Guatemala travel guide

Guatemala Tourism | Guatemala Guide

You're Going to Love Guatemala

One of Central America's biggest drawcards due to its vast size and diversity of landscapes, Guatemala should be at the top of your travel list. Regarded as the capital of Mayan culture, sophisticated remnants of the historic civilization are still prevalent. Tour preserved ruins and observe modern-day Mayans go about their lives in mountainous villages.

Guatemala is heaven on earth for adventure seekers. There is no shortage of activities throughout the thriving rainforests, such as trekking, white water rafting, zip-lining, and paragliding. The Pacific coastline also offers an array of pristine surfing locations, with glassy breaks stretching from Champerico to Iztapa.

What to do in Guatemala

1. Discover the Tikal Archaeological Site

The breathtaking ancient city dates back to the 6th century B.C. and offers a glimpse into the life of the pre-Columbian Mayan era. Among the architectural constructions that can be viewed are palaces, houses, sports arenas, and public squares.

2. Catch a Sunset over Lake Atitlán

Encircled by soaring volcanoes, the deep expanse of water sits within a crater and is the deepest lake in Central America.

3. Get in Touch with Nature at Semuc Champey

This region of the Cahabó River is too beautiful for words to describe, boasting a formation of limestone rocks that create a natural bridge and divine swimming pools. You can also explore nearby water caves.

4. Browse for a Bargain at Chichicastenango Market

Held every Thursday and Sunday, this bustling spread of stalls takes over the entire center of town and has traditional Mayan clothes, bags, jewelry, art, and more. The majority of items are handmade and make for the perfect travel souvenir.

5. Soothe your Soul at Pacaya Hot Springs

Soak in the natural warm springs that surround the active Pacaya volcano and you'll instantly feel rejuvenated, with thermal pools and steam baths available.

1. Discover the Tikal Archaeological Site

The breathtaking ancient city dates back to the 6th century B.C. and offers a glimpse into the life of the pre-Columbian Mayan era. Among the architectural constructions that can be viewed are palaces, houses, sports arenas, and public squares.

2. Catch a Sunset over Lake Atitlán

Encircled by soaring volcanoes, the deep expanse of water sits within a crater and is the deepest lake in Central America.

3. Get in Touch with Nature at Semuc Champey

This region of the Cahabó River is too beautiful for words to describe, boasting a formation of limestone rocks that create a natural bridge and divine swimming pools. You can also explore nearby water caves.

4. Browse for a Bargain at Chichicastenango Market

Held every Thursday and Sunday, this bustling spread of stalls takes over the entire center of town and has traditional Mayan clothes, bags, jewelry, art, and more. The majority of items are handmade and make for the perfect travel souvenir.

5. Soothe your Soul at Pacaya Hot Springs

Soak in the natural warm springs that surround the active Pacaya volcano and you'll instantly feel rejuvenated, with thermal pools and steam baths available.

When to visit Guatemala

A pleasant and warm climate makes for enjoyable travel throughout the year; however, conditions are best during the dry season, which extends from November to April.

How to Get to Guatemala

Entry Requirements

Visas are not required for a large portion of citizens from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Valid passports are mandatory for all travelers unless they are from Central America.

Plane

Nonstop flights are available from a range of Central and North American destinations. Most international routes are scheduled to La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.

Car

Border crossings are relatively straightforward from Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Arterial highways from Mexico can experience considerable congestion, so plan ahead and allow time for delays.

Bus

Services are available from several major neighboring cities, including San Salvador, Tulum, Cancun, Mexico City, San Pedro Sula, and Belize City.

Boat

Ferries can be caught from the Belizean fishing town of Punta Gorda to Livingston and Puerto Barrios. Tickets cost approximately Q115 ($15) and can be purchased at the dock.

Entry Requirements

Visas are not required for a large portion of citizens from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Valid passports are mandatory for all travelers unless they are from Central America.

Plane

Nonstop flights are available from a range of Central and North American destinations. Most international routes are scheduled to La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City.

Car

Border crossings are relatively straightforward from Mexico, El Salvador, and Honduras. Arterial highways from Mexico can experience considerable congestion, so plan ahead and allow time for delays.

Bus

Services are available from several major neighboring cities, including San Salvador, Tulum, Cancun, Mexico City, San Pedro Sula, and Belize City.

Boat

Ferries can be caught from the Belizean fishing town of Punta Gorda to Livingston and Puerto Barrios. Tickets cost approximately Q115 ($15) and can be purchased at the dock.

Popular airports in Guatemala

Popular airlines serving Guatemala

KLM
Good (846 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,746 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,180 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,445 reviews)
Air France
Good (978 reviews)
Iberia
Good (1,599 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,941 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,361 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (6,214 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (5,928 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,543 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (4,568 reviews)
Frontier
Okay (1,364 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (341 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (517 reviews)
Avianca
Good (1,335 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (920 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (770 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (743 reviews)
China Airlines
Excellent (633 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Guatemala

"Hospedajes" are everywhere, from big cities to regional towns. They are effectively cheap hotels and often have both private and dorm rooms.

Where to stay in popular areas of Guatemala

Most booked hotels in Guatemala

Porta Hotel Antigua
5 stars
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$273+
Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo
5 stars
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
$399+
Holiday Inn Guatemala
4 stars
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
$193+
Grand Tikal Futura Hotel
4 stars
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
$222+
Barceló Guatemala City
5 stars
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$138+
The Westin Camino Real, Guatemala
5 stars
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$270+

How to Get Around Guatemala

Public Transportation

Buses are the most reliable transport option between cities as multiple private companies schedule regular services. Guatemala City has green Transmetro buses, which operate a 6-line network and cost approximately Q1 ($0.15) per ride.

Bus

The "Chicken Bus" is one of the most authentic experiences you can enjoy as converted school buses transport you cheaply between destinations. Make sure you hold on tight and prepare for a bumpy ride as the journeys are not for the faint-hearted.

Car

Renting a vehicle provides tremendous freedom to access secluded locations, with several global companies, such as Budget and Hertz, available in addition to local providers like Tabarini.

Plane

Domestic flights are only possible between Guatemala City and Flores. The trip takes roughly 30min and a ticket can be purchased for approximately Q930 ($120).

Public Transportation

Buses are the most reliable transport option between cities as multiple private companies schedule regular services. Guatemala City has green Transmetro buses, which operate a 6-line network and cost approximately Q1 ($0.15) per ride.

Bus

The "Chicken Bus" is one of the most authentic experiences you can enjoy as converted school buses transport you cheaply between destinations. Make sure you hold on tight and prepare for a bumpy ride as the journeys are not for the faint-hearted.

Car

Renting a vehicle provides tremendous freedom to access secluded locations, with several global companies, such as Budget and Hertz, available in addition to local providers like Tabarini.

Plane

Domestic flights are only possible between Guatemala City and Flores. The trip takes roughly 30min and a ticket can be purchased for approximately Q930 ($120).

The Cost of Living in Guatemala

Food is rather cheap and a meal at an inexpensive restaurant will cost approximately Q40 ($5). A meal at a more upmarket restaurant will be around Q200 ($25). Food is also inexpensive at supermarkets, where you can get a 0.2 gallon of milk and a dozen eggs for about Q24 ($3). If you are visiting smaller towns, make sure you withdraw cash before arriving as many do not have ATMs. In bigger cities, international debit and credit cards are accepted at hotels and bigger restaurants.

Popular cities in Guatemala