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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 15 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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The 13,045-foot (3,976-meter Acatenango volcano towers over the colonial city of Antigua. While many travelers opt for the more-gentle ascent of the Pacaya Volcano, this twin-peaked volcano offers incredible views of its nearest volcanic neighbor, Fuego, which regularly spits out plumes of gas, ash, and hot lava. 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
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
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

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Guatemala City’s huge central plaza is a hive of activity, with people and pigeons milling about. Surrounded by important historical buildings, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana and the National Palace, the square is the focal point of the city, and is frequently the setting for demonstrations and celebrations.More
#9
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
#10
La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced)

La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced)

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Canary yellow with white trim, the baroque La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced) is one of Antigua’s few colonial churches to survive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Inside its thick walls are notable artworks such as a sculpture of Jesus carrying a golden cross, which is paraded through the streets on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.More
#11
Santa Catalina Arch (Arco de Santa Catalina)

Santa Catalina Arch (Arco de Santa Catalina)

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One of Antigua’s most photographed structures, the saffron-coloredxa0 Santa Catalina Arch was built in 1694 to connect two convents to a school outside their confines, to protect them from entering the outside world on their way to teach there. Safe from breaking their vow of seclusion, they passed through a hidden passageway inside the arch.More
#12
Jade Factory and Museum (Jade Maya)

Jade Factory and Museum (Jade Maya)

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This small museum is devoted to jade, the precious green gemstone that has been mined and revered in Mesoamerica since ancient times. Exhibits provide information on ancient mining of the mineral and include pre-Hispanic jade pieces. It also encompasses a workshop where jade jewelry and decorative objects are created and sold.More
#13
Volcán San Pedro

Volcán San Pedro

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Casting its imposing shadow over the western shoreline of Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán, this dormant 9,908-foot (3,020-meter volcano beckons adventure-hungry travelers. The volcano is one of the most accessible in the region, with the route up to its summit leading through corn fields, coffee plantations, and cloud forests.More
#14
National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (MUNAE)

National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (MUNAE)

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There are two ways to experience Mayan treasures when traveling across Guatemala: Either traipse through the jungles, down bumpy dirt roads, to ancient village sites and temples, or visit the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, or MUNAE) in Guatemala City. Inside this exceptional museum, visitors will find over 20,000 pieces of ancient Guatemalan treasures, from Mayan pottery, artwork, and crafts to traditional textiles and dress. With thousands of years of human history have taken place in these hills, Guatemala is comprised of a fascinating mosaic of different cultural identities. From the first settlers who built villages to thriving days of the Maya, all the epochs are represented inside Guatemala's national archaeological museum, with relics from archaeological sites having made their way to these halls. Learn how people first settled Guatemala as they migrated through Central America, and formed different languages, farming techniques, and ways to honor their dead. And, with so many discoveries still being made in Guatemala today, a museum that’s been open since 1898 continues to grow and improve.More
#15
ChocoMuseo Antigua

ChocoMuseo Antigua

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The Maya were among the earliest civilizations to cultivate cacao for culinary use. At this chocolate-focused museum and shop in Antigua, exhibits detail Guatemala’s long-standing legacy of cacao cultivation as well as documenting chocolate-making processes, such as harvesting, roasting, tempering, and molding.More

Top activities in Guatemala

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

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USD59.00
Tikal Day Trip Including Round Trip Flights from Antigua with Lunch
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Guatemala City Tour

Guatemala City Tour

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USD50.00
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
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Private Shuttle in Guatemala

Private Shuttle in Guatemala

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USD15.00
Lake Atitlan Day Tour From Antigua
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3-Day Tour of Cobán and Semuc Champey from Antigua
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Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

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USD66.00
Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

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USD46.00
Ground Transfer Airport - Antigua Guatemala
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Pacaya Volcano Tour

Pacaya Volcano Tour

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USD46.00
Lake Atitlan Villages Tour

Lake Atitlan Villages Tour

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124
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USD57.00
Ground Transfer Guatemala City To Panajachel, Lake Atitlan
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Recent reviews from experiences in Guatemala

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Great personalized tour!
Cristina_V, May 2022
Guatemala city Personalized Private Tour
Esteban is a great tour guide, got to see a lot of the city and learned so much!
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Highly recommended
Julie_L, May 2022
Street Food Evening Tour in Antigua
The tour was a great way to see how ordinary Guatemalans live and eat-the food was delicious,the venues were very clean,
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Safe and Flexible Transportation
Christian_C, May 2022
Private Shuttle in Guatemala
He also provided recommendations on main things to do in the Guatemala City area.
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This was a very...
Marie_B, Apr. 2022
Guatemala City Tour
This was a very comprehensive tour that suited all our needs to see Guatemala City before flying back!
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Friendly informative driver
Dixie_G, Mar. 2022
Private Shuttle in Guatemala
He spoke English and gave us some helpful tips on where to go in Guatemala City.
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Wonderful tour of Guatemala City
Adria_K, Mar. 2022
Guatemala City Tour
He showed us all around Guatemala city, we got to see a lot of the important buildings and monuments.
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Fun for the whole family!
Pepe_F, Mar. 2022
Lake Atitlan Villages Tour
He has great English and all of the stops were excellent!
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Absolutely beautiful day!
McKenzie_M, Mar. 2022
Full Day Collective Tour To Lake Atitlan + Panajachel + San Juan +Santa Catarina
We got to see so many beautiful cities that we wouldn’t have made it to on our own.
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The ultimate city and volcano adventure!
Sueki_L, Jul. 2022
Pacaya Volcano at night and Guatemala City Private Tour
Our tour guide Esteban was a chill knowledgeable local who spoke fluent English.
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Excellent airport transfer service
Victoria_C, Jun. 2022
Ground Transfer Airport - Antigua Guatemala
Marlon spoke English well, which was great as our Spanish is very limited, and was friendly and informative.
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My friend and I had a...
Carol_C, Jun. 2022
Lake Atitlan: Upper Mayan Trail from Antigua or Panajachel
Lee and his wife showed us around and we got to see where the Mayan rituals happen, although there wasn't an active one.
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Humberto was our hero!
Sam_J, Apr. 2022
Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves
There were some quite precarious moments Humberto just graced through as we grasped on and made sure each other weren't going to fall.
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Great way to spend our last day in Guatemala
Dixie_G, Apr. 2022
Guatemala City Afternoon Sightseeing Tour
We were fortunate to have him as a guide in Antigua, so it was really nice to see him again.
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Clean car - nice driver
Dixie_G, Mar. 2022
Ground Transfer From Antigua To Guatemala City Airport
Towards the end of the ride, I started to speak to him in Spanish, and mentioned that we were going to visit Tikal.
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Amazing tour thanks to the passionate guide Rejes
Martijn_V, Mar. 2022
Tikal SUNSET, Archeological focus and Wildlife Spotting Tour (South and East)
We also saw lots of monkeys and birds and could use Rejes' binoculars to see them better.
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Great hike!
Joey_B, Jan. 2022
Climb Active Pacaya Volcano - 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.
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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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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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All about Guatemala

Currency
Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)
Time Zone
CST (UTC -6)
Country Code
+502
Language(s)
Spanish
Frequently Asked Questions
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