Top Must-See and Things To Do in Guatemala

What kind of traveler are you? Do you thirst for adventure at every turn? Do you like to explore ancient worlds? Are you more interested in strolling along cobblestone streets, soaking in the culture, colorful markets, and architecture? Or are you all-in-one? Well, no matter your tastes or interests, Guatemala’s got you covered! There are a ton of things to do in Guatemala and I have listed some of them here!

Explore any of the hundreds of ancient Mayan ruins scattered all over the country, shop at colorful markets, take a boat ride on one of the largest volcanic craters in the world, discover new caves, and hike the western highlands. You decide!

By the name of Guatemala which means “the land of trees” here, you got some unique things to do in Guatemala. Once ruled by the Mayan Civilization, a country full of mystery and rich history behind it. Guatemala is a country in Central America with over 15 million citizens, including 55% of indigenous roots.

Almost everyone knows that one of the most famous things about Guatemala is its ancient past of Aztec and the Mayan civilization. With over 22 approved, Mayan languages are one of the most diverse countries in Latin America.

Offers amazing experiences and breathtaking landscape that has captured travelers all over the world.

So, if you are asking yourself “what to do in Guatemala for a week?” or “what activities do people do in Guatemala?” read on, because I got you covered. Are you a traveler that loves adventure? Or a wanderer who runs out of an idea where to go? Well, this post helps you to create a perfect travel bucket list in Guatemala that you can add to your travel goals.

And, most importantly, don’t miss your chance to participate in the local culture during one of the country’s lively festivals and carnivals for a true Guatemalan and Mayan experience.

kid sitting on a tree in Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Things to Do in Guatemala

Guatemala is known for its volcanic landscape, and captivating Mayan culture. And spotted the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But this small Central American country is full of life, wealth, and traditions that are worth discovering. Being adventurous is one of the best things to do in life to make fun and build memories.

Guatemala is the perfect country that you shouldn’t miss diving in. Add to your travel bucket list if you love culture, and unique and unforgettable experiences. Here are our top things to do in Guatemala. Come and discover these beautiful things that you’ll never forget and treasure forever.

 Stroll around Antigua, Guatemala

One of the marvelous places to visit in Antigua Guatemala is the cobblestone streets of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site. Making you feel relaxed, comfortable, and have a peaceful mind far away from any stress. While exploring the place you’ll see the well-maintained colonial churches. Spectacular Spanish-Baroque architecture, and romantic dining for your loved ones. Quality hotels at reasonable prices. Trendy restaurants serve excellent food and many things to do. It’s easy to fill your days here.

Antigua Guatemala is safe?

Having a walk along in Antigua Guatemala is safe. But make sure that you are still alert when unexpected things happen. Antigua is home of significant festivals and culture to exploit if you’re looking for remarkable memories. Don’t forget to pass by food market of Antigua and buy some things you can only buy in Guatemala.

Roast marshmallows on Lava when visiting Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano is located in Guatemala and is an active volcano. When hiking up, which takes around 2 hours, you’ll be able to see stunning landscapes. When you reach the highest point, the scenery of the surroundings is impressive. We recommend you go and see a sunset there. Climbing a volcano is ordinary. But what Pacaya Volcano makes striking to visit is roasting marshmallows on Lava. Brings back your childhood memories! You can also bring some graham crackers or chocolate if you want to experience much more fun! You should add this adventure to your bucket list. It will be one of the remarkable memories that your family and friends may have.

How long does it take to hike Pacaya Volcano?

From 1 hour to 2 hours. Grab your drinks and prepare, the hike from the head trail to the first lava spot takes around 1-2h. Don’t forget your snacls!

Mountain Biking

Guatemala seems to be specifically designed for mountain bikers. The list of single tracks, jeep tracks and dirt roads that crisscross this country is endless. Just Antigua Valley alone has hundreds of miles to ride and explore.

You are sure to get the full experience as you grind up big climbs, race down steep descents or roll along well-carved jeep tracks checking out the countryside, enjoying coffee plantations while peering at volcanoes that might cough up a bit of smoke at any given moment.

Visit Tikal Mayan Ruins

Tikal Mayan Ruins are one of the MUST-see attractions to visit. The vast archaeological site of Tikal National Park became historical. No wonder why Tikal Mayan Ruins were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. There are a lot of wondrous Mayan temples to figure out in its jungle setting. Tikal was the heart of the Mayan empire and ruled most of Mesoamerica politically, economically, and militarily. The surroundings enrich the experience of exploring Tikal. The pyramids rise above the jungle’s lush green canopy. It is populated by birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. There are rituals that Mayans practice, and this was the human sacrifice. This was proved by some documentation found at Tikal. If you feel that you want to have some jungle-like experience, visiting Tikal Mayan Ruins is the perfect place to dig in.

When was Tikal founded?

600 Before Christ. Tikal was settled down by at least 600 b.c, the classic period of Mayan history was from 250 to 900 a.d and most of the city buildings were built during this period.

📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out the El Mirador, Guatemala: Complete Guide to the Lost Mayan City

Take a boat ride on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Most people love to have an adventure with bodies of water. Taking a boat ride on Lake Atitlan should be included on your list to take a glimpse of this romantic setting and peaceful ambiance. Lake Atitlan is one of the popular places to visit in Guatemala. You’ll see the volcanoes surrounding the lake. Take a tour of small towns, traditional villages, and coffee plantations. Take a deep look at the local culture across the lake.

You can also enjoy the jungles, mountain lakes, forests, coral reefs, and beaches that will catch the attention of nature lovers. There are lots of adventures to do in Lake Atitlan, plus it’s a perfect environment to get away from stress and relax. There’s no surprise that people often end up staying much longer in Lake Atitlan than expected. You must add this incredible adventure to your travel bucket list.

Can you swim in Lake Atitlan Guatemala?

There are no existent rules for swimming in Lake Atitlan. This means that you can swim in the lake. Take your precautions and don’t swim around boats, that will make the drivers mad.

Learn Spanish in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Now, there are a lot of things to do for you to learn Spanish. You can take online Spanish classes, tutorials, and many more. Yet, to learn Spanish in Quetzaltenango, or Xela in short, makes it easier for you to understand.

Xela is the second-largest city in Guatemala. Xela, Guatemala, is populated with Spanish-speaking people. That’s why you should speak in Spanish if you want them to understand you. There are affordable Xela language schools to enroll in, which is why most people choose Xela. It is so much fun to learn a new language, so add this to your bucket list in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

Take a horseback ride on a Volcanic Beach in Paredon, Guatemala

Some people might say that Guatemala isn’t known for its beaches. What makes it unique is from fine black volcanic sand. Most Guatemalan Beaches got this black sand from tiny fragments of basalt left by volcanic activity that occurred thousands of years ago. You can do many things on Volcanic Beach such as surfing, fishing, lodging. But what you shouldn’t miss doing is taking a horseback ride on a Volcanic Beach is such an incredible experience. You should add to your bucket list to take horseback riding on the beach. We recommend that you do it during sunrise or sunset, so you could feel nature beyond your wildest dream.

How much fun would it be to gallop through Guatemala’s highlands surrounding Antigua or the Lake Atitlan region just as the sun sets over volcanic peaks? Or what about slowly making your way through sleepy, remote indigenous villages while sitting atop a beautiful steed? However, Guatemala’s special treat is the horseback riding tours that take you to hidden ancient Mayan ruins. Nowhere else in Central America will you have the chance to experience this! Tours vary from half-day excursions to multi-day, multi-terrain adventures.

Related Read: El Paredon Guatemala: So Much More Than a Sleepy Beach Town

things to do in guatemala


Release baby turtles in Monterrico, Guatemala

Having a chance to witness the adorable baby turtle’s release is such a great experience live. It’s wonderful.

CECON (Conservation Center of Studies – University of Guatemala, San Carlos). Allows people to release the turtles from September to February. When the turtle eggs hatch, CECON has a daily practice on the beach selling tickets to raise funds so that people can experience and feel heart-warming by these adorable creatures that are becoming extinct.

The funds that they gathered will be used to continue protecting and preserving baby turtles. If you decide to get involved in this activity. I would suggest refraining from using flashlights or photography with a flash because it might scare these little creatures. Don’t ever dare to miss this kind of opportunity to release the baby turtles in Monterrico, Guatemala.

When is the baby turtle releasing at Monterrico, Guatemala?

Those little sea turtles are released from September to December at the sunset or the sunrise. Around 5000 baby turtles are released every year by The Tortugario

Check out the largest market in Central America in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Chichicastenango is the largest market in Central America in Guatemala, and it is gorgeous. It’s full of enjoyment, tradition, love, life, and surprises. You can find many souvenirs throughout the towns and villages, where Chichi is the largest of them all. Vendors are selling a variety of things such as clothing, food, and things you can only buy in Guatemala. There are a lot of sellers in the street and in the different stalls.

It’s an excellent place to roam and take photos or haggle with vendors for a reasonable price. There are churches around the market where people do religious activities. Then make sure to walk through the Santo Tomás Church whose one of the historic churches built. Moreover, this is a vast market, selling regular everyday goods, fruits, vegetables, and the unique textiles for which it is so popular. Vendors come from a distance from this market, making it an excellent opportunity for people to watch and photograph.

What days can you visit the market in Chichicastenango?

You can visit the market every Thursday and Sunday. The citizens of Guatemala come from a lot of different villages and town to sell their goods.

Swim in Semuc Champey’s Crystal Blue pools

Semuc Champey is one of Guatemala’s beautiful places to swim because of its refreshing blue pools where you can relax and enjoy. It is a paradise of natural waterholes, caves, and some of the best waterfalls in Guatemala. Reaching Semuc Champey is not that easy, but seeing them after a long ride is very rewarding. The crystal blue pools of Semuc Champey must include on your bucket list. Some of them are deep that can dive in, and others are not.

See Fuego Volcano Erupting while camping on Acatenango Volcano

Fuego Volcano is one of the active volcanoes in Guatemala that erupt constantly, and you can watch it from a relatively safe distance.

To do this, you need to climb up the neighboring volcano called Acatenango Volcano. You’ll have to stay up for the night and wait until it gets dark for a show that you will never forget! Camping on Acatenango Volcano is a must-add to your unique things to do in Guatemala. While seeing the Fuego volcano erupting. It is one of the most exciting traveling activities that you must try.

How long does it take to climb Acatenango?

7 hours.
The total time to climb or hike the Acatenango is from 4 hours to 7 hours. The path is straight forward.

semuc champey in guatemala

What’s Your Flavor?

  • Nature Activities
  • Adventure & Recreational Activities
  • Spa, Health & Yoga
  • Cultural Activities

Activities to Do in Guatemala

Nature Activities 

Adventure & Recreational Activities

Things To Do in Guatemala - Guide on What to Do in Guatemala - antigua guatemala


Edible Tours 

Things To Do in Guatemala - Guide on What to Do in Guatemala - kayaking


Spa, Health & Yoga

  • Full-Service Spas
  • Medi-Spa Day Treatments
  • Hot Springs
  • Yoga and Meditation Retreats
  • Mayan Spas

Cultural Activities

Things To Do in Guatemala - Guide on What to Do in Guatemala - canopy tour



Is Guatemala dangerous to visit?

Guatemala is not a safe place to visit in general. It has high rates of crime and petty crimes. So you should take a lot of precautions and be vigilant to cut problems and risks.

What is Guatemala well known for?

Volcanos, and their volcanic landscapes. The Mayan culture is everywhere and is beautiful. Also, they have the colorful city of Antigua which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is the best time to go to Guatemala?

The dry season is overall the best time to go to Guatemala. From November to April. The country has a nice climate.


As you can see, Guatemala offers a wide variety of things to do, and I’m sure I didn’t even include everything here.

After over ten years of living in the country and taking some time to explore its best regions, hotels, restaurants, and destinations I came to the conclusion that the very first time that I visited and just did the basics I missed out on so much, and that is because Guatemala’s attractions don’t get as much publicity on the outside as they should.

So I would recommend you give the country more time and talk a lot to locals so can direct you to hidden opportunities for a fun adventure that might not be advertised on the internet. That is how my family and I have ended up on the best adventures so far.

You found out about the unique travel bucket list in Guatemala and discovered it as famous for its historical sites and natural beauty.

With plenty of incredible places to visit and adventure activities to do. You’ll be very excited about your one-of-a-kind expedition. Don’t ever try to skip even one of those unique things to do in Guatemala, so you’ll be able to fulfill them. Have an incredible experience that you can share with your family and friends. So, start checking out your bucket list right now!

If you have been here, do you have any other advice on What to Do in Guatemala?

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Things To Do in Guatemala - Guide on What to Do in Guatemala

Last Updated on November 22, 2023

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