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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 15 attractions in Guatemala

#1
Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano

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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
Acatenango

Acatenango

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The 13,045-foot (3,976-meter Acatenango volcano towers over the colonial city of Antigua. While many travelers opt for the more-gentle ascent of the Pacaya Volcano, this twin-peaked volcano offers incredible views of its nearest volcanic neighbor, Fuego, which regularly spits out plumes of gas, ash, and hot lava. More
#3
National Palace

National Palace

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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
#4
Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

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Cerro de la Cruz is a lush hill on the northern edge of Antigua marked by a massive stone cross. From a scenic overlook, enjoy expansive views of the city’s grid of pretty terracotta rooftops laid out at the base of the magnificent Volcán de Agua.More
#5
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

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Overlooking Plaza de la Constitución in the center of Guatemala City is the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral. Though several devastating earthquakes have rambled through the city, the blue-domed Neoclassical-Baroque structure stands strong as the city’s main house of worship. Pass through the 12-pillar entrance to admire the massive interior, austere though wonderfully embellished with religious paintings, carvings, and sparkling gold altars.More
#6
Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)

Relief Map (Mapa en Relieve)

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Constructed in 1904, long before Google Earth, this huge 3-dimensional outdoor map of Guatemala offers a grand-scale viewpoint of the mountainous country from above. A family-friendly attraction, Mapa en Relieve contains all the country’s volcanoes, rivers and lakes (some with running water), as well as its cities, roads, bridges, and railroad tracks.More
#7
Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

Plaza de la Constitución (Parque Central)

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Guatemala City’s huge central plaza is a hive of activity, with people and pigeons milling about. Surrounded by important historical buildings, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana and the National Palace, the square is the focal point of the city, and is frequently the setting for demonstrations and celebrations.More
#8
Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

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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
#9
Yaxhá

Yaxhá

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Yaxhá was founded circa 800 BC along the shores of Laguna Yaxhá, and was home to more than 40,000 people at its peak, around AD 250. Though overshadowed by Tikal, this ancient city is Guatemala’s third largest archaeological site. And since it’s less visited than its famous sibling, Yaxhá offers a peaceful, introspective experience—especially for birders and Maya aficionados.More
#10
Antigua Central Park (Parque Central)

Antigua Central Park (Parque Central)

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Antigua Central Park (Parque Central) is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Guatemala. It’s the main outdoor area in town and where people go to sit, stroll, or meet up for an afternoon of relaxation and nice weather. From Central Park you have a superb view of the Agua Volcano, which towers over Antigua.More
#11
La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced)

La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced)

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Canary yellow with white trim, the baroque La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced) is one of Antigua’s few colonial churches to survive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Inside its thick walls are notable artworks such as a sculpture of Jesus carrying a golden cross, which is paraded through the streets on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.More
#12
Santa Catalina Arch (Arco de Santa Catalina)

Santa Catalina Arch (Arco de Santa Catalina)

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One of Antigua’s most photographed structures, the saffron-coloredxa0 Santa Catalina Arch was built in 1694 to connect two convents to a school outside their confines, to protect them from entering the outside world on their way to teach there. Safe from breaking their vow of seclusion, they passed through a hidden passageway inside the arch.More
#13
Volcán San Pedro

Volcán San Pedro

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Casting its imposing shadow over the western shoreline of Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán, this dormant 9,908-foot (3,020-meter volcano beckons adventure-hungry travelers. The volcano is one of the most accessible in the region, with the route up to its summit leading through corn fields, coffee plantations, and cloud forests.More
#14
Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)

Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)

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Once a powerful seat of the Mayan empire, the Tikal ruins are now the most famous archeological site in Guatemala and one of the most-visited sets of Mayan ruins in all of Latin America. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of temples, plazas, and pyramids, was first settled around 700 BC, and modern visitors still get swept away by their beauty and powerful aura.More
#15
Jade Factory and Museum (Jade Maya)

Jade Factory and Museum (Jade Maya)

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This small museum is devoted to jade, the precious green gemstone that has been mined and revered in Mesoamerica since ancient times. Exhibits provide information on ancient mining of the mineral and include pre-Hispanic jade pieces. It also encompasses a workshop where jade jewelry and decorative objects are created and sold.More

Top activities in Guatemala

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

Antigua ATV Sunset Tour

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63
From
$59.00
Private Shuttle in Guatemala

Private Shuttle in Guatemala

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From
$15.00
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
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Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

Antigua ATV Coffee Tour

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$46.00
Lake Atitlan Day Tour From Antigua
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Acatenango Overnight
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Acatenango Overnight

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$89.00
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
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Pacaya Volcano Tour and Hot Springs from Antigua
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Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Guatemala City
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Guatemala City Tour

Guatemala City Tour

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$50.00
Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure

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115
From
$66.00
Lake Atitlan ATV Tour

Lake Atitlan ATV Tour

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87
From
$55.00
Ground Transfer Guatemala City To Panajachel, Lake Atitlan
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Ground Transfer Airport - Antigua Guatemala
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Recent reviews from experiences in Guatemala

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Safe and Flexible Transportation
Christian_C, May 2022
Private Shuttle in Guatemala
He also provided recommendations on main things to do in the Guatemala City area.
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This was a very...
Marie_B, Apr 2022
Guatemala City Tour
This was a very comprehensive tour that suited all our needs to see Guatemala City before flying back!
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Friendly informative driver
Dixie_G, Mar 2022
Private Shuttle in Guatemala
He spoke English and gave us some helpful tips on where to go in Guatemala City.
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Wonderful tour of Guatemala City
Adria_K, Mar 2022
Guatemala City Tour
He showed us all around Guatemala city, we got to see a lot of the important buildings and monuments.
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Fun for the whole family!
Pepe_F, Mar 2022
Lake Atitlan ATV Tour
He has great English and all of the stops were excellent!
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Absolutely beautiful day!
McKenzie_M, Mar 2022
Full Day Collective Tour To Lake Atitlan + Panajachel + San Juan +Santa Catarina
We got to see so many beautiful cities that we wouldn’t have made it to on our own.
star-5
Great hike!
Joey_B, Jan 2022
Climb Active Pacaya Volcano - Collective Tour
Pacaya was cool to see and there are a number of stops to the top to buy snacks and drinks, including pizza cooked on the volcano rocks.
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Humberto was our hero!
Sam_J, Apr 2022
Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves
There were some quite precarious moments Humberto just graced through as we grasped on and made sure each other weren't going to fall.
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Great way to spend our last day in Guatemala
Dixie_G, Apr 2022
Guatemala City Afternoon Sightseeing Tour
We were fortunate to have him as a guide in Antigua, so it was really nice to see him again.
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Clean car - nice driver
Dixie_G, Mar 2022
Ground Transfer From Antigua To Guatemala City Airport
Towards the end of the ride, I started to speak to him in Spanish, and mentioned that we were going to visit Tikal.
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Amazing tour thanks to the passionate guide Rejes
Martijn_V, Mar 2022
Archeological focus Tikal SUNSET and Wildlife Spotting Tour (South and East)
We also saw lots of monkeys and birds and could use Rejes' binoculars to see them better.
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Absolutely wonderful
Sophie_K, Feb 2022
Authentic Guatemalan Cooking Class in Antigua
This was by far one of THE most fun things I’ve ever done in the country.
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Wonderful Trip and Driver
Conner_M, Jan 2022
Ground Transfer From Antigua To Guatemala City Airport
The trip was made even more pleasant by Byron's conversation in both English and Spanish.
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Great Day Trip!
Gabriel_L, Dec 2021
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Guatemala City with Lunch
It's a great way to see Tikal if you are limited on time.
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Great tour
Grant_R, Oct 2021
Guatemala city Walking Tour and public bus
It’s a great way to see Guatemala City.
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A Nice Outing to the Volcano
Ben_P, Jul 2021
Pacaya Volcano Tour
The guide, Fausto, was friendly and spoke English.
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Excellent Adventure
Robert_M, Feb 2020
Overnight Volcano Acatenango Hiking Adventure
This is one of the best activities you can do in Guatemala.
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Best Day Tour Ever
anniverysary2015, Nov 2019
Guatemala City Complete Day Private Tour
Esteban knows all the special places to visit .
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Well organised, knowledgeable guide
Rachel_v, May 2019
Iximché Ruins and Antigua City Tour
Excellent English, entry fees for attractions were included.
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Really great trip
KevinRaos, May 2019
Tikal Day Trip by Air from Antigua with Lunch
The guides were good and spoke English and Spanish.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Guatemala?
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