The charming streets and alleys of Flores make for a great base to explore the surrounding Mayan treasures of this region of Guatemala. Flores is a small island village on Lake Peten Itza which was built over the old city of Tayasal and hosts lots of restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, handicraft and souvenir stores, Internet caffee’s, etc. The city of Flores is geared towards the tourists that are visiting the ruins of Tikal. This splendid Mayan site is 65km (40 miles) away from Flores and reachable by bus or car in 45 – 60 minutes.
Nearby towns of Santa Elena and San Benito offer a somewhat more authentic Guatemalan experience, but they also receive more traffic and aren’t as neatly kept as Flores. You can easily walk the city and at sunset enjoy a drink or an appetizer in one of the restaurants along the lake. Other activities besides the Mayan ruins include shopping for textiles and woodwork, but one can also take a canopy tour, rent a canoe or bicycle or hire a boat on the lake. Most tourists take a short flight from Guatemala City to Flores, but one can also take a bus or arrive by rental car.
The Island of Flores is located on Lake Peten Itza and the city dates from 9th century. It was formerly called Tayasal. In the 15th century, Pedro de Alvarado arrived on the Island while on a trip to Honduras. He gave King Canek a Spanish horse, which the Mayas treated almost like a god. After several failed attempts to convert the natives to Christianity, the Spaniards destroyed Tayasal in 16th century and it was then abandoned until the 18th century. The Island was then named after Cirilo Flores, one of the first Guatemaltecos to call for independence from the Colonial powers.