Quetzaltenango, Guatemala Vacation Guide
Surrounded by hills and mountains, Quetzaltenango offers a variety of landscapes, hot springs, and rivers. It is also home of several volcanoes, the most important and majestic ones are: Santa Maria and Santiaguito. The scenery of Quetzaltenango or Xela how the locals call it and its treasures will make your visit to the highlands of Guatemala a memorable experience.
As the second largest city in Guatemala, Quetzaltenango is the home of many education centers which give the region the opportunity to educate and develop. It can get quiet chilly at night in Xela. The city kept its historic flavor, and with ancient and refurbished landmarks, Quetzaltenango today is more vibrant than ever. Locals are proud of their city, culture and rich heritage.
Attractions and Activities
Quetzaltenango's main town is Xela (derived from X'elaju'j) which means under ten hills. This is in reference to the nature which surrounds it. This city treasures its culture and traditions offering a lot of cathedrals, museums and plazas for you to explore. Is also the perfect place if you want to learn Spanish or the local Mayan language.
You will also enjoy nature at its best. In this area of the Western highlands is possible to change from being in a comfortable temperature of the coast to the cold hills, mountains and volcanoes within one hour.
Excursions from Quetzaltenango to other destinations near by
Chicabal, Lagoon & Volcanoe
This place is a mystic and natural treasure located one hour away from Xela. Chicabal Volcano hosts a lagoon on its top, a perfect place for Mayan rituals. Wander through the cloudy forest and appreciate the amazing flora and fauna this magic place has to offer.
Spoil yourself in these thermal waters that emanate from Zunil Volcano. The pools are fed by sulfur springs, surrounded by a rain forest, fern trees and flowers. Relax and enjoy one of Guatemala's nicest waters.
Located 9km/6mi away from Quetzaltenango, Salcaja hosts the first Cathedral of Central America: La Conquistadora built in 1524. This town is also known for its famous fruit broth > Rompope: fermented fruits of different seasons mixed with local rum. A sweet treat that you need to try before leaving!
Shopping in Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango's goods are widely distributed. Enjoy the open air market in the Central Park, organized on the first Sunday of each month. Vendors will sell local products only, which is an interesting way to know their arts.
Pixan is an interesting association of women's weaving across the Western highlands of the country. Their work represents its members' traditions and values. Here you will find quality textiles made by Mayan weavers in collaboration with international designers.
Museums and architectonical treasures
Catedral de los Altos
Located in the Historical Center of the city, this architectonic piece was built in 1532. Partially destroyed by several earthquakes, this cathedral is an interesting combination of old and new.
No'j comes from the Mayan nawal of intelligence. Meaning knowledge and wisdom, this cultural center is in charge of promoting Xela's art and culture. It is an ideal place if you would like to get to know Guatemalan artists and their master pieces.
A mix of French style and neoclassic architecture is what describes this master piece built back in 1895. This historical building is well known for its jazz performances and the traditional event called Juegos Florales, a relevant literary contest celebrated on September.
Location And Map
Located in the Western highlands of Guatemala, you can reach Quetzaltenango in four hours. Is located 200 km/125 mi from Guatemala City and about 168 km/104 mi from Antigua.
Elevation: 2,333 m/7,734 ft