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18 Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala


Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a high vacationer vacation spot. If you’re in search of a visit out of the atypical, make sure that so as to add this lovely 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 sights for 2023 because of our crew.

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

Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala

As one of the crucial numerous nations on this 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 most effective issues to do in Guatemala to swimsuit each sort of traveler. Are you able to fall in love with this superb 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 probably have heard some rave opinions. Climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike not like every other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are lively volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will note 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 referred to as Fuego that basically 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 completely different tour corporations supply two-day excursions from Antigua for as little as $90 USD together with tenting gear, meals, and a information. This extremely rated in a single day tour 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 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 technique 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 take a look at our weblog right 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 way more than that. This colonial metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Website and was the previous capital metropolis of Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala means Previous Guatemala and at present, 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 take pleasure in historic excursions of the town, museums, buying, markets, superb eating places, and road meals.

Iglesia de La Merced interprets to the Church of Our girl 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 model structure with its lovely yellow and white facades.

The place to Keep in Antigua

  • Luxurious: Lodge Museo Spa Casa Santa Domingo is simply 10 minutes stroll from the town heart. With 5-star luxurious, it has a pool, spa and gymnasium.
  • Mid-Vary: Lodge 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 abruptly. 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 note on this tour embrace the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, one of the crucial recognizable buildings in Antigua.

Antigua has turn into very touristy, however that’s not a nasty factor, the excessive quantity of vacationers has made the town a lot wealthier, and due to this fact safer, than the likes of Guatemala Metropolis or different locations within the nation.

How one can 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 the town from just about every other metropolis within the close by neighborhood.

3. Chocolate museum / ChocoMuseo

No go to to Guatemala could be full with out tasting some chocolate. Be taught concerning the historical past and cultural elements of chocolate on the ChocoMuseo situated in Colonial Antigua . A enjoyable interactive hands-on expertise that takes you thru the method of reworking cocoa beans into scrumptious superb chocolate. The chocolate museum has its chocolate processing manufacturing unit the place they make chocolate from Guatemalan cocoa beans.

In addition they supply a chocolate making workshop the place you get to play, eat and study concerning the lovely artwork of constructing chocolate. Style uncooked and roasted cocoa beans, drink chocolate tea, and different several types of chocolate drinks. A enjoyable expertise that the entire household will love.

4. Tikal Mayan Ruins

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

Situated in northern Guatemala sits what many take into account to be the “finest Mayan Ruins on this 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. 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 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 way more adventurous then most different historic wreck websites I’ve visited prior to now with lots of the pyramids nonetheless buried underneath the earth.

How one can 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 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 finances 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 important providing a number of data and ensuring you don’t get misplaced. It’s also finest to go to Tikal early within the morning when the animals are lively. Once 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 straightforward 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 situated 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. 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.

Right this moment there are some luxurious resorts on Lake Peten Itza making for an ideal cease in your Guatemalan adventures to take a seat again, chill out and benefit from the surroundings.

Paseo Cayala is simply 20 minutes from Guatemala Metropolis and this small city attracts lots of guests attributable to its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with a number of walkable areas, lodges, lodges, and different residential services. Paseo Cayala is fashionable, cozy, and protected always. You may spend an entire day strolling round. A number 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 situated throughout the huge reserve. This reserve is without doubt one of the most necessary tropical forests outdoors the Amazon.

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

Count on to see a number of howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. In case you’re fortunate, you would possibly even encounter 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 very 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 situated 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 sizzling. It’s nonetheless heat sufficient for a day swim within the lake although. Different in style actions across the lake embrace boat excursions, kayaking, mountain climbing, yoga courses, 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 straightforward to journey inside. The place are just a few decisions to assist get you began.

Lush Atitlan is a boutique lodge in an attractive 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 (a number of it), good buying, and finances locations to celebration at night time. It isn’t essentially the most enjoyable space however undoubtedly has a enjoyable vibe. This small city situated within the Southwest of Lake Atitlán has heaps to supply for out of doors fanatics. Take Spanish language courses or a cooking class in a locals residence.

Take a horseback experience as you discover espresso plantations, or take the Indian Nostril hike for scenic views of Lake Atitlán, and store at native markets for contemporary produce or handcrafted souvenirs. Spend a full day exploring and taking within the sights and sounds of the Lake.

9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán

things to do in guatemala lake atitlan towns

San Marcos can 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 generally known as the “hippie city” which has attracted many yoga-enthusiast ex-pats.

The opposite much less frequent choices are Santa Cruz, which is principally inhabited by locals with solely a few lodging choices or eating places, or Panajachel which is the most important metropolis with out an excessive amount of to supply vacationers. You too can 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 wonderful thing about Lake Atitlan is that regardless of the place you select to remain, it’s straightforward 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 following and set schedules. Locals leap on the boats with baskets of produce and typically reside chickens whereas vacationers lug on suitcases. The entire boat system as the principle 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

Not so far-off from San Pedro is San Juan La Laguna additionally situated Southwest of Lake Atitlán. This charming city is price a go to when in Guatemala. San Juan La Laguna is usually described as an artsy city as its stuffed with streets with lovely artwork murals painted in placing colours.

A number of actions to do right here resembling; 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 courses, 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 reside 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 way more nice and simpler. There are many Spanish faculties for foreigners. In order for you it’s also possible to join and study with locals of their properties. Apart from, 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 straightforward to discover a course as soon as you’re there.

12. Atitlan Nature Reserve

Situated simply outdoors Panajachel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve, a sanctuary was constructed to assist unfold consciousness and lift assist for the conservation work being executed 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 straightforward, well-maintained, and really enjoyable. Stroll all the way down to the waterfall, or the seashore. You too can arrange camp on the grounds and sleep to the attractive 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 as a result of lengthy bus experience 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 a whole bunch 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’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 may 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

things to doi n guatemala waterfalls

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. Nonetheless, for these on a tighter finances, it’s potential 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.

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 inexpensive lodges with swimming pools or finances backpacker lodging. For extra data on visiting Semuc Champey take a look at our weblog right here.

14. Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano is one other 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’s only 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 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.

The town itself is the second largest metropolis in Guatemala after Guatemala Metropolis the place you may take pleasure in loads of out of doors markets together with Chichicastenango Market, the most important out of doors market in Central America. Ensure to cease to see the Quetzaltenango Cathedral in Central Park (Parque Centro)

One of the in style locations to go to in Xela is Fuentes Georginas sizzling springs situated within the city of Zunil.

16. Discover the Rio Dulce

things to do in guatemala rio dulce

In Rio dulce, you might 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 delightful surroundings. It additionally connects Lake Izabel, the most important lake in Guatemala to Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. A number of birds resembling pelicans overhead as you take pleasure in a ship experience. There are additionally sizzling springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce ought to be on high of your checklist when visiting Guatemala.

One of the best ways to expertise Rio Dulce is to e-book a hut on the river. Boutique Lodge is a lodge and marina situated on the river with water sports activities, and jungle actions. There’s a terrace and bar and rooms vary from personal tree tents to jungle view rooms.

17. Monterrico Seashore

If you’re in search of some seashore time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seashore on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is without doubt one of the hottest seashore cities within the nation.

The black sand seashore makes for an ideal 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

best things to do in guatemala guatemala city

Lots of people don’t put Guatemala Metropolis on their finest 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 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 most important metropolis in Central America, you’ll start at Las Americas Avenue to Berlin Plaza and a view of the Pacaya volcano. Extra fashionable buildings embrace the Supreme Courtroom, Metropolis Corridor and the Financial institution of Guatemala.

Different stops embrace Nationwide Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Centenarian Park,, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.

Spending time doing metropolis excursions is certainly one of our favourite issues when touring to a brand new nation and Guatemala Metropolis has loads of sights which might be price seeing.

18. Trip in a hen bus

things to do in guatemala chicken bu

A go to to Guatemala is not going to be full with a experience on the hen bus. It’s straightforward to identify these buses with their loud music and brilliant colours. Also referred to as a Colectivo, for a lot of Guatemalans, that is the most well-liked mode of native transport. As a customer, it is a nice technique 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: Evening Bus Journey: 11 Ideas for Security, Survival and Sleep

Why Go to Guatemala

best things to do in guatemala map

From volcanoes to historic ruins to attractive cities, Guatemala is essentially the most numerous nation in Central America with one thing to please everybody. I can see why it’s changing into a well-liked journey spot.

I cherished my time spent in Guatemala and can encourage anyone who’s contemplating a visit to Latin America to plan for a very good period of time in Guatemala. It’s nonetheless a vacation spot that feels untouched and also you’ll have many genuine experiences. If you wish to get off the overwhelmed path, Guatemala is the place to journey.

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