The heartland of the Maya empire, Guatemala’s lush rainforests, azure lakes and soaring volcanoes hide the ruins of fabulous temples, including Tikal. Not to mention the colourful markets, charming colonial towns and jungles teeming with wildlife.
All our itineraries to Guatemala are designed completely from scratch but for inspiration, here are a few of the main sights that you might like to include:
Surrounded by volcanoes, the pastel-hued city of Antigua is one of Central America’s gems, with crumbling colonial architecture and a staggering outlook.
More beauty awaits at Lake Atitlan. Here, numerous small villages set along the shoreline amidst encircling volcanoes showcase traditional Maya life. The market towns of Santiago and San Juan Comalapa make excellent excursions, and the active can explore the lake by kayak or hike the San Pedro volcano, where climbers are rewarded with spectacular views across the lake.
Nearby, the bustling market days at Chichicastenango are not to be missed; the market stalls are a riot of colour and the town’s fascinating blend of Christian and Maya beliefs can be witnessed during traditional rituals.
Other amazing places to see include the Afro-Caribbean fishing town of Livingston, the aquatic communities around the Rio Dulce, and Semuc Champey, an incredible natural limestone pool and the ideal spot for adventure sports enthusiasts, with caving, rafting and freshwater swimming on offer.
Many visitors come to Guatemala for its incredible Mayan sites, of which there are dozens, including Iximche, Yaxha, Quirigua and Aguateca. The jewel in Guatemala’s crown is of course, Tikal, where some 3,000 ancient Maya structures rise from the rainforest floor, with only the tips of the pyramid temples rising above the canopy. Amidst the sights and sounds of tropical birds and animals including howler and spider monkeys, visitors can follow in the footsteps of Maya royalty to the majestic Great Plaza and its Temple of the Jaguar, Temple of the Masks and Acropolis.
The atmospheric ruins of Copan, just across the border in Honduras, are another essential stop for those interested in understanding the Maya and are easily incorporated into a Guatemala itinerary.
Guatemala makes a great combination with Belize, so for those with more time it is straightforward to cross the border after visiting Tikal and the Lake Peten Itza area. Jaguars, more Maya sites and Belize’s staggering white-sand coastline and barrier reef await.
We haven’t yet uploaded any sample itineraries for this destination, but we do have some on file. Please contact our tailor-made team directly and we can send you a sample or discuss your requirements to create an itinerary from scratch.
Guatemala is a surprisingly easy place to get to, with services via the USA or Madrid daily. There isn’t much of a domestic flight network available, but the country is relatively compact, so we recommend getting around by private transfer, or having a car and driver at your disposal throughout.
Quick country facts
- Recommended airlines
American Airways via Miami or Iberia via Madrid
- Flight time
Around 15 -17 hours depending on the length of connection.
- Time zone:
GMT – 6
- Visa requirements:
No visa required for 90 day stay (UK passport)
When and where to go
Guatemala’s best weather is generally between November and April, but it is one of the few central American destinations which can be enjoyed almost year-round, as many areas only experience sporadic, short showers even during its rainy season May to October. During peak season months (January to Easter) we advise booking around six months before as much of the accommodation is boutique and rooms get booked up early.
- NOT ADVISED