10 Places You Must Not Miss on Your Guatemala Trip

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Guatemala is a beautiful Central American country.  For most tourists, a holiday in Guatemala begins in Guatemala City. The city has a charming appearance and also a modern side. Most tourists, however, will soon follow their path and embark on a tour of the beautiful and dramatic landscape of Guatemala. This country has a lot to offer – Volcanic mountains, lakes, jungles, beaches and tropical rainforests. Most roads go near special places, the monuments of the impressive Mayan culture. The fascinating history of this ancient people is one of the many reasons to visit this country. Nature, culture and history blend uniquely in Guatemala.

1. Tikal

Tikal Guatemala

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Tikal is located in the north of Guatemala. As one of the largest Mayan cities in history, Tikal was a powerful centre of the Mayan civilisation. In 1979., UNESCO declared the city of Tikal a World Heritage Site. Excavations uncovered magnificent historical monuments in the jungle, made with ancient building knowledge. In the city, previously known as Yax Mutal, you can see a number of temples, pyramids, water wells, squares and various tombs.  Access is allowed only to a small part of the Mayan city, the largest part is still hidden deep underground.

2. Antigua, The Old Capital of Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala

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A jewel among cities of Guatemala, a city of Antigua, was founded in 1543. At that time Guatemalans called it Santiago de los Caballeros. The Spanish history of this city at the foot of the Volcan de Agua is still palpable when you walk through the downtown. Antigua has so many unusual colonial buildings like the Catedral de Santiago, Iglesia y Convento de la Merced, Palacio del Ayuntamiento, Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales, Hospital de San Pedro and the Central Park. The old capital Antigua is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979, and it doesn´t lack visitors. Sometimes it can be quite busy in the city.

3. Museo Popol Vuh


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On the campus of the University Francisco Marroquín, In Guatemala City,  you can visit the famous museum Popol Vuh. This small museum was founded in the nineteenth century by Mr Jorge Castillo. The museum exhibits are an outstanding collection of art from the Mayan culture. What you’ll find here is more than 400 colonial and archaeological treasures on display. Both visitors and university students can study in peace various aspects and details of the pre-Columbian history. The museum’s name can be traced back to the historical-mythological texts of the Maya K’iche population, and translates loosely as “Book of the People”.

4. Quetzaltenango

xela guatemala

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The southeastern city of Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela, has beautiful old architecture. The most flourishing period took place during the nineteenth century. Quetzaltenango was an important city in the coffee industry. The historic centre is full of impressive old buildings. Today the town is known as a university town, an important trading centre and a great city for shopping. During the annual Central Fair, all of these things mix together in a pleasant way. The volcanic landscape in the area is ideal for all kinds of sports activities.

5. Chichicastenango


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The town of Chichicastenango in Guatemala is well known for the K’iche ‘Maya culture and the lively market that is held there. Cultural life in ‘Chichi’ is clearly visible in particular in the market. All kinds of stalls are filled with crafts, treats, jewellery, masks, spices, clothing, fabrics and flowers. Other interesting sights of the city are the Santo Tomás church, colourful Chichi cemetery and Cerro de la Democracia.

6. Lake Atitlán,


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The crater lake Atitlán is located west of Guatemala City. ‘Lago Atitlán “is more than twelve miles long and five miles wide. The lake is surrounded by twelve volcanoes. Some visitors to the Lake Atitlán refer to it as the most beautiful lake in the world. We want to confirm that in any case, it is the most beautiful lake in Guatemala. In the vicinity of the lake, there are several charming villages to visit, such as Panajachel, Santa Cruz la Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna, San Pedro La Laguna and Santa Catarina Palopó. And there are also several adventurous excursions to undertake near Atitlán.

7. Guatemala City

guatemala city

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“La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción” is often referred to by the inhabitants of the city as “Guate”. The capital Guatemala City is not only an administrative centre but a top tourist destination. With sights in the historic centre, ‘Zone One’ as the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, Casa Presidencial, Plaza de la Constitución and Catedral, the Ciudad de Guatemala has to offer the city filled with beauty. The city has some fascinating museums, exciting nightlife and special atmosphere.

8. Pacaya volcano

Pacaya volcano

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The active stratovolcano Pacaya is high more than twenty-five hundred meters. For several sportsmen, the Pacaya volcano is a climbing challenge. But a hike, accompanied by a guide, takes about two hours. But, this really depends on the condition of the participants. If you get tired you can rent a horse midway. You need good equipment, sufficient drinking water, something to eat, good shoes and appropriate clothing. The weather could easily change at the top and it’s a lot fresher. Once at the top, you are treated to a magnificent view of the region.

9. San Miguel Petapa

San Miguel petapa

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In the south of Guatemala, near the beautiful lake of Amatitlán, lies the town and municipality of San Miguel Petapa. The town is famous for its often exuberantly celebrated traditional and religious events. The most familiar of these are the “Feria Patronal”, a September feast in honour of the Archangel Michael and the traditional “Danza de las Flores”, the dance of flowers. Other special attractions include La Cerra Ecological Park and Golf Course Mayan Gulf.

10. El Mirador

El Mirador

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Guatemala jungles still hide many treasures. El Mirador, north of Tikal, is a good example. Guatemalans discovered the pre-Columbian Maya settlement El Mirador around 1926, but only from the air. In 1978., they launched an expedition to dig up several ancient architectural structures. And that was amply rewarded. No one could have guessed how impressive this place was. From that time, a number of ancient pyramids, temples and other historic structures were excavated. It is very remote, and that prevented it from becoming a major tourist centre. However, it is popular with the extreme adventurers.

Sanya Dushku

Avid scuba diver, wildlife conservationist and cyclist. Mother of two, happily married.

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