Verdant jungle, breathtaking lakes, impressive volcanoes and an extraordinary history: a holiday to Guatemala has a myriad of unforgettable experiences.
Guatemala has the largest number of Mayan archeological sites in Latin America and it’s known as the heart of the Mayan world. Guatemala’s fascinating archeological sites at Tikal National Park in El Petén in the north are a definite must-see. Rising from the forest, this lost city has five main temples. You can climb the weathered temples’ ancient steps for impressive views over the ancient ruins and vast jungle. History buffs will also love to explore the ruins at Yaxhá, Aguateca, El Mirador, Quiriguá and Qʼumarkaj.
Explore Guatemala’s heritage
What’s also unique about a holiday in Guatemala is that the ancient traditions of Mayan culture, which date back to 900 BC, are still practised. In fact, more than half of Guatemalans have Mayan ancestors, making it the only country in Central America where the indegenous people still make up the majority of the population. Make a visit to the beautiful Lake Atitlán, which is surrounded by impressive volcanoes, blooming wildflowers, coffee fields, and traditional Mayan villages. You can village-hop by boat and discover the artisan workshops and colourful markets; hike to the summit of Volcan San Pedro; tour a coffee farm or take a scenic bike tour. Whichever way you discover the deep sapphire blue Lake Atitlán, it’s guaranteed to become a highlight of your Guatemalan holiday.
Another must-visit is the Spanish colonial city of Antigua in southern Guatemala. The former capital is a World Heritage Site and its pretty cobbled streets are lined with canary yellow, raspberry red and cerulean blue buildings that date back to the 17th and 18th Century. Take a walking tour to admire the decorative architecture, the beautiful ornate baroque arches, and the earthquake-damaged ruins. This small city surrounded by impressive active volcanoes is a place where time truly has stood still.
Guatemala is rich in cultural sites and staggering natural beauty. The distance between the different places of interest is short, meaning you can see the myriad of Guatemala’s national treasure in one trip. Perhaps you fancy making your holiday to Guatemala a twin-centre adventure to see another country such as Costa Rica. Whatever you’re looking for, call us today and our Destination Specialists can help you create your dream holiday.
Great sample itineraries
Our Destination Specialists can create a bespoke holiday in Guatemala, tailored to include your dream tours, visits and must-sees. Almost anything is possible, so please call to discuss all your options.
A must see is Lake Atitlan which is a huge volcanic crater in Guatemala's southwestern highlands. It is known for its Mayan villages and volcanoes set amongst striking scenery. Antigua is a UNESCO world heritage where boutiques, galleries, arty cafe's and restaurants abound.
Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful in the world with its crystalline-azure waters in an extinct volcanic crater located in the southwest of the country. Atitlan is the ideal place to come in contact with local Guatemalan folklore. Twelve Indian villages surround the lake, and their inhabitants are descendants from the great Quiche, Cackchiquel and Tzutuhil nations.
For anyone into archaeology, Guatemala is a paradise. The country is home to hundreds of Mayan ruins with the most famous located in Tikal UNESCO World Heritage Site - dating back to 900 BC.
Located in Guatemala's central highlands, the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city of Antigua is just a 55 minute drive from Guatemala City international airport. Famous for its impressive baroque Spanish architecture, the city has a wealth of attractions to explore.
Best time to visit Guatemala
Guatemala enjoys a pleasant sunny climate all year round, with average temperatures ranging from 18℃ to 25℃. Its rainy season runs from May to October and its hurricane season runs from June to October, peaking in October. The high season, and the best time to go, is November to April, when the weather is dry and warm.
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"Visit Tikal at sunrise for a truly magical experience. You’ll trek through the lush jungle early morning with the eerie call of the howler monkeys and tropical birds surrounding you. You’ll suddenly see the tops of the impressive temples cloaked in morning mist rising up from the forest floor. There’s no feeling like it, after you’ve climbed the many stairs of one of Tikal’s temples, to sit atop it and watch the beautiful sunrise."
"The Choco Museo in the city of Antigua Guatemala is a wonderful experience for anyone with a sweet tooth. Chocolate has a special place in Mayan culture for both its taste and health benefits. Here, you can learn about the history of chocolate in Guatemala and even take a class to make your very own chocolate bar!"
Events & Festivals
Guatemala offers a huge selection of fun events throughout the year and you can plan your holiday to ensure you experience them! Here are a few of our favourites:
Coffee Harvest Celebration
Guatemala is one of the world’s largest coffee exporters and every February the town of Frajianes celebrates its coffee harvest. Many processions take to the streets and you can enjoy the traditional dancing and music and, of course, the famous local coffee!
Taking place in Easter holy week, this unique festival mixes Mayan and Catholic tradition. It’s celebrated through Guatemala, but head to Antigua for the largest event. Streets are adorned with alfombra (elaborate rugs made from colourful sand and dyed sawdust) and dramatic religious processions with floats depicting the life of Christ parade through the city.
Skach Koyl Festival
One of the most unusual and truly unique Guatemalan festivals is the Skach Koyl Festival. This three-day event is a mix of drink, dance and marimba music and carouse. The festival finale is a horse race, which takes place on 1st November. The Guatemalan spin is that the competitors wear special hats and have drunk considerable amounts of alcohol. The winner is the rider that stays on the horse the longest (some competitors have even been known to tie themselves to their saddles). The biggest race takes place in the Todos Santos Cuchumatán, where the local men dress in red and white striped trousers, blue shirts with ornate embroidered collars and straw hats. There truly is nothing else like it!
Guatemalan food is based on Maya cuisine, which mainly uses corn, chillies and beans as the key ingredients. You also cannot leave Guatemala without sampling its world-famous coffee and chocolate. Here are a few of our favourite local dishes to try:
This is one of the oldest dishes in Guatemala and takes inspiration from both Spanish and Maya cuisine. It’s a spicy stew that typically uses chicken meat but pork and beef are alternative versions that are widely available. The stew interestingly contains both fruit and vegetables (usually pear, carrot, squash, potato and corn) and a rich hit of spices. It’s served with tortillas or rice.
This turkey soup is seasoned with a serious spice mix of coriander, chillies and achiote. The recipe has been the same for hundreds of years as it was the Mayan Q’eqchi’ ethnic group who first prepared it in this way. Kak’ik is considered to be one of Guatemala's national dishes alongside Chicken pepian.
These are the Guatemalans version of donuts. Rellenitos are made of cooked plantains that are mixed and deep fried with bean paste, cinnamon and sugar. When cooked the taste of sugar, beans and cinnamon is similar to chocolate in its taste and texture.
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