Guatemala City Travel Guide
Guatemala City, or Guate as it is referred locally, located in the heart of Guatemala, is an interesting blend of old and new which possesses a distinct Latin charm. Known by its ancestors as the "place of many trees" (name originated from Nahuatl language, Quuahtlemallan) the city mixes lots of green areas with modern architecture. Sitting on top of three tectonic plates, Guatemala City is the home of two million people, making it the most inhabited city in Central America.
Its location, facilities and the Guatemala City international airport La Aurora makes it a great hub for tourism across the country and the starting point for your trip to the rest of Guatemala. Guatemala City has an active cultural life all year long, giving you plenty of options to spend your time here. It hosts art galleries, several important museums, the National Palace in Guatemala and different cathedrals. Guate has been growing throughout the years and is adapting to all new trends, attracting people from all over the world for its rich culture, great coffee and high concentration of fine restaurants.
Things to do in Guatemala City
Visiting Guatemala City
The base where most of the architectonic treasures are concentrated is located in Zona 1. Here you will find the Historical Center with many buildings conserving a neo-classic style. A bit overcrowded by locals, merchants and noise, Guatemala City center is the place where the real essence of the country's reality is. Its walls and streets are the reflection of past generations.
If you are interested in handicrafts the "Mercado Central" in the city center is a place you must visit. Here you will not only find unique Guatemalan souvenirs, but also see the colorful variety of local flowers, fruits and vegetables, try some local food and feel like you are part of the culture just by walking in the streets. While in Guatemala City, you can also visit the relief map, which was a piece of art and engineering built in 1904. The map shows Guatemala's topography in miniature with a 95% of accuracy.
Zone 4, also known as “4° Norte” (Four Degrees North) is a trendy part of Guatemala City. The area consists of 4 blocks, all of them in direction to the four cardinal points, making it the only place with diagonal streets in Guatemala City. Resurging from an old zone of factories and warehouses, this place is nowadays the Hipster side of the city offering you a high concentration of restaurants, cafés, galleries and bars.
Zone 10, on the other hand, is known as “Zona Viva”, a commercial district where you will find most of the hotels in Guatemala City, restaurants, bars, hospitals and financial institutions. La Reforma is a tree-lined boulevard that separates zone 9 from zone 10. Here you can have a bike ride or walk around and discover the monuments along the road.
Guatemala City tours to other destinations near by
Antigua is surrounded by three volcanoes, flowers and mountains. Is among the best conserved colonial cities in the world and its remaining buildings, chapels and cobblestone streets preserving the Spanish-Baroque architecture made this stunning place an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This black volcanic sand coast stretches 250km (155m) from the Mexican border to El Salvador. Monterrico is the most popular beach in the Pacific with a line of powerful surf and an enormous curving horizon; a great place to relax, eat fresh seafood and enjoy the beach atmosphere.
Tecpan is a small town located an hour and a half outside the city which includes many restaurants and is an excellent place to try the real Guatemalan cuisine. A very short distance away you will find Iximché. Surrounded by ravines and pine-forested hills it is an ancient fortress capital of the Mayan people. Partially excavated and restored, Iximché is a place where Mayan ceremonies still take place and you can experience the original conditions of how they used to live.
Shopping in Guatemala City
In Guatemala City your shopping opportunities are enormous. Visit the shopping park Paseo Cayalá Guatemala City, with its neo-colonial buildings is the most exclusive place to live in the city. Here you will find many fancy shops, restaurants and bars. Oakland Mall or Pradera Concepción will give you the chance to experience some of the nicest architectural works represented in shopping malls of Guatemala City.
Museums in Guatemala City
Designed along the lines of a Mayan temple, this museum is dedicated to the original Mayan culture, containing a big collection of hand-woven fabrics, ceremonial costumes, information about the techniques, dyes and the way this all change from village to village. A miniature huipil collection and good coffee waits for you in the basement of this place.
Popol Vuh Museum
This Guatemala City museum is the home of one of the biggest collections of Mayan artefacts. It promotes the archeological and colonial history of Guatemala. It has participated in the most important exhibitions in and outside Guatemala. It's known for its ceramic art, stone sculptures and Maya pottery collection.
Museo de Historia
One of the few buildings that survived the earthquakes in 1917 and 1918 in Guatemala City, it was restored in 1984 with its walls now reaching up to one meter thick on the outside and 0.60 meters in the interior. Conferences, sightseeing films and concerts are organized here for the public to enjoy. It also counts with a documentation center and library if you are interested in investigating Guatemala’s history.
National Palace Guatemala
Known as El Guacamolón (the Big Guacamole) for its greenish color, this art piece is one of the Guatemala's most important buildings. Is the beginning point of all roads in Guatemala and its interior design is breathtaking. Mixing Spanish and Arabic style, this place is a unique masterpiece in the country that offers a collection of fine arts and rotating gallery spaces.
Guatemala City Map and Location
Guatemala City is the largest city in Central America, founded in 1773 after several earthquakes destroyed Antigua Guatemala, the capital of Guatemala Kingdom. Only Guatemala City has a population of three million people and it hosts the Guatemala City international airport La Aurora.
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Population: 3 million
Elevation: 1,500 m/4,921 ft