There are a lot of cool things to do in Guatemala, which is located in Central America, bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and the Pacific Ocean. Guatemala is known to be one of the major strongholds of the ancient Mayan civilization and after the Spanish invasion in the 16th century; the region became a part of New Spain, which we know today as Mexico.
Most times during the 19th and the 20th centuries, Guatemala suffered from political unrest, a civil war and rebellions against the dictator. However, today the situations have become much better and have shown rapid economic and infrastructural growth in the recently years.
Being located in Central America, Guatemala enjoys a tropical to temperate climate with warm summers, cool winters and plenty of rainfall. The country is also home to several natural and man-made wonders and is home to several arts, music and cuisine. If you’re planning a visit to Guatemala, here are some of the most interesting things you can do.
Things to do in Guatemala
1. Colonial Antigua
Also a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua is also the capital city of Guatemala. The region is famous for its Spanish colonial architecture and its name literally means ancient Guatemala which was one of the strongholds of the Mayan population before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
Today, the city remains as one of the major cities in Guatemala and is known for its lavish religious celebrations especially during the lent period before Good Friday and Easter (Semana Santa). Tourists can enjoy several local cuisines, art and architecture which have been well preserved from the Spanish colonial era.
2. Ancient Mayan Ruins at Tikal
Known famously for its ruins of several ancient Mayan structures, Tikal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located towards the northern end of Guatemala. Ruins and inscriptions dating from 700-400 BC can be found here along with the monolithic pyramidal structures that is a signature of the Mayan architecture.
The site is home to several ancient causeways and acropolis located in the heart of a tropical rainforest which accentuates the scenic beauty of the ruins. Plaza of the 7 temples, Mundo Perdido, Twin pyramid complex, lost world pyramid and several other temples and plazas together form the group of monuments at Tikal.
3. Semuc Champey
If you want to experience the wildlife and natural wonders of Guatemala then Semuc Champey should be the perfect choice for you. The spot is located near the ancient Mayan town of Lanquin in the heart of the country.
After a hike through the tropical forests of Guatemala, one can reach the Semuc Champey national park and is mostly located around the shores of the turquoise Cahabon River. The jungle paradise is one of the most picturesque places you will visit in the country with several brooks and waterfalls and limestone pools with a 300 meters long limestone bridge.
Livingston is located in eastern Guatemala at the mouth of the Gulf of Honduras and also serves as a major seaport in the Caribbean Sea. Livingston is a melting pot of cultures and is known for its mix of several ethnicities like Afro-Caribbean, Mayan, Garifuna and Ladino and is also famous as a major tourist town in the country, and visiting it is a must-do when it comes to things to do in Guatemala..
Calle Prinicpal is one of the major streets in Livingston with most of the commercial establishments like hotels, shops, restaurants and bars located in this region. The city is also famous among the tourists due to its several beaches on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. You can also visit the Los Siete Altares, a set of 7 natural pools and waterfalls which are located at a short distance of 5 kilometers from the city.
5. Parque Central Quetzaltenango
Quetzaltenango is also known as the largest city in Guatemala and is known more famously by its name, Xela. This one of the most happening tourist cities in Guatemala and is surrounded by several volcanoes, parks, hot springs, valleys and waterfalls. The region is also known for its aromatic coffee which is exported to most major countries in the world.
As the name suggests the Parque Central Quetzaltenango is located in the center of the city and is essentially the epicenter of the city’s culture. It contains a city center, a museum and a municipal palace which is exemplary of the Spanish colonial architecture.
6. Volcan Pacaya
Seeing one of the most active volcanoes in the country, is one of the coolest things to do in Guatemala. The Volcan Pacaya is known for its frequent eruptions and is visible from the main city of Guatemala. Despite of the eruptions and events, the volcano remains as one of the most climbed volcanoes in the country.
If you ever want to enjoy marshmallows baked on a volcano, then Volcan Pacaya is the place for you. There are two trails leading to the volcano, with one being relatively easier than the other and is best for novice hikers. The 1st trail is well maintained with restrooms and rest stops at strategic locations.
Located on an island, Flores is connected to the Guatemalan mainland via a causeway. The island lies in the northern region of Guatemala in the center of the Lago Petén Itza. The ruins of Tikal are also located just an hour of bus journey from Flores which is itself one of the major attractions in Guatemala.
Visiting the city is one of the best things to do in Guatemala. It was built during the Colonial era and has been well preserved ever since. It has now become a major tourist town in Guatemala with several shopping districts, restaurants, bars and is also famous for its textiles and woodworks.
8. Chichicastenango Market
Also known as Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, the city is located in the south-eastern region of Guatemala, and is known for its vast markets which open on Thursdays and Sundays. The city itself is located amidst mountains and hills at an elevation of 1,965 meters above sea level and enjoys a mildly warm Caribbean climate.
The markets held here on Sundays and Thursdays are one of the major tourist attractions in the city where vendors sell items like food, vegetables, flowers, pottery, handicrafts, wooden items, medicinal herbs, spices and condiments, machetes, meat and decorative items like candles and pottery.
Despite of the civic unrest for the past centuries, Guatemala now enjoys a relative peace and is a rapidly growing economy. Due to the Spanish influence and colonial era, Guatemala has several places that display a brilliant mix of the Mayan and the Hispanic culture. Make sure you visit these 8 places to get the best experience from the Central American country. You will be glad to experience all the things to do in Guatemala!
Rohit Agarwal is an architect by profession and thus loves to visit places which contain some of the best historical monuments with a distinctive architectural style. He also likes to experience the various cultures of the world and also writes for Trans India Travels. Which is a great place to gather tourist information about the places in India.