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Guatemala travel guide

Guatemala may be small, but it is mighty. Its mountains and volcanoes are a magnet for climbers and hikers; the northern region’s dense jungle and Mayan past draw archaeology and wildlife enthusiasts; it's old world feel and ancient local customs draw in the curious travelers. Visit and you'll find all this, as well as colorful highland towns and villages with smiling residents and dramatic landscapes. Guatemala is sure to leave its mark on the memories of your travels.

Guatemala Fast Facts

language in guatemala

Languages Spoken

The official language spoken in Guatemala is Spanish, however there is also 21 formally recognized Mayan languages spoken throughout the country.

guatemala currency

Currency

Name: Guatemalan quetzal
Code: GTQ
Symbol: Q

time zone guatemala

Time Zone

Time Zone: Central Time Zone (UTC-06:00)

Top places to visit in Guatemala

The yellow Santa Catalina Arch at the end of Calle del Arco in Antigua

Antigua

This old colonial city is situated in the south of Guatemala, and it oozes charm and culture. You'll be snapping photos left, right and center as you see it's colorful Spanish colonial buildings backed by dramatic volcanoes. Explore further and you'll find that it's steeped in tradition - it's a big player when it comes to the Semana Santa (Holy Week). 
A Mayan pyramid framed by trees at the Tikal archaeologic site

Tikal

You can't visit Guatemala without taking a trip to Tikal - it's iconic, and it's easy to see why. Tikal is breathtaking - it's an ancient city of Mayan ruins, which is unlike anything else in the world (and definitely makes you feel like you've been dropped in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie). It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle, surrounded by rainforest, showing an incredible contrast between ruins and nature.
lake atitlan with a volcanic mountain in the distance

Lake Atitlán

Whether you stop off or you stay for a while, this stunning volcanic lake should be on your itinerary, for sure. The lake is based in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in the southwest of Guatemala, and is part of a nature reserve surrounded by colorful towns and small Mayan villages (a great place to give you a proper taste of authentic local life). 
a birdseye view of the tiered turquoise pools of semuc champey

Semuc Champey

When you're done being Indiana Jones, exploring all of the towns and villages you want to see, then go to Semuc Champey to unwind. The area is full of natural limestone bridges and caves, you can take a hike through the jungle or you can just relax in one (or all) of the six pools. Stay overnight in one of the hostel huts and take some serious chill time before hurling yourself back in to your Latin America adventure!
A local guatemalan woman carrying flowerers walking past an crumbling white wall

Guatemala Adventure Tours

The legs of a woman in swimsuit running into the water from a white sand beach

Mayan Sun- Antigua to Playa del Carmen | 16 Days

Find your paradise somewhere between the blazing Yucatan sun and the cool Guatemalan highlands on this 16-day Central American adventure. Speckled with Mayan ruins, this part of the world has plenty of intrigue packed in (not to mention some pretty epic backdrops for photos), plus a good few beaches to boot. 
ancient Mayan ruins of Takal including a tall gray pyramid and some other shorter structures

Mayan Encounter | 12 Days

Trek though jungles to Mayan ruins and relax on white-sand beaches. Get an authentic taste of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico with an adventure that combines the mystery of ancient ruins with the crystalline waters of the Caribbean. Shop for treasures along colonial Antigua's cobblestone streets and get to know the locals from communities where life sometimes moves at a reggae pace. Explore the ruins of Tikal, snorkel with stingrays, lounge in gorgeous Caye Caulker, and finish up in bustling Playa del Carmen. 
The Great Jaguar Tikal pyramid at the Tikal mayan ruins site

Classic Belize & Tikal | 9 Days

If we had to describe the Belizean pace it would be somewhere between slowly rolling waves and the inquisitive pace of a ruin explorer. Embracing just that mix of curious and chill, this nine-day itinerary will let you tour Mayan ruins, cycle around stunning islands, and enjoy plenty of time to hang out on the beach or dive into the famous Blue Hole. Be speedy, or a bit sloth-like – we’ll help you discover Central America either way.

Where is Guatemala?

Guatemala is in Central America, and shares its borders with four other countries: Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Flight times to get to Guatemala from the States is pretty short, with flights from Miami only taking around 3 hours.

What's the capital of Guatemala?

Keeping it simple, the capital is named 'Guatemala City' (Ciudad de Guatemala in Spanish) and has a population of around 2.918 million. It delivers on all of the promises for a Central American adventure - steeped in Mayan history, surrounded by dramatic scenery (you can hike up to Pacaya Volcano), and full of arts and culture.

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