Guatemala Central Highlands Travel Guide And Facts

Travel Guide to the Guatemala Highlands

Guatemala has so much to offer as a travel destination. The Verapaces, Central Guatemalan Highlands, are mountainous regions with cloud forests, El Biotopo del Quetzal – where you’ll find the Resplendent Quetzal, the gorgeous national monument of Guatemala Semuc Champey, and a number of incredible parks great for rafting, exploring caves and so much more.

Although the word Verapaz literally means true peace, it was far from a peaceful place at one time. This particular region had seen the most amount of bloodshed, starting in the 1600’s when the Spanish Conquistadors arrived and reformed the native population to Christianity. Also in the 1980’s during the civil war, this particular area was hit the hardest. Nowadays, it’s a great get-away and cultural experience with the main city of Coban and its surrounding areas where the predominant languages are Q’eqchi and Pocomchi.

semuc champey guatemala central highland

Where is It?

See the map

You will find the highlands about 7 hours by car away from Guatemala City if you take CA-1 highway to the east.

Guatemala Highlands Weather

Cool and wet – Guatemala Highlands climate is usually either sunny and windy or cloudy with the softest rain. During the rainy season, there might be a lot more clouds and stronger rains that might now allow you to drive safely in the afternoons.

Places to Visit in the Guatemala Highlands

These are the most popular hot spots in this region. But for the gotta-see-it-all traveler, scroll down to the CITIES LESS TRAVELED to get the goods on this whole region.


Coban, ‘Cuidad Imperial’ as it was named by the Spaniards when they founded it back in 1538, is the main city of the Verapaces, Guatemala’s Central Highlands. Nestled amid cloud forests and coffee plantations, it’s also considered the gateway to Guatemala’s eco-adventures and destinations.

Can’t Miss This

  • Templo El Calvario
  • Vivero Verapaz – Orchid Nursery
  • Finca Santa Margarita – Coffee Tour
  • Mario Dary Rivera Biotope (El Quetzal)


For such a small town, Lanqui­n is full of adventure and excitement. You won’t know what to tackle first a fun boat ride down the river or cave adventure? However, no matter what you do, you won’t want to miss Guatemala’s Natural Wonder: Semuc Champey.

lanquin cave at the guatemala highlands

Can’t Miss This


Esquipulas is located at the very eastern edge of the Central Highlands. And from a quick glance, you’ll wonder why did you come to this remote little village. However, after a visit to the Basilica you’ll know. There are only a few towns in the world considered worthy of a miracle pilgrimage and Esquipulas is on top of this list. This is the home to the El Cristo Negro (The Black Christ), the healing Christ.

Can’t Miss This

  • Festival of the Black Christ – January 15
  • The Basi­lica and The Black Christ (El Cristo Negro)
  • The Cave of the Mines (La Cueva de las Minas)

So much TO SEE in the Guatemala Central Highlands Region!

Museums & Gardens

  • Trapiche Museum (Museo del Trapiche)
  • Calvario Temple (Templo El Calvario)
  • Prince Maya Museum (Museo El Príncipe Maya)
  • Vivero Verapaz – Orchid Nursery
  • The Basílica and The Black Christ (El Cristo Negro)

For Kids

  • Parque Ecoligico Hun Nal Ye

Parks and Reserves

  • Cloud Forest Biological Corridor
  • The Lagunas of Sepalau
  • Lanquin Caves National Park
  • Semuc Champey Natural Monument
  • Sierra de Las Minas Biosphere Reserve
  • Chelemhi Cloud Forest Preserve
  • Mario Dary Rivera Biotope (El Quetzal) Laguna Lachua National Park
  • Las Victorias National Park (Parque Nacional Las Victorias)
  • The Cave of the Mines (La Cueva de las Minas)

coban in guatemala highlands


  • Rey Marcos Cave (Grutas del Rey Marcos)
  • Bâ’onb’il Pek (painted cave)
  • Candelaria Caves National Park
  • Kan’ Ba Caves


  • El Salto de Chilasca
  • Las Conchas Pools
  • Sachichaj Waterfall

Hot Springs

  • Balneario Las Islas
  • Balneario Cecilinda


  • Cancun

So Much TO DO in the Guatemala Central Highlands Region!

Nature Activities

  • Bird and Wildlife Observing


  • Spelunking
  • Caving
  • Rafting
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking


  • Shopping at Local Markets
  • Rabin Ajau – Coban’s Folklore Festival (late July, early August)
  • Festival of the Black Christ – January 15

Edible Tours

  • Finca Santa Margarita – Coffee Tours
  • Cardamom and allspice Plantations

Less Traveled Cities

  • San Rafael Chilasca
  • San Pedro Carchi
  • San Juan Chamelco
  • San Cristobal Verapaz
  • Raxruja
  • Tactic
  • El Pajal to Fray Bartolome de Las Casas
  • Cubulco
  • Albores
  • Salama
  • Chisec
  • Purulha
  • San Jeronimo
  • Rabinal

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Guatemala Central Highlands Travel Guide - Travel Experta

Last Updated on September 24, 2023

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