Best Places To Visit in Guatemala
Best Places To Visit in Guatemala
Guatemala is a fascinating country that has it all. You will experience a vivid culture that combines well with the natural treasures of the country. From volcanic sand beaches to the lush jungle – Guatemalans reside among lakes, rainforests, exotic fauna, indigenous markets, Mayan villages, Colonial towns and the list goes on and on.
Some of the best and most famous places to visit in Guatemala are Tikal, Antigua and Lake Atitlan. However, the country hosts a wide variety of attractions that are not well known among visitors (and locals). We want to shed a light on these places and expand your knowledge about the off the beaten path destinations in Guatemala.
Little Villages Around Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is the most popular holiday destination in Guatemala and no wonder why. Located not far away from Guatemala City (where the main international Airport is), Lake Atitlan is guarded by three majestic volcanoes; the landscapes are breathtaking and the mild weather of the Highland region is perfect to enjoy the fresh water of the lake. Besides the complementary natural beauty, Lake Atitlan is surrounded by 14 different Mayan villages. The most popular are Santiago Atitlan and Panajachel.
Nevertheless, the rest of the villages adapt to all tastes. San Juan La Laguna, for example, has a stunning cultural scene and offers a lot of workshops and live demos of the local traditions. Whereas San Marcos La Laguna follows the limbs of a healthy natural life – ideal for yoga retreats and to peacefully enjoy nature. On the shores of the Lake you will also find several eco-lodges and villas that can be reached only by boat.
Karstic Water Bodies in Huehuetenango
The Western Highland region of Guatemala stands out due its unspoiled nature. A big concentration of natural lagoons and turquoise water rivers can be found in the department of Huehuetenango (or Huehue). The peculiar geology makes this region a special place, perfect for nature and adventure lovers! Some of the hidden treasures of Huehue are Laguna Brava - a ‘virgin lake’ where motorboats are not allowed in order to keep the water clean. Another attraction is the Candelaria Cenote - an impressive natural sinkhole serving as a blue-water pool. Even though the weather can get chilly in the Highland region, just getting to these impressive water bodies is an adventure itself.
Tacana Volcano in San Marcos
Located between Mexico and Guatemala, Tacana Volcano (4,060m / 13,320ft) is one of the tallest peaks in Central America. Hiking this majestic volcano is a thrilling experience where you walk parallel to the Mexican border. The whole climbing experience can take you up to 10 hours and it requires an advance level of hiking. The astonishing vistas from the summit are very rewarding though!
Close to the famous village of Chichicastenango you will find the ruins of what it was an important Mayan city. Q’umarkaj was the former Capital of the K’iche Mayan kingdom which played and important roll during the post-classic period (950 BCE – 1524 CE). Today, the largest Mayan-descendant population is K’iche and they all share a common language and a unique heritage. Their most important legacies are the Popol Vuh - a sacred complication of mythological and ethnical narratives and Tecun Uman - Guatemala’s indigenous national hero.
Lagoon Lachua, Coban
The National Park of Laguna Lachua is part of the tropical forest in Coban, Alta Verapaz. Surrounded by pure nature, Lachua is known as the Sky’s mirror. A special characteristic of this place is the sulfur water that fills in the lagoon. Reaching this water body can get challenging due to the dick forest that encircles it. However, the pathways are relatively flat which makes it an exciting experience suitable for all ages.
Caves of Candelaria, Coban
Guatemala hosts one of the largest complexes of caves and underground rivers in Central America. This geological marvel represented a sacred world to the Maya civilization. Over 20 archaeological sites have been found in the region together with a great concentration of ceramic vestiges. Damp or dry caving and tubbing are the most popular activities this region of Guatemala offers.
Xocomil and Xetulul, Retalhuleu
Roller coasters and water slides! Guatemala also hosts amusement parks perfect for the little ones (and grownups!) In the tropical Southwest region of the country, you will find recreational options for locals and foreign visitors. Xocomil is a waterpark that offers toboggans, waves pool and an artificial river! Ideal to refresh from the hot tropical weather. Xetulul, on the other hand, is an interesting theme park with all type of amusement rides. Besides the attractions made for fun, Xetulul boasts astounding architectonical replicas of many landmarks from all over the world. It also has several plazas featuring the architecture style of five different countries (Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France and Spain).
These entertainment parks evolved from pleasure resorts where you can overnight and enjoy the fine facilities for a fair price.
Crater Azul, Peten
The blue crater in the Lowland region of Guatemala is still an untouched natural treasure. The crystal clear water of Crater Azul will allow you to see the natural underwater garden beneath your feet. A one and a half hour boat ride through La Pasion River is the perfect introduction to this natural marvel!
Please take note that these off the beaten path destinations do not precisely offer the best facilities. For this reason, we recommend them for adventurous travelers that are not looking for comfortable amenities. In order to preserve our natural heritage, we ask you to avoid sunscreen and mosquito repellent before entering the water bodies (unless bio quality); avoid single use plastic and do not leave any trash in the natural parks. Protecting nature is everyone’s duty.