Guatemala — Overview
Guatemala is a charming country in Central America full of amazing nature, fascinating history and warm Latin culture. Dubbed the “Land of Eternal Spring,” it has a comfortable climate the whole year with an average annual temperature of 77°F. Its position in the tropics means it is home to encapsulating beauty with steep volcanoes, lush rainforests, a long Pacific coastline, and Caribbean beaches. There are also many intriguing archaeological sites including relics of the once-thriving Mayan civilization, as well as more recent colonial-era architecture and heritage, making Guatemala a well-rounded vacation destination.
Tikal was one of the largest and most important cities in ancient Mayan history, and the ruins are well preserved, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Remote yet accessible, its seclusion only adds to the attraction. Situated in the jungle, spot monkeys roaming and majestic birdlife like the toucan on your expedition. Nearby is the pretty island town of Flores, which is well worth a visit to soak up the colonial architecture and tranquil atmosphere and a jumping-off point for other Mayan sites.
Guatemala’s greatest natural feature is Lake Atitlan, which sits at an altitude of 5,200 ft surrounded by Toliman, San Pedro and Atitlan volcanoes awarding spectacular scenery and wildlife. Enjoy the area’s beauty by taking part in hikes around the water or climbs of the neighboring volcanoes, with many local operators offering day tours. A good excursion from Guatemala City, the capital, is a visit to Antigua Guatemala, which was once the colonial Spanish capital city and seat of power in Central America.
Accommodation in Guatemala is plentiful, with a well-developed tourist infrastructure. The large cities have high-quality hotels, many of which are situated in beautiful Hispanic buildings, allowing you to marvel at the intricacies of the architecture and take in the views from the balconies. If staying in a more remote area closer to nature, you will have a comfortable stay in a small hotel with impressive views of the surroundings and intimate hospitality. Restaurants in Guatemala are easy to find, and the dishes are based on traditional Mayan cuisine that feature corn, chilies and beans.
Guatemala has a main international airport, La Aurora International Airport (GUA), which is located in the capital, and a second airport in Flores, Mundo Maya International (FRS). The main hub in Guatemala City receives direct flights from nine major US cities and is easy to get around. Taxis are plentiful in Guatemala City and can be hailed on the street or called. In the smaller cities and towns like Flores or Antigua Guatemala, motorized rickshaws are readily available. Guatemala also has a well-developed bus network and cars for rent.
- Take in the majesty of Mayan civilization by viewing the pyramid-like structures at the Tikal ruins
- Soak in the charming colonial architecture in the island town of Flores
- Get high up and experience the beauty and nature surrounding Lake Atitlan
- Climb Pacaya Volcano and admire the view at breathtaking heights
- Live the hustle-and-bustle of the nation’s capital and Central America’s largest city, Guatemala City
- Absorb the colonial heritage in the city of Antigua Guatemala
- Go wildlife watching at Rio Dulce, the gateway to the Caribbean
- Relax on volcanic black sands and swim in the Pacific Ocean at Monterrico