The graceful former capital, with an incredible legacy of colonial architecture, is one of the most elegant cities in the Americas.
#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
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.
Visit the pagan temple of this liquor-swilling, cigar-smoking evil saint.
© Carlos Tischler/Shutterstock
This unmatched Maya site has it all: monumental temples and palaces set in a tropical forest alive with spider monkeys and chattering parakeets.
#06 Studying Spanish
Guatemala has dozens of excellent language schools that offer one-on-one tuition and home-stay packages at rock-bottom rates.
#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.
For souvenir hunters, this twice-weekly highland market is unsurpassed.
#10 National Archeological Museum
A wonderful collection of Maya artistry and breathtakingly carved monuments from many remote Petén sites.
#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.
Shake your booty to the hypnotic drum-driven punta beat in the Garífuna town of Lívingston.
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”.
#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.
#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
Sample some of the world’s finest single estate roasts in Cobán, the easy-going capital of Alta Verapaz.
#19 Semuc Champey
Explore the exquisite turquoise pools and river system around Semuc Champey, a natural limestone bridge.