Guatemala is one of the smaller Central America countries but the local indigenous population is the largest of any Latin nation, making for a particularly 'authentic' experience. The country offers the best of Central America under one roof - volcanoes, protected tropical jungle, mountainous highlands, impressive Mayan ruins, vivid colonial towns (including the wonderful Antigua) and beaches on the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines. Altogether, it makes a great destination for those fond of eco-tourism, adventure and culture as their traditional dress and culture are very much still evident.

Saskia and Hero are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • With an abundance of colourful local towns, indigenous markets, Mayan ruins and colonial cities, and a fascinating religion that's a hybrid of Catholicism and ancient Mayan beliefs, Guatemala is the ultimate Central American experience
  • It's an outdoor adventure playground: you can hike volcanoes, kayak on lakes, trek through jungles and fly through the canopy on a zip line
  • Learn more and find out when to go in our in-depth guide
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Original Highlight

Tikal is great, but everyone knows that. For something completely unique, head to the lesser known site of Uaxactun, where you can 'glamp' in the shadows of a Mayan temple.

Saskia, Original Traveller

A note on price

Like much of Central America, Guatemala represents good value in comparison to its South American counterparts. Antigua Guatemala is full of reasonably priced boutique hotels (costing around £100 a night), but in Atitlan and Tikal, we’d recommend you go all out and stay in the best hotels, which means that a 10-day trip to Guatemala could cost from £2,000 per person including flights. Learn more about our pricing

Top picks for Guatemala

Iximche

Iximche

Antigua Guatemala

Perched on top of a fortified hilltop, and surrounded by a deep moat, sits the pre-Colombian archaeological site of Iximche.

What to do

Iximche
Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park

Guatemala

A 45-minute flight from Guatemala City to Flores in the steamy Petén region of northern Guatemala, Tikal’s 3,000 temples, shrines, ceremonial platforms, ball courts and plazas lie in the heart of the jungle.

Where to go

Tikal National Park
Posada del Angel

Posada del Angel

Antigua Guatemala

This pretty little inn is built in the Spanish colonial style but has a strong Guatemalan feel, from the friendly staff to the brightly woven textiles in each room.

Where to stay

Posada del Angel
Solola Market

Solola Market

Lake Atitlan

Set on a natural balcony overlooking Lake Atitlan, Solola’s Tuesday and Friday market is one of Central America’s finest, drawing crowds of traditionally dressed Mayans from all over the highlands.

What to do

Solola Market
Palacio de Dona Leonor

Palacio de Dona Leonor

Antigua Guatemala

Palacio de Dona Leonor is an authentic mansion steeped in 500 years of history, evident the minute one steps through its heavy oak doors.

Where to stay

Palacio de Dona Leonor
La Lancha

La Lancha

Tikal National Park

The Mayan ruins at Tikal and Yaxha require long days of exploring, so a relaxing hotel is in order afterwards, and the best in the region is La Lancha,

Where to stay

La Lancha
Yaxha

Yaxha

Tikal National Park

45 miles to the west of Flores, the gateway to the north, lie the archaeological site of Yaxha.

What to do

Yaxha
Hotel Atitlan

Hotel Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

The welcoming rooms in this converted family coffee farm are individually decorated with traditional Guatemalan textiles and furniture.

Where to stay

Hotel Atitlan

Lake Atitlan Villages

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by a dozen or so small villages, each with its own distinctive feel. Although most remain fairly quiet, tourism is becoming more of a significant presence in almost all of them.

What to do

Lake Atitlan Villages
Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala

Guatemala

A highlight of any Guatemalan trip; Antigua competes with Cusco and Cartagena as Latin America's most beautiful colonial city.

Where to go

Antigua Guatemala
Flores

Flores

Tikal National Park

The slow paced island village of Flores is often overlooked as a mere start off point for trips around the Peten region, but it is worth spending a few hours exploring its pretty cobblestone streets flanked by handicraft shops and charming pastel coloured houses.

What to do

Flores
Casa Palopó

Casa Palopó

Lake Atitlan

90 miles from Guatemala City, Casa Palopó is a beautiful villa built on the hills surrounding Santa Catarina Palopó village, on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

Where to stay

Casa Palopó
Casa Encantada

Casa Encantada

Antigua Guatemala

One of the most hospitable places to stay in one of Latin America's must-see cities.

Where to stay

Casa Encantada
Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Guatemala

A huge body of deep blue water that stretches into the distance and takes at least half an hour to cross by motorised boat, the lake has an amazing setting, ringed by imposing volcanoes.

Where to go

Lake Atitlan
El Mirador

El Mirador

Tikal National Park

Tucked away near the Mexican border and still largely covered in thick vegetation, the ancient Mayan ruins of El Mirador are believed by many to be the original cradle of Mayan civilisation.

What to do

El Mirador
El Convento

El Convento

Antigua Guatemala

Hidden away down one of Antigua’s cobbled streets, El Convento is located opposite the 18th Century Capuchin convent, and is at once quiet and central.

Where to stay

El Convento
Panza Verde

Panza Verde

Antigua Guatemala

Panza Verde is a gorgeous boutique property with plenty of character and warmth.

Where to stay

Panza Verde
Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango

Antigua Guatemala

The mountain village of Chichicastenango, three hours from Antigua, is especially worth visiting on Thursdays and Sundays when indigenous Mayans from the surrounding villages come to trade at the market.

What to do

Chichicastenango

Where can I start? It was our best trip yet. Everything went smoothly. It was a wonderful package at a very good price, well organised by Original Travel and we felt totally spoilt.

Paul & Jenny

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