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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

Guatemala - 10 days itinerary

Updated: Mar 16


Are you looking for a destination that mixes culture, history, amazing nature and adventure, with good climate and delicious food, friendly people and budget friendly?


You just found it: Guatemala!


We've been there and can guarantee you it is the trip of a lifetime!


Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Tikal, Guatemala

Guatemala has been on our bucket list for a long time. Despite being relatively close to Brazil (where we live), it seemed such a distant place...



Until then, we hadn't met anyone who had gone there. Indeed, even today Guatemala is not a destination that Americans and Europeans usually go to, and we rarely see news or tourist marketing from the country. Adding this to the (unfair, at least by our experience) reputation of being a dangerous place, everyone was surprised when we said that we would be spending a few days there with two small children (at the time, 6 and 7 years old).


It was an amazing trip. Exceeded all expectations.


Guatemala is so beautiful! Historic towns, from the time of Spanish colonization, breathtaking landscapes, impressive Mayan ruins, waterfalls and rivers of transparent water. You can even surf on the Pacific coast (that's what experts say, we are not into surfing). The people are super friendly, attentive and the tourist structure worked well, prices were reasonable and the weather was excellent.


Now, on to our itinerary !


We chose not to rent a car and we did all internal locomotion based on transfers (booked directy with the hotels) and we took one domestic flight.


 

10 days Guatemala itinerary overview:

 

 

Other posts about traveling in Latin America

 

Day 1 – How to get to Guatemala


We arrived at Cidade da Guatemala Airport, the main airport in the country.


We chose not to stay in the capital and go straight to Antigua, about 40km (24.8 miles) away. At the airport, the transfer I had requested was waiting for us, and in about an hour we had arrived at our destination.


There are no direct flights from Sao Paulo (where we live) to Cidade de Guatemala. We flew Avianca and connected in Bogotá, but based on the research I did at the time, it is also possible to flight from Brazil to Guatemala via Panama and Miami, and others places around the world.


Antigua, Guatemala. Fuego and Acantenago vulcanoes on the background.
Antigua, Guatemala. Fuego and Acantenago vulcanoes on the background.

Days 2 and 3 – Antigua


Antigua is a small town surrounded by volcanoes in southern Guatemala.


We stayed at Hotel Casa del Parque, a small, charming hotel downtown. The room we stayed in was great for 4 people and had a spectacular view. I mean a really spectacular view. No kidding, from a side window we could see the Volcano de Água, from the front window the Volcano de Fuego and Acantenago.


Other accommodation options that I had selected are Porta Hotel Antigua and Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo (this one is in an old convent, it looks beautiful and is has very good reviews).


Check availability and rates here:



We only stayed 2 days / 3 nights there, but we could have easily stayed 1 or 2 more days. The town is so beautiful, with cobbled alleys and colonial houses from the time of Spanish colonization, numerous churches, in different states of conservation, several delicious restaurants and bars and cafes. The ruined churches make for beautiful photos.


What to do in Antigua, Guatemala


On one day, we spent enjoying the city, and on another day, we took the Pacaya volcano tour - which was in full activity at that time.


With a few more days there, and if you enjoy adventure, I suggest doing the hike to Acatenango volcano (it can be done in a single day, but it's said to be quite strenuous, or in two days camping along the way). From there, you can see the Fuego Volcano erupting, an image that must surely be breathtaking, especially at night.



Days 4 to 7 – Atitlan Lake


From Antigua, we left early in a van that took us to Atitlan, a journey of about 2 ½ hours.


Lake Atitlan is surrounded by three volcanoes – Atitlán, San Pedro and Tolimán (none of them active) and, I say without blinking, one of the lakes of greatest natural beauty I have ever seen.


There are several small towns around it, we stayed in the village of Panajachel, which seems to be the place with the best tourist structure in the region – besides, from there you can enjoy the wonderful sunset on the lake.


Atitlan Lake, Panajachel, Guatemala
Atitlan Lake

Our days there included boat rides and stand-up paddleboarding on the lake, exploring the Atitlan Natural Reserve, where there are trails, a butterfly sanctuary, and a set of zip lines through the forest. We visited the villages around the lake, enjoyed sunsets, indulged in restaurants and cafes—ultimately, a vacation in the best style.


We stayed at Hotel Porta del Lago, which has an absolutely perfect lakeside location. All rooms (unless I'm mistaken) have lake views, with a tiny but nice balcony, which invites you to sit and enjoy the view. The hotel could very well go through a decor update, but with its location and view you won't even notice that. Beds were confortable, breakfast ok and the pool was excellent. You can easily walk from the hotel to the main street of the village.


Porta Hotel del Lago, Panajachel, Sololá, Atitlan Lake,Guatemala,


Another option that looks very good, but located in a more isolated location (apparently accessible only by boat), in Jaibalito, is Hotel La Casa del Mundo - we spent a few hours there enjoying a beer with great views. Hotel Toliman, in San Lucas Tolimán, also seems like a great option if you prefer to stay in that region.


Check availability and rates here:



Day 8 – Return to Guatemala City and flight to Flores


We left Panajachel after lunch and went straight to Guatemala City airport (aprox. 2 1/2 hours), to catch a flight to Flores, the closest airport to the next destination of the trip: the Mayan ruins of Tikal.


Tikal, Guatemala. Mayan ruins


At Flores Airport, a transfer was waiting and drove us to our hotel, which was right at the entrance to Tikal National Park – Hotel Jaguar Inn Tikal


There are about 3 hotels that are located at the entrance to the park: in addition to the one we stayed at, there is Hotel Tikal Inn (which has a swimming pool that looks very nice), Jungle Lodge Tikal Hostel (it also has a swimming pool) and Jungle Lodge Tikal (next to the hostel, both seem to be linked).


I chose Jaguar Inn Tikal Hotel because it was the only one that had availability for the dates we were traveling - subverting all the principles of travel planning, this hotel was the first item booked of the trip, even before the purchase of airline tickets, and the rest of the itinerary was defined considering the dates we got for this hotel.


Check availability and rates here:



The other accommodation options are in the town of Flores, which is about 1h20min by car from the park. I highly recommend that you stay in one of those hotels near the park. They are not expensive and their structure is quite satisfactory.


The advantage is that you can (and should) walk to the park – it is really close, 100m away. This completely changes your experience when visiting Tikal. You can escape the crowds, visit the park at your own pace, enjoy it without hassle. And you also get the possibility of seeing an unforgettable starry sky.


Day 9 – Tikal Park


You can easily visit the park in a single day. If you have time, in 2 days you can walk through the park more calmly and enjoy some hikes in the area.


Tikal, Flores, Guatemala. Mayan ruins

Day 10 - Departure


We woke up early and the transfer took us to the next destination of the trip: Belize!


It takes aprox. 1 ½ hours to get from Tikal to the Belizean border by car. Arriving at the border, we walked to the immigration and border crossing, and when we got to the other side, a Belizean driver was waiting for us, with his Belizean car, to continue the trip.


Now have a look at the Belize post (sorry, it will be up soon!), I guarantee you that you will, like us, love this tiny country, so full of cool places to visit and incredible experiences to live.


And, just like that, 10 days in Guatemala have passed, but I am already dreaming of returning sooner than later!


Atitlan Lake, Panajachel, Sololá, Guatemala. Sunset at the lake

 

Other posts about traveling in Latin America

 

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