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Ultimate Guide to Coban Guatemala With Tips, Activities and More

Let me take you to Cobán, Guatemala—the kind of place that doesn’t need fancy words. No hype, just the truth.

Arrival: We stepped off the bus, tired but curious. Cobán welcomed us with open arms. No red carpets, just friendly faces.

Culture Dive: The Maya culture was everywhere. Markets bustled with life—colors, sounds, and flavors. We ate street food, stumbled through conversations, and felt like part of the scene.

Hotels: Cozy spots, not 5-star resorts. But they had character. Warm beds, simple breakfasts, and genuine smiles. My family loved it—the real deal.

Semuc Champey: Our jackpot. Crystal-clear pools, limestone bridges, and jungle vibes. We swam, laughed, and forgot about time. No exaggeration, it was pure fun.

family at the top of semuc champey in guatemala with the pools in the back
Visiting Coban will let you experience the fantastic vibes of the Alta Verapaz, with its green areas and cool climate, but also, you can also easily visit Semuc Champey and other attractions.

How to Get to Cobán

Getting to Cobán from Guatemala City can be done in two main ways: by bus, or by car. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

By car

Driving to Cobán is the most flexible and adventurous option. Renting a car in Guatemala City and driving to Cobán is a great option, whether you prefer to go solo or with a guide. It usually takes around 4 hours to drive there, and the price varies based on the car type and rental company.

There are plenty of car rental choices available online or at the airport.

The primary route to Cobán is the CA-14, a well-paved and maintained road, although it can be narrow and winding in certain sections.

Driving to Cobán offers the benefit of having greater flexibility and autonomy in planning your trip. Feel free to pause your journey at any point and check out other destinations like Lanquín.

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By bus

One of the most affordable and commonly chosen options for traveling to Cobán is by bus. The bus ride lasts approximately 5 hours and costs roughly USD 10 for a one-way ticket.

You have the option to purchase your tickets either at the bus terminals or directly on the bus. Those buses are typically comfortable and safe, although they may get crowded and noisy at times.

One benefit of opting for the bus to Cobán is the cost savings and the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful views during the journey.

One downside is that buses may be slow and not very dependable, often making numerous stops and detours.

Additionally, the bus terminals are situated on the outskirts of Guatemala City, requiring a taxi or shuttle ride from La Aurora airport or city center, and terminals are often unsafe.

Things to Do in Coban

Cobán offers a unique blend of experiences. Whether you’re an intrepid explorer or a soul in search of serenity, this charming city has something to offer.

Let’s dive into some of the best things to do in Cobán and explore:

1. Semuc Champey: Nature’s Masterpiece

Semuc Champey is a breathtaking natural marvel. Imagine a row of terraced limestone pools, each brimming with clear turquoise water.

You’ll have the opportunity to explore the lush jungle and discover this secluded paradise, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and admiring the stunning waterfalls.

Remember to bring your camera because the views are stunning!

woman sitting next to a natural pool in semuc champey guatemala
Semuc Champey is a natural marvel and one of the top destinations to visit in the country, make sure to not miss it.

2. Lanquin Caves: An Underground Adventure

Explore the intriguing Lanquin Caves, where unique rock formations form a surreal environment.

Guided tours lead visitors through meandering pathways, unveiling ancient Mayan artifacts and mysterious rock formations.

The refreshing, moist air enhances the feeling of discovery. It feels like entering a hidden world.

a woman and kid inside the lanquin caves guatemala
Another must-do while visiting Coban in Guatemala is exploring caves, and Lanquin Cave is one of the best ones, it was used by Mayan people!

3. Cobán’s Coffee Culture: A Flavorful Journey

Cobán is also famous for its coffee, just like the whole country explore a nearby coffee plantation to discover the journey from bean to cup.

Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee amid lush green coffee plantations. The smell by itself is captivating!

4. El Biotopo del Quetzal: Birdwatcher’s Paradise

The Quetzal, known for its stunning green feathers, represents Guatemala and you visit El Biotopo del Quetzal, a protected cloud forest, to see this rare bird.

With binoculars in hand, track the trails and listen for its unique call. What’s the reward? Spotting this amazing bird with misty mountains in the background.

quetzal bird on a tree in guatemala wildlife

5. Cobán’s Colorful Market: A Feast for the Senses

Experience the vibrant ambiance of Cobán’s market, and check the stalls that are filled with fresh produce, colorful textiles, and handcrafted items.

Enjoy trying out unique fruits, chatting with welcoming locals, and haggling for keepsakes. This experience truly encapsulates the spirit of Cobán.

6. Verapaz Artisanal Chocolate: A Sweet Indulgence

Cobán is where you’ll find the popular Alta Verapaz artisanal chocolate, where they work their magic on cacao beans to create delicious treats.

Join a tour to discover the fascinating chocolate-making process, starting from selecting the beans to molding the final product.

Try out some delicious chocolates with unique local flavors such as cardamom and chili. It’s a delightful treat for your taste buds.

7. Cobán’s Waterfalls: Refreshing Escapes

Get away from the tropical heat by checking out the waterfalls in Cobán, El Salto de Chilascó is a beautiful Guatemalan waterfall nestled in a vibrant natural setting.

Enjoy a refreshing swim in the pools or relax while admiring their beauty. These waterfalls are a perfect escape on a hot day.

El Salto de Chilascó waterfall in guatemala
Exploring the green areas, and protected forests and doing activities like hiking or camping are among the must-do while visiting Coban.

Places to Visit in Coban

El Calvario Church: A Spiritual Oasis

El Calvario Church is a reminder of Cobán’s colonial history, the white facade and red roof form a charming image set against the backdrop of the nearby hills.

Make sure you check out the detailed wooden altarpiece while enjoying the calm atmosphere.

Coban Central Park: Heartbeat of the City

The Coban Central Park is a hub for community members, kids having fun and everyday moments, taking a leisurely walk under the shade of ancient trees, enjoying live marimba music, and indulging in local snacks from street vendors.

It’s a genuine taste of life in Cobán and the Alta Verapaz, there’s not much to do, just relax, grab a book, or enjoy the surroundings

Orquigonia: Orchid Paradise

Orquigonia is a wonderful destination for those who love orchids, and plants in general, even if you don’t I bet you’ll have a great time here.

This botanical garden boasts over 200 species of orchids, creating a vibrant display of colors and fragrances. Discover the intricate harmony of ecosystems and admire the exquisite beauty of these unique flowers.

Essential Travel Resources

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Where to Stay in Cobán

Cobán offers a variety of places to stay to suit every budget and preference, from hotels and hostels to guesthouses, eco-lodges, and farms.

Check out these top places to stay in Cobán:

Hotels

Park Hotel

Located in the heart of Cobán, this hotel is modern and elegant, situated near the central park and the cathedral.

The rooms are spacious and comfortable, each equipped with private bathrooms, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and air conditioning. There’s a restaurant, bar, gym, sauna, and conference room available as well.

Hotel Casa Duranta

This hotel is delightful and comfortable, situated in a colonial-style house just a short walk from the central park.

The rooms are bright and colorful and come with private bathrooms, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and fans. There is also a garden, terrace, lounge, and library available.

Hotel Don Juan Matalbatz

This hotel has a charming and old-fashioned vibe, situated in a peaceful location just a short distance from the city center.

The rooms are straightforward and tidy, each with its own private bathroom, cable TV, Wi-Fi, and fans. There’s also a restaurant, bar, pool, and playground available.

Hostels

Hostal El Calvario

A welcoming and enjoyable place situated in a historic building,
close to the Calvario church and the market.

It provides dorms and private rooms with shared bathrooms,
Wi-Fi, and lockers. It includes a kitchen, dining room, lounge, and rooftop terrace.

Hostal La Paz

This hostel is situated in a peaceful residential neighborhood, just a brief stroll from the city center.

It offers a comfortable and laid-back atmosphere. It provides dorms and private rooms with shared bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and fans.

Hostal Casa Luna

A vibrant hostel that is situated in a wooden house just a short walk from the central park.

It provides dorms and private rooms with shared bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and fans. It also includes a kitchen, dining room, lounge, and balcony.

Guesthouses

Casa Q’eqchi’

This guesthouse is charming and genuine, situated in a family residence just a quick drive from the city center.

Private rooms are available with shared bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and fans included.

Casa Gaia

This guesthouse is nestled in a serene and environmentally conscious setting, just a quick drive from the bustling city center.

Private rooms are available with private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and fans included.

ACCOMMODATIONS




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Hotels

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Budget Options

If you’re looking for cheaper options, check out Hostel World and browse budget-friendly accommodations.

Where to Eat in Cobán

Cobán is a great destination for both nature enthusiasts and food lovers. The food in Cobán and the Alta Verapaz region reflects a mix of Q’eqchi’ Maya, Spanish, and German influences. There is a wide selection of tasty, healthy, and one-of-a-kind dishes and drinks available.

Don’t miss out on the traditional Guatemalan dishes, such as pepsin or the Kak’ik.

Check out some of the best restaurants and cafes in Coban:

Casa D’Acuña:

This restaurant is considered one of the top dining spots in Cobán. There is a wide range of dishes available,
including local specialties and international cuisines like pasta, pizza, burgers, and salad.

It’s open every day of the week from 7 am to 10 pm.

Restaurante El Peñascal

A cozy restaurant run by a family, focusing on delicious traditional food as well as grilled meats like steak, ribs, chicken, and sausage.

The restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and it is open every day of the week from 10 am to 10 pm.

Café La Posada

This cafe is a delightful spot that offers top-notch coffee in Cobán, along with pastries, sandwiches, salads, and soups.

It’s part of the hotel of the same name and features vibrant and creative decor, and it is open from Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 8 pm.

guatemalan breakfast
Food in Coban won’t let you down, you can find anything from traditional to international and even Guatemalan street food.

FAQ

When is the best time to visit Cobán?

If you’re planning a trip to Cobán, consider visiting during the dry season for the best experience. In Cobán, the weather tends to be mild and enjoyable all year round, with an average temperature of 20°C (68°F).

There are two main seasons in this area: the dry season, which runs from November to April, and the rainy season, which lasts from May to October.

Each season has its pros and cons, so make sure to choose wisely.

Tip: Guatemala is a safe place for tourists, but be aware!

The biggest issue is theft.

Get travel insurance before starting your journey.

I recommend Visitors Coverage.

How safe is Cobán?

Cobán is usually a safe and welcoming spot, but as with any location, it comes with its own set of risks and difficulties.

It’s important to be cautious and use common sense when visiting Cobán. Remember to avoid walking alone at night, especially in dark or isolated areas, and keep your valuables and documents secure.

If you ever need help or assistance, just reach out to the local authorities, your embassy, or your travel agency.

Conclusion: Is Coban Worth Visiting?

Yes! Cobán is a must-visit destination for travelers looking to explore the diversity and beauty of Guatemala. This spot offers a chance to explore the history and culture of the Q’eqchi’ Maya people, admire the beauty of the cloud forest, and savor the exquisite coffee from the Alta Verapaz region.

Cobán offers a variety of experiences to suit all preferences, from thrilling adventures to peaceful relaxation and educational opportunities.

Looking for More Inspiration?

I have been traveling and living in Guatemala for over 25 years
Check out these Hand-Tested GUIDES

Tips

If you want to travel without the hassle and confusion – check out a complete guide for traveling to Guatemala.

Places

For more travel ideas to add to your bucket list, check out a complete guide to all the best places to visit in Guatemala.

Food

Guatemala has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 15 Guatemalan Food and Dishes.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

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