18 Finest Issues to do in Guatemala

Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a prime vacationer vacation spot. In case you are searching for a visit out of the atypical, be certain so as 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 sights for 2023 due to our workforce.

best things to do in guatemala Lake Atitlan Volcanos of Toliman and San Pedro Town of Panajachel

Finest Issues to do in Guatemala

As one of the vital numerous 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 the most effective issues to do in Guatemala to go well with each kind of traveler. Are you able to fall in love with this wonderful Central American nation? Let’s get began.

1. Acatenango Volcano

things to do in guatemala acetenango volcano hike
Acatenango Volcano

In case you communicate to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll possible have heard some rave opinions. Mountain climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike not like every other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are energetic volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will note one of the vital 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 referred to as Fuego that actually 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 the entire 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 corporations provide two-day excursions from Antigua for as little as $90 USD together with tenting gear, meals, and a information. This highly rated overnight 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 mountain climbing up in 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 strategy to the bottom of Acatenango. The brief period, low cost value, and excursions together with all gear make the Acatenangovolcano hike a greatl exercise for many vacationers.

I’d charge the Acatenango Volcano hike as one of the vital thrilling and distinctive journey experiences I’ve ever had. For extra details about reserving and getting ready for the Acatenango Volcano hike check out our blog here.

2. Antigua Guatemala

things to do in guatemala antigua Guatemala

Also known as 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 Previous Guatemala and as we speak, it’s a widespread vacationer hot-spot for good purpose. When visiting Antigua a part of the allure is to get misplaced in its cobblestone streets as you take pleasure in historic excursions of 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 inbuilt 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 value visiting for its Spanish baroque model structure with its stunning yellow and white facades.

The place to Keep in Antigua

  • Luxurious: Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minutes stroll from town middle. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa and health club.
  • Mid-Vary: Hotel Soleil La Antigua is simply minutes from Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. There’s a spa, free parking and an outside pool. Plus a free shuttle to Antigua Central Park. Breakfast and WIFI included.

Vibrant Tradition of Guatemala

things to do in guatemala streets of antigua guaemala

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 suddenly. 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 vital 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 subsequently safer, than the likes of Guatemala Metropolis or different locations within the nation.

Methods 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 well-liked 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 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 points of chocolate on the ChocoMuseo positioned in Colonial Antigua . A enjoyable interactive hands-on expertise that takes you thru the method of reworking cocoa beans into scrumptious wonderful chocolate. The chocolate museum has its chocolate processing manufacturing unit the place they make chocolate from Guatemalan cocoa beans.

In addition 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 several types of chocolate drinks. A enjoyable expertise that the entire household will love.

4. Tikal Mayan Ruins

things to do in guatemala mayan ruins of tikal
Tikal, Guatemala

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 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 purpose is that the ruins are inside the protected Tikal Nationwide Park. It is a particular place stuffed 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 likely 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 hearken 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 historic break websites I’ve visited up to now with lots of the pyramids nonetheless buried below the earth.

Methods to Get to Tikal

things to do in guatemala tiakal temples above jungle canopy
Temple I and Temple IV Above the Jungle Cover 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 finances hostels for backpackers in addition to good waterfront lodges for these searching for a bit extra luxurious.

I’d advocate a information as they may make the expertise extra important providing numerous info 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 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

things to do in Guatemala Lake Peten Itza
Sundown at lake Peten Itza

Situated 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 efficient 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 terrific cease in your Guatemalan adventures to sit down again, chill out and benefit from the surroundings.

Paseo Cayala is simply 20 minutes from Guatemala Metropolis and this small city attracts quite a lot of guests as a consequence of its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with numerous walkable areas, lodges, lodges, and different residential amenities. Paseo Cayala is trendy, cozy, and secure always. You may spend a complete day strolling round. A lot 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 most important in Guatemala. Tikal is positioned inside the large reserve. This reserve is likely one of 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 house to elusive animals reminiscent of jaguars and pumas.

Count on to see numerous howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. In case you’re fortunate, you would possibly 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 the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss out on the dawn hike to the temple.

7. Lake Atitlán

things to do in guatemala lake atitlan
Lovely lake Atitlán and volcanos within the highlands of Guatemala, Central America

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 chill out 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 widespread actions across the lake embody boat excursions, kayaking, mountain climbing, yoga courses, 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 below are just a few selections to assist get you began.

Lush Atitlan is a boutique lodge in a ravishing 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

The city of San Pedro is the most important “backpacker-oriented city” with low cost meals (numerous it), good buying, and finances locations to celebration at night time. It isn’t probably the most enjoyable 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 courses 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 holiday home has a terrific location on the lake and inside strolling distance to eating places and retailers. Newly renovated house with non-public balcony and shared kitchen.

9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán

things to do in guatemala lake atitlan towns

San Marcos can be positioned. on Lake Atitlan and is widespread with vacationers however is way smaller than San Pedro and extra relaxed. San Marcos is usually generally known as 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 largest 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

things to do in guatemala getting around lake atitland by boat

The beauty of 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 generally 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

Things to do in Guatemala lake atitlan

Not so distant from San Pedro is San Juan La Laguna additionally positioned Southwest of Lake Atitlán. This charming city is value a go to when in Guatemala. San Juan La Laguna is usually described as an artsy city as its filled with streets with stunning artwork murals painted in hanging colours.

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

You can book this highly 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 likely one of 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 would like it’s also possible to join and study with locals of their properties. In addition to, understanding Spanish is step one to understanding Mayan tradition.

In style locations to take Spanish courses 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 help for the conservation work being finished by scientists and college students.

Outside lovers will take pleasure in 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 all the way down to the waterfall, or the seaside. You can too arrange camp on the grounds and sleep to the gorgeous sounds of nature.

13. Semuc Champey Pure Monument

things to do in guatemala semuch birds eye view

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 improbable! 

Semuc Champey is an space of brilliant 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, 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 may well simply be loved on a tour or independently. Excursions run from lodges, hostels, or the closest city of Lanquin.

Data and Prices for the Park

things to doi n guatemala waterfalls

Excursions provide transport to the park, a information to discover the falls, a information for the hike, and a caving expertise. They’re fairly reasonably priced 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 simple 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 referred to as Lanquin is simply over an hour’s drive from the park. Right here there are reasonably priced lodges with swimming pools or finances backpacker lodging. For extra info on visiting Semuc Champey check out our blog here.

14. Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano is one other energetic 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 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 identified to roast marshmallows within the steaming vents and warmed pizza on the recent lava rocks.

15. Xela (Quetzaltenango)

Quetzaltenango is also known as Xela (pronounced Shel-ha). That is the proper 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 possibly can take pleasure in loads of outside markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the most important outside market in Central America. Be sure that to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)

One of the vital widespread locations to go to in Xela is Fuentes Georginas scorching springs positioned within the city of Zunil.

16. Discover the Rio Dulce

things to do in guatemala rio dulce

In Rio dulce, you could 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 referred to as 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. A lot of birds reminiscent of pelicans overhead as you take pleasure in a ship trip. There are additionally scorching springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce ought to be on prime of your listing when visiting Guatemala.

One of the simplest ways to expertise Rio Dulce is to guide 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 non-public tree tents to jungle view rooms.

17. Monterrico Seashore

In case you are searching for some seaside time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seashore on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is likely one of the hottest seaside cities within the nation.

The black sand seaside makes for a terrific 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 inside the nation.

18. Guatemala Metropolis

best things to do in guatemala guatemala city

Lots of people don’t put Guatemala Metropolis on their greatest issues 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 highly 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 non secular middle 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 one in all our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala Metropolis has loads of sights which might be value seeing.

18. Journey in a hen bus

things to do in guatemala chicken bu

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. Often known as a Colectivo, for a lot of Guatemalans, that is the preferred mode of native transport. As a customer, it is a nice strategy 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 Bus Travel: 11 Tips for Safety, Survival and Sleep

Why Go to Guatemala

best things to do in guatemala map

From volcanoes to historic 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 turning into a well-liked 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.

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