance to eating places and outlets. Newly renovated house with personal balcony and shared kitchen.

9. Towns Around Lake Atitlán

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San Marcos can also be positioned. on Lake Atitlan and is fashionable with vacationers however is far smaller than San Pedro and extra relaxed. San Marcos is often often called the “hippie town” which has attracted many yoga-enthusiast ex-pats.

The different 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 provide vacationers. You may go to Santiago Atitlén and San Antonio which you’ll be able to go to by boat.

Getting Around Lake Atitlan

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The wonderful thing about Lake Atitlan is that regardless of the place you select to keep, it’s simple and cheap to get across the lake. Transport across the lake is for locals and vacationers alike in the type of boats that function very like public buses in cities.

There are set fares from one vacation spot to the subsequent and set schedules. Locals leap on the boats with baskets of produce and typically reside chickens whereas vacationers lug on suitcases. The complete boat system as the primary type of public transport is a enjoyable and attention-grabbing expertise in itself.

10. San Juan La Laguna

Things to do in Guatemala lake atitlan
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Not so distant 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 filled with streets with stunning artwork murals painted in putting colours.

Lots of actions to do right here reminiscent of; visiting Cerro de la Cruz for scenic views of the cities, having fun with domestically grown artisanal espresso, visiting the native market, purchasing for textiles, cooking lessons, and visiting different native communities round Lake Atitlán.

You can e book this extremely rated tour to go to the mountain villages and the villages of Guatemala’s indigenous individuals. Tale a public boat throughout the lake to the colourful village of San Juan La Laguna. You’ll go to Santiago the place individuals nonetheless reside the Mayan tradition and way of life dressed in 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. Sign up for Spanish classes

Learning Spanish is likely one of the finest issues you may do to make your journey memorable. Having a grasp of primary Spanish will make your interactions with locals way more nice and simpler. There are numerous Spanish faculties for foreigners. If you need it’s also possible to join and study with locals in their houses. Besides, understanding Spanish is step one to understanding Mayan tradition.

Popular 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

Located simply exterior Panajachel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve, a sanctuary was constructed to assist unfold consciousness and lift help for the conservation work being finished by scientists and college students.

Outdoor lovers will get pleasure from ziplining over waterfalls and occasional plantations. There is a butterfly dome for nature lovers. The strolling trails are simple, well-maintained, and really stress-free. Walk down to the waterfall, or the seashore. You may arrange camp on the grounds and sleep to the gorgeous sounds of nature.

13. Semuc Champey Natural Monument

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On the opposite aspect of the nation is the well-known National Park known as Semuc Champey. Many vacationers skip it due to the lengthy bus journey from different locations shut to the Antigua space, which is a disgrace as a result of it’s incredible! 

Semuc Champey is an space of vivid turquoise water which flows via tons of of small waterfalls and pure swimming pools.. Between these waterfalls guests can swim in pure swimming pools, leap off waterfalls, slide down them, or discover small caves. There can also be a brief one-hour lengthy hike to a viewpoint in regards to the swimming swimming pools providing some superior picture alternatives.

One of the nice issues about Semuc Champey is that it may simply be loved on a tour or independently. Tours run from accommodations, hostels, or the closest city of Lanquin.

Information and Costs for the Park

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Tours provide transport to the park, a information to discover the falls, a information for the hike, and a caving expertise. They are fairly inexpensive at $25 USD for a full day journey. However, for these on a tighter funds, it’s attainable to get public transport to the park for $2 and pay the doorway charge of $7.

The park is simple to discover independently as it’s well-marked with English indicators.

Accommodation choices close to the park additionally make for an thrilling expertise. There are a number of funds 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 keep in a city, the city known as Lanquin is simply over an hour’s drive from the park. Here there are inexpensive accommodations with swimming pools or funds backpacker lodging. For extra info on visiting Semuc Champey try our weblog right here.

14. Pacaya Volcano

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Pacaya Volcano is one other lively volcano that isn’t fairly as troublesome because the Acatenango hike, and also you don’t want to keep in a single day on the mountain. It is simply a 2 hour stroll to the summit providing you with stunning views of the volcanoes, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango, the pacific lowlands, and even neighboring El Salvador. You might even see small eruptions and even flowing lava.

Some individuals have been recognized to roast marshmallows in the steaming vents and warmed pizza on the new lava rocks.

15. Xela (Quetzaltenango)

Quetzaltenango is commonly referred to as Xela (pronounced Shel-ha). This is the right place to get off the overwhelmed path and discover the Guatemalan Highlands. There are loads of volcano hikes right here together with the Tajumulco Volcano which is the best peak in Central America.

The metropolis itself is the second largest metropolis in Guatemala after Guatemala City the place you may get pleasure from loads of outside markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the biggest outside market in Central America. Make positive to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)

One of the preferred locations to go to in Xela is Fuentes Georginas sizzling springs positioned in the city of Zunil.

16. Explore the Rio Dulce

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In Rio dulce, you might have two issues. Water and an opportunity to discover native life inland. Start by visiting Castillo de san Felipe, a fortress that was constructed to shield Rio dulce towards pirates. Interact with locals, study in regards to the native tradition, and admire the wildlife and city earlier than heading out to the river.

The river Rio Dulce often known as the candy river is thought for its calm waters and exquisite surroundings. It additionally connects Lake Izabel, the biggest lake in Guatemala to Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Lots of birds reminiscent of pelicans overhead as you get pleasure from a ship journey. There are additionally sizzling springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce must be on high of your listing when visiting Guatemala.

The finest method to expertise Rio Dulce is to e book a hut on the river. Boutique Hotel is a lodge and marina positioned 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 Beach

If you’re searching for some seashore time in Guatemala, Monterrico Beach on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is likely one of the hottest seashore cities in the nation.

The black sand seashore makes for an amazing change of tempo from exploring the highlands. You can 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 distinct vibe from the Caribbean Sea that’s extra wild and never precisely nice for swimming. But it’s a good escape from the rugged volcanoes and treks you’ll be used to inside the nation.

18. Guatemala City

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Lots of people don’t put Guatemala City on their finest issues to-do lists, however chances are high you’ll be flying into Guatemala City, so why not spend a day or two in the capital metropolis earlier than taking off to discover Guatemala?

This Guatemala City tour is a extremely rated tour that permits you to uncover all the highlights in one afternoon. Explore 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 loads of 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. More fashionable buildings embody the Supreme Court, City Hall and the Bank of Guatemala.

Other stops embody National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Centenarian Park,, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.

Spending time doing metropolis excursions is one among our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala City has loads of points of interest which are price seeing.

18. Ride in a rooster bus

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A go to to Guatemala won’t be full with a journey on the rooster bus. It’s simple to spot these buses with their loud music and vivid colours. Also often called a Colectivo, for a lot of Guatemalans, that is the preferred mode of native transport. As a customer, it is a smart way to expertise modern-day Mayan tradition.

The buses are recognized by foreigners as rooster buses as they typically carry rooster as a part of their cargo. Read extra: Night Bus Travel: 11 Tips for Safety, Survival and Sleep

Why Visit Guatemala

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From volcanoes to historical ruins to attractive cities, Guatemala is probably the most numerous nation in Central America with one thing to please everybody. I can see why it’s changing 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 period of time in Guatemala. It remains to be a vacation spot that feels untouched and also you’ll have many genuine experiences. If you need to get off the overwhelmed path, Guatemala is the place to journey.

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