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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
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
#3
National Palace

National Palace

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This stoic structure in the heart of Guatemala’s capital city was built in 1939 entirely by local hands and using only local materials. As a result, the National Palace offers up an homage to Guatemalan heritage and is ranks tops among the buildings prized by locals. Its green-tinged exterior is a nod to the favorite color of the former dictator’s wife, and the result of concrete and copper used to cover the exterior to avoid painting. As a result, it’s affectionately known by some locals as 'The Big Guacamole.'An impressive bronze plate at the entrance to the Palace marks a spot known as 'Kilometer 0.' According to residents, this is the official starting point of all roads in Guatemala. Travelers will find a beautiful courtyard at the center of the five-story building, which is surrounded by five archways on every side. A touching Monument to Peace is located in the center of the palace to commemorate the end to the nation’s most recent civil war. Because the National Palace is also home to a national museum, travelers will find unique and historically significant artifacts like the first switchboard and hand painted murals depicting scenes from the nation’s past. Be sure to check out the stained-glass windows along the presidential balcony and the palace salon, used only for ceremonial events.More
#4
Antigua Central Park (Parque Central)

Antigua Central Park (Parque Central)

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Antigua Central Park (Parque Central) is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Guatemala. It’s the main outdoor area in town and where people go to sit, stroll, or meet up for an afternoon of relaxation and nice weather. From Central Park you have a superb view of the Agua Volcano, which towers over Antigua.More
#5
Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

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Located in the Centro Historico (Zona 1) district of Guatemala City, the Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central), is considered the best place to kick off a tour of Guatemala City. (You can translate the names as Constitution Square, Constitution Plaza, or Central Park.)A number of important sites are located around and the Parque Central, as locals refer to it, which follows the standard colonial urban-planning scheme found in the New World. The plaza's concrete “park” is always bustling with activity, especially on public holidays and Sundays. Plaza de la Constitución is also surrounded by important structures like the National Plaza of Culture, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the underground Central Market, the Portal of Commerce and Centenarian Park. The National Library and Periodicals Library and General Archive of Central America are found here too.Near the Parque Central is the pedestrian-only area of Paseo Sexta Avenida (Sixth Avenue Passage), a beloved shopping and entertainment area that is a great introduction to Guatemalan culture and habits.More
#6
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
#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
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

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Overlooking Plaza de la Constitución in the center of Guatemala City is the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral. Though several devastating earthquakes have rambled through the city, the blue-domed Neoclassical-Baroque structure stands strong as the city’s main house of worship. Pass through the 12-pillar entrance to admire the massive interior, austere though wonderfully embellished with religious paintings, carvings, and sparkling gold altars.More
#9
Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)

Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)

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Constructed in 1904, long before Google Earth, this huge 3-dimensional outdoor map of Guatemala offers a grand-scale viewpoint of the mountainous country from above. A family-friendly attraction, Mapa en Relieve contains all the country’s volcanoes, rivers and lakes (some with running water), as well as its cities, roads, bridges, and railroad tracks.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

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

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Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

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Guatemala City Tour

Guatemala City Tour

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Private Shuttle in Guatemala

Private Shuttle in Guatemala

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Lake Atitlan Day Tour From Antigua
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Climb Active Pacaya Volcano + Lunch - Collective Tour

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Climb Active Pacaya Volcano + Lunch - Collective Tour

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Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City
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Recent reviews from experiences in Guatemala

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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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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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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.
star-4
Good once in a lifetime trip
Keith_J, Jun 2021
Full Day at Lake Atitlan & Cultural Towns + Breakfast, Collective Tour
Great tour to see the Atitlan lake and some of the surrounding towns.
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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.
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Really great trip
KevinRaos, May 2019
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
The guides were good and spoke English and Spanish.
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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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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.
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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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Juan-Pablo was a great tour guide...
malich.jakub, Nov 2017
Private Tour: Guatemala City Morning or Afternoon Tour
Honestly speaking, there is not too much to see in Guatemala City, but this short tour is a great first-day orientation.
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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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Fantastic tour with very friendly...
Thomas F, Sep 2015
Private Tour: Lake Atitlan Boat Tour and Santiago Village from Guatemala City
Tour guide spoke perfect English and had lots of interesting information about Guatemala.
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This was a fantastic tour. Our guide...
JEDADIAH J, May 2014
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
Our guide Manuel spoke English very well.
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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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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