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What to see in Guatemala? - 10 Best Places to Visits

Guatemala is a beautiful country situated in Central America that offers several attractions for tourists, starting with genuine Mayan culture and ending with gorgeous views of landscapes. From enigmatic pyramids buried under dense forests to picturesque colonial houses, smoking volcanoes, and crystal-clear lakes, Guatemala will come up with something to do for every traveler. 

1. Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park is one of the most famous archaeological sites of Guatemala which is listed under the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and is situated in the Northern region of Guatemala. This splendid park boasts remains of one of the world’s oldest Mayan cities, which was established in 600 BC. Exploring some of the colossal structures of pyramids and temples that are here, you will realize that some of them rise to 60 meters. Spend your time walking through these colossal ruins all around tropical rainforests where you can spot monkeys, colorful birds, and jaguars if lucky. You might even be able to listen to the ominous growl of howler monkeys in the trees above. Apart from the temples, there are numerous hiking opportunities for various degrees of difficulty to experience the different terrains in the park. This beautiful Mayan architectural monument should undoubtedly be the first on the list of any traveler heading to Guatemala.

2. Antigua

Established in the early part of the 16th century, picturesque Antigua was the former colonial capital of Guatemala which is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This charming city is situated in a splendid valley with rising volcanoes in the background which makes it rather beautiful. Stroll through the picturesque terracotta paved roads witnessing splendid Spanish Baroque Churches, bustling markets, and well-maintained colonial architectures having beautiful pastel shades. Teetering on near-perfect spring weather, and with so much history and culture just around every corner it is, quite simply, a treasure.

3. Lake Atitlán

One of the most amazing lakes in the whole world, even according to the tourists, is called Lake Atitlán and it is worth visiting in Guatemala. Located 1,560 meters above sea level with active volcanoes surrounding the lake, its water blue like the sapphire, and the surrounding terrains are nothing short of stunning. There are still native Mayan villages surrounding the lake and one may visit the villages by boat or even by a kayak. Whether you fancy a pleasant hike to different vantage points or walking past water edge hot springs, leisurely café dining at lakeshore, or scenic lake cruising. Panajachel is an adorable city that is a good place to start to experience the varied sunsets, culture, and activities in Atitlán.

4. Semuc Champey

The beautiful Semuc Champey, these large emerald green pools of water are without doubt one of the most stunning natural sights in Guatemala. 18 km from Lanquín, these interesting steep terraces of limestone provide stunning waterfalls with crystal clear beautiful blue-green water ideal for swimming. Separated by stunning winding caves and underground springs that flow beneath the wells, Semuc Champey looks like it has been conjured from a fairy tale. When in the area do not miss the opportunity to take a stroll at the peculiar Cahabón bridge and take a trip to the Kanbal cave which is nearby and offers a panoramic view over the fabulous landscape. This also contributes to the level of enchantment and pristine nature especially because the place can barely be accessed.

5. Chichicastenango Market

Travel back in time and explore the colorful Indigenous market of Chichicastenango, in the Guatemalan highlands. This market emerges on Thursdays and Sundays when people from all over the region bring their groceries, nice vibrant clothes, and handmade accessories to sell. Stroll through between the rows of local women in their intricately embroidered huipil blouses selling both vivid flowers and other merchandise on the staircase situated in front of the historical church Santo Tomás. It is worth seeing the incense burning ceremony, shopping for some textiles as souvenirs buying fruits and vegetables from the markets, and feeling the spirit of the place. Measuring almost 60 meters high and being the photo opportunities here, Chichicastenango is one of the best places to embrace the Mayan culture in Guatemala.

6. Pacaya Volcano

If you are in search of an extraordinary experience of an adventurous type that cannot be found elsewhere, then do not miss the Pacaya Volcano which is only 25 km from Antigua city. On foot along this walking-near-the-volcano / path, you will cross black volcanic sand and blow strong volcanic gas gusts / before gazing into an active volcanic crater, which pukes spurts of bright red lava. Watching the lava flowing and standing within several meters of the molten rock is something that would hardly be repeated a second time. Still don’t feel like a warrior and you are not brave enough to get that close? Oh no, the lava shines brightly at night just as the sun sets and turns into a beautiful scene. This trek is as if they made a movie about the beautiful Guatemalan highlands and allowed hikers a glimpse of it. Although it may seem to lack the necessary camping equipment, just don’t forget a couple of marshmallows for the toasty s’mores that are best made over hot, volcanic heat.

7. Rio Dulce

This natural water channel in Guatemala’s Caribbean Sea coast is known as the Rio Dulce or the Sweet River. Sail through a beautiful river that winds through the jungle and provides sightings of toucans, parrots, monkeys, and others before terminating at the scenery where Rio Dulce joins Lake Izabal. Rio Dulce is a picturesque town where one can spend the night or day while in the park, booking tours and activities or simply resting at comfortably inviting lakeside cabins and lodges. Other forms of attractions that are also found around limestone canyon caves include; Nacimiento del Rio which is near the park and offers some interesting adventures as well. Neglecting to take a tour of the arresting Guatemala Caribbean and the Rio Dulce.

8. Flores & Tikal

This is a beautiful cerulean lake enclosed by a virgin jungle zone and located in the north of Guatemala. It looks like a place from a different world: the sea is a beautiful, dark blue and it is full of bright green concentrated islands. Flores is a delightful town which can be used as a starting point for visiting this area. Dating back to the 16th century, Flores has a gorgeous lakeside location, and walking around its streets with cobblestones, pastel-colored houses, and an island atmosphere is an unforgettable experience. From Flores, the majority of visitors plan a visit to the splendid arboreal Mayan ruins of Tikal National Park, 60km away which boasts of ancient temples tucked in between lush forest cover. Indeed the difference between today’s civilization and the ancient civilization marked the Peten region.

9. Monterrico

Monterrico is one of the coastal areas of the country of Guatemala with a long stretch on the Pacific coastline. In addition to offering volcanic black sand beaches and good waves, Monterrico has that laid-back bohemian feel, which makes it ideal to unwind and get much-needed rest. This is a good place for turtle watching, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding or just lazing by the beach with some seafood, especially ceviches and fresh coconuts and cocktails. From hiking in solitude to isolated highland viewpoints, going through Hawaiian culture and visiting the Hawaii National Park, to watching baby sea turtles, the coastal touch adds to the peculiar feature.

10. Guatemala City

However, those who think that this country has nothing to offer apart from colorful markets and idyllic villages are mistaken: Guatemala City is an energetic and vibrant capital, which is worth visiting as well. This city retains features of the colonial style architecture in the buildings such as the Old Historic City Centre, the Mexico City Metropolitan Catholic Church, a Baroque structure, and the Central Squares that are always busy. High culture institutions such as museums with Mayan sculptures, national treasures, and important stories round out a cultural city visit well. There’s no way you would want to leave one of the grand markets of the city with a riot of local fabrics, hand-made accessories, and vibrant gifts, not to mention fresh fruits and vegetables.