The Best National Parks in Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala | © Hugo Zea / Flickr
Jack Guy

Guatemala is home to untold natural marvels, and there have been increasing efforts to preserve the natural environment. Here are some of the best national parks in the country.

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal National Park

Home to Guatemala’s most famous Mayan ruins, Tikal is one of the biggest national parks and tourist attractions in the country. You can visit on a trip from the town of Flores, or fly up on a package tour from Guatemala City for the day.


Situated on the Pacific coast, this national park is protected due to its popularity with sea turtles. The marine animals use the beaches to lay their eggs, and feed in the river estuary. It’s around two hours from Antigua by car.

In 2009 lava flows were visible on Pacaya volcano, Guatemala, but they’ve since cooled


This national park contains the active volcano which gives it its name. You can visit the park to climb the volcano on foot or on horseback. The summit is 2,552 meters above sea level, and gives great views over the surrounding countryside. It’s a short drive from Guatemala City or Antigua.

Laguna Lachuá, Alta Verapaz

This isolated park covers 56 square miles of humid forest. It’s home to a beautiful lake and 120 species of mammals, 40 species of reptiles and 177 species of birds. You’ll most likely need to hire a pickup to get here.

Guatemala’s national bird, the quetzal, is famous for its long tail

Biotopo del Quetzal

A protected area of dense cloud forest, this park is around an hour from Coban. It is a popular spot for birdwatchers looking for the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird, but declining populations mean the beautiful bird is getting increasingly difficult to spot.

Naciones Unidas

The United Nations National Park was created in 1955, the first in the country. It’s found in the suburbs of Guatemala City, near Lake Amatitlan. There are relaxing hiking trails and viewpoints over neighboring volcanoes. If you’ve got a few hours to kill before your flight, it’s a great spot to visit.

El Mirador National Park

Home to the ancient Mayan ruins of El Mirador, this park is situated in the northern jungles of Peten, near the border with Mexico. It’s a remote part of the country, but worth a visit to see the ruins. You’ll need to hike for five days through the jungle, or fly in on a helicopter if you’ve got the money.

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