Guatemala is a country you visit once and fall in love with forever. Its dramatic volcanoes, emerald-green lakes, wild jungles, Mayan ruins and unique cultures make it the darling of backpackers all across the world. If you’re visiting Antigua and Guatemala City, here are the best backpacker spots you need to know about.
Easily one of the best hostels in Antigua, El Hostal is quiet, clean and comfortable, and ideally located right in the centre of town. The staff are Antigua experts and always happy to help, and the tours and activities they offer are among the cheapest in town. The breakfast is delicious, and the atmosphere is warm and laid back. If you’re looking for cosy and cool budget accommodation that isn’t too wild, you won’t find better.
If you’re looking for a place to party with other backpackers, Jungle Party Hostel is your best bet. With two bars and several chillout spots, this hostel allows you to let your hair down, or to kick back quietly on beanbags – it’s the best of both worlds. There’s also a pool onsite, as well as a rooftop bar where you can admire sensational city views and volcano vistas as you sip a beer with the other guests.
Lucky Rabbit is the most popular night spot in town with backpackers – it’s almost impossible not to have a good night here. There are separate rooms for house and dance music, and plenty of games and seating areas if you’re not ready to get your groove on. Like all bars in Antigua, Lucky Rabbit shuts at 1am, but it’s also the starting point for the famous Antigua abandoned swimming pool rave (it might sound dodgy, but isn’t).
It’s rare that a bookstore becomes a backpacker hotspot, but then again, Dyslexia isn’t your average bookstore. Located inside Café No Se, a super-cool dive bar that’s also beloved by backpackers, at Dyslexia you get a free beer with every book purchase. Once you’ve finished a book you can return it and trade it in for half the price – perfect when you’re travelling – and sipping mezcal in a speakeasy while reading really is a unique backpacker experience.
The young and fun Y tu Piña Tambien is a firm favourite with backpackers. With a wide range of food options at cheap prices, the thumping music and chatty staff draw travellers in from all across town. With an excellent all-day breakfast, it’s perfect for backpackers recovering from a big night out.
Owned by a friendly family, Hostel Estacion Gerona Bed & Breakfast is one of Guatemala City’s best hostels. Situated close to the historical centre, it’s easy to get around town, and with clean, cosy rooms and a great breakfast, it has all the amenities a backpacker needs.
Las Cien Puertas is one oldest bars in the capital, and is almost always frequented by backpackers enjoying a few ice-cold beers. It’s famous for its graffiti, and nearly every inch of the walls is covered, so be sure to leave your own scrawl before you leave. The drinks menu is extensive, and there’s a decent range of light bites if you need a snack.
Part café, part bookstore, Watson Books and Coffee is frequently packed with backpackers. Travellers come here with their laptops to catch up with their emails or do a spot of work, and the chilled environment is ideal for kicking back with a book. The food is delicious and reasonably priced, and the coffee is also excellent.
Café Despierto’s relaxed ethos, pretty plant-filled decor and cheap prices have made it a firm favourite with backpackers. Sit back in one of the cosy seats and enjoy a deliciously filling lunch; the burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and omelettes are all very popular, but make sure you leave room for the Nutella pancake tower dessert.