Recent Searches
Clear
Things to do in Guatemala

Things to do in  Guatemala

Welcome to Guatemala

Lush, mountainous, and dotted with lakes and volcanoes, Guatemala can be somewhat challenging to traverse by land, though well worth the effort. Most visitors arrive to busy Guatemala City and head for colonial Antigua, where beautifully restored churches, plazas, and archways line the cobblestone streets. Ringed by three smoldering volcanoes, Antigua is a popular place for guided treks to see the fiery craters of Pacaya or Acatenango up close. Don't worry—your guides will send a scout ahead to make sure the volcano is "feeling friendly" on the day of your trek. As an ancestral and present-day homeland of the Maya, Guatemala's greatest archaeological treasures are UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park and the Maya ceremonial site of Yaxha. Taking a guided tour is a must (literally; the government requires it), so it's ideal to book in advance. The Maya Biosphere Reserve surrounding Tikal is home to jaguars, toucans, macaws, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and quetzals—a bird sacred to the Maya people. If you can't make it to Tikal, the Copan Maya ruins are accessible from Guatemala City, located just over the Honduran border. Farther afield, scenic Lake Atitlán, surrounded by mountains, makes a perfect base from which to explore the highlands. From the friendly town of Panajachel, take a lake cruise to visit some of the smaller villages dotting the shores, such as Santiago de Atitlán, traditional home of the Tzutujil people. If time permits, catch the colorful market in nearby Chichicastenango, to which indigenous peoples from around the region flock to buy and sell their wares.

Top 10 attractions in Guatemala

#1
Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano

star-5277
This 8,373-foot (2,552-meter) smoking peak is one of Guatemala’s most accessible active volcanoes. Its upper reaches feature lava formations formed by recent flows, as well as vents that puff up steaming hot air, while its summit affords spectacular views of nearby volcanoes including Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego.More
#2
Volcán San Pedro

Volcán San Pedro

star-551
Looming above the shores of Lake Atitlan and the village of San Pedro La Laguna, Volcán San Pedro is one of the region’s most accessible for volcano trekking. The views from the top make it well worth the effort of getting there.Two routes lead to the volcano’s summit 9,908 feet (3,020 meters) above sea level. Both are strenuous, mostly uphill climbs through corn fields and coffee plantations, oak and pine forests. The volcanic soil coating the dormant peak is rich in nutrients, so many Guatemalans grow their crops along the volcanic foothills.More
#3
Yaxhá

Yaxhá

star-4.552
The third-largest archaeological site in Guatemala is not well known, overshadowed by the fame of neighboring Tikal. Archaeologists are only now sorting out the secrets of this city on the northern shore of Laguna Yaxhá, named “Blue-Green Water” for the lake’s unusual color. Founded around 800 BC atop a long, limestone ridge, the city was home to more than 40,000 people at its peak, around 250 AD.Yaxhá’s sophisticated builders left behind more than 500 structures, including nine temple pyramids, two ball courts, forty unusually carved stelae, and numerous causeways. Climb to the top of Temple 216 for remarkable views over the lakes and rivers. While the city must have become quite isolated during the Mayan civilization’s (and Tikal’s) collapse between 800 and 900 AD, it continued to function well into the 1500s.Today, Yaxhá is rarely visited, and therefore offers a peaceful and introspective experience of the Mayan world. Birders and wildlife watchers will especially appreciate the solitude, as well as the numerous crocodiles in the lake.More
#4
Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

star-5315
With its glistening blue waters framed by a trio of volcanic peaks and a fringe of lush greenery, Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is surely one of Guatemala’s most stunning natural wonders. The deepest lake in Central America lies in an ancient caldera amid the mountainous landscapes of the Guatemalan Highlands.More
#5
Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

star-566
Located in the Centro Historico (Zona 1) district of Guatemala City, the Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central), is considered the best place to kick off a tour of Guatemala City. (You can translate the names as Constitution Square, Constitution Plaza, or Central Park.)A number of important sites are located around and the Parque Central, as locals refer to it, which follows the standard colonial urban-planning scheme found in the New World. The plaza's concrete “park” is always bustling with activity, especially on public holidays and Sundays. Plaza de la Constitución is also surrounded by important structures like the National Plaza of Culture, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the underground Central Market, the Portal of Commerce and Centenarian Park. The National Library and Periodicals Library and General Archive of Central America are found here too.Near the Parque Central is the pedestrian-only area of Paseo Sexta Avenida (Sixth Avenue Passage), a beloved shopping and entertainment area that is a great introduction to Guatemalan culture and habits.More
#6
La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)

La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora)

star-4.54
Considered to be one of the best zoos in Central America, La Aurora Zoo (Zoólogico la Aurora) opened in 1924. This small zoo offers four permanent exhibits: Africa, Asia, Granita and American.Not only does this zoo give visitors the chance to learn more about Guatemala’s animals, it also has a large collection of Central American creatures. Experience animals including giraffes, elephants, farm animals, lions, tigers, pythons, hippos and more.The zoo does a good job living up to its mission – to educate, conserve and rehabilitate animals. It even offers lectures and other programs daily.More
#7
Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs

Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs

star-53
Travelers looking for a relaxing, natural escape will find all they desire in the hidden trails, hot springs and stunning landscapes of Funestes Georginas Hot Springs. Located just outside Xela, this popular destination has been attracting travelers for decades. Although a major hurricane damaged much of the grounds in 2010, a huge rebuilding effort has restored most of the property to its original splendor.Visitors can slip into one of four pools fed by nearby sulfur hot springs, wander through the tropical forests on one of the well-marked trails, or head to Volcan Zunil or Volcan Santo Tomas using one of the longer, more technical paths. Fuentes Georginas has a restaurant and bar to insure visitors are well fed and travelers can even spend the night at one of the quiet mountain cottages to insure there’s plenty of time to enjoy all Fuentes Georginas has to offer.More
#8
National Palace

National Palace

star-566
This stoic structure in the heart of Guatemala’s capital city was built in 1939 entirely by local hands and using only local materials. As a result, the National Palace offers up an homage to Guatemalan heritage and is ranks tops among the buildings prized by locals. Its green-tinged exterior is a nod to the favorite color of the former dictator’s wife, and the result of concrete and copper used to cover the exterior to avoid painting. As a result, it’s affectionately known by some locals as 'The Big Guacamole.'An impressive bronze plate at the entrance to the Palace marks a spot known as 'Kilometer 0.' According to residents, this is the official starting point of all roads in Guatemala. Travelers will find a beautiful courtyard at the center of the five-story building, which is surrounded by five archways on every side. A touching Monument to Peace is located in the center of the palace to commemorate the end to the nation’s most recent civil war. Because the National Palace is also home to a national museum, travelers will find unique and historically significant artifacts like the first switchboard and hand painted murals depicting scenes from the nation’s past. Be sure to check out the stained-glass windows along the presidential balcony and the palace salon, used only for ceremonial events.More
#9
Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás)

Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás)

star-4.548
Built during the 1540s upon the ancient foundation of a Maya temple site, Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás) is a Roman Catholic church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. It remains a venerated holy site for people of both Catholic and Maya faiths and blends of the two. The stone stairs leading to the gleaming white Dominican church are reminiscent of those at ancient temple sites, and the steps have turned black from prayer sessions in which shamans waft copal incense and set purification fires. Inside, the church is adorned with offerings, everything from maize to liquor, and numerous candles, which have colors and patterns that correspond with those they've been lit for.More
#10
Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey

star-4.512
Tranquil, tiered turquoise pools suspended over limestone are what you can expect to find when visiting Semuc Champey. A natural limestone bridge supports the pools, which change shades of turquoise due to climatic variations throughout the year.Semuc Champey is one of Guatemala’s best-kept secrets—one that is quickly getting out. Its remote location was often bypassed for more popular and certainly more accessible destinations and sights in the country, but the turquoise pools and surrounding scenery have helped Semuc Champey garner attention from backpackers traveling between the Western Highlands and Tikal.Despite the increase in visitors, you can still easily find a quiet spot to enjoy the tranquil pools. You can stick close and lounge (or swim) in the shallow waters, or venture off for some further exploration. A slippery path leading upstream a few hundred meters brings travelers to Río Cahabón, the river that feeds the pools. Be careful in this area as the fast-flowing river “gets lost”in the underground caves, an area called “El Sumidero.”If you’re up for a bigger adventure, head up a pretty steep, slippery trail to the mirador, high above the pools, where you can snag postcard-type photos of the entire area.More

Top activities in Guatemala

Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

star-5
73
From
USD66.00
Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

star-5
28
From
USD59.00
Pacaya Day Tour

Pacaya Day Tour

star-5
1
From
USD75.00
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Tikal From Guatemala

Tikal From Guatemala

star-5
29
From
USD375.97
Acatenango Overnight
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Acatenango Overnight

star-4.5
52
From
USD89.00
Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

star-5
29
From
USD39.00

Recent reviews from experiences in Guatemala

star-5
A Nice Outing to the Volcano
Ben, Jul. 2021
Pacaya Volcano Tour
The guide, Fausto, was friendly and spoke English.
star-5
Wonderful Class
ChristinaP, Jul. 2021
Guatemalan Cooking Class and Market Tour
We were able to see parts of the market we had missed and may not have checked out otherwise.
star-4
Good once in a lifetime trip
Keith_J, Jun. 2021
Full Day at Lake Atitlan & Cultural Towns + Breakfast, Collective Tour
Great tour to see the Atitlan lake and some of the surrounding towns.
star-5
Enjoyable Day Trip with Gustavo
Bobby_T, Jun. 2021
Guatemala City Tour
Because we were a small group, he gave us a lot of latitude to create our own tour, allowing us to choose places we wanted to visit or stop at a pub to have a beverage.
star-5
Book this tour! It will exceed your expectations :)
Nadine_B, Feb. 2021
Lake Atitlán Sightseeing Cruise with Transport from Guatemala City
Activities included participating in a Mayan basket weaving activity, touring a local art gallery, visiting a coffee-bean plantation, and just cruising/shopping around the small village.
star-5
Excellent Adventure
Robert_M, Feb. 2020
Overnight Volcano Acatenango Hiking Adventure
This is one of the best activities you can do in Guatemala.
star-5
Best Day Tour Ever
anniverysary2015, Nov. 2019
Guatemala City Complete Day Private Tour
Esteban knows all the special places to visit .
star-5
Well organised, knowledgeable guide
rvm975, May 2019
Iximché Ruins and Antigua City Tour
Excellent English, entry fees for attractions were included.
star-5
Really great trip
KevinRaos, May 2019
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
The guides were good and spoke English and Spanish.
star-5
This trip was the highlight of our...
Nina J, Feb. 2018
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
I would highly recommend going to see Tikal if in Guatemala.
star-5
This is a great trip that hits all...
Rebecca O, Mar. 2018
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
This a truly exceptional option for someone that does not have many days in Guatemala but wants to see Tikal.
star-4
The tour guide was great and van was...
Brett C, Oct. 2017
Guatemala City Afternoon Sightseeing Tour
The only difficulty was that we were with a Spanish speaking couple so everything was said in both english and Spanish back and forth the whole time.
star-4
Juan-Pablo was a great tour guide...
malich.jakub, Nov. 2017
Private Tour: Guatemala City Morning or Afternoon Tour
Honestly speaking, there is not too much to see in Guatemala City, but this short tour is a great first-day orientation.
star-5
For me, the main attractions were...
Sandor B, Nov. 2017
Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City
For me, the main attractions were the view from Pacaya that included the Fuego Volcano producing a small eruption roughly about every half an hour, the Laguna de Calderas, and Guatemala City.
star-5
I loved my visit to Guatemala...
Pamela S, Nov. 2016
8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins
They provided ample time to visit the mayan ruins and the accommodations were great!
star-5
Fantastic tour with very friendly...
Thomas F, Sep. 2015
Private Tour: Lake Atitlan Boat Tour and Santiago Village from Guatemala City
Tour guide spoke perfect English and had lots of interesting information about Guatemala.
star-5
This was a fantastic tour. Our guide...
JEDADIAH J, May 2014
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
Our guide Manuel spoke English very well.
star-5
Loved it!
chillychelc, Jan. 2021
Visit Hobbitenango + Antigua Guatemala
The only downfall was the weight for the hobbitenango excursion makes the trip there pointless as you wait for an hour for a short time left to actually enjoy the place, not sure how this could be fixed as it’s out of the tour guides control but overall a very eventful tour.
star-4
Wonderful Experience
Felecia_C, Feb. 2020
Pacaya Volcano Tour and Hot Springs from Antigua
Plus the lunch was good at the Hot Springs Spa.
star-5
Amazing Personal Tour
J_H, Feb. 2020
Coffee Tour & Local Villages Tour in Antigua Guatemala
By the time we reached the chocolate factory, the workers had gone home so we didn’t get to see the process, but we did taste the different varieties of chocolate they had.

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in Guatemala?
Q:
What are the top activities in Guatemala?
Q:
What are the top things to do near Guatemala?
Q:
What do I need to know before visiting Guatemala?