The 11 Best Destinations to Visit in Guatemala in 2018

Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango | © by jdlasica / Flickr

Freelance writer

Guatemala is such a beautiful and diverse country that you could spend months exploring and still barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer. If you’ve never visited, make 2018 the year you discover the delights of this fascinating Central American country. Here are Guatemala’s best destinations to visit in 2018.

Guatemala

Laguna Lachua

Laguna Lachua is one of Guatemala’s most gorgeous natural sights, and its beauty belies its name; the translation in the local language of Q’eqchi is “fetid water” (because of the sulphur deposits) – but don’t let this put you off! Surrounded by dense jungle that’s home to tapirs, toucans and a colorful kaleidoscope of butterfly colonies, the crystal clear waters and exquisite mountain views make this an ideal spot to visit.

Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

Quetzaltenango

Quetzaltenango (nicknamed Xela) is a pretty, clean and safe city that’s much less touristy than Antigua or the Lake Atitlan villages. Located at 2,335 meters in the Sierra Madres mountain, Xela’s cobblestone streets and colorful Mayan culture attract those wanting to escape the tourist zones, and it’s ideal if you want to learn Spanish in a more authentic environment. With plenty of old buildings and historic monuments, Xela is also packed with cool coffee shops, cafes, shops and bars, so it’s the perfect blend of Guatemala’s old and new.

Monterrico

Most people don’t think of beaches when they think of Guatemala – but then again, most people have never visited Monterrico. Located on Guatemala’s Pacific Coast, this region has dramatic black sand beaches perfect for kicking back on, but the wildlife here is also worth visiting for. The mangrove canals are home to all manner of animals, from caiman, iguanas and armadillos, and if you visit at the right time you can watch thousands of newly hatched sea turtles making their journey to the ocean.

Monterrico beach

Livingston

Visiting the relatively small town of Livingston gives you a chance to see a whole other side to Guatemala. Home to an overwhelming majority of the country’s Garifuna population, Livingston merges laid-back Caribbean charm with Mayan history and Latino culture. More similar to Belize than Guatemala City, this coastal town has excellent music, delicious food and is an ideal base for exploring the lovely Rio Dulce.

Lake Atitlan

Described by Lonely Planet as, “the closest thing to Eden on earth,” Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Bordered by volcanoes and with seven traditional Mayan villages around the perimeter, you’d be hard pushed to find anyone not moved by the dramatic scenery. From kayaking across the lake, scaling volcanoes and exploring the immersive culture, Lake Atitlan offers tourists a wealth of exciting things to do.

Lake Atitlan

Flores

With copper-colored rooftops, cobbled streets and vivid painted buildings, the island town of Flores is a backpacker hotspot. Its proximity to Tikal National Park has placed it firmly on the gringo trail, but this picturesque town on Lake Peten Itza has much more to offer than first meets the eye. Connected to the mainland by a short causeway, Flores’ tranquil atmosphere and photogenic lake make it a lovely spot to spend a few days.

Antigua

As a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua buzzes with activity and boasts magnificent architecture, fascinating culture and spectacular views. Can there be a more dramatic backdrop for a town? With three dramatic volcanoes hulking in the background, every time you turn a corner you’ll be greeted by another sensational view. From its old cobbled streets to its bright colonial buildings and smoke-spewing volcanoes, this is one seriously photogenic town.

Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua Guatemala

Izabal

Like Livingston, the Izabal region is also a good base to explore the Río Dulce and Lago de Izabal. Located in eastern Guatemala, this sultry area is home to an incredibly varied landscape: from rich wetlands to hot springs, thick jungle to the Caribbean coastline, the wildly beautiful Izabal is well worth visiting.

Tikal

Tikal is Guatemala’s most famous and popular visitor attraction, and for good reason. As the capital city of the Mayan classic period, Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites in Mesoamerica, and its enormous causeways and imposing pyramids attract tourists from all over the world. Located deep within one of Central America’s largest rainforests, these ancient limestone buildings are still shrouded in mystery.

Tikal

Guatemala City

Many visitors to Guatemala used to skip the capital altogether, but these days Guatemala City is proving its credentials. This sprawling, bustling metropolis is hugely varied, and tourists will find there are far more cool bars, outstanding restaurants, trendy clubs and unique shops than some guide books would have you believe. A large part of this gritty city’s appeal is its authenticity, and here you can experience Guatemala’s social and political reality like nowhere else.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article