Most people get to Guatemala by plane, arriving in the capital, Guatemala City. Flores airport, near Tikal, also has a few flights from Belize City and Cancún. Guatemalan land and sea entry-points are relatively hassle free, unless you’re bringing your own transport, in which case you can expect plenty of red tape, dubious entry fees and delays.
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Airfares always depend on the season, with the highest being from Christmas to February, around Easter and in July and August.
Flights from the US and Canada
Most flights to Guatemala are routed through a few US hub cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. You’ll also find several non-direct options via San Salvador (with Taca) and Mexico City (Aeroméxico and Interjet). Prices vary wildly, depending on the season and promotional fares, with return flights starting at around US$330 from Fort Lauderdale with Spirit Airlines or from Miami with Taca, while return fares from either Houston or New York are typically US$460–700.
From Canada, as there are no direct connections to Guatemala, your best bet is to fly via one of the US gateway cities. Return flights from Toronto typically cost Can$700–950, from Vancouver Can$790–950.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
There are no direct flights from the UK to Guatemala; most itineraries travel via the US cities of Atlanta, Houston, New York or Miami. Other options include flying via Madrid on Iberia, via Amsterdam and Panama with KLM, or via Mexico with a number of airlines and then on to Guatemala with a Mexican airline. Prices for return flights to Guatemala City are around £620 low season/£750 high season, whichever airline and route you take.
From Ireland, it’s often cheapest to grab a low-cost airline ticket to one of the London airports and travel on from there, or there are numerous possibilities via gateway cities in the US. Expect to pay around €820 low season/€970 high season.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
There are no direct flights from Australasia to Guatemala, so most travellers fly via the US. Tickets cost Aus$1900–2400 (depending on the season) from Sydney via LA or NZ$2800–3300 from Auckland. Delta and United usually have the best fares. If you want to visit Guatemala as part of a longer Latin American trip it often costs only a little more to book an open-jaw ticket flying into Guatemala City and returning from Panama.
From South Africa return flights start at about ZAR15,500; Iberia often have the best rates via London and Madrid, though the total journey time is between 30 and 40 hours.
From southern Mexico, nine daily buses leave Tapachula for Guatemala City. One daily minibus connects San Cristóbal de Las Casas with Antigua, passing by drop-offs for Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango and Panajachel. There’s also a daily bus route linking Cancún with Flores, with one minibus taking you to the Belize–Mexico border and another connection travelling via Belize City and the Guatemalan border to Flores. Shuttle bus connections between Palenque and Flores are another option,.
Very regular buses connect San Salvador with Guatemala City. From Honduras there are direct daily links between Copán and Guatemala City/Antigua, and also daily buses from both San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa to Guatemala City.
Finally there are buses run by King Quality and Tica Bus between Panama City and Guatemala City via Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. These involve nights in hotels on the way and several days of travel (see Information and tours).
From Punta Gorda, Belize, there are three daily boats to Puerto Barrios and twice-weekly connections to Lívingston.
You can also arrive in Guatemala from Mexico crossing the Usumacinta River at Frontera Corozal.
Agents and operators
Booking your tickets online cuts out the costs of agents and middlemen. Check out Momondo (w momondo.com), an excellent flight search engine which comes up with some great deals. Discount or auction sites are other possibilities, as are airlines’ own websites. The tour prices below do not include airfares to the region, unless stated.
Adventure Life US t 1 800 344 6118, w adventure-life.com. Small-group specialists with a choice of seven excellent tours (US$795–2085) in Guatemala, using experienced guides. Well-structured itineraries include many opportunities to visit community-run projects.
Adventures Abroad US t 1 800 665 3998, w adventures-abroad.com. Adventure specialists with a selection of comfortable small-group tours; their twelve-day Guatemala tour also includes Copán.
Cayaya Birding Guatemala t 5308 5160, w cayaya-birding.com. Resident specialists with unmatched knowledge of birding hot-spots. Great tours including a four-day Quetzal trip and customized itineraries.
Ceiba Adventures US t 1 800 217 1060, w ceibaadventures.com. Adventure trips, including rafting, kayaking, caving and archeological tours throughout the Maya region. The ten-day “River of Ruins” (US$2950) tour includes many of the Usumacinta sites, plus Tikal and Aguateca.
eXito US t 1 800 655 4053, w exitotravel.com. North America’s top specialist for travel to Latin America. Speak to them about open-jaw and multi-stop flights to the region.
Explore Worldwide UK t 0845 013 1537, w exploreworldwide.com. Tours include a fifteen-day Guatemala Explorer (from £1275) which covers all the main sites.
Far Horizons US t 1 800 552 4575, w farhorizon.com. Superb small-group archeological trips, guided by Mayanists, including a ten-day “Capital Cities of the Maya” tour (US$6895 including airfare) that takes in the sites of Quiriguá and Copán.
Imaginative Traveller UK t 0845 867 5852, w imaginative-traveller.com. Offers several affordable tours including Explore Mexico and Guatemala which costs £610 for a 10-day trip between Cancún and Antigua.
Intrepid Travel UK t 0800 781 1660, w intrepidtravel.com. Small-group trips with an emphasis on cross-cultural contact and low-impact tourism. Tours have different comfort-level options.
Journey Latin America UK t 020 3432 9271, w journeylatinamerica.co.uk. UK-based experts for airfares and all-round travel advice to Guatemala and the region. Also offers a few Central American tours.
Lost World Adventures US t 1 800 999 0558, w lostworldadventures.com. A selection of tempting tours (US$1407–4646) including Guatemalan Road Less Travelled, a multi-activity cycling, hiking and kayaking trip.
Maya Expeditions 13 Av 14-70, Zona 10, Guatemala City t 2363 4955, w mayaexpeditions.com. Adventure tour specialists offering everything from whitewater rafting day-trips (around US$80) to well-planned archeological expeditions in the Petén.
Toucan Travel US t 805 927 5885, UK t 0800 804 8435; w tucantravel.com. Latin America specialists with over a dozen inexpensive, sociable tours through the Maya region and Central America, some using public buses, others mainly camping. The 22-day “Maya Circle” trip from Antigua costs US$2025/£1290.
Trailfinders UK t 020 7368 1200, Republic of Ireland t 01 677 7888; w trailfinders.com. One of the best-informed and most efficient flight agencies for independent travellers. Also offer some Central American tours, including Secrets of Guatemala (£1100/€1325).
Wilderness Travel US t 1 800 368 2794, w wildernesstravel.com. Well-organized cultural and wildlife adventure trips. The nine-day “Guatemala Private Journey” tour (US$2495) takes in all the main sites.
Wildland Adventures US t 1 800 345 4453, w wildland.com. Very well guided and thought-out tours, with “Guatemalan Highlands” (US$1675) and “Great Cities of the Maya” (US$2200) itineraries.