Transportation in Guatemala
The best way to travel around Guatemala as a tourist is by private transportation. We recommend confirming these arrangements before your arrival to make sure everything goes smooth. The local transportation companies are properly registered in the Tourism Institute of Guatemala (INGUAT), use clean cars and vans and are insured in case of any unforeseen situation. In this page we want to mention all transportation methods available in Guatemala for you to consider for your upcoming vacation.
The most comfortable option to travel around Guatemala is by private transportation with a professional local driver. You will be picked up and dropped off at the Airport and will be escorted the entire time by a knowledgeable chauffeur. This option gives you flexibility since you can choose when, where and how you prefer to travel. All vehicles working for the vacation industry have a label that identifies them as official transportation for tourism. Local drivers are responsible and know the safest and best roads to every destination.
Guatemala has two international Airports: La Aurora (GUA) located in Guatemala City and Mundo Maya (FRS) in Santa Elena, Peten. Arriving in Guatemala City works best since it is the gateway to the different regions of the country. The Airport in Peten is usually for travelers wanting to visit the Mayan Ruins of Tikal in a short period of time. Charter flights by small aircrafts and helicopters are an option as well, and you can land at various other smaller airports if you book a private flight.
This option is very popular among backpackers and travelers with a reduced budget. The most popular destinations are connected via shuttle buses making it easy for visitors to discover the most of Guatemala. You will always have to reserve seats one day prior traveling to guarantee your transfer. We recommend to always stay cautious and keep your belongings in sight.
There are public buses and mini vans connecting all mayor cities and towns in Guatemala. However, these buses do not have fixed schedules nor official stops. This hinders the possibility to travel by public transportation, not only for foreign visitors, but also for locals. The best option to travel by bus in Guatemala City is the Transmetro – a safe and fast bus that has proper stop signs and cost only Q1 per journey.
Rural collective transportation
Known as chicken buses, the rural transportation service is provided by colorful buses that connect most of the main destinations in Guatemala. Take note that these buses do not go everywhere so you might have to change from one bus to a mini van to get to a specific destination. The experience can get wild since there is no real speed control and usually the drivers will pick up local travelers waiting on the streets in order to earn more money. You can end up in an overcrowded bus, like chickens in a cage.
If you still decide to take the adventure, make sure you start practicing your Spanish as these drivers won’t speak English.
Taxis and Uber
In Guatemala City there are two types of taxis: white and yellow. You can take a white cab at any moment when you see them. However, these taxis are not the safest option and they usually overcharge (even to common Guatemalans). The best alternative would be to use yellow taxis or Uber. Both options are safe and can get really cheap if you are sharing the route with other travelers.
There are car rental companies at both international airports and some of them have offices at some hotels as well. It is always better to complete your reservation prior to your arrival to be sure you get everything you need. Before deciding to rent a car, please note that driving in Guatemala can be somehow chaotic. Main roads have signals but we recommend using a GPS to help you smoothly drive through the peculiar streets of Guatemala.