Wonderfully preserved in the highland of Guatemala, Antigua is a charming colonial town with its cobblestone streets, picturesque houses, and historic landmarks that have helped Antigua earned the recognitions as UNESCO Worlds heritage site.
Antigua is set in a volcano plain, with three volcanoes (Fuego, Acatenango, Agua) in its neighborhood!
Also worth mentioning is that this almost 500-year-old city was once the colonial capital of the Spanish Empire in Central America.
Lake Atitlan is a clear blue lake surrounded by rough, volcanic peaks. The views are absolutely unbelievable and there are plenty of awesome activities to do on and around the lake. You can do a tunning sunrise hike or kayaking around the lake.
There are some charming little towns that surround the lake, and each has a completely different vibe than the other.
The three most popular are
Panajachel, San Pedro, and San Marcos.
Panajachel is a nice mix of everything and is easy to reach, but it’s also a bit loud and dirty. I recommend to visit the markets but set your base elsewhere on the lake for a more relaxing stay.
San Pedro is the largest village around Lake Atitlan and has the best nightlife. Attracting a mixture of backpackers and party youngsters visiting one of the many Spanish schools here
San Juan is a charming small village located 10-minutes short boat or tuk-tuk ride from San Pedro. Here you can get some of the best textiles and art classes. The town is a wonderful destination if you are looking for authentic Guatemalan culture.
San Marcos is a hippie village that has the best vegetarian food served with a side of kombucha
Tzuluna is located just a few minutes' drive with a tuk-tuk from San Marcos. Once there you should visit Bambu House and the impressive permaculture farms.
Santa Cruz is also on the same side of the lake and a nice village to spend a night as it has some of the best views of the lake, but there isn’t much to do around.
Hike the Tajumulco
Tajumulco is Central America’s highest peak, sitting at 4219m. The hike takes 2 days to complete with overnight camping on the volcano, you can enjoy sunrise views of Guatemala’s spectacular volcanic line.
Tikal Mayan ruins
Tikal is one of the greatest Mayan cities ever discovered. Its central plaza is surrounded by entirely intact ancient pyramids, with dozens of other massive structures hidden among the forest.
You could spend all day here, discovering one ancient monument after another, with toucans flying overhead and howler monkeys roar.
Roast the marshmallow in Pacaya Volcano
The hike to the top of Pacaya Volcano is pretty difficult. The trail is quite steep and covered with volcanic ash and gravel. But once you make it to the summit (approx 2 h), you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the neighboring volcanoes and some delicious volcano-roasted marshmallows!
As it is an active volcano, there are some risks involved. That’s why the Pacaya National Park makes it is necessary to hire a local guide who knows the path and the danger.
Livingston is Guatemala’s own little corner of the Caribbean with a powerful Garifuna culture and a landscape like nowhere else in the country.
Although the beaches clearly won’t match those of nearby Mexico, Belize or Costa Rica, it’s well worth a visit.
From here, you can take boats to Belize and Honduras.
once there explore
Los Siete Altares cascading waterfalls just 5km from the city center. You can swim in the freshwater pools, or even take a boat tour.
Pacific Beaches of Monterrico and Paredon
If you’re looking for a beach and sun in Guatemala, head to Monterrico, a pristine beach right on the pacific coast.
Monterrico black sand beach is a hidden treasure just 2 h drive from Guatemala City.
You can even take a boat ride in mangroves through the swamp.
Little north from Monterrico, you will find Paredon village - this beach is more famous for its surf breaks. There are several surf schools and hostels and a shop.
The blue crater is a small blue-water pool. To get here, you’ll need to hire a boat on Rio La Pasion, which is also known for its unusual vegetation.
Visit Nature park in Semuc Champey
Set deep in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere is a huge natural limestone formation covering an underground river, with stepped swimming pools.
You can get there from the tiny closeby town called Lanquín, this natural phenomenon is actually well organized and planned with hiking trails, viewpoints, and easy transportation. There are lodges if you want to get away from the city for a day or more.
Many tours offer you to visit the Kan’Ba caves. It's a deep underground labyrinth where you can swim in a subterrene river.
Iglesia de San Andreas de Xecul
Like mostly all Latin American countries, catholicism is powerful in Guatemala. Although Guatemala’s religion is profoundly shaped by its Mayan past. To experience it - visit La Iglesia de San Andreas de Xecul.
This colorful church with its bright facade interesting beliefs is definitely worth to visit.
Easy to reach from Quetzaltenango.
The Ixil Region is located in Quiché state. It is remote and rural, therefore definitely worth visiting for an authentic and native Ixil people culture.
There are few villages to visit in this area that are connected with hiking routes.
You can start at Nebaj as one of the best hikes also starts here - and goes to Todos Santos.
Other villages to visit are Acul, Chajul for its coffee and nearby waterfalls, and more remote towns like Chortiz, which you have to hike to in gorgeous natural scenery.
If you are into serious adventure then you need to plan a trip to El Mirador. Its one of the greatest Mayan ruins ever discovered, but still lies in an untouched and complete remote part of Guatemala rainforest.
It is absolutely stunning but very hard trek as you will need to hike 100km both ways in a dense jungle by feet both.
Read more about it here https://thetravelbrief.com/briefs/el-mirador-el-mirador-lost-city-of-mayan