Best Places to visit in Guatemala

Explore Guatemala's gems, from Antigua's ruins to Atitlán's vistas, in our travel guide.

Enchanting landscape, historic architecture by mountainous lake with waterfall

Antigua Guatemala

Nestled between three volcanic giants, Antigua Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that should top every traveler’s bucket list. Its streets, a checkerboard of history, are where the past and the present hold an intense staring contest.

Colonial Architecture

Antigua is a paradise of Spanish colonial architecture. Saunter along cobblestone streets and feast your eyes on antiquated cathedrals and candy-colored buildings. Don’t miss the iconic Santa Catalina Arch; if it were any more photogenic, it would have its own selfie stick.

Volcanoes and Hiking

The surrounding volcanoes aren’t just there to photobomb your pictures; they’re adventurous playgrounds. Pacaya Volcano is the most accessible for hiking, offering an up-close encounter with lava and a marshmallow roasting session on the still-warm rocks, if you’re lucky.

Coffee Plantations Tours

Antigua is also the motherland of Guatemalan coffee. The tours here will give you a caffeine buzz without even sipping a drop. Wander through lush plantations, learn the bean-to-cup process, and sample a cup that will spoil supermarket coffee for you forever.

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park is an ancient Mayan citadel turned prime jungle real estate. The ruins here are so magnificent, even the wildlife seems to stop and admire.

Mayan Ruins Exploration

Exploring these ruins is like stepping into a time machine, sans the DeLorean. The highlight is the Temple IV, which towers above the canopy. From its peak, you’ll understand why the Mayans worshiped the heavens; they had the best view in town.

Jungle Wildlife

Wildlife in Tikal is like the ultimate reality show, minus the dramatic eliminations. Spider monkeys, toucans, and coatis roam free, while the elusive jaguar might just grace you with a cameo.

Sunrise and Sunset Views

Catch a sunrise or sunset on top of a pyramid and witness the sky performing color alchemy. It’s about as close as you can get to a spiritual awakening without giving up carbs.

Lake Atitlan

They say if Lake Atitlan were a celebrity, it’d be the love child of Lake Como and the Grand Canyon – outrageously beautiful but without any paparazzi.

Panajachel Gateway

Panajachel, the lake’s vivacious gateway, offers a cocktail of culture and commerce. It’s the perfect base camp for your Atitlan adventure, offering a lakeside promenade and a chance to test your haggling skills.

Indigenous Villages

Circumnavigating the lake reveals a patchwork of indigenous villages. Each has its own vibe, from the tranquil San Marcos to the vibrant Santiago Atitlán. It’s like attending a global village summit, but with more handcrafted textiles.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Embrace your inner water deity with kayaking or paddleboarding on the glassy lake. Just keep an eye out for the mythical lake monster, said to have the worst case of FOMO.

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is Mother Nature’s waterpark, with none of those pesky admission fees.

Natural Limestone Bridge

Beneath this natural limestone bridge flows a river that forgot it’s supposed to be on the surface. The bridge is like nature’s best attempt at architecture, and frankly, it’s showing us up.

Turquoise Pools

These stepped, turquoise pools are an Instagrammer’s dream. Dip in and discover why the Mayans probably never needed a spa day.

Cave Exploration

Candlelit cave tours in Semuc Champey let you live out your Indiana Jones fantasies – minus the boulder chases. It’s an opportunity to get up close and personal with the geological underworld.

Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango Market is where colors go to throw a party, and you’re invited every Thursday and Sunday.

Traditional Textiles

The market is a swirling kaleidoscope of traditional textiles. Here, bargaining is an art form, so channel your inner Picasso and negotiate for that one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Mayan Culture

The market doubles as a showcase for Mayan culture. Here, ancient rites blend with the modern hustle, proving that the Mayans are far from history.

Local Cuisine

Taste buds, rejoice! The local cuisine here will make your stomach think it’s won the lottery. Dive into a bowl of pepián, a dish that’s basically a hug for your insides.

Pacaya Volcano

Standing tall at 2,552 meters, Pacaya Volcano is the bad boy of the Guatemalan volcanic scene, frequently flirting with the sky with its smoky wisps.

Guided Hikes

Guided hikes up Pacaya are a rite of passage. The trek is a workout; you’ll feel the burn, but this time not from the gym.

Lava Fields

The volcano’s lava fields are a masterclass in geology and a reminder of Earth’s fiery temper. Walking on the cooled lava is like exploring another planet, just with more oxygen.

Scenic Views

Once at the top, the views are a feast for the eyes. It’s like standing on the edge of the world, but with the comfort of knowing there’s a gift shop nearby.


If Quetzaltenango had a dating profile, it would be the smart, cultural one with a flair for the dramatic arts.

Cultural Heritage

As Guatemala’s second city, it’s got cultural heritage in spades, with theaters and museums strutting their stuff like peacocks.

Hot Springs

Nearby hot springs are nature’s jacuzzis, minus the chlorine and weird pool noodles.

Trek to Laguna Chicabal

The trek to Laguna Chicabal is a pilgrimage to a sacred Mayan lake. It’s a journey that’s half spiritual, half workout, and all breathtaking – literally.

Livingston and the Rio Dulce

Livingston is where Guatemala’s Caribbean side lets its hair down and throws a perpetual beach party.

Afro-Caribbean Influence

The town’s Afro-Caribbean influence is evident in its music, its people, and its ability to throw a festival for just about anything.

River Tours

River tours along the Rio Dulce are a chance to float through a tropical paradise, complete with canyons, hot springs, and the occasional pirate history lesson.

Playa Blanca Beach

Playa Blanca Beach is your classic postcard beach, minus the crowds and the overpriced drinks.


Flores is a pint-sized island that could easily be mistaken for a movie set designed to epitomize charm.

Charming Island Town

With its pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets, Flores is a charming island town that’s not just a gateway to Tikal, but a heart-stealer in its own right.

Gateway to Tikal

Speaking of gateways, Flores is the ultimate launchpad for Tikal adventures. Think of it as your base camp with bonus points for aesthetics.

Lake Petén Itzá

Overlooking Lake Petén Itzá, Flores offers tranquil waters perfect for a mid-afternoon swim, or simply a contemplative moment to soak up the serenity.

Conclusion: When to Visit

Guatemala, a country where every turn is a postcard and every meal is a feast, is a year-round destination. However, the dry season from November to April offers the best weather for exploring. Just remember, whenever you decide to visit, Guatemala will be waiting with open arms and a fresh pot of coffee.