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Things to do in Guatemala

Things to do in  Guatemala

Welcome to Guatemala

Lush, mountainous, and dotted with lakes and volcanoes, Guatemala can be somewhat challenging to traverse by land, though well worth the effort. Most visitors arrive to busy Guatemala City and head for colonial Antigua, where beautifully restored churches, plazas, and archways line the cobblestone streets. Ringed by three smoldering volcanoes, Antigua is a popular place for guided treks to see the fiery craters of Pacaya or Acatenango up close. Don't worry—your guides will send a scout ahead to make sure the volcano is "feeling friendly" on the day of your trek. As an ancestral and present-day homeland of the Maya, Guatemala's greatest archaeological treasures are UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park and the Maya ceremonial site of Yaxha. Taking a guided tour is a must (literally; the government requires it), so it's ideal to book in advance. The Maya Biosphere Reserve surrounding Tikal is home to jaguars, toucans, macaws, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and quetzals—a bird sacred to the Maya people. If you can't make it to Tikal, the Copan Maya ruins are accessible from Guatemala City, located just over the Honduran border. Farther afield, scenic Lake Atitlán, surrounded by mountains, makes a perfect base from which to explore the highlands. From the friendly town of Panajachel, take a lake cruise to visit some of the smaller villages dotting the shores, such as Santiago de Atitlán, traditional home of the Tzutujil people. If time permits, catch the colorful market in nearby Chichicastenango, to which indigenous peoples from around the region flock to buy and sell their wares.

Top 10 attractions in Guatemala

#1
Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano

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This 8,373-foot (2,552-meter) smoking peak is one of Guatemala’s most accessible active volcanoes. Its upper reaches feature lava formations formed by recent flows, as well as vents that puff up steaming hot air, while its summit affords spectacular views of nearby volcanoes including Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego.More
#2
Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

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With its glistening blue waters framed by a trio of volcanic peaks and a fringe of lush greenery, Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is surely one of Guatemala’s most stunning natural wonders. The deepest lake in Central America lies in an ancient caldera amid the mountainous landscapes of the Guatemalan Highlands.More
#3
Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)

Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)

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Once a powerful seat of the Mayan empire, the Tikal ruins are now the most famous archeological site in Guatemala and one of the most-visited sets of Mayan ruins in all of Latin America. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of temples, plazas, and pyramids, was first settled around 700 BC, and modern visitors still get swept away by their beauty and powerful aura.More
#4
Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey

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Tranquil, tiered turquoise pools suspended over limestone are what you can expect to find when visiting Semuc Champey. A natural limestone bridge supports the pools, which change their shades of turquoise according to climatic variations throughout the year. While backpackers have been coming to the remote pools for a while, one of Guatemala’s best-kept secrets is now accessible via tours.More
#5
Acatenango

Acatenango

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Guatemala’s Pacaya is one of the most popular volcanoes to visit, but travelers shouldn't skip its neighbor, Acatenango. Towering nearly 13,123 feet (4,000 meters), it is Guatemala’s third-tallest volcano and one of the tallest stratovolcanoes in Central America.Acatenango’s first eruption was in 1924 —relatively recent in comparison to many other volcanoes—though some evidence of its volcanic activity dates back to prehistoric times. Other eruptions occurred shortly after, but it then remained quiet until an eruption in 1972. Since then, Acatenango has been declared dormant.Acatenango is part of the Fuego-Acatenango massif, or string of volcanic vents, which includes Yepocapa, Pico Mayor de Acatenango, Meseta and Fuego. Acatenango has two main summits: Yepocapa, the northern summit at 12,565 feet (3,830 meters) and Pico Mayor, the southern and highest cone at 13,054 feet (3,976 meters). These are known as Tres Hermanas, and when joined with Fuego, the complex is collectively known as La Horqueta.Both Acatenango and its twin, Fuego, offer stunning views overlooking the city of Antigua. Ascending Acatenango takes visitors through four different temperate zones — high farmland, cloud forest, high-alpine forest and volcanic. Acatenango is the perfect spot to watch Fuego’s regular activity, which includes audible moans and groans, plumes of smoke and large lava rocks hurling into the air.More
#6
Iximché

Iximché

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Located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican site of Iximche was the capital of the late post-classic Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until it was ultimately abandoned in 1524 and then declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s.Once in the archeological site, you will see four ceremonial plazas surrounded by tall temples and two ball courts. There is also a small museum displaying sculptures and ceramics found at Iximche during excavations. As you tour the site, look for poorly preserved painted murals and listen to guides as they talk about evidence of human sacrifice found at Iximche.Originally, the Kaqchikel maintained their capital at what is present-day Chichicastenango but then moved to Iximche sometime around 1470 due to the rampant expansion movement and growing power of their K’iche rivals. Iximche was built along the safer 7,000-foot-high (2,134-meter-high) mountain ridge, surrounded by deep ravines. It took the Kaqchikel only about 50 years to get developed again as a city, and although they were able to ward off some attacks by the K’iche, the Spanish conquistadors soon arrived. An alliance was offered to assist with gaining control of other Mayan kingdoms, so Iximche was then declared the first capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. Due to overbearing requests from the Spanish, the Kaqchikel broke the alliance and left Iximche, which was ultimately burned two years later by Spanish deserters.More
#7
Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

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Cerro de la Cruz is a lush hill on the northern edge of Antigua marked by a massive stone cross. From a scenic overlook, enjoy expansive views of the city’s grid of pretty terracotta rooftops laid out at the base of the magnificent Volcán de Agua.More
#8
La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)

La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)

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One of the best-maintained zoos of Central Asia, the La Aurora Zoo is located next to Guatemala City’s International Airport. Established in 1924, the zoo also houses the relics of an ancient viaduct. This zoo has three distinct areas- African, Asian and American where animals from the respective continents can be found.More
#9
El Mirador

El Mirador

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An ancient urban center that flourished almost a thousand years before Tikal had constructed its first pyramid, El Mirador once had a population of close to 100,000 in 600 BC, making it one of the first megacities in the Americas. When it was excavated 30 years ago, the findings basically rewrote what was considered early Maya history.More
#10
Yaxhá

Yaxhá

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Yaxhá was founded circa 800 BC along the shores of Laguna Yaxhá, and was home to more than 40,000 people at its peak, around AD 250. Though overshadowed by Tikal, this ancient city is Guatemala’s third largest archaeological site. And since it’s less visited than its famous sibling, Yaxhá offers a peaceful, introspective experience—especially for birders and Maya aficionados.More

Top activities in Guatemala

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

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$59.00
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
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Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
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Acatenango Overnight
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Acatenango Overnight

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Private Shuttle in Guatemala

Private Shuttle in Guatemala

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$15.00
Lake Atitlan Day Tour From Antigua
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The Antigua Foodie Tour

The Antigua Foodie Tour

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$115.50
Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

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$46.00
Ground Transfer Airport - Antigua Guatemala
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Recent reviews from experiences in Guatemala

star-5
Great hike!
Joey_B, Jan 2022
Climb Active Pacaya Volcano + Lunch - Collective Tour
Pacaya was cool to see and there are a number of stops to the top to buy snacks and drinks, including pizza cooked on the volcano rocks.
star-5
Great tour
Grant_R, Oct 2021
Guatemala city Walking Tour and public bus
It’s a great way to see Guatemala City.
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Wonderful Trip and Driver
Conner_M, Jan 2022
Ground Transfer From Antigua To Guatemala City Airport
The trip was made even more pleasant by Byron's conversation in both English and Spanish.
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Great Day Trip!
Gabriel_L, Dec 2021
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
It's a great way to see Tikal if you are limited on time.
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Wonderful Class
Christina_P, Jul 2021
Guatemalan Cooking Class and Market Tour
We were able to see parts of the market we had missed and may not have checked out otherwise.
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A Nice Outing to the Volcano
Ben_P, Jul 2021
Pacaya Volcano Tour
The guide, Fausto, was friendly and spoke English.
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Excellent Adventure
Robert_M, Feb 2020
Overnight Volcano Acatenango Hiking Adventure
This is one of the best activities you can do in Guatemala.
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Best Day Tour Ever
anniverysary2015, Nov 2019
Guatemala City Complete Day Private Tour
Esteban knows all the special places to visit .
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Well organised, knowledgeable guide
Rachel_v, May 2019
Iximché Ruins and Antigua City Tour
Excellent English, entry fees for attractions were included.
star-5
Really great trip
KevinRaos, May 2019
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
The guides were good and spoke English and Spanish.
star-4
The tour guide was great and van was...
Brett C, Oct 2017
Guatemala City Afternoon Sightseeing Tour
The only difficulty was that we were with a Spanish speaking couple so everything was said in both english and Spanish back and forth the whole time.
star-5
This trip was the highlight of our...
Nina J, Feb 2018
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
I would highly recommend going to see Tikal if in Guatemala.
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This is a great trip that hits all...
Rebecca O, Mar 2018
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
This a truly exceptional option for someone that does not have many days in Guatemala but wants to see Tikal.
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For me, the main attractions were...
Sandor B, Nov 2017
Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City
For me, the main attractions were the view from Pacaya that included the Fuego Volcano producing a small eruption roughly about every half an hour, the Laguna de Calderas, and Guatemala City.
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I loved my visit to Guatemala...
Pamela S, Nov 2016
8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins
They provided ample time to visit the mayan ruins and the accommodations were great!
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Enjoyable Day Trip with Gustavo
Bobby_T, Jun 2021
Guatemala City Tour
Because we were a small group, he gave us a lot of latitude to create our own tour, allowing us to choose places we wanted to visit or stop at a pub to have a beverage.
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Book this tour! It will exceed your expectations :)
NADINE_B, Feb 2021
Lake Atitlán Sightseeing Cruise with Transport from Guatemala City
Activities included participating in a Mayan basket weaving activity, touring a local art gallery, visiting a coffee-bean plantation, and just cruising/shopping around the small village.
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Loved it!
Chelsea_O, Jan 2021
Visit Hobbitenango Themed Park + Antigua Guatemala
The only downfall was the weight for the hobbitenango excursion makes the trip there pointless as you wait for an hour for a short time left to actually enjoy the place, not sure how this could be fixed as it’s out of the tour guides control but overall a very eventful tour.
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Wonderful Experience
Felecia_C, Feb 2020
Pacaya Volcano Tour and Hot Springs from Antigua
Plus the lunch was good at the Hot Springs Spa.
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Amazing Personal Tour
J_H, Feb 2020
Coffee Tour & Local Villages Tour in Antigua Guatemala
By the time we reached the chocolate factory, the workers had gone home so we didn’t get to see the process, but we did taste the different varieties of chocolate they had.
Frequently Asked Questions
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