Top 10 things to do in Guatemala

Guatemala

Guatemala is a country in the Central America region of North America. Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala City, Tikal.

Guatemala is a country.

Guatemala, officially the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: República de Guatemala [re̞ˈpuβlikä ðe̞ ɣwäte̞ˈmälä]), is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, Honduras to the east and El Salvador to the southeast. It spans an area of 108,890 km2 (42,043 sqmi) and has an estimated population of 15,806,675, making it the most populous state in Central America. A representative democracy, its capital and largest city is Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City.

What is today Guatemala was for centuries part of the Mayan civilization that extended across Mesoamerica. Most of the country was conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century, becoming part of the colony of New Spain (present-day Mexico). Guatemala attained its independence in 1821 as part of the Federal Republic of Central America, which dissolved in 1841.

From the mid to late 19th century, Guatemala endured the chronic instability and civil strife that was endemic to the region. Early in the 20th century, it was ruled by a series of dictators, who had the support of the United Fruit Company and the United States government. In 1944, one such authoritarian leader, Jorge Ubico, was overthrown by a pro-democratic military coup, initiating the ten-year Guatemalan Revolution that led to sweeping social and economic reforms. The revolution was ended by a U.S.-engineered military coup in 1954.

From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala underwent a bloody civil war fought between the U.S.-backed government and leftist rebels, which included a genocide of the Mayan population perpetrated by the former. Since the war ended, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections, though it continues to struggle with high rates of poverty, crime, and instability. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.

Guatemala's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems, many of which are endemic, contributes to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The country is also known for its rich culture, characterized by a fusion of Spanish and Indigenous influences.

Overall rating: 4.6
Country
Typical length of visit: 4 days

Top 10 things to do in Guatemala

Puerto Quetzal

Puerto Quetzal
Puerto Quetzal is Guatemala's largest Pacific Ocean port. It is important for both cargo traffic and as a stop-off point for cruise liners.It is located in Escuintla department, alongside the ...

Panajachel

Panajachel
Panajachel is a town in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, less than 90 miles from Guatemala City, in the department of Sololá. It serves as the administrative centre for the surrounding ...

Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. ...

Livingston

Livingston
Livingston may refer to:People named Livingstonsee Livingston Livingston , Tamil film actor active since the 1980sPlacesAntarcticaLivingston Island in the South Shetland ...

Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Guatemala City; locally known as Guatemala or Guate, is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala, and the most populous in Central America. The city is located ...

Cobán

Cobán
The city of Cobán is the capital of the department of Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala. It also serves as the administrative center for the surrounding Cobán municipality. It is ...

San Pedro La Laguna

San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro La Laguna is a Guatemalan town on the southwest shore of Lake Atitlán. For centuries, San Pedro La Laguna has been inhabited by the Tz'utujil people, and in ...

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is a natural monument in the department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, near the Q'eqchi' Maya town of Lanquín. It consists of a natural 300 m limestone bridge, under ...

Quetzaltenango

Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango, also known by its indigenous name, Xelajú or Xela , is the second largest city of Guatemala. It is both the capital of Quetzaltenango Department and the municipal seat ...

Chichicastenango

Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango, also known as Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, is a town in the El Quiché department of Guatemala, known for its traditional K'iche' Maya culture. The Spanish conquistadors gave the town ...

Puerto Barrios

Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios is a city in Guatemala, located within the Gulf of Honduras at 15°43′N 88°35′W / 15.717°N 88.583°W / 15.717; -88.583. The bay in which the harbour is located ...

Monterrico, Guatemala

Monterrico, Guatemala
The town of Monterrico is situated on the Pacific coast of Guatemala in the departament of Santa Rosa. Known for its volcanic black sand beaches and annual influx of sea ...

Esquipulas

Esquipulas
Esquipulas , Officially Municipality of Esquipulas, whose original name was Yzquipulas - is a municipality located in the department of Chiquimula, in eastern Guatemala, the largest city and capital of ...

San Agustín Lanquín

San Agustín Lanquín
San Agustín Lanquín , often referred to simply as Lanquín, is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. It is situated at 380 m above sea level. It ...

Villa Nueva, Guatemala

Villa Nueva, Guatemala
Villa Nueva is a municipality in the Guatemala department of Guatemala. Villa Nueva is located 16 kilometres south of Guatemala City and has a population of 710,218 people, making it ...

Mazatenango

Mazatenango
Mazatenango is a municipality in the Suchitepéquez department of Guatemala. It is the capital of Suchitepéquez department and is located 165 km from Guatemala City.Mazatenango lies significantly lower in elevation than ...

Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango

Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango
Coatepeque is a municipality in the Quetzaltenango department of Guatemala. According to the 2002 census, it had a population of 41.294.SportsDeportivo Coatepeque football club play in the ...

Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán
Santiago Atitlán is a municipality in the Sololá department of Guatemala. The town is situated on Lago de Atitlán, which has an elevation of 5,105 feet . The town sits ...

Momostenango

Momostenango
Momostenango is a municipality in the Totonicapán department of Guatemala. The municipality is situated in the North-West of Totonicapán, in the Western highlands of Guatemala.PopulationMomostenango's population is ...

Amatitlán

Amatitlán
Amatitlán is a town in the Guatemala department of Guatemala.EconomyThe main industry of the town during colonial times was the preparation of cochineal. As of 1850, Amatitlán ...

Totonicapán Department

Totonicapán Department
Totonicapán is one of the 22 departments of Guatemala. The capital is the city of Totonicapán.HistoryHistorical chronicler Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán, described the municipalities of ...

Tecpán Guatemala

Tecpán Guatemala
Tecpán Guatemala is a municipality in the department of Chimaltenango, in Guatemala, on the Inter-American Highway CA-1.The climate is generally cold. It is characterized as a tourist destination, with some ...

Chiantla

Chiantla
Chiantla is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Huehuetenango. It is situated at 2,000m above sea level. It covers a terrain of 536km2. The annual festival is on January ...

San Pedro Carchá

San Pedro Carchá
San Pedro Carchá, usually referred to as Carchá, is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. It is situated at 1282 m above sea level. It has an ...

Chiquimula

Chiquimula
Chiquimula is a city in Guatemala. It serves both as the capital of the department of Chiquimula and as the municipal seat for the surrounding municipality of the same name. ...

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park
In the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. ...

Huehuetenango

Huehuetenango
Huehuetenango is a city and a municipality in the highlands of western Guatemala. It is also the capital of the department of Huehuetenango. The municipality's population was over 81,000 people ...

Salamá

Salamá
Salamá is a city in Guatemala. It is the capital of the department of Baja Verapaz. It is situated at 940 m above sea level. The municipality of Salamá, for which ...

Jacaltenango

Jacaltenango
Jacaltenango is a town situated in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. It is located in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains. Jacaltenango serves as the municipal seat for ...

San Marcos Department

San Marcos Department
San Marcos is a department in Guatemala. The capital is the city of San Marcos.Departmental historyThe department was created by a governmental decree on 8 May 1866, ...

Santa Cruz del Quiché

Santa Cruz del Quiché
Santa Cruz del Quiché is a city in Guatemala. It serves as the capital of El Quiché department and the municipal seat of Santa Cruz del Quiché municipality.The city is ...

Chimaltenango Department

Chimaltenango Department
Chimaltenango is a department of Guatemala. The capital is Chimaltenango. Located to the east are the departments of Guatemala, home to Guatemala City, and Sacatepéquez, while also bordered by the ...

Escuintla

Escuintla
Escuintla is a city in south central Guatemala. It is the capital of the Escuintla Department and the administrative seat of Escuintla Municipality.In 2003 the city had a population of ...

San Juan La Laguna

San Juan La Laguna
San Juan La Laguna is a municipality on the southern shore of Lago de Atitlán, Sololá, Guatemala. It consists of the village named San Juan La Laguna and three smaller ...

El Estor

El Estor
El Estor is a municipality in the Izabal department of Guatemala.Before roads and railroads, Lake Izabal was the link between Alta Verapaz and the rest of the world. What is ...

Guastatoya

Guastatoya
Guastatoya is a city in Guatemala. It is the capital of the department of El Progreso. Guastatoya is home to the Guastatoya Water Park. It is located 73 km from the ...

Santa Maria Nebaj

Santa Maria Nebaj
Santa Maria Nebaj is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of El Quiché. Santa Maria Nebaj is part of the Ixil Community, along with San Juan Cotzal and San Gaspar ...

Santa Elena, El Petén

Santa Elena, El Petén
Santa Elena is located on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá in the Petén department of Guatemala. It is connected by a causeway to its sister town of Flores and ...

Chiquimulilla

Chiquimulilla
Chiquimulilla is a municipality in the Santa Rosa department of Guatemala. It is located about 20 kilometres from the Pacific coast.The city is an important regional trade location and junction. ...

Sayaxché

Sayaxché
Sayaxché is a municipality in the El Petén department of Guatemala, on the Río La Pasión river. In 2000, it had 47,693 inhabitants.The city was founded in 1874 to provide ...

Joyabaj

Joyabaj
Joyabaj is a municipality in the Guatemalan department of El Quiché. It is located about 50 kilometers from Santa Cruz del Quiché, in the Sierra de Chuacús mountains.Joyabaj was an ...

San Juan Sacatepéquez

San Juan Sacatepéquez
San Juan Sacatepéquez is a municipality in the Guatemala department of Guatemala, northwest of Guatemala City. According to the 2002 census, it had a population of 81,584. The city is ...

Raxruha

Raxruha
Raxruha is a municipality in the north of the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. The municipality, which was formerly part of Chisec, was founded in 2008. ...

Puerto San José

Puerto San José
Puerto San José is a city on Guatemala's Pacific Ocean coast, in the department of Escuintla. It contains about 20,000 people, making it the largest place along the Pacific coast ...

San Juan Comalapa

San Juan Comalapa
San Juan Comalapa is a municipality in the Chimaltenango department of Guatemala.San Juan Comalapa is sometimes called the "Florence of America", because of the many Kaqchikel painters living there. It ...

Poptún

Poptún
Poptún is a municipality in the El Petén department of Guatemala. It has a population of 30,386. It is some 385 km from Guatemala City.Since 1989, Military Zone 23 in Poptún ...

El Remate, Peten

El Remate, Peten
El Remate is a small tourism based town located on the lakeshore of Lake Petén Itzá in Petén, Guatemala. The village has small eco-friendly hotels, small artesanal workshops and offers ...

Zunil

Zunil
Zunil is a municipality in the Quetzaltenango department of Guatemala with a surface area of 92 square kilometres . Zunil is located 9 kilometres from the city of Quetzaltenango, on ...

Santa Catarina Palopó

Santa Catarina Palopó
Santa Catarina Palopó is a municipality in the Sololá department of Guatemala. The municipality is located on the shores of Lake Atitlán, approximately 3 miles South-Southeast of Panajachel, a popular ...

San Lucas Tolimán

San Lucas Tolimán
San Lucas Tolimán is a municipality in the Sololá department of Guatemala. The town of 17,000 people sits on the southeastern shore of Lago de Atitlán, described by Aldous Huxley ...

Jocotenango

Jocotenango
Jocotenango is a small municipality in the northeast section of Guatemalan department of Sacatepéquez, and is situated north of Antigua Guatemala. It has seven zones, two villages, and one hamlet. ...

Zona Viva

Zona Viva
The Zona Viva is the name used to refer to a part of zone 10 in Guatemala City, east of Avenida Reforma and north of Bulevar de Los Próceres. It ...

La Aurora Zoo

La Aurora Zoo
The Parque Zoológico La Aurora is a zoological park in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It is one of the largest gardens within the city. The zoo has three different areas, where ...

Museo Miraflores

Museo Miraflores
The Museo Miraflores is an archaeological museum in Guatemala City, dedicated to the display of artefacts from the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyu. The museum is open from Tuesday through ...

Torre del Reformador

Torre del Reformador
The Torre del Reformador is a 75 meter tall steel framework tower in the Zone 9 of Guatemala City. The tower was built in 1935, to commemorate the 100th anniversary ...

National Palace

National Palace
Buildings called National Palace include:National Palace , in Santo DomingoNational Palace , in San SalvadorNational Palace , in Addis AbabaNational Palace , in Guatemala CityNational Palace , in Port-au-PrinceNational Palace ...

Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno 'Carlos Mérida'

Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno 'Carlos Mérida'
The Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno 'Carlos Mérida' is a national museum of modern art in Guatemala City, named after Carlos Mérida. ...

Guatemala City Railway Museum

Guatemala City Railway Museum
The Guatemala City Railway Museum, officially Museo del Ferrocarril FEGUA, is located in the former main railway station in Guatemala City, Guatemala.The museum has a collection of steam and diesel ...

Guatemala City Guatemala Temple

Guatemala City Guatemala Temple
The Guatemala City Guatemala Temple is the 34th constructed and 32nd operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . Located in Guatemala City, capital city ...