Guatemala

Travel Guide
Guatemala featuring a sunset, mountains and a lake or waterhole

The birthplace of the Maya civilization is home to ancient ruins, colonial heritage and a spectacular topography of jungles, lakes, mountains and volcanoes. 

Guatemala is full of captivating contrasts. Discover ancient ruins among verdant rainforests, villages in the foothills of volcanoes and long-standing Mayan customs. Find rugged mountains that descend down into jungles and pristine beaches. Guatemala is the westernmost country of Central America. As well as Spanish, hear the languages of over different 20 ethnic groups being spoken.

Start your visit in Antigua, the former capital set amid three volcanoes. Explore a city of colonial landmarks, tropical gardens and cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses. The nation’s capital, Guatemala City, is famous for its galleries, museums and nightlife. Visit Flores, an island village full of craft stores and cafés, located in the middle of Lake Peten Itza. Sample some of Guatemala’s best coffee in Cobán.

Mayan culture originated in Guatemala and its traditions continue to thrive. In the western highlands, Quetzaltenango is the heart of Mayan life and a gateway to interesting market towns such as Panajachel. Chichicastenango is famous for its embroidery. Explore the ruins of monumental pyramids in Quiriguá or head north to admire the spectacular temple ruins of Tikal and El Mirador.

There’s plenty to see in Guatemala’s wild scenery. Scuba dive in beautiful Lake Atitlan, framed by quaint villages such as San Pedro de la Laguna and Santa Cruz de la Laguna. Walk to picture-perfect waterfalls and try caving or tubing at Semuc Champey. Hike to the crater of the active Volcan Pacaya. Walk around lakes and spot monkeys, jaguars and birds in jungle-clad Parque Nacional Laguna Lachúa.

Along the Pacific Coast, explore the black-sand beaches of Monterrico on horseback and see nesting sea turtles. Experience Guatemala’s surf culture at Paredón and the laid-back charm of Livingston, on the Caribbean coast.Despite its turbulent history, today Guatemala is friendly and hospitable. You should, however, visit areas off the tourist trail with caution. Reach Guatemala by flying to Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport and explore this enticing country via affordable, efficient buses.

Popular cities in Guatemala

Panajachel which includes a bay or harbor, a lake or waterhole and boating
Panajachel
Wildlife spotting, trekking in the Guatemalan highlands and a 16th-century church make this lakeside town a magnet for outdoor types and cultural enthusiasts.

Reasons to visit

  • Panajachel Municipal Market
  • Church of Saint Francis
  • Azul Maya Archaeological Museum
Tikal which includes heritage elements, heritage architecture and a ruin
Tikal National Park
Come to Tikal National Park and enjoy its natural setting, ruins, and hiking.

Reasons to visit

  • Tikal
  • Acrópolis Central
Quetzaltenango featuring a city
Quetzaltenango
With a strong Mayan heritage, colonial architecture and huge volcanoes rising in the distance, this archetypal Guatemalan town enthralls and educates.

Reasons to visit

  • Quetzaltenango Central Park
  • Quetzaltenango Cathedral
Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala
Love ruins, cathedrals, and cafés? Get away to Antigua Guatemala!

Reasons to visit

  • Central Park
Las Victorias National Park which includes forests and a river or creek
Coban
Coffee plantations and botanical gardens, Mayan history, eco-adventures and the resplendent beauty of Alta Verapaz await in this appealing mountain town.

Reasons to visit

  • Las Victorias National Park
Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Explore Guatemala City: its cafés, museums, zoo, and more!

Guatemala