Guatemala, the country of eternal spring, Mayan Indians, active volcanoes, and amazing landscapes. This country will fulfill every visitor’s experience and leave them wanting to come back for more.
Below you will find information about some of the top areas in the country to visit, with information about what to do in each of them. You should take a look at the travel guide to Guatemala by region.
Where to Go in Guatemala?
Can’t Miss This!
- Enter the world of the ancient Mayan Empire as you explore Tikal and other ruins in the midst of dense tropical forests.
- Take a horse ride and ride through exquisitely preserved cobblestoned streets of Antigua’s colonial splendor.
- Get lost among Chichicastenango, one of the largest native artisan markets of Central America, where you’ll bargain your heart out for exquisite, handmade crafts.
- Take a boat ride on Lake Atitlan, one of the largest volcanic crater lakes in the world, and explore the tiny villages all around it which are populated by indigenous, hippies, and friendly locals.
- In Panajachel, the main town of Lake Atitlan, you’ll enjoy your large selection of yummy cafes, gourmet restaurants, and amazing hotels with breathtaking views of the lake and volcanoes all around it.
- Todos Santos is one of the last remaining traditional indigenous villages where the residents wear their colorful Trajes with pride and follow, almost lost, Mayan traditions.
Guatemala awaits you! Where to go in Guatemala?
Atlantic Lowlands and Coast
The Atlantic Coast is really the Caribbean Sea, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Do you know What makes this area so special? It’s the different water cruise adventures to be had: A beautiful boat tour along the Rio Dulce to visit the bustling town of Puerto Barrios then sail on over to the isolated, Caribbean funky town of Livingston. Where reggae beats sway through the air like you can on a hammock!
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.
Lake Atitlan Area
The entire Atitlan Lake, which is ten miles at its widest, was formed thousands of years ago in the crater of a massive volcano. It’s so deep, over a mile down, that many scuba divers wonder if some rare marine creature will emerge one day. The lake, with its incredible views of quaint Mayan villages, massive volcanoes, and hillsides is worth a long visit. Stay at one of the villages which are only accessible by boat, or at the popular hot spot Panajachel with its funky cafes, delicious restaurants, and fun markets.
Better known as the “Southern Coast”, This is the Guatemalans favorite place to go when looking for a beach vacation. Monterrico, the most popular of all, is where Chapins come to bask in the sun and enjoy the black sanded, volcanic beaches.
Granted the beaches are nowhere as beautiful as the surrounding countries such as Mexico or Honduras. But if you’re craving a beach experience, you’ll definitely have a blast here, try a bit of surfing, and party it up with the locals!
The Peten Department
This is the place to see! Peten Department is home to the most impressive and mightiest Mayan ancient ceremonial cities. Tikal, the main ruin, is located in a tropical forest part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, full of wildlife and exotic birds that will capture your heart and take you back to the ancient days of the powerful Mayans.
Tikal is without a doubt breathtaking and one of the most magical places of Guatemala, aside from being a nature lover’s paradise. But don’t overlook the other fascinating lost cities of the Maya (Yaxha, El Mirador), and the colorful island town of Flores located on Lake Petén Itzá.
Get off the tried-and-true trail to explore the homelands of the Maya people and Guatemala’s second-largest city, Quetzaltenango, better known as Xela (Shay-la). Here you can enjoy a trip through the bustling mountain town of Huehuetenango on your way to Todos Santos Cuchumatan, one of the last remaining traditional indigenous villages of Guatemala.
These Guatemalan highlands, also known as the altiplano, are great for adventure travelers. Here you can hike volcanoes and soak in natural thermal springs while enjoying spectacular views of mountains and volcanic lakes.
Guate (as the locals call it) is the largest Central American city. The city is zonified starting at zone 1 in the center and radiating outward. Some zones are full of lively cafes, top-notch restaurants, and cultural centers. For museum lovers, it’s a don’t-miss-out destination.
Sure Guatemala city has earned it’s violent and dangerous reputation for good reason, but you wouldn’t go out flaunting your jewels and trinkets in any Central American city. If you follow a few basic safety guidelines, don’t enter gang territory, you’ll be amazed at how modern and alive this city really is! Plus, you have to come here to catch any mainline transport either bus, shuttle or plane. So while, you’re here, enjoy yourself.
This is a can’t-miss-this destination. The colonial city of Antigua lies beautifully between three volcanoes and will have you snapping more pictures than a 2-gigabyte memory stick can hold. There are delicious restaurants at every corner, clean and well-manicured cobblestoned streets great for a horse ride, and crumbling ruins that have become part of the scenery amongst colorful houses.
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