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Guatemala Travel Guide

Guatemala
Travel Guide

I’ve been living in Guatemala for a long time now, that’s why I can tell you everything you need to do to travel Guatemala, by region, by destination or the way you want.

From climbing to roasting marshmallows on an active volcano, traveling in Guatemala will suit every style of traveler.

This country is famous for the colorful colonial city of Antigua, Mayan Kingdoms, active volcanos, black beaches, beautiful landscapes, activities full of adventure, and a lot of family-friendly fun waiting for you in Guatemala. 

Things To Know About Guatemala

Currency: The Guatemalan currency is called Quetzal, just like the bird. It stays around Q7.60 for one USD.

Weather: Guatemala is known as the country of Eternal Aprings. It stays warm all year long. The rainy season goes from May to late October.

Tap Water: Because of various bacterial infections in the tap water, you need to make sure you only drink filtered water.

Visa Free: Most people can travel to the country visa free for 90 days. It’s important to check regulations beforehand.

Best time to Visit

Guatemala has two seasons, the dry season and the rainy season. For obvious reasons, the best time to travel to Guatemala is during the dry season, from November to April. But if you can't make it during this time, don't worry, Guatemala has a great climate all year round, with temperatures between 70°F to 90°F.


Places to Visit

Highlights


Make Every Day An Adventure Guatemala List 

two guys sitting on top of Acatenango volcano

Climb Acatenango Volcano and See a Fuego Volcano do a Live Lava Show

Top Facts About Tikal in Guatemala

Visit Old Mayan Ruins in the middle of Rainforests

Walk on a Volcanic, Black Sanded Beach

Los siete altares waterfalls guatemala

Swim in a Natural Pool or Hot Spring

releasing baby sea turtles in guatemala

Release baby turtles on the beach

hot springs in guatemala - pacaya volcano hike

Take a horseback ride

Roast marshmallows on lava

old building in antigua guatemala

Stroll around Colonial City of Antigua

Highlight

El Paredon Beach and Town Guide


Travel Guides


Where to Stay

Guatemala has many great hotels of all prices and amenities. Discovering them is part of the adventure.

Grand Tikal Futura
(Guatemala City)

grand tikal futura lobby

Hotel San Carlos (Guatemala City)

hotel san carlos guatemala city

Hotel Villas Balam Ya (Lake Atitlan)

Villas balam ya lake atitlan

Where to Eat

Eating in Guatemala is a whole experience itself, if you want to truly experience what locals eat on their daily life, head to Comedores, small local eateries that are really cheap and serve local food. On the other hand, the country offer a huge variety of restaurants, from traditional Guatemalan cuisine to traditional Mayan cuisine.

Flor de Lis Restaurant (Guatemala City)

mayan dish on a table at flor de lis restaurant

Original Mayan cuisine

two womans making tortillas on a comal at el comalote restaurant antigua guatemala

A hands-on experience

Hobbitenango
(Antigua)

hobbitenango restaurant in antigua, guatemala

Everything looks like the Hobbits

family sitting around a table at el hato verde restaurant

Outdoor restaurant on the mountains

Guatemalan Food


Celebrations and Festivals

Cultural Festivals - Day of the Dead Guatemala

Every 1st or 2nd of November, Guatemala celebrate the Day of the Dead uniquely, with GIANT kites!. The best place to check it is Santiago Sacatepéquez.

Holy Week in Guatemala begins on Sunday April 2 and ends on Saturday April 8. The best place to check it out is in Antigua.


How to Get Around

Getting around in Guatemala is simple and easy, most of the local people travel by "chicken bus". Those colorful buses are a whole experience in themselves, and a great opportunity to interact with locals. There are many other options too, shuttles, taxis, and rental cars, ubers, taxis, but if you want to experience the true local Guatemala you'll need to try a chicken bus and tuk-tuk.

By Taxi

taxi in guatemala

You'll find taxis in most main towns and cities. They are cheap, around $5 for a short trip, and many times you'll find taxi offering day trips or excursions to nearby sites, prices range anything from $30 to $60. Most taxis are willing to negotiate.

You'll not find any metered cabs, make sure to fix a price beforehand.


By Tuk-tuk

woman sitting on a tuk tuk in guatemala

Have you ever seen the thai tuk-tuks? Exactly the same but in Guatemala, they have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years working as a taxi. You can find tuk-tuks in most towns.

Prices can vary depending on the town, but a short ride is $0.75-$1. 


By Plane

taca airlines guatemala

In Guatemala you'll not find many internal flights, in facts the only two right now are from Guatemala City to Flores or Puerto Barrios, it has a price of $130 for a one way ticket and $200-$250 for both ways.

Taca and TAG are the airlines offering three daily flights. To buy the tickets, head to a local travel agency or to the airport.

By Bike

bike park, bike community, mtb life, mountain biking trails, gautemala city

A good draw about Guatemala is the fact that bikes are common, you can rent bikes in towns like Antigua, Quetzaltenango, Panajachel and obviously Guatemala City. The price for a rented bike is usually around $8 per day or $25 per week.

You need to take into consideration the street conditions of the country, many roads have potholes, and you'll be facing many hills.

By Chicken Bus

guatemalan chicken bus

Chicken buses, are commonly known as camionetas, and they are easy to spot. Buses work out of public bus terminals, but you can just do a sign, and they will stop. 

Tickets are bought on the bus, you just pay for the ride, it cost around $1–1.25 an hour.

It's a unique experience, cramped buses, loud music, chickens clucking, and vendors coming in a out all the time.

By Car

cars in antigua guatemala

Traffic is super heavy in the capital and some towns. Also, the locals can drive erratically and roads will have holes.

Rented cars prices can go up to $40 a day for a tiny car and almost $70 for 4x4 vehicle. Rental agencies are available in most main towns and the capital.

Gas Prices are called gasolineras, and they are firly common. The prices of fuel in the country is $4.40 per gallon.


Travel Tips

Guatemala is Safe. A lot of people think Guatemala is unsafe, but the truth is, it’s actually safe. Of course, there’s crime but you can avoid most of it by using common sense. Don’t go around flashing your valuables, stay alert and avoid walking around too late at night.

Be Careful in Guatemala City. Depending on which Zona you’re in, the capital can be one of the most dangerous parts of the country. Learn which zone you should avoid and which zones are safe for tourists.

ATMs. I highly recommend you to withdraw cash when you are in a larger town, since many of the smaller towns don’t have ATMs and there might not be any other way to get local money and not every place accept credit cards or USD.

Lodging is cheap. There are many hostels and small places to stay at where a room can cost $10 or $15 to $70, depending on the place you are at.

Food is cheap. Head to the comedores (local eateries in the country) and a traditional meal can cost around $5 to $12, and the dishes are huge.

Check the weather and the news. It’s not something to worry about, but, Guatemala has a lot of seismic activity and can sometimes experience earthquakes, floods and volcano eruptions.

Tipping. This is not customary in the country, and some restaurants will add 10% table service tip to the bill, and it’s usually not expected to tip after that. But if you want to do it, you’re more than welcome.

Spanish is the national language. As expected, many people in the country don’t speak English. So, you should learn the basics before heading there, it’ll be easier to travel around the country if you know some Spanish. On the other hand, in Antigua you can find a lot of people that speak English.

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