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Guatemala Travel Guide

Quick Facts

💰Currency Guatemalan Quetzal (Q)
🔄Exchange Rate US$1 = Q7.76
💬Language Spanish
🗣️English Fluency Moderate
🏙️Capital Guatemala City
👥Population 18 million
🚘Driving Side right
🔌Plugs A, B, G
🕑Time Central Standard Time (UTC-06:00)
🍽️Must-Try Pepián, Ka'kik, Chiles Rellenos

Backpacker Budget: US$26 (Q 202)

Hostel Dorm US$10 (Q 78)
Takeaway Meal US$5 (Q 39)
Public transport US$1 (Q 8)
Long-distance bus US$10 (Q 78)
Entrance Fee US$5 (Q 39)
Beer US$2 (Q 16)

When to go?

January - April High season with pleasant weather
May - August Low season with occasional rain showers
September - December High season with cooler temperatures

What's unique?

Welcome to Guatemala, a country of vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and ancient Mayan ruins. Tucked away in Central America, this gem offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you enchanted. Guatemala is known for its stunning natural beauty, from the awe-inspiring volcanoes that dot the horizon to the lush rainforests teeming with wildlife. Explore the mystical depths of Tikal National Park, where towering pyramids emerge from the jungle canopy and transport you back in time.

But it's not just nature that captivates visitors; Guatemala is alive with rich traditions and colorful festivals. Immerse yourself in the lively markets of Chichicastenango or Antigua Guatemala and be mesmerized by the vibrant textiles and intricate handicrafts created by skilled artisans.

Delve into Guatemalan cuisine, a delightful fusion of Indigenous Mayan flavors and Spanish influences. Savor traditional dishes such as pepian or try street food favorites like tamales or pupusas.

With warm hospitality and an abundance of hidden gems waiting to be discovered, Guatemala beckons travelers seeking authentic cultural experiences and natural wonders.

View from Indian Nose before at sunrise
View from Indian Nose before at sunrise

Exploring Guatemala
(3 weeks)

  1. 1

    A picturesque island town nestled in the heart of Lake Petén Itzá.

  2. 2

    Visit the ancient Mayan ruins in the heart of the jungle.

  3. 3
    Semuc Champey

    Discover the stunning natural pools and limestone bridge.

  4. 4
    Lake Atitlan

    Relax by the beautiful lake surrounded by volcanoes and indigenous villages.

  5. 5
    Xela (Quetzaltenango)

    Experience the vibrant culture and take part in language courses.

  6. 6

    Explore the colonial city known for its colorful streets and historic sites.

  7. 7

    Embark on an overnight expedition to Acatenango, an active volcano, and witness the mesmerizing sight of erupting lava up close.

Lake Atitlan from San Marcos
Lake Atitlan from San Marcos

Fun Fact

Guatemala stands out for its exceptionally high proportion of indigenous population, with indigenous groups comprising a larger percentage of the overall population than in the neighboring nations, making it a unique and culturally diverse destination in the region.


Is Guatemala safe to visit?

While Guatemala has some safety concerns, it is generally safe to visit if you take necessary precautions. Avoid Guatemala City, stay in tourist areas, avoid traveling at night, and be mindful of your belongings.

What are the must-visit tourist destinations in Guatemala?

Some popular tourist destinations in Guatemala include Antigua Guatemala, Tikal National Park, Lake Atitlán, Semuc Champey, and the colonial city of Quetzaltenango.

What are some essential phrases in Spanish to know when visiting Guatemala?

Some essential phrases in Spanish to know when visiting Guatemala are: - Hola (Hello) - Gracias (Thank you) - ¿Dónde está...? (Where is...?) - ¿Cuánto cuesta? (How much does it cost?) - ¿Puede ayudarme? (Can you help me?)

What's the best way to get around in Guatemala?

The best way to get around in Guatemala is by using buses or tourist shuttles. Chicken buses are reasonably safe outside Guatemala City and a cheap way to get around. Fast, direct chicken buses exist on some routes, but often, a tourist shuttle is the much faster option. Private taxis are also available but may be more expensive.

Travel Tips

  • Money Cash is king, cards are almost never accepted
  • ATM Fees All ATMs charge fees. Limits are low and fees are high - for higher amounts, doing a self-remittance can be cheaper than ATMs
  • Do try the local cuisine and traditional dishes.
  • Do dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Do learn a few basic phrases in Spanish.
  • Do respect the customs and traditions of the indigenous communities.
  • Don't wear revealing clothing in conservative areas.
  • Don't drink tap water. Stick to bottled or boiled water.
  • Don't touch or climb on ancient ruins or archaeological sites.
Disclosure: This travel guide may contain affiliate links
Cover: Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua Guatemala

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