Top 50 Things to Do and to See in Guatemala

The Republic of Guatemala is located in Central America and bordered by Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast, Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The country is spread over 108,890 km2 (42,043 mi2) and has an estimated population of 13,276,517. There are a good number of wonderful tourist attractions that are exotic as well as wild. Guatemala is spectacular in beauty and land that has amazing lakes, mountains, beaches and forests. Guatemala is also rich in culture that has a mix of Spanish and the native Maya people culture. It is also a fact that this country has been ravaged a long civil war. Fifty things that you can do along with your family are as follows:

1. Tikal

Tikal is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Guatemala to found towards the lowland rainforest of northern Guatemala, the major reason considered for its immense popularity is due to its beauty and ancient wonders. The city of Tikal once boasted a bustling population of a quarter million or more. On the other hand what all is left today is, this ancient metropolis are a number of beautiful Mayan ruins. This beautiful region is entirely surrounded by a huge wildlife preserve, full of monkeys, parrots, deer, macaws and other incredible specimens. It is indeed considered as one of the natural gems of the world.

2. Lago de Atitlan

Lake Atitlánis definitely one of the top tourist attractions of Guatemala and as well expressed as the most beautiful lake in the world by Aldous Huxley.You will find this amazing lake located in the Guatemalan highlands that are for sure a spectacular presentation of natural splendor. The portal to Lake Atitlán, the city of Pananajachel, is also a portal to an indigenous world of the Mayans and other ancient peoples. Once here you will also find opportunities for exploration, scuba diving and learning Spanish.

3. Santa Catalina Arch

The Santa Catalina Arch is one of the immensely tourist attractions of Guatemala to be found in the city of Antigua, the city is well known for its old-world style Spanish architecture by way of palaces, cathedrals, universities and hermitages, Antigua is a charming jewel in Guatemala. This attraction becomes more popular during Holy Week, with parades and floats and carpets of flowers lining the streets. It’s absolutely breath-taking experience to visit this place.

4. Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango Market is considered to be the perfect shopping destination of Guatemala. This extremely popular market is situated between two and three hours southwest of Guatemala City. The market which is often referred as ChiChi may be home to the brightest and most vibrant native market in all of the Americas. With a vast array of local fabrics, textiles, clothing, masks, wood-crafted items, pottery and even fireworks, there’s no reason that anyone should leave Chichicastenango Market empty handed. The city is also famous for their ability to celebrate and often host festivals, feasts and fiestas which tourists are welcomed to share in.

5. Flores

Another most famous tourist attraction of Guatemala is Flore, situated on Lake Petén Itzá and connected to land by a causeway, on the other side of which positioned the twin towns Santa Elena and San Benito. It is said that this was the place where the last independent Maya state held out against the Spanish conquerors. One of the reasons of its popularity is its closeness to the well known Maya ruins of Tikal. This popular attraction of Guatemala is filled with colonial, red-roofed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a historic church and so on.

6. Monterrico

Monterrico is definitely among the top most tourist destinations of Guatemala, a place worth appreciating. Come and explore Monterrico that offers beautiful black sand, volcanic beaches and far fewer faces than you’ll spot at some other beaches. It is a perfect location for those who want to escape from the hustle bustle of city life.

7. VolcanPacaya

VolcanPacaya is indeed Guatemala’s one of the most attractive tourist destination to be found positioned close to Antigua.VolcánPacaya is an active volcano that was last erupting on May 27, 2010. Once here you will find opportunities for trails and hiking that is open to the public, this is not a site for the faint of heart and care should be given in the preparation of your visit. The experience of visiting this spot is worth it.

8. Parque Central Quetzaltenango

It is widely accepted that Parque Central is the heart of Quetzaltenango, serving as the city center and a major local and cultural center. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations of Guatemala. It is located in between three massive volcanoes, offering a beautiful and primitive aura to the area. This beautiful city of Guatemala has lot to offer and boasts multiple opportunities to explore local Mayan villages or to travel about a day’s journey to Laguna Chicabal, a sacred lake located in the cloud forest and probably a visitor’s greatest chance of spotting a Quetzal bird in the wild.

9. Livingston

Another among the must visit destinations of Guatemala is Livingston that is often referred as Guatemala’s gems tucked away on the Caribbean coast, and can only be reached by boat. Fortunately, two ferries head out and back each and every day. The town is the center of the Garifuna culture, meaning tourists gets an opportunity to taste the local menu and music during their visit. You can spend some of the most attractive evenings in Livingston that are full of entertainment and you may just have the opportunity to take part in the Punta, a regional dance with an incredible beat.

10. El Mirador

El Mirador was a major Mayan city that flourished from approximately around 6th century BC and desertion at the end of the 9th century. And later the remains of the famous El Mirador were found out during the year 1926 but supposedly it received very less attention because of its remoteness. Today the site remains largely covered by tropical jungle. Visiting El Mirador is not for the faint of heart. The village of Carmelita is the nearest point to the ruins that you can go by car. It will be one of your memorable experiences.

11. Santa Maria Volcano

It is said that no trip to Guatemala is complete without visiting the Santa Maria Valcano. It is one of the major and beautiful tourist attractions of Guatemala.Once here you can get two hiking trails that you can easily and safely through to reach the top of Santa Maria, from Ipala and Pacaya, and every footstep will take you to the spectacular sight. From the top of Santa Maria you also can witness the beauty of the lava LakeGununganSantiago, a volcano is still active and is situated at the bottom of Mount Santa Maria.

12. SemucChampey

SemucChampeyis one of the exceptionally awesome tourist attractions of Guatemala; it means ‘holy water’ which is a wonderful pool composed of many little ponds.It is a perfect balance of beauty and accompanied by a variety of biological diversity and tropical forests flanking life. The pool of SemucChampey flow slowly from a rocky plateau, river-CahabonUnderground River situated right at the top of the pool, fused into a single flow along 400 meters down. You will find some of the finest cliffs and steep rocks and which adds to the beauty of SemucChampey, making it more exotic and wild.

13. Pacific Coast

The Pacific coast of Guatemala is not well admired and quite a lot of tourist love to visit this place.You can imagine the pounding of the waves hitting the reef and split into various directions, which is amazing of watch. You will fall in love with the waves that soaked black volcanic sand and flying pelican birds passing by, while you enjoy grilled fish and fresh tropical coconut water.

14. Antigua

The city of Antigua holds historical importance to the country. Once here you will find a lot ancient structures that even today look marvelous. Buildings in Antigua are a legacy of Spanish colonialism in South America, which today got converted into souvenir sales centers and various other shopping. It is indeed one of the best shopping destinations of Guatemala.It is also referred as a region very famous among photographers.

15. VolcanTajumulco

The VolcanTajumulco is one of the most visited tourist attractions of Guatemala. It is theVolcanTajumulco is the highest peak in Central America having the height of 4,220. It is said that you need one or two day climb to reach there. The entire trek usually involves 8-10 hours of hiking, and offers spectacular views on the way up. VolcanSantiaguito, at 2,488 meters, and Volcan Santa Maria, at 3,772, also offer good trekking in the region. It is will be one of your breathtaking experiences.

16. Copan Ruinas

The Copan Ruinas is technically to be found in Honduras, it is located right on the Guatemalan border, mostly visitors pay it a visit as part of a Guatemala trip; they even accept Guatemalan Quetzals there. The Copan archeological place is considered as one of the most significant Mayan sites, and has grand pyramids and detailed sculptures and hieroglyphics. You will find some of the nice things to do and see here such as the hilly town of this region is a nice place to stay, and there are other things to see in the area, including a bird sanctuary and a plantation. Note that Copan and Coban are two different places.

17. Quiriguá

Quiriguá is s very famous tourist destination of Guatemala and at the same time holds historical importance of the country. It is an ancient Maya archaeological place to be found in the department of Izabal towards south-eastern Guatemala. It is a normal in size locationoccupying around 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) along the lower Motagua River, with the ceremonial center about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the north bank. During the Maya Classic Period (AD 200–900), Quiriguá was located at the juncture of many significant trade routes.

18. Lxchel Museum

Lxchel Museum is one of the most interesting places to visit in Guatemala. This museum mostly attracts those travelers who are interested in knowing the history of the county. The lxchel Museum of Mayan Costumes has a huge collection of textiles dating to the end of the 19th C originating from 120 Guatemalan communities. Here you will find some of the finest collections of paintings that demonstrate the regional costumes complement the exhibit. The museum is named for the Mayan goddess of fertility and weaving.

19. Avenida la Reforma

Avenida la Reforma is a one of the most visited avenue of Guatemala. It is such a pleasing that offers you almost everything right from beautiful gardens, monuments, restaurants to even amazing nightclubs. The avenue was actually designed in the 19th C to resemble the Champs Elysees in Paris;Avenida La Reforma begins at Plaza Obelisco, where a torch, constantly lit, symbolizes the freedom of Guatemala and separates Zones 9 and 10.

20. Cuevas Del Silvino

Cuevas Del Silvino is a limestone cave system in Guatemala, that seems have drawn a lot of attention from visitors. It is to be found approximately 260 km on the road connecting Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios, in the municipality of Morales in the department of Izabal. The Silvino cave system was declared a national park during the year 1972 and became very popular among locals as well as tourist.

21. Lake Izabal

The Lake Izabal is one of the most spectacular tourist attractions of Guatemala which is spread over an area of around 589.6 square kilometer. This Lake is known to be the largest and the most beautiful lake you will find in whole of the Guatemala. Sometimes it is also referred as the ‘GolfoDulce’. Nourished by the Polochic River waters, this lake, which is only a meter above sea level, ultimately drains into the Gulf of Honduras within the Caribbean Sea. The lake is beautifully surrounded by abundant tropical rainforests which are home to large bird species, monkeys, jaguars and other interesting wildlife including the manatee. It is just a perfect location for familypicnicking.

22. El Estor

El Estor is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Guatemala. It is a municipality in the department of Izabal. It is commonly referred to as “the store” in English, the name evolved to its present form due to Spanish-speakers style of pronunciation and spelling. Recent construction of roads has made El Estor a minor port. This place of Guatemala is largely visited by locals and the adventurous traveler.

23. Naachtun

Naachtun is one of the famous archaeological places you will find in Guatemala. It is a site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, and among the prominent places of this county. It is lactated towards the northeastern perimeter of the Mirador Basin region in the southern Maya lowlands, now in the modern-day Department of El Petén, northern Guatemala. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations of Guatemala.

24. Panajachel

Panajachel is another exiting tourist destination of Guatemala and the visitors who are interested in adventures mostly visit this place. This place is perhaps one of the most happening places of Guatemala. If you are also looking for a place where you can experience nature at its finest, you should visit Panajachel. It is often considered as paradise on earth has everything that nature has to offer.

25. Tikal National Park

The Tikal National Park is one of the most visited attractions of the country and if you want to experience something different that will exited you then head towards the Tikal National Park. Once here you will find some of the amazing ruins. The place was once a wealthy ancient metropolis with about a hundred thousand citizens. This is where the powerful Jaguar clan lords lived. The place was constructed by the ancient Maya a long time ago, around 600 B.C.

26. Palacio Nacional

The Palacio Nacional is one of the most interesting tourist destinations of Guatemala. It is also referred as Culture’s National Palace, is anenormousstructure to be found located on the Plaza de lasArmas and it is that square which is also considered as the historical center of Guatemala City. Today an open monument to the history of Guatemala but earlier it was the seat of the president. To explore the park full a tour around the Palacio Nacional is recommended.

27. Cahabón River

The Río Cahabónis another most fascinating tourist attraction of Guatemala. It is a 196 km long river located towards the eastern part of the country. It is said from its sources in the Sierra de las Minas range in Baja Verapaz it turns north and then east into Alta Verapaz, running through Santa Cruz Verapaz, Tactic, Cobán, San Pedro Carchá, Lanquín, Santa MaríaCahabón and Panzós, where it joins the Polochic River. The river features some of the best and rarest beauty, to witness.

28. Metropolitan Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral is another one of the most popular Guatemala City attractions situated right in the city’s historical zone, which has its center at the Plaza de lasArmas, is one of the most ancient cathedrals. You will simply fall in love the amazing neoclassical structure from outside, and is sure a good to gaze at and study while inside it houses, among other things, an excellent collection of classical art.

29. Zunil

The town of Zunil is one of the prettiest places to visit in Guatemala. It is a famous agricultural town to be found situated around the most beautiful abundant mountain setting with a green patchwork of farms in the valley around it. This town was established during the year 1529 Zunil is well known for its textiles and is one of the homes of the unusual cigar-smoking Mayan saint, San Simon.

30. National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology

One of the most interesting museums to visit in Guatemala is the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. It is situated in Zona 13, is home to animmensearray of historical documents and relics. The museum has well organized section where it displays comprehensive and well-curate artifacts that comprisesof widedisplay that illustrate life in pre-Columbian times. The National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a permanent fixture on any list of things to do in Guatemala City.

31. Zona Viva

Guatemala also offers you with some of the best nightlife’s and entertainment. The Zona Viva is the place where entertainment and nightlife activities in Guatemala City reach their high point. You will find the best dining options of the city here.Visit this place for ultimate fun.

32. Mercado Central

The Mercado Central is an amazing place to visit. It is an itinerary of Guatemala City attractions must include a trip here on weekends when the market is supposedly at its busiest and best. One of the most enjoyable activities in Guatemala City is to buy enough food for a picnic here, and then enjoy it outside on the streets as the city goes about its daily life.

33. Captain-General’s Palace

The palace of Captain General is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Guatemala. And its stone columns are one of Antigua’s most spectacular structures. The building supposedly has been reconstructed numerously and also altered following damaging earthquakes and presently has a two-tiered arched façade with 27 arcades on each level. Currently a part of the palace is being converted into a museum and the building houses government offices, city police, and the Guatemala Tourist Institute.

34. El Altiplano

The region of El Altiplano is located in between the outskirts of Guatemala City to the Mexican border and from Huehuetenango to the Pacific. It is also well known as the Western Highlands that are home to over 30 volcanoes, which reach heights of up to 3800m/12,464ft, is one of the most popular attractions of Guatemala. It has the highest concentration of indigenous people and is rich in tradition. This region is famous for its archeological sites and colonial architecture spread throughout an area which grows vegetable for most of the nation.

35. Fuentes Georginas

Fuentes Georginas is another most fascinating tourist attraction of Guatemala. It is the amazing natural steam bath with reputedly-curative powers located in an exotic tropical jungle.The sulfurous mineral-rich water is heated directly from a volcano and is a contrast to the cloud forest where it is misty and cool even on a sunny day.

36. PopolVuh Museum

The PopolVuh Museum is the only museum in the world that has a Mayan Sarcophagus that is a valuable collection on displayed in the MuseoPopolVuh. The collection includes colonial art and a folklore section that has over 400 masks and costumes. The Museum has been frequented by many visitors from across the globe.

37. Coban

Cobántown was founded in 1538 which is a jump-off point to Cuevas Lanquin and Champey.The local color this town of 20,000 and the scenery surrounding the mountainsare worth enjoyingdespite the damp and chilly weather. The Coban regions are mostly affected by Guatemala’s civil war. Yet people throng here to witness the flavors and cultures of this region to experience the Guatemalan culture.

38. Monterrico Nature Reserve & Hawaii National Park

This nation park is spread over 2,767 ha/6,918 ac land of which 263/ 657 are under water. This region is a habitat for a different variety of bird and aquatic life that also include the leatherback and Ridley turtles. It is a nature reserve and its primary aim is to protectmangrove forests and sea turtles. Both the park and the reserve have different programs to care for theturtles and for reproduction. Monterrico Nature Reserve and Hawaii National Parkboth are home to birds especially the migratory species and pelicans.

39. Lanquin Caves

The Lanquin Caves are made of deep limestone caverns that contain an underground river with various lagoons and exceptional rock formations. There is also a religious shrine is situated within thus the caves are considered sacred by the local indigenous people. Many numbers of bats can be found here that gives an interesting spectacle when they leave in a nightly mass exodus from the cave in search of food in the nearby forest.

40. Santa LucíaCotzumalguapa

Santa LucíaCotzumalguapa town is located on Guatemala’s Pacific Slope; it is an important place of Mayan art and culture. Here you can witness three main archaeological sites in the surrounding region: Finca El Baúl, Finca Bilbao, Finca Las Ilusiones. Around the town and also in its sugar cane fields you can find great stone heads and scenes carved in relief. To witness the Guatemala’s culture you must pay a visit here.

41. Rio Dulce

Río Dulce is river that’s located in the jungle river and thus called a Jungle River. The river starts in Lake Izabal and breezes its way between steep cliffs and dense vegetation, via the lake of El Golfete, into the Amatique Bay. You can see here a variety of birds of different kinds in the parts of river that travels through lagoons of ChocónMachacas Biotopeand the mangrove swamps and.Near Fronteras,the colonial fortress of San Felipe is located. Rio Dulce is also habitat for the endangered manatee.

42. Amatique Bay

Amatique Bay is located on Guatamala’s Caribbean coast. The Bay is lined with sandy beaches that includethe famous Punta Cocolí, and Punta de Manabique.The Bay is interspersed with cells of forests. You can hire boats in the departmental capital of Puerto Barrios to go to towns like the community of Lívingston, an Afro-Caribbean town that was inhabited by the Garífuna people.The water from Lake Izabal pours into the Amatique Bay through the Río Dulce.

43. Puerto Barrios

Puerto Barrios is Guatemala’s main portthat also happens to be the capital of the Izabal department. Puerto Barrios is a lush green, humid town of around 35,000 people and has a Caribbean look and feel. It was used to be a company town for the United Fruit Company. The town has tidy streets and many houses built on stilts. It’s a starting point for trips to Belize or Lívingston.

44. Kaminaljuyú

These are the ruins of Kaminaljuyúwhich are an important Mayan archeological site of Late Pre-classic/Early Classic period that has a number of outstanding ceramic sculptures and architectural marvels.During the intitial period when it boomed the center had a population of nearly 50,000 inhabitants. Kaminaljuyúare lucky enough to be not fortified ever but unfortunately these ruins have now been largely covered by urban expansions.

45. Minerva Park

The park is a unique architecturalmarvel that was builtduring 1904 by Francisco Vela.The park has a 1:1000 scale relief map of Guatemala. The 2,000sq m/21,500sq ft map displays Guatemala’s detailedtopography that includes lakes, rivers, and oceans. It is viewed from platforms located on either side.Near to the park is a small forest of hormigo trees, the wood of these trees is used to make Central American xylophones (marimbas), these trees were planted and grown to commemorateGuatemala’ marimba tradition.

46. University of San Carlos (Museum of Colonial Art)

University of San Carlos was established during 1676 it is located in Antigua, Guatemal.It isconsidered one of the most beautiful, intact examples of colonial architecture. The University has interiorsthat are home to a fine courtyard surrounded by Moorish arches. The main building of the university is c 1763 which houses the Museo de Arte Colonial, famous for the Saint Francis series of paintings by colonial artist Cristóbal de Villapando. Scenes of university life during the18th Century have been recreated in some of the old lecture rooms.

47. Casa Popenoe

It is the 17th Century colonial house; you can peep into pas and experience the life of the Spanish colonial elite who once inhabited this house.The house has been a ruin for 150 years, but was restored in the 1930s by Dr. Wilson Popenoe, who was chief agronomist for the United Fruit Company. He furnished the house with period antiques, a colonial kitchen, and also bath and laundry areas.The home has massive walls from the outside but the interior is graced with flowered patios surrounded by shaded corridors. The house is also home to a large collection of paintings.

48. National Palace

One of Guatemala City’s major buildings is the National Palaces. The palace is 890 sq m/96,000sq ft. granite structurethat was ordered by General Jorge Ubico and built between 1936 and 1943.Many of the ornate state chambers of it can be visited by public. Diverse in style and appearance, it is a mix ofneo-Classical,Renaissance and Baroque. It is believed that the best of Guatemalan artists took part in the construction of this palace. The palace exhibits Guatemalan paintings and murals by Alfredo Suarez that depict the conquest of Guatemala.

49. Reserva Natural Atitlán

The Reserva Natural Atitlán is located on the shores of Lake Atitlán;it has 100ha/247ac of forest. The reserve is constructedto conserve the environment in the Lake Atitlán Basin. The reserve is home to a butterfly garden that has over 500 species and a laboratory of pupas and chrysalises. There are 50 orchid species in an orchid garden located inside the butterfly garden. The reserve is home to more than 180,000 trees that include 600 fruit trees to feed and protect the birds in the bird refuge.

50. Solola

Sololá is a departmental capital located on a plateau overlooking Lake Atitlán. The market here is one of the best in the highlands region. The market is held on Friday and caters to the townspeople. Travelers need to be cautious or take help of the locals while buying any stuff from this market. Some merchandise that are sold here are house wares,produce, and the yarn used in weaving.

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