Tourism in Guatemala has steadily grown over the past few years. In fact, the country welcomed over 2 million tourists in 2017 alone. And there’s a good reason why.
Guatemala is packed with beautiful scenery and cultural activities without the intense crowds of tourists present in the neighboring country of Mexico. Plus, there are so many things to do in Guatemala that you may have trouble fitting them all into your itinerary.
Do you want to know what activities must make it onto your to-do list? Then keep reading to discover the absolute best things to do in Guatemala.
Visit Semuc Champey
Have you already started searching Pinterest and Instagram for pictures of Guatemala? If so, you’ve undoubtedly come across Semuc Champey.
This site is made up of a series of stepped, turquoise pools which you can swim in and, of course, get those much sought-after Instagram pics. The only downside is that it’s pretty far away from popular tourist hubs, like Antigua and Flores. Plan for at least an 8-hour bus ride each way.
Roast Marshmallows on a Volcano
Who doesn’t love a good marshmallow that’s been roasted over an open fire? Well, now you can try a marshmallow that’s been roasted over an active volcano!
There are several volcanoes in Guatemala, but Pacaya is one of the most popular. Again, getting there isn’t the easiest of tasks as it takes a long bus ride and an hour and a half hike up the steep volcano. However, there are horses you can rent to make the hike easier.
See the Ruins of Tikal
There are quite a few Mayan ruins in Guatemala, but Tikal is by far the most popular. Not only is it one of the largest ruins of the Mayan empire, but it’s still in great shape.
If you want to get the most out of your experience, consider going with an English-speaking guide so you can learn more about the ruins and the people who once lived there. You can also sign up for family tours Guatemala to enjoy multi-day tours that include tons of culture.
Find Your Perfect Lake Atitlan Village
There’s no denying the beauty of Lake Atitlan, which is actually inside a huge volcanic crater. Once here, you can swim, paddleboard, hike, and shop at the local markets.
But what’s really unique about Lake Atitlan is that there are about a dozen villages surrounding the lake, each with their own distinct personality. So, your experience will vary based on which village you’re in.
San Pedro is one of the most popular villages for tourists. It’s full of bars, hostels, and restaurants and is generally considered the “party spot” for travelers.
San Marcos, on the other hand, is more relaxed and spiritual (although still popular with the tourists). Here, you’ll find tons of yoga classes and multi-day yoga retreats. There are also plenty of restaurants, many of which have vegetarian and vegan options.
So, make sure you research the different villages before your trip. Pick a few that you think you’d like, and consider trying them all out to find your favorite!
Go Shopping at the Chichicastenango Market
While there are plenty of local markets throughout Guatemala, the Chichicastenango market is the most famous. And it just so happens to be located in the Lake Atitlan village of San Marcos.
You’ll find a wide array of goods here, including fresh produce, traditional clothing, pottery, and handmade crafts, making this the perfect location to grab authentic souvenirs. The best part is that, while plenty of tourists come here, there are still tons of locals so it doesn’t feel like a big tourist trap.
However, the market is only open on Thursdays and Sundays, so make sure you time your stay just right.
Check Out Lake Izabel
Lake Izabel is often overshadowed as most tourists will choose to visit lake Atitlan instead. But if you have enough time on your trip, a visit to lake Izabel can’t be missed.
Since it’s much lesser-known, you’ll get a more authentic experience and get the chance to ditch the crowds of tourists for a day or so. Plus, there’s plenty to do to occupy your time here, such as swimming, visiting a Spanish castle, and soaking in a hot spring waterfall.
Learn How to Make Chocolate…
Guatemala may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of chocolate, but the Mayans have actually been drinking hot chocolate for hundreds of years.
While in Guatemala, you’ll find plenty of chocolate making demonstrations so you can learn how Mayan and Spanish hot chocolates are made. A word of warning, though, Mayan hot chocolate is very bitter! But it’s still worth it to learn a bit more about the local culture.
Are you more of a coffee-aficionado than a chocolate-lover? No problem! Guatemala is also full of coffee farms.
During your tour, you can see the entire coffee-making process, from how the beans are grown to how they brew a nice hot cup of coffee. Of course, you’ll also get to sample a cup at the end of your tour.
Your Guide to the Best Things to do in Guatemala
Don’t go on to the same old vacation you book year after year. If you want to experience a truly unique location filled with culture, nature, and delicious food, a trip to Guatemala is a must. Just follow the guide above to fill up your itinerary with the best things to do in Guatemala, so you have a truly unforgettable vacation.
Do you want to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch? Then check out our travel tips blog page for valuable information and advice!