5 days in Guatemala — 4 travel itineraries

From atmospheric UNESCO-listed Antigua, to ancient Mayan sites and natural wonders, Guatemala is an incredibly diverse country, with plenty to keep travelers satisfied for months. As a result, if you’re short on time, curating trip schedules takes some doing. With that in mind, each 5 day itinerary in Guatemala detailed below will help you make the most of your time in this glorious land.

Is 5 days enough for Guatemala?

It’ll come as no surprise to learn that five days isn’t very much time to uncover Guatemala’s varied attractions and experiences. That said, with careful planning — after deciding what you most want to see and do — it is possible to experience a reasonable range of the country in five days.

So, if you’re short on time — perhaps you're planning to visit as part of a bigger trip around the region — read on for a run-down of four 5-day itineraries in Guatemala. Covering everything from hiking volcanoes and kayaking lakes, to exploring ancient Mayan ruins, they’re designed to make your trip all the more memorable.

Not keen on planning? Read our breakdown of how many days are best to spend in Guatemala and check out our customizable Guatemala itineraries.

colorful antigua guatemala

Want to kickstart your trip with culture? Antigua is a great place to begin your 5 day itinerary in Guatemala © Shutterstock

Itinerary #1: Family fun in Guatemala 

From epic volcano and lake excursions, to Mayan cultural experiences, this tour of Guatemala has been crafted to keep the whole family happy.

Your break begins in atmospheric Antigua. After arriving in the city on day one, visit the Chocolate Museum, and enjoy a family-friendly cooking class.

Adventure ramps up on day two, courtesy of a morning hike to Pacaya Volcano — the most active volcano in Guatemala. Easily accessible, it offers jaw-dropping views of a lagoon of calderas and three sister volcanos. Next, spend your afternoon at a local water park.

On day three, head to Lake Atitlán. The fact its name derives from the Mayan word for “where the rainbow gets its colors” gives a sense of the natural and cultural magic that awaits.  

We suggest taking a boat tour, kayaking on the lake, and visiting a cultural center to be enchanted by a Mayan storytelling session.

Visit Chichicastenango market in the Mayan Highlands on day four. Famed for its Guatemalan handicrafts and textiles, this is one of the biggest, most vibrant outdoor markets. Look into booking a fun puppet-making workshop.

Next on the agenda is a day five visit to the ancient Maya site of Iximché. Located on a ridge surrounded by deep ravines, the site is stacked plazas, palaces, temples, and ball courts. Kids will certainly have a ball unleashing their inner adventurer here. 

Finally, transfer to Guatemala City for your onward flight.

Tempted to linger longer? Discover reasons to stay a while in Guatemala City.


Looking for atmosphere and adventure? Include Pacaya volcano in your 5 day itinerary in Guatemala © Shutterstock

Itinerary overview

Read on for an overview of this 5 day Guatemala itinerary.

Day 1

Tour Antigua, visit the Chocolate Museum, and enjoy a family-friendly cooking class.

Day 2

Head to Pacaya Volcano for a morning hike; spend the afternoon at a water park.

Day 3

Take a trip to Lake Atitlán for a boat tour, kayaking and Mayan storytelling session.

Day 4

Visit Chichicastenango market and take a puppet-making workshop.

Day 5

Tour the ancient Maya site of Iximché; travel to Guatemala City for your onward flight.

For more child-friendly trip ideas, take inspiration from our customizable Guatemala Family Adventure Tour.


Mayan masks in a Guatemalan market © Shutterstock

Itinerary #2: Maya Exploration 

Taking in a host of amazing ancient sites and natural wonders across two countries, this Maya Exploration itinerary begins in Guatemala City.

On day one, travel from the city to Copán in Honduras to explore Copán Ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers opportunities to marvel at intricately carved stelae and the hieroglyphic stairway — one of the most significant Mayan texts. 

Nature and adventure are in store on day two. Spend the morning and afternoon visiting Quiriguá ruins. 

Nestled in the Motagua Valley of eastern Guatemala, this site is renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved Mayan sculptures and monuments, notably its series of stelae and zoomorphs. In fact, Quiriguá hosts the tallest stelae in the Mayan world. 

In the evening, head to Rio Dulce for a boat tour. Offering breath-taking views of towering limestone cliffs draped in lush vegetation, you’ll be afforded opportunities to see wildlife along the way. The river plays hosts to manatees, crocodiles, and tons of bird species, including herons and toucans. 

On day three, explore Yaxhá National Park. The third biggest archaeological site in Guatemala, this is part of the wider Maya Biosphere Reserve, and boats 500+ structures, including temples, palaces, plazas and ball courts. 

Tikal awaits on day four. We suggest devoting a full day to this incomparable site before bedding down in Flores for the night. 

On day five, spend the morning exploring Flores — a captivating island town that’s steeped in history. Originally a Mayan site known as Nojpetén, the town's layout, cobblestone streets, and Spanish colonial architecture reflect its diverse history.

Come the afternoon, head to Guatemala City for your return or onward flight.

Going to Guatemala? Start preparing by familiarising yourself with things to know before you go.

Guatemalan style enchiladas displayed to show their ingredients on a white plate © Shutterstock

Guatemalan style enchiladas  © Shutterstock

Itinerary overview

Read on for an overview of this 5 day Guatemala itinerary.

Day 1

Arrive in Guatemala City; transfer to Copán, Honduras, to explore the ruins.

Day 2

Vist Quiriguá ruins and take an evening boat trip on Rio Dulce.

Day 3

Visit Yaxhá National Park.

Day 4

Explore Tikal; overnight in Flores.

Day 5

Exploring Flores; transfer to Guatemala City.

Not sure when to visit? Read up on when to go to Guatemala.

 Jonas Andreae/Shutterstock

 Sunset over Tikal © Jonas Andreae/Shutterstock

Itinerary #3: Guatemala's Hiking Adventure

If you’re the kind of traveler who wants to uncover destinations through the lens of the great outdoors, this hiking-oriented itinerary will float your boat, not least when you visit Lake Atitlán!

The trip kicks off in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua. After arriving in town, spend day one exploring its labyrinth of UNESCO-designated cobblestone streets and plazas before taking to the surrounding nature trails.

On day two, rise early for an epic hike to Acatenango volcano. At around 3976 meters above sea level, it’s Guatemala’s third highest peak and serves incredible views of the region.

After camping overnight, descend on day three and transfer to Lake Atitlán. If you have time in the afternoon, go kayaking on the lake or take a boat trip to a Tzutuhil village.

On day four, hike San Pedro volcano for breath-taking views of Lake Atitlán. 

Day five could see you relax around the lake in the morning — or take another kayak trip — before heading to Guatemala City to return home, or for the next leg of your journey. 

Sunset view of Fuego volcano & Acatenango volcano © Shutterstock

Sunset view of Fuego volcano and Acatenango volcano © Shutterstock

Itinerary overview

Read on for an overview of this 5 day Guatemala itinerary.

Day 1

Arrive in Antigua and walk the surrounding natural trails.

Day 2

Overnight hike to Acatenango volcano.

Day 3

Descend Acatenango volcano and transfer to Lake Atitlán.

Day 4

Hike San Pedro volcano.

Day 5

Explore Lake Atitlán in the morning; transfer to Guatemala City.

Tempted to take a longer trip? Read our suggested 7-day and 10-day Guatemala itineraries.

Hiker on top of Acatenango volcano watching Fuego volcano eruption © Shutterstock

Hiker atop Acatenango Volcano © Shutterstock

Itinerary #4: Guatemala's Volcanic Wonders

Seeking an explosive burst of exhilarating experiences? Look no further than this volcano-themed 5 day itinerary in Guatemala.

If you’ve arrived on Guatemala City, spend day one travelling to beautiful Antigua, ideally allowing time to check out its local markets, nature trails and colonial attractions in the afternoon. 

Come day two, devote time to hiking the most active volcano in Guatemala — namely Pacaya Volcano, Offering jaw-dropping views, the volcanic landscapes are out-of-this-world.

Next on the agenda is transferring to Lake Atitlán on day three. Nestled in the Guatemalan Highlands, this enchanting lake — hailed one of the most beautiful lakes in the world — is surrounded by three majestic volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro. 

Take a boat trip to explore some of the volcanic villages that speckles its shores. These include Panajachel, San Pedro La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán, San Marcos La Laguna, Santa Cruz La Laguna, and San Juan La Laguna.

On day four, hike San Pedro volcano. Rising to a height of around 3020 meters above sea level, it the offers stunning views of Lake Atitlán, the surrounding volcanoes, and the Guatemalan Highlands. 

Considered moderately challenging, the hike typically takes 3-4 hours to ascend and 2-3 hours to descend.

This volcanic trip winds up spending day five exploring more of Lake Atitlán in the morning, and heading to Guatemala City in the afternoon.

Panajachel Town and Atitlan lake with Mountains, Guatemala © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

Panajachel town and Atitlan lake, Guatemala © Dan Baciu/Shutterstock

Itinerary overview

Read on for an overview of this 5 day Guatemala itinerary.

Day 1

Explore Antigua.

Day 2

Hike Pacaya Volcano.

Day 3

Transfer to Lake Atitlán and take a boat tour to volcanic villages.

Day 4

Hike San Pedro volcano.

Day 5

Explore the lake in the morning; return to Guatemala City.


Inspired to visit Guatemala? Read up on some of the best things to do in Guatemala, our Guatemala travel tips and browse our customizable Guatemala itineraries.

With a local expert on hand to take care of all the details, they take the hassle out of planning, leaving you to focus on counting down to your trip of a lifetime.

Want to ensure a carefree vacation? Also, check out our important safety tips for Guatemala.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 21.05.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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