18 Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala

18 Greatest Issues to do in Guatemala

Guatemala has been gaining worldwide consideration as a high vacationer vacation spot. In case you are on the lookout for a visit out of the peculiar, be certain 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 points of interest for 2023 because of our staff.

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 vital numerous international locations 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 perfect issues to do in Guatemala to swimsuit 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

For those who converse to anybody who has accomplished this hike, you’ll doubtless have heard some rave evaluations. Mountain climbing the Acatenango Volcano is a hike not like some other. Guatemala has 37 volcanoes and three of that are energetic volcanoes. Throughout this trek, you will note one of the vital spectacular.

It entails mountaineering 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 energetic 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 five years and it was most just lately energetic in December of 2022.

A number of totally different tour firms supply two-day excursions from Antigua for as little as $90 USD together with tenting tools, meals, and a information. This extremely rated in a single day tour 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 unbelievable present.
  • The next morning begins at 4 am 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 option to the bottom of Acatenango. The brief period, low cost worth, and excursions together with all tools make the Acatenangovolcano hike a terrific exercise for many vacationers.

I’d price 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 take a look at our weblog right here.

2. Antigua Guatemala

things to do in guatemala antigua Guatemala

Sometimes called merely Antigua, Antigua Guatemala might be one of many first stops you’ll make within the nation. Most vacationers are drawn to Antigua Guatemala as it’s the metropolis the place Acatenango Volcano excursions begin, however it’s rather more than that. This colonial metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Website and was the previous capital metropolis of Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala means Previous Guatemala and at the moment, it’s a common vacationer sizzling spot for good motive. 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, purchasing, markets, wonderful eating places, and avenue 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 mentioned to be the most important in Central America and it’s value visiting for its Spanish baroque-style structure with its lovely yellow and white facades.

The place to Keep in Antigua

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

Vibrant Tradition of Guatemala

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 by means 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 embrace the Santa Catalina Arch, and the Baroque Church, La Merced Church, one of the vital recognizable buildings in Antigua.

Antigua has turn into very touristy, however that’s not a foul 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.

Tips on how 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 may be 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 can be full with out tasting some chocolate. Be taught in regards to 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 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.

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

4. Tikal Mayan Ruins

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

Positioned in northern Guatemala sits what many take into account to be the “greatest Mayan Ruins on this planet.” 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 motive is that the ruins are throughout the protected Tikal Nationwide Park. It is a particular place full of excavated and unexcavated ruins which are 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 among the largest plazas in Tikal courting again to 600 and 900 AD.

Individuals are additionally allowed to climb virtually all the ruins and we extremely suggest going up for dawn to take heed to the sounds of howler monkeys roaring within the mist. The views are spectacular from above the jungle cover. The entire expertise feels genuine and is rather more adventurous than most different historic break websites I’ve visited prior to now with most of the pyramids nonetheless buried underneath the earth.

Tips on how 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 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 $10 USD. Flores has many price range hostels for backpackers in addition to good waterfront inns for these on the lookout for a bit extra luxurious.

I’d suggest a information as they are going to make the expertise extra vital providing a number of data 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 7 am 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

Positioned close to Tikal is Lago Peten Itza (Lake Peten Itza), a scenic lake situated in Northern Guatemala. It’s 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 situated alongside its shores.

As we speak 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 loads of guests on account of its distinctive city design. Designed to imitate European neighborhoods with a number of walkable areas, inns, lodges, and different residential services. Paseo Cayala is trendy, cozy, and secure always. You’ll be able to spend a complete day strolling round. A lot of eateries to select from all serving totally different cuisines.

6. Maya biosphere reserve

Maya biosphere reserve is the second-largest rainforest in Central America and the most important in Guatemala. Tikal is situated throughout the huge reserve. This reserve is among the most vital tropical forests outdoors the Amazon.

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

Count on to see a number of howling monkeys, spiders, parrots, crocodiles, and spider monkeys. For those who’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 really magical expertise. That is additionally one of the simplest ways 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
Stunning lake Atitlán and volcanos within the highlands of Guatemala, Central America

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 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 common actions across the lake embrace boat excursions, kayaking, mountaineering, yoga lessons, watching sunsets, and guided tuk-tuk excursions.

The place to Keep at Lake Atitlan

There are many villages situated alongside Lake Atitlán and they’re straightforward to journey inside. Listed here are a couple of decisions 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 (a number of it), good purchasing, and price range locations to occasion at evening. It isn’t probably the most stress-free space however positively has a enjoyable vibe. This small city situated within the Southwest of Lake Atitlán has tons to supply for outside lovers. Take Spanish language lessons or a cooking class in a neighborhood dwelling.

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.

This vacation dwelling has a terrific location on the lake and is inside strolling distance of eating places and retailers. Newly renovated condo with personal balcony and a shared kitchen.

9. Cities Round Lake Atitlán

things to do in guatemala lake atitlan towns

San Marcos can be situated. on Lake Atitlan and is common with vacationers however is far 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 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 largest metropolis with out an excessive amount of to supply vacationers. You can too go to Santiago Atitlén and San Antonio which you’ll be able to 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 irrespective 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 soar on the boats with baskets of produce and generally stay chickens whereas vacationers lug on suitcases. The entire boat system as the primary type of public transport is a enjoyable and attention-grabbing expertise in itself.

10. San Juan La Laguna

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 value 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 hanging colours.

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

You’ll be able to e book this extremely rated tour to go to the mountain villages and the villages of Guatemala’s indigenous individuals. Story a public boat throughout the lake to the colourful village of San Juan La Laguna. You’ll go to Santiago the place individuals nonetheless stay the Mayan tradition and life-style wearing conventional clothes. And the city nonetheless practices Mayan rituals. You’ll then head to Panajachel, a pre-Columbian city for lunch and extra sightseeing.

11. Join Spanish classes

Studying Spanish is among the greatest issues you are able to do to make your journey memorable. Having a grasp of primary Spanish will make your interactions with locals rather more nice and simpler. There are many Spanish faculties for foreigners. In order for you you may as well join and be taught with locals of their properties. Moreover, understanding Spanish is step one to understanding Mayan tradition.

Common locations to take Spanish lessons are in Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlán, and Quetzaltenango (Xela). It’s straightforward to discover a course as soon as you might be there.

12. Atitlan Nature Reserve

Positioned simply outdoors Panajachel is the Atitlan Nature Reserve, a sanctuary that was constructed to assist unfold consciousness and lift assist for the conservation work being accomplished by scientists and college students.

Out of doors lovers will take pleasure in ziplining over waterfalls and low plantations. There’s a butterfly dome for nature lovers. The strolling trails are straightforward, well-maintained, and really stress-free. 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 known as Semuc Champey. Many vacationers skip it as a result of lengthy bus journey from different locations near the Antigua space, which is a disgrace as a result of it’s unbelievable! 

Semuc Champey is an space of shiny turquoise water which flows by means of a whole bunch 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 may be additionally a brief one-hour lengthy hike to a viewpoint in regards to the swimming swimming pools providing some superior picture 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 inns, 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. Nevertheless, for these on a tighter price range, 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 a couple of price range eco-lodge-type locations inside strolling distance of Semuc Champey.

These locations are enjoyable as they’ve little to no electrical energy and do family-style dinners and video games. For these happier to remain in a city, the city known as Lanquin is simply over an hour’s drive from the park. Right here there are inexpensive inns with swimming pools or price range 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 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’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 may even see small eruptions and even flowing lava.

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

15. Xela (Quetzaltenango)

Quetzaltenango is sometimes called Xela (pronounced Shel-ha). That is the proper place to get off the crushed 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.

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

One of the vital common 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 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, be taught in regards to 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 similar to pelicans overhead as you take pleasure in a ship journey. There are additionally sizzling springs contained in the caves close by. Rio Dulce ought 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 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 Seaside

In case you are on the lookout for some seaside time in Guatemala, Monterrico Seaside on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast is among the hottest seaside cities within the nation.

The black sand seaside makes for a terrific change of tempo from exploring the highlands. You’ll be able to 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

best things to do in guatemala guatemala city

Lots of people don’t put Guatemala Metropolis on their greatest things-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 allows you to uncover all the 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 blended 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 have a view of the Pacaya volcano. Extra trendy buildings embrace the Supreme Court docket, 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 points of interest which are value seeing.

19. Journey in a hen bus

things to do in guatemala chicken bu

A go to to Guatemala won’t be full with a journey on the hen bus. It’s straightforward to identify these buses with their loud music and shiny colours. Often known 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 option to expertise modern-day Mayan tradition.

The buses are identified by foreigners as hen buses as they typically carry hen as a part of their cargo. Learn extra: Night time Bus Journey: 11 Ideas for Security, Survival and Sleep

Why Go to Guatemala

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 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’s nonetheless a vacation spot that feels untouched and also you’ll have many genuine experiences. If you wish to get off the crushed path, Guatemala is the place to journey.

Learn Extra: