You will be impressed by the thousands of things to do in Guatemala! Get ready to explore and admire everything that this lovely country offers. For example, breathtaking natural wonders, ancient Mayan ruins, and delicious culinary experiences.
Explore the country’s many archaeological zones to uncover the secrets of the Mayan civilization, such as the famous Tikal ruins. You can also explore the city of Antigua or discover the many stunning waterfalls, lagoons, volcanoes, and rivers hidden throughout the country.
Get to know a place where tradition, culture, and history come together to take you to a destination full of surprises and teachings from the locals. Guatemala is truly a must-see destination for any traveler seeking adventure, history, and natural beauty. Discover this beautiful country and marvel at its unique culture and traditions!
Getting there & around in Guatemala
Get in: by plane
The La Aurora International Airport is situated in Guatemala City, the capital and largest city of Guatemala.
You can get to the city by:
- Taxi 🚕: You can book an airport transfer here.
- Uber: Uber is allowed to operate at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. The ride-hailing service Uber operates also in Guatemala City.
- Bus: There’s a bus route close to the airport that can take you to Zona 10, near La Reforma and 12 Calle. If you’re heading to the old city center (Zona 1), many buses travel that way from La Reforma or from 7 Avenida, which is just one block away. However, it’s worth noting that the red city buses are considered less safe due to a higher risk of crime against drivers and passengers. For safety, it’s recommended to use local taxis for transportation.
Get in: by bus
The city has four primary bus stations:
- Centra Norte: Located in the northeast part of Guatemala City, it offers services to Eastern Guatemala, the Caribbean Coast, the Northern Lowlands, and Alta Verapaz.
- Centra Sur: Situated in the south bordering Villa Nueva, serving destinations in the south, including San Miguel Petapa, Amatitlán, and more.
- Terminal Trebol: Along 1st Avenue, providing chicken bus services to Antigua, Monte Carmela, Patzun, and other places in Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango.
- Estacion de Occidente: On 41st Street, serving the Western Highlands, including Huehuetenango, Panajachel, and Quetzaltenango.
- Some Pullman and Chicken Bus companies have their own terminals near the old train station in Zona 1. Please note that this area can be unsafe, especially at night, so taking a taxi is advisable. Additional bus stations are located in Zona 10, 11, and various parts of the city, with varying levels of convenience and safety.
Guatemala City has 21 zones, each with its unique features:
- Zona 1: The historic center with key landmarks. Zona 4: Home to official buildings and institutions. Zona 10: Hosts high-end hotels, dining, and shopping. Zona 9: Adjacent to Zona 10, separated by Avenida La Reforma. Zona Viva: A lively nightlife area within Zona 10.
Places to visit by foot:
- National Palace of Culture
- La Aurora Zoo
- Parque Central (Plaza de la Constitucion)
- Jardines Botánico
- Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago de Guatemala (Metropolitan Cathedral)
- Cayalá City
Where to stay in Guatemala
This is a welcoming hostel in the heart of Guatemala, which offers a cozy and easy-going atmosphere for travelers.
Enjoy budget-friendly accommodations, meet fellow adventurers, and get ready to discover amazing things to do in Guatemala.
A charming hotel in Guatemala, which provides a relaxing escape with comfortable rooms and excellent service.
Also, it offers an easygoing ambiance that will make you always want to come back.
Located in the heart of the city, this hotel is your gateway to discovering the area’s rich colonial charm and beautiful culture. Get ready to explore and discover the city’s magical traditions in an authentic way.
A luxurious boutique hotel in Antigua, where history meets elegance. Stay in beautifully restored rooms and enjoy every moment in top-notch amenities for a memorable experience.
If in your list of things to do in Guatemala you are looking for a luxurious and exclusive experience, you need to stay in this enchanting place!
Attractions in Guatemala
Discover the ancient wonders of Tikal Ruins in Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most remarkable Mayan archaeological sites.
Explore the mystical temples, towering pyramids, and lush rainforest surroundings, offering a captivating glimpse into the Mayan civilization’s history and culture. Visiting Tikal is one of the top things to do in Guatemala, allowing you to immerse yourself in the country’s rich heritage.
Antigua, Guatemala, a charming colonial city, beckons visitors with its cobbled streets, vibrant architecture, and rich history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts well-preserved ruins, including ancient churches and convents.
Marvel at the picturesque volcanoes framing the city’s backdrop, and immerse yourself in the colorful local culture. Antigua’s unique blend of past and present offers a delightful experience for travelers seeking an enchanting glimpse into Guatemala’s cultural heritage.
- Antigua Guatemala Tour: A Cultural Experience (Group / 4.5h)
- Antigua Guatemala Walking Tour: Enjoy a Cultural Day (3.5h)
- ATV Tour Antigua: Explore the Villages (Group / 6h)
Looking for extreme and unique things to do in Guatemala? Good news! The Pacaya Volcano offers a thrilling adventure for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike.
This active volcano allows visitors to witness the mesmerizing sight of flowing lava and experience the thrill of walking on volcanic ash. The surrounding landscape presents breathtaking views, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking an unforgettable and unique experience in Guatemala.
Semuc Champey Natural Pools
Semuc Champey is a natural paradise that beckons adventurers and nature lovers alike. This hidden gem boasts turquoise pools cascading over limestone formations, set amidst lush jungle.
Hike to the lookout for stunning panoramic views or take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters. Semuc Champey’s captivating beauty offers a truly unforgettable experience for those exploring the wonders of Guatemala.
What about admiring the sunset in a natural wonder? Lake Atitlán is a breathtakingly beautiful destination that captivates travelers with its stunning natural scenery. Nestled among volcanoes and lush mountains, the lake’s shimmering blue waters reflect a serene atmosphere.
Enjoy boat rides to picturesque villages dotting the shores, where indigenous culture thrives. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Lake Atitlán, a true gem of Guatemala’s natural wonders and one of the must-visit things to do in Guatemala.
Tours & activities in Guatemala
Food & cuisine in Guatemala
Búho Café is a cozy coffee shop in Guatemala, that offers aromatic brews and delicious pastries. Here, you can enjoy a laid-back ambiance, perfect for a relaxing break. It’s also a great spot to mingle with locals and fellow travelers, making it one of the most delightful things to do in Guatemala.
This one is a delightful cafe in Guatemala, a true culinary treasure that will make you fall in love with its diverse flavorful dishes and refreshing drinks. If you are looking for a place with a perfect location, good food, and traditional coffee in the region, you can’t miss a great breakfast in this beautiful place.
Flor De Lis Restaurant is a hidden culinary gem in Guatemala, renowned for its exquisite dishes and elegant atmosphere.
This charming restaurant takes you on a delightful journey through the flavors of Guatemala, offering a fusion of traditional and contemporary cuisine. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or seeking new culinary delights, this restaurant is a must-visit among the delightful things to do in Guatemala.
Shopping in Guatemala
This wonderful spot (Handicrafts Market El Carmen in English), is a marketplace in Guatemala, which has traditional crafts and authentic artisanal products.
Get to know colorful stalls with handmade textiles, ceramics, jewelry, and more. This charming market offers a delightful experience for those seeking unique and locally crafted souvenirs.
This place (Shopping Mall The Fountain In English), is a shopping center in Guatemala, which has handicrafts, restaurants, and more entertainment options.
Explore the various stores, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a fun-filled experience at Centro Comercial la Fuente. It’s one of the top things to do in Guatemala for shoppers and foodies alike.
Trip Ideas & Stories in Guatemala
FAQ's about Guatemala
Where is Guatemala located?
Guatemala is a country located in Central America, bordered by Mexico to the north and west, Belize to the northeast, Honduras to the east, and El Salvador to the southeast. It also has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Is it safe to travel to Guatemala?
Like any destination, it’s essential to take precautions and stay informed about safety. Generally, tourist areas are safe, but it’s advisable to avoid certain isolated regions. Stay aware of your surroundings and follow local advice for a safe and enjoyable trip.
Avoid unforeseen events and take with you an insurance policy that covers any problem on your trip.
What to pack?
Pack lightweight clothes, comfortable shoes, and rain gear. Sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, and a hat are essential.
Bring necessary medications, travel documents, and adapters. Consider a medical kit, a reusable water bottle, and travel insurance. Learn some Spanish phrases and respect local customs.
Are there any kid-friendly activities and entertainment in Guatemala?
Certainly! Guatemala offers kid-friendly activities like exploring ancient ruins, visiting interactive museums, and enjoying outdoor adventures like hiking and wildlife spotting. Exploring the markets and experiencing local traditions can also be cool for children.
Are there any dress codes and cultural norms to follow in Guatemala?
In Guatemala, dressing modestly is appreciated, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. It’s customary to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home. Being polite, using “por favor” (please) and “gracias” (thank you), and respecting local customs and traditions, such as Mayan rituals, will earn you goodwill. Always ask for permission before taking photos of people.
Are there any sustainable travel initiatives in Guatemala?
Yes, Guatemala has various sustainable travel initiatives aimed at preserving its natural and cultural heritage. These initiatives include eco-friendly lodges and tours in protected areas like Tikal National Park, efforts to support local communities through responsible tourism, and projects focused on reforestation and wildlife conservation.
Is there any internet and mobile phone access?
Yes, Guatemala generally has internet and mobile phone access in most urban areas and popular tourist destinations. In cities and towns, you can find internet cafes, and many hotels, restaurants, and cafes offer Wi-Fi services. Mobile phone coverage is widespread, and you can buy local SIM cards or use international roaming services, depending on your mobile phone provider. However, in more remote or rural areas, internet access and mobile coverage may be limited, so it’s advisable to check with your service provider or local accommodations in advance if you plan to stay in such areas.
What's the best time to visit Guatemala?
The best time to visit Guatemala depends on your preferences and activities. The dry season, from late November to early April, offers pleasant weather and is ideal for outdoor adventures, but it’s also the busiest and most expensive. The rainy season, from May to October, brings lush landscapes and lower prices but occasional heavy rains.
What cultural events and festivals are celebrated in Guatemala?
Some of the most notable include Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrated with colorful processions and religious fervor, and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) when families remember departed loved ones with elaborate altars and celebrations. There’s also the Burning of the Devil (La Quema del Diablo) in December, and the Giant Kite Festival (Festival de Barriletes Gigantes) in Sumpango on November 1st. Various towns and regions also hold their unique celebrations, so it’s worth checking local calendars for events when planning your visit.
Which is the most commonly spoken language in Guatemala?
The most commonly spoken language in Guatemala is Spanish. However, it’s important to note that Guatemala is also home to numerous indigenous languages, with over 20 different Mayan languages spoken throughout the country, such as K’iche’, Kaqchikel, and Q’eqchi’. These indigenous languages are still widely used in many communities, particularly in rural areas.
What is the currency and exchange in Guatemala?
The currency of Guatemala is the Guatemalan Quetzal, abbreviated as GTQ. When it comes to exchanging money, you can do so at banks, exchange offices, or ATMs in Guatemala. Major foreign currencies like the US Dollar are often accepted in tourist areas, but it’s advisable to have some local currency for use in smaller towns and markets. It’s a good idea to check the current exchange rates and fees for currency exchange before your trip and inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with using your credit or debit cards in Guatemala.