28 Aug 8 Best things to do in Guatemala.
If you follow our adventures on Instagram (you better do!), you will know already how much we liked Guatemala. It exceeded our expectations, to be honest. Maybe because our expectations were low, or maybe because of what you read in the international media about Guatemala – at best, you feel like a gang will rob you if you go there. And yes, like every country Guatemala faces its own problems, but you will also find out that there are some extraordinary places in Guatemala (and yes, there are safe places too). We spend one month in the country, and we made our list with the 8 Best things to do in Guatemala. This list can also be used as your 2-week itinerary in Guatemala.
Travel to Greece!
Try (probably) the best coffee in the world in Antigua, Guatemala.
Yes, our title may seem a bit exaggerating, but several varieties of coffee from Guatemala are among the best in the world. The main reason is the peculiarity of the soil (due to volcanoes) and the climate. So, one of the best things to do in Guatemala is to try the coffee. Antigua is the best place to do so because it is surrounded by volcanoes and many excellent varieties grow nearby. It also has great coffee places! One of our favourite coffee places was the Café Café, which in addition to excellent coffee it makes tasty crepes (try the sweet one with banana and caramel). Another favourite place was the Fernado’s Kafe. If you like your coffee strong try the ‘Black Fernado’. Fernado’s Kafe has also a shop that sells excellent chocolates (we suggest that you try chocolate with chili or coffee beans).
You can take this Gastronomic & Cultural tour in Antigua to learn more.
Take photos at the Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua.
If you love photography, one of the best things to do in Antigua is to capture the colourful buildings. One of them is certainly the most famous: the Santa Catalina Arch (arch), which is also the symbol of the city. Its history is also interesting as it was created so that the nuns of the monastery could cross the road to reach the school without being seen in public. But let’s leave out the historical part and focus on the photographic one! It is worth visiting early in the morning, as it is located on a main road so there would be cars and people later in the day. If the weather is nice and the sky is clear, you can see Agua Volcano too, which makes the photograph and the sight even more impressive.
Hike Volcan Acatenango (and sleep there!)
The top experience we had in Guatemala, and generally on our trip to Central America, was hiking and camping at Volcan Acatenango. One of the best things to do in Guatemala – no doubt. The hike and the camping are part of an organized tour that starts from Antigua. It is totally worth it, even if it is not an easy hike. However, it is still doable for people at an average fitness level. At the end you will be amazed by the view and the Volcano itself. The duration of the tour is two days, and you will spend one night on the volcano. The cost depends on the agency that you will choose (we did it with Wicho & Charlie’s), but even the most expensive one is actually a great value for money.
If this hike feels to difficult for you, or you don’t have enough time you can try hiking Volcan Pacaya.
Hike Volcan Fuego.
As part of the hike and the overnight stay at the volcano Acatenango, you may also have the chance to hike another volcano! If the weather permits, you can hike the active volcano Fuego. During this hike you have the unique opportunity to see volcanic eruptions up close. The spectacle is enchanting. You suddenly see and hear the volcano in front of you roaring and spewing glowing lava. It can be scary but extraordinary too. If you feel tired after your hike in Acatenango, you can stay at the camp and just admire a spectacular view of Fuego. The cost for this climb is about 20 euros extra, which are paid at the agency after your return, depending on whether you did it or not.
Village Hopping on Lake Atitlan.
Lake Atitlan is a unique and blessed place. It is also a top destination for tourists and locals. Are you wondering what to do in Guatemala and specifically in the Lake Atitlan? Village hopping around the lake! The landscape is magical, since the lake is essentially a crater, and you can see the volcanoes all around. Each village has its own beauty and uniqueness. We stayed at Selina in the village of Panajachel, which is relatively large, but we really loved the tiny Santa Cruz, the colourful Santa Katarina de Popolo and wandered to the hippie San Marcos. The easiest way to go from one to another is by public boats.
Stay a couple of nights at Casa Del Mundo.
The first day on our way to Santa Cruz we passed a hotel built on the rocks, with balconies that touched the water and an incredible view of the lake. It was love at first sight. We saw the sign… “Casa Del Mundo”. The “House of the World”. When we returned to the village, we searched for it online and we found one last room available for the days that worked for us. We booked three nights! The place was simply magical. Like it came straight out of a fairy tale, with a spectacular view of the lake. The good thing is that the room prices were also fair. The downside is that the restaurant prices, especially at dinner, were not that fair (for example 10-12 euros for a main course) and you cannot go anywhere else. In any case, it really worth your visit for a couple of nights.
What to do in Guatemala if you love history? Visit the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. Tikal is located in the north of the country, very close to Belize, in the Peten region. This is where the jungle of Guatemala is, rich in flora and fauna, such as pumas! Tikal is an impressive complex of buildings and it is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Mayan culture. It combines an impressive history with an astonishing location and it is worth a visit, even though it is geographically far from Antigua and Atitlan. The entrance fee is about 15 euros and the transfer costs are about the same from the area of Flores – Santa Elena that most visitors come from.
Find out more about our trip on Instagram (highlights #GUATEMALA)