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Guatemala Travel Guide

Starting off the year 2024 in Guatemala was both exciting and refreshing. From exploring volcanoes to adventuring in Antigua, here are my top tips for traveling to Guatemala. The combination of mountains and volcanoes intricately arranged amongst the quaint cities and towns, make Guatemala one of the most beautiful countries in Central America.

Guatemala is the home of 37 volcanoes and four of them are active: Agua, Fuego, Pacaya, Acatenango. When traveling to Guatemala, taking a day trip to the city of Antigua is a must. These four active volcanoes are located in Antigua's tectonic zone. You'll fly into Guatemala City's Airport (GUA), and Antigua is about an hour away by car.

Things to Do

  1. Altamira - This is the go-to place for eco-conscious travelers. This park has incredible life-size structures carved into the side of a mountain, making for the perfect photo-op moments. The active volcanoes are visible from almost any point in the in the park. If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, you can try cable-cycling. My favorite part of the park was standing inside of the giant hand. You can enjoy shopping for souvenirs and trinkets made by locals while walking through Altamira.

  2. Hobbitenango - This is another ecological park for nature lovers everywhere. There's also a giant hand statue here, as well hobbit houses for you to go inside and explore. I highly recommend hiring a driver and taking a trip to explore Hobbitenango (AKA Hobbit World). You can also book a stay here and dine at the on-site restaurants.

  3. Lake Atitlán - This lake sits inside a volcanic crater and it is a popular tourist destination for travelers. Here you can enjoy the serene views of the lake, hike up to the volcanoes, and explore the Mayan Villages. You can choose to explore the lake by boat or ATV, if you're feeling adventurous. I recommend booking a day tour or an overnight stay here, since it's about 3 hours from the city. If you're a yogi, book a yoga class on the lake.

  4. Chichicastenango - Visit the local markets in Chichicastenango, the shops are only open on Thursdays and Sundays. It's about a 2 hour drive here from Guatemala City, but it's worth the trip to shop with the locals for a hand-crafted goods and fresh produce.

*Hire a professional driver to take you exploring across Guatemala, you can customize your tour(s) to fit your travel needs.

Guatemala shares borders with Belize, Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador. While there are beaches on the two coastlines, most of Guatemala's geography is dominated by the mountains and forests. The elevation in the mountains is about 7,800 feet above sea level, so be sure to pack a light jacket, as the temperature can change drastically as the day goes on. Flying into Guatemala is quick and easy, with about a 3 hour flight from Houston, Texas.

All of the life-size figures in Altamira are hand-crafted from elements in nature. This, along with the views, were truly breathtaking. Wear good, comfortable walking shoes, as there is a lot of walking up and downhill.


Located right outside of Guatemala, this city is known for its Spanish colonial-style architecture and cobblestone streets. Here you will find plenty of great restaurants to dine in and picturesque churches with intricate designs. One of the most photographed churches in Antigua is Iglesia La Merced. There are also many shops to stop in and street vendors selling handmade gifts (the beaded keychains and earrings are amazing).

Antigua was previously the capital city of Guatemala. Now, Guatemala City is the largest city and current capital of Guatemala. While in Antigua, you must visit the Santa Catalina Arch.

Places to Eat:

  • Frida's - Mexican cuisine with tasty tacos, ceviche, and enchiladas

  • XQ No? (Por Qué No? Cafe) - high-end restaurant, only open from 6-10pm

  • Once Once - vegan restaurant with tasty plant-based dishes

  • La Merced Street Food Market - this is a must on weeknights and weekend for good local food on a budget. If you're really into street food, book a Street Food Tour to explore all the street food vendors with the help of a local tour guide.

Know Before You Go

  • Pack lightweight clothing for the humid temperatures, a light jacket, and walking/hiking shoes

  • If you plan to hang out in the local bars, travel in groups if you can.

  • For hiking tours, hire a trusted local guide. *If you book a hiking tour, the locals will try to get you to rent a horse. Do this at your own risk, as it may be easier to hike up the volcanoes by foot instead.

  • Hire a recommended driver (if you can) to drive you around the city. If you don't have a personal driver, you can call an Uber or taxi.

Exploring Guatemala is quite the experience. It's easy to get around Guatemala and once you're there, you'll want to take in all of the scenery around you. Enjoy the peaceful vibes and take in all of nature's beauty. Bon voyage!

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