The Xela area offers some of the country’s most evocative highland scenery, with volcanic cones soaring above forested ridges, and a number of fascinating indigenous villages to explore. Straddling the coast road south of the city are Almolonga and Zunil, where you’ll find superb hot springs, including Fuentes Georginas, a stunning natural spa. Just west of here the Santa María volcano, towering above Quetzaltenango, is a terrific if exhausting excursion. The most accessible climb in the area lies southwest of the city, up Volcán Chicabal to an exquisite crater lake set in the extinct volcano’s cone.

North of the city, the traditional Maya town of Olintepeque is renowned for its shrine devoted to the pagan saint of San Pascual. A little further distant are Totonicapán, a departmental capital, and the famous market town of San Francisco el Alto, perched on a rocky outcrop. Beyond here, in the midst of a pine forest, lies Momostenango, the country’s principal wool-producing centre.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Guatemala features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Guatemala City: 7 reasons to stay a while

Guatemala City: 7 reasons to stay a while

Most visitors race through Guatemala City, keen to get to Antigua’s colourful colonial streets, visit the country’s Mayan sites or explore its spectacular v…

12 Jul 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

1. Thailand There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts aplenty, tantalising…

21 Aug 2015 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
In pictures: traditional dress around the world

In pictures: traditional dress around the world

The Sari, India Ostensibly the simplest item of clothing possible – a single length of fabric, up to nine metres long – the sari is also one of the worl…

02 Feb 2015 • Alice Park camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month