This article was fully written by me, without help from AI.
Guatemala City feels fairly approachable for a couple a days. It is well organised and easy to navigate. We stayed for just a night and took the opportunity to gather some supplies we needed. Base yourself in zona 9 for easy access to all you need.
- El museo de los niños
- The map of Guatemala
- Sophos bookstore to immerse with locals and eat delicious cake
- The opportunity to eat in many international restaurants
What a beauty! Antigua used to be the main city of Guatemala. It has beautiful architecture, lots of colours and a very sweet atmosphere. It is quite high up (1500m) and surrounded by volcanoes. It is well worth spending a couple of nights, at least.
- Climbing the Cerro de la Cruz for a viewpoint of the whole city and volcanoes
- Visiting the markets of Nim Pot’ and the mercado central for all your crafts and souvenirs needs. There are beautiful fabrics, masks and bags with colourful designs.
- Shopping for chocolate is a must. From the big bars of pure chocolate for drinks to the specialty flavours, indulge in that delicious local treat.
- People watching in the parque central.
Right outside Antigua, take the time to visit the following spots, perfect for little daytrips:
- Ciudad Vieja: a beautifully charming village with a stunning white church. There is a daily market for your food needs and a lovely atmosphere.
- The Macadamia Farm: a few minutes from the village, you will find a Macadamia nut farm. Enjoy a delicious lunch and tour the farm to understand how this most luxurious nut is grown, harvested and prepared.
This quiet beachtown retreat is totally unspoiled by tourism. It is a great surf spot, a beautiful black sand beach and lots of eateries to enjoy tacos. It has not been destroyed by any development and is relatively unknown. So head there and enjoy the chilled vibe.
- Taking surfing lessons or renting boards if you are confident
- Taking a cruise on the mangrove
- Meeting turtles and understanding about conservation
- Learning how to cook a true Guatemalan lunch with tacos and empanadas
- Just chilling
This village located high up in the mountain (2500m) is a perfect base to explore the region. The city in itself has an interesting centre and market.
- El parque central to look at people and get a slice of local life
- The Chiquibal volcano hike with the stunning view on the laguna. Experience walking the crater of the volcano with so much green surroundings and a pristine lake. Get ready for a steep sporty hike.
- Highland park for a day of outdoor activity for kids (parcours, poney and horse rides, quad drives and more)
- The beautiful colourful market of Conception Chiquirichapa (on the way to the volcano)
Named the most beautiful lake in the world, Atitlan is truly beautiful. Get around the lake with public boats or private ones and discover small villages. It is again a totally different atmosphere from anywhere else in Guatemala.
- San Marco: this beautiful hippie village is full of colours and great eateries. Think vegan cafes, hipster bakeries and second hand stores. There is music all around and a beautiful atmosphere.
- Chichicastenango market is one of the biggest in Central America. A maze of vendors where you will find all you need. Fabrics, souvenirs, food, art and anything else you can imagine. It is busy, fun, colourful and well worth a visit.
- San Juan and San Pedro are two sweet villages on the lake. The beginning of each of them is quite touristy, but as you walk further up, they become really authentic and beautiful to walk around. San Juan has a focus on artisanal and mayan art. Well worth a visit.
- The mayan ruins of Iximche. These appear in few guidebooks, but they are so worth the visit. It is peaceful, quiet and very beautiful ruins with still ceremonies taking place.
our full itinerary & extra details
We spent 2 weeks in Guatemala over the Christmas holidays. We decided on a light itinerary, focussing on the southern part of the country. There is a lot we missed out on, but we didn’t want to rush. An extra week would have allowed us to see Flores, the famous Tikal and the Caribbean coast. Next time…
Getting around: We rented a car at the airport of Guatemala city and kept it for the duration of our holiday. We really needed the car most days, and having to plan taxis or buses would have been a pain. I highly recommend renting a car on this itinerary.
Safety: Guatemala felt very safe to us. As always, use common sense and don’t drive or walk around at night. Guatemalans are very welcoming, smiling and extremely kind to children. We were asked several times if people could take photos of our children. I guess we were an attraction for them too!
Weather: It is not hot and sunny everywhere. Guatemala city was actually really cold. So was Quetzaltenango. El Paredon was baking hot. So be prepared and pack layers.
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