18 Finest Issues to do in Guatemala
Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a high vacationer vacation spot. In case you are in search of a visit out of the unusual, make certain so as to add this stunning nation in Central America to your checklist.
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 points of interest for 2023 due to our crew.
Finest Issues to do in Guatemala
As probably the most various international locations 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 one of the best issues to do in Guatemala to go well with each sort of traveler. Are you able to fall in love with this superb Central American nation? Let’s get began.
Should you communicate to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll probably have heard some rave critiques. Climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike not like some other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are lively volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will note probably the most spectacular.
It includes mountaineering for 4-6 hours to a base camp on one facet of the Acatenango Volcano. From this camp, it isn’t Acatenango that’s spectacular, it’s the neighboring volcano referred to 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 not too long ago lively in December of 2022.
A number of totally different tour corporations 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 permits 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 mountaineering 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 unimaginable 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 method to the bottom of Acatenango. The brief length, low-cost worth, and excursions together with all gear make the Acatenangovolcano hike a greatl exercise for many vacationers.
I might fee the Acatenango Volcano hike as probably the most 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 far 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 in the present day, it’s a in style 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, buying, markets, superb eating places, and avenue meals.
Iglesia de La Merced interprets to the Church of Our woman of mercy was initially inbuilt 1545. Nonetheless, it was destroyed by two earthquakes and was later restored within the 1700s. It’s mentioned to be the most important in Central America and it’s price visiting for its Spanish baroque type structure with its stunning yellow and white facades.
The place to Keep in Antigua
Resort Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minutes stroll from town heart. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa and fitness center.
Vibrant Tradition of Guatemala
A good 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 study Guatemala’s delicacies. Different sights you will note on this tour embody the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, probably the most recognizable buildings in Antigua.
Antigua has develop into 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 Metropolis or different locations within the nation.
The way to Get to Antigua
Antigua is just 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 town from just about some other 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 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 superb chocolate. The chocolate museum has its chocolate processing manufacturing unit the place they make chocolate from Guatemalan cocoa beans.
Additionally they provide a chocolate making workshop the place you get to play, eat and study concerning the stunning artwork of creating chocolate. Style 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
Situated in northern Guatemala sits what many contemplate to be the “finest Mayan Ruins on the earth.” I do know we did! That 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 supply vacationers. One cause is that the ruins are throughout the protected Tikal Nationwide Park. This can be 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 very best and most spectacular, whereas the Plaza of the Seven Temples is without doubt one of the largest plazas in Tikal relationship again to 600 and 900 AD.
Persons are additionally allowed to climb virtually the entire ruins and we extremely advocate 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 far more adventurous then most different historical damage websites I’ve visited prior to now with most of the pyramids nonetheless buried below the earth.
The way to Get to Tikal
Tikal is situated 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 lodges for these in search of a bit extra luxurious.
I might advocate a information as they’ll make the expertise extra vital providing a lot of info and ensuring you don’t get misplaced. Additionally it is finest 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
Situated close to Tikal is Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten Itza), a scenic lake situated in Northern Guatemala. Its most well-known for town of Flores which is an efficient jumping-off level to discover the Mayan ruins of Tikal. After 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.
In the present day there are some luxurious resorts on Lake Peten Itza making for an amazing cease in your Guatemalan adventures to take a seat again, calm down and benefit from the surroundings.
Paseo Cayala is simply 20 minutes from Guatemala Metropolis and this small city attracts lots of guests as a result of its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with a lot of walkable areas, lodges, lodges, and different residential amenities. Paseo Cayala is trendy, cozy, and secure always. You possibly can spend a complete day strolling round. Numerous 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 most important in Guatemala. Tikal is situated throughout the large reserve. This reserve is without doubt one of the most necessary 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 akin to jaguars and pumas.
Count on to see a lot of howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. Should you’re fortunate, you would possibly even bump into 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 singular 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 calm down 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, mountaineering, yoga lessons, watching sunsets, and guided tuk-tuk excursions.
The place to Keep at Lake Atitlán
There are many villages situated alongside Lake Atitlán and they’re simple to journey inside. The place are a number of decisions 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
The city of San Pedro is the most important “backpacker-oriented city” with low-cost meals (a lot of it), good buying, and funds locations to get together at evening. It isn’t probably the most enjoyable space however undoubtedly 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 a locals residence.
Take a horseback journey 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.
9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán
San Marcos can also be situated. on Lake Atitlan and is in style with vacationers however is way smaller than San Pedro and extra relaxed. San Marcos is usually referred to as the “hippie city” which has attracted many yoga-enthusiast ex-pats.
The opposite much less widespread choices are Santa Cruz, which is especially 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 too 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 like public buses in cities.
There are set fares from one vacation spot to the subsequent and set schedules. Locals soar on the boats with baskets of produce and typically dwell 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 distant 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 filled with streets with stunning artwork murals painted in hanging colours.
Numerous actions to do right here akin to; visiting Cerro de la Cruz for scenic views of the cities, having fun with domestically grown artisanal espresso, visiting the native market, looking for textiles, cooking lessons, and visiting different native communities round Lake Atitlán.
You possibly can e-book this extremely rated tour to go to the mountain villages and the villages of Guatemala’s indigenous folks. Story a public boat throughout the lake to the colourful village of San Juan La Laguna. You’ll go to Santiago the place folks nonetheless dwell 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 without doubt one of the finest issues you are able to do to make your journey memorable. Having a grasp of primary Spanish will make your interactions with locals far more nice and simpler. There are many Spanish faculties for foreigners. If you would like you can even enroll and study with locals of their houses. Moreover, 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’re there.
12. Atitlan Nature Reserve
Situated 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.
Outside 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 enjoyable. Stroll right down to the waterfall, or the seashore. You can too arrange camp on the grounds and sleep to the attractive sounds of nature.
13. Semuc Champey Pure Monument
On the opposite facet of the nation is the well-known Nationwide Park referred to as Semuc Champey. Many vacationers skip it because of the lengthy bus journey from different locations near the Antigua space, which is a disgrace as a result of it’s improbable!
Semuc Champey is an space of vibrant turquoise water which flows by way of a whole lot of small waterfalls and pure swimming pools.. Between these waterfalls guests can swim in pure swimming pools, soar 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 photograph alternatives.
One of many nice issues about Semuc Champey is that it could possibly simply be loved on a tour or independently. Excursions run from lodges, hostels, or the closest city of Lanquin.
Info and Prices for the Park
Excursions provide 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. Nonetheless, for these on a tighter funds, 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 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 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 lodges with swimming pools or funds backpacker lodging. For extra info on visiting Semuc Champey take a look at our weblog right here.
14. Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya Volcano is one other lively 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’s only 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 may even see small eruptions and even flowing lava.
Some folks have been identified 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 very best peak in Central America.
Town itself is the second largest metropolis in Guatemala after Guatemala Metropolis the place you may get pleasure from loads of out of doors markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the most important out of doors market in Central America. Make sure that to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)
Some of the 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 will have 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 called the candy river is understood for its calm waters and exquisite surroundings. It additionally connects Lake Izabel, the most important lake in Guatemala to Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Numerous birds akin to pelicans overhead as you get pleasure from a ship journey. There are additionally scorching springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce needs to be on high of your checklist when visiting Guatemala.
The easiest way 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 non-public tree tents to jungle view rooms.
17. Monterrico Seaside
In case you are in search of some seashore time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seaside on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is without doubt one of the hottest seashore cities within the nation.
The black sand seashore makes for an amazing change of tempo from exploring the highlands. You possibly 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. 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 finest 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 trendy 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 a view of the Pacaya volcano. Extra trendy 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 considered one of our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala Metropolis has loads of points of interest which might be price seeing.
18. Journey in a rooster bus
A go to to Guatemala is not going to be full with a journey on the rooster bus. It’s simple to identify these buses with their loud music and vibrant 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 method to expertise modern-day Mayan tradition.
The buses are identified by foreigners as rooster buses as they usually carry rooster as a part of their cargo. Learn extra: Evening Bus Journey: 11 Suggestions for Security, Survival and Sleep
Why Go to Guatemala
From volcanoes to historical ruins to beautiful 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 superb 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.