15 Best Things to Do in Guatemala

Guatemala
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With its breathtaking landscapes, stunning volcanos, lush canyons, tropical jungles, amazing beaches, idiosyncratic culture.

UNESCO heritage sites, marvelous colonial cities, splendid coffee, ravishing food, and so much more, Guatemala is guaranteed to impress you.

Guatemala is one of the most diverse countries of the South American continent.

The most commonly spoken language in the country is their national language of Spanish.

It shares its borders with other gorgeous Spanish-speaking countries which includes, Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras.

The history of this country goes back thousands of years with the Mayan Civilization.

This little paradise is a perfect mix of the old and new worlds coming together.

It is the absolute perfect place if you love adventure and being surrounded by picturesque landscape.

Here are some of the best things to do and the best places to see when you visit the eclectic country of Guatemala.

Take In The Natural Splendour Of Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán
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Perched in the beautiful Western Highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlán is a stunning volcano lake. It is the deepest lake in Central America.

It is renowned as one of the most gorgeous lakes in the whole world, and it attracts tonnes of people from around the globe.

Located only a two-hour drive away from the Guatemala City, Lake Atitlán perfectly showcases the natural splendour that Guatemala is known for.

It is ringed by several small traditional Mayan towns which serve as a gateway to the lake.

Lake Atitlán can only be accessed with boats that you can rent from the shores of nearby villages and towns.

You can easily spend a week or two here to explore the charm of all the quaint little villages and towns.

Panajachel is the most famous town, and it serves a transport hub for the whole area encompassing the lake.

You can explore the world-famous textile market of this town before heading to the lake.

Other villages are also quite noteworthy and famous for their local craft along with the relaxed and scenic atmosphere.

You can enjoy several number of activities once you reach the lake.

Angling is a very popular activity here and all the surrounding towns provide boating trips where you can enjoy fishing while appreciating the unrivaled views.

You can also enjoy scuba diving to catch the site of archaeological treasures at the bottom of the lake.

You can also catch the magnificent sight of the lake from above by hiking up the scenic Indian Nose.

Make sure to watch the sunset from the lake, the sight of the sun sinking below the volcano is out of this world.

Appreciate The Magnificent Architecture In Antigua Guatemala

Main street in Antigua Guatemala
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Situated in Southern Guatemala, Antigua Guatemala or Antigua is one of the most beautiful and famous cities of Central America.

It is known for its Colonial edifices, Spanish architecture, peaceful hermitages, and so much more.

This city is also the home to one of the oldest universities in Central America, University of San Carlos, which was established in 17th century.

Surrounded by volcanoes, Antigua offers awe-inspiring views of the natural diversity that is prevalent all over the city.

The best thing that you can do in this city is sightseeing.

You can walk on the cobblestoned streets of the city and see tonnes of remarkably stunning architecture and the colonial past with your eyes.

Must visit sites include Iglesia de la Merced, Cerro De La Cruz, Santa Catarina Arch, and the hilltop viewpoint.

Make sure to also explore the absorbing culture of Antigua by going to the local markets.

Experience Traditional Mayan Culture At Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango Market
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Located in the tiny Mayan town of Chichicastenango in the western highlands of Guatemala, Chichicastenango Market or “Chichi” (locally) is one of the largest and renowned markets in the whole of Central America.

The market is open only on Thursdays and Wednesdays, and hosts thousands of visitors at once.

You can easily spend hours walking on the cobblestoned streets exploring the market.

You will all kinds of things in here, including traditional Mayan handicrafts, local delicacies, fresh produce, traditional clothing, handmade clothing, the famous Guatemalan Coffee, and so much more.

This market is especially well known for its colourful and vibrant textiles, so make sure to check that out as well.

Shower Under Waterfall At Grutas de Lanquín

A girl exploring the caves at Grutas de Lanquín
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Grutas de Lanquín or Lanquín Caves are large limestone caves situated near the city of Cobán, which was once considered to be "heart of heaven" by the ancient Mayan people.

The cave system extends for many kilometres into the Earth and consists of several distinctive rock formations, a local religious shrine, a waterfall, and an underground river.

The caves are crammed with thousands of bats. If you visit during the sunset, you can see thousands of bats leaving the caves and going to the forest at once.

The formation of bats is very dense, and they cover the sky fully.

Apart from this, you can climb rocks, swim in the pools of water, and waterfall.

You can also take a guided tour to better see all the attractions here.

Do not forget to carry a flashlight as the caves are quite dark and slippery.

Bathe in Turquoise Pools In Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey
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Located near the Q'eqchi' Maya town of Lanquín, Semuc Champey is a glorious natural monument in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

It consists of a 300-metre limestone shelf which creates a series of natural water pools of a stunning green or turquoise colour.

You can enjoy swimming in the calm pools of warm and beautiful water.

The national park is surrounded by dense green jungles consisting of diverse wildlife, and it also provides copious extraordinary views which you can appreciate while swimming.

However, it is quite tricky to get to Semuc Champey because it is located in a remote area.

You can take shuttles from nearby towns such as Lanquín, which will get you to there in about 8 hours.

Roast Marshmallows At Pacaya Volcano In Antigua

Pacaya Volcano
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Located near Guatemala City, Pacaya Volcano or Volcán Pacaya is one of the most active and famous volcanoes in the country.

With its height of 2,552 meters, the visitors can witness live volcanic activity with their own eyes.

The volcano was dormant for over seventy years, however, it has been active since 1961 and its lava explosions continually alter its look.

You can climb the volcano with a local guide who will lead and guide you through the sandy terrain.

You can even roast your own marshmallows over the heat of the volcano.

The best time to start hiking is the afternoon, you can reach on the highest point by evening, and you can enjoy a glorious sunset while enjoying your roasted marshmallows.

Although, be careful while hiking as there is lava and smoke in the air from the volcano’s constant eruptions.

Mayan Ruins of Tikal

Ruins in Tilak
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Located in the glorious northern rainforests of Guatemala, near the border of Belize, Tikal consists of the complex ruin of the ancient city which was most probably known as Yax Mutal.

It is the greatest archaeological site in the whole Central America, with more than 3,000 structures dating back to the 4th century B.C.

The site has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and part of the Tikal National Park since the 1960s.

The history of the settlement of Tikal goes back as far as 1000 BC.

Tikal or Yax Mutal was a significant city for the Mayan Civilization.

The city was at its peak during the Classic Period (600–900 CE).

With its planning and establishment of palaces, plazas, pyramids, intricate systems of time-counting, delicate Mayan art, and so much more, Tikal economically and culturally dominated the Maya Region.

The city is believed to have had a population of more than 90,000 people before its subsequent decline and depopulation.

By 900 A.D. Tikal, much like the rest of the Mayan Empire, succumbed to the destruction brought on by some warfare, droughts, and epidemics.

After the late classic period, no major monuments were built and many elite monuments were burned or destroyed.

The ruins of this glorious city are very prevalent in Guatamala’s Tikal.

The closest city to Tikal is Flores, from where you can drive for an hour to reach the Heritage Site.

This historical city is the perfect place to take a step back and reflect on the rich history of the impressive the Mayan Civilization.

The site is surrounded by tonnes of greenery and nature, which contribute a lot to the beauty of this place.

Experience Modern and Traditional Mayan Blend At Quetzaltenango

Fuentes Georginas
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Locally known as Xela, Quetzaltenango is Guatemala’s second-largest city and the commercial center of the southwestern part of the country.

The town has a number of attractions spread all over, which includes volcanoes, hot springs, mountains, rivers, 19th-century architecture, cathedrals, and so much more.

You can explore and experience the natural landscape of the city by going to Central America's highest peak by hiking Volcan Tajumulco, relaxing in the hot sulphur springs of Fuentes Georginas, and diving in the massive crater lake- Lake Chicabal.

The city of Xela is the perfect blend of the traditional Mayan culture and dynamics of modern life.

You can look into the vivid culture of the town by seeing the colourful catholic churches, visiting local markets, and eating traditional foods.

You can cover all the major attractions of this beautiful city in about two days.

Quetzaltenango is located near Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlán, which means that you can easily travel to this city.

Experience The Idiosyncratic Culture Of Livingston

Traditional soup in Livingston
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Perched at the mouth of Gulf of Honduras’ Río Dulce, Livingston is a unique little town in Guatemala.

The vibrant and eccentric culture of this city is very much a mix of the Caribbean, Guatemalan, and African influence.

Livingston’s population consists of several people from Africa and the Caribbean that were brought there centuries ago by European colonists.

The locals are called ‘Garífuna’ and they have a very distinct language, lifestyle, music, food, and much more.

Make sure to try one of the most popular local dishes is tapado which is a stew made with seafood and coconut broth and the local home-brew known as gifiti is a local speciality made with rum soaked in many herbs and roots.

Apart from the eclectic culture, Livingston is blessed with marvellous natural landscapes.

The natural beauty of this place can be explored by visiting Los Siete Altares which features natural pools and low waterfalls that are perfect to relax in and appreciate the natural grandeur of the town.

You can also visit the famous Punta de Manabique where you can enjoy birdwatching and spot various wild animals including turtles, crocodiles, jaguars, reef sharks, monkeys, and so much more.

You can also catch beautiful sunsets and sunrises from the several easily accessible beaches here.

Watch Turtles Hatch From Eggs In El Paredon

Baby turtle at El Paredon
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Located about a 2.5-hour drive away from the hustling Antigua, El Paredon is a hidden gem in Guatemala's Pacific Coast.

This small fishing village is filled with stunning beaches, lush mangroves, and captivating views all around.

It is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a laid back holiday while sunbathing in the heavenly sunshine.

You can spend quality time here, away from all the noise and bustling of all the other Guatemalan cities.

You can also take surfing lessons to ride the beautiful waves of the ocean and to enjoy beautiful sunsets while doing so.

Other than surfing, one of the best things to do here is to watch turtles hatch from the eggs.

It is one of the handful places where turtles lay so many eggs.

You can watch baby turtles’ heads hatch out of their shell from June to November.

Guatemala is a marvellous nation with so much to offer.

From turquoise pools to baby turtles, there is so much to see in this eclectic country. What are you waiting for?

Plan your next holiday and explore Guatemala yourself.

Make sure to visit all the places that we mentioned and tell us all about it.