Things not to miss

updated 5/30/2019
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The graceful former capital, with an incredible legacy of colonial architecture, is one of the most elegant cities in the Americas.

© Shutterstock

#02 The Ixil region

The Guatemalan highlands at their most bewitching: the costume and scenery of this deeply traditional Maya region are astonishing.

Nebaj © Milonk/Shutterstock

#03 Todos Santos Cuchumatán

A fascinating highland Maya town, home to one of the finest textile traditions in Latin America, which hosts a legendary fiesta, with a rip-roaring horse race.

© streetflash/Shutterstock

#04 Maximón

Visit the pagan temple of this liquor-swilling, cigar-smoking evil saint.

© Carlos Tischler/Shutterstock

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#05 Tikal

This unmatched Maya site has it all: monumental temples and palaces set in a tropical forest alive with spider monkeys and chattering parakeets.

© WitR/Shutterstock

#06 Studying Spanish

Guatemala has dozens of excellent language schools that offer one-on-one tuition and home-stay packages at rock-bottom rates.

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#07 Copán ruins

There’s a plethora of exquisitely carved stelae and altars, a towering hieroglyphic stairway and an outstanding museum at the magnificent ruins of Copán.

© Vladislav T. Jirousek/Shutterstock

#08 Río Dulce

Cruise up the jungle-cloaked gorges and estuaries of Guatemala’s “sweet river” by boat, and marvel at the scenery and birdlife.

© Daniel Andis/Shutterstock

#09 Chichicastenango

For souvenir hunters, this twice-weekly highland market is unsurpassed.

Colorful Cemetery in Chichicastenango, Guatemala © Martin Froyda/Shutterstock

#10 National Archeological Museum

A wonderful collection of Maya artistry and breathtakingly carved monuments from many remote Petén


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#11 Volcán de Pacaya

Trek up this volcano for an unforgettable encounter with the lava-oozing cone of Pacaya, one of Central America’s most active.

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#12 Lívingston

Shake your booty to the hypnotic drum-driven punta beat in the Garífuna town of Lívingston.

Guatemala Livingston Garifuna village © Francky38/Shutterstock

#13 Yaxhá

This massive Maya site, superbly positioned on the banks of Lago de Yaxhá, has dozens of large temples and impressive monuments.

© Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

#14 Lago de Atitlán

Encircled by three volcanoes, the awesome crater lake of Lago de Atitlán was famously described by Aldous Huxley as “the most beautiful lake in the world”.

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#15 Chicken buses

Garishly painted and outrageously uncomfortable, there’s never a dull journey aboard Guatemala’s iconic fume-belching camionetas.

Chicken Buses in Guatemala

© Eric Kukulowicz/Shutterstock

#16 Semana Santa

During Easter Week, head to either Antigua for its epic Catholic processions, or Santiago Atitlán to witness the symbolic confrontation between the pagan saint Maximón and Christ.

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#17 Highland hiking

Explore the beguiling, lofty trails of Guatemala’s western highlands: the town of Quetzaltenango

and Nebaj are good bases.

Quetzaltenango © Francisco Sandoval Guate/Shutterstock

#18 Coffee

Sample some of the world’s finest single estate roasts in Cobán

, the easy-going capital of Alta Verapaz.

© fotoearl/Shutterstock

#19 Semuc Champey

Explore the exquisite turquoise pools and river system around Semuc Champey, a natural limestone bridge.

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Travel advice for Guatemala

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updated 5/30/2019
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