Guatemala is a country full of culture, natural beauty and adventure around every corner. There are a lot of cool places to visit in Guatemala that adding this country to the top of your travel bucket list wouldn’t be a bad idea.

What to see in Guatemala? Guatemala is such an underrated travel destination. There’s many reasons to love this country – the food, the volcanos, the culture, the natural wonders and the ancient ruins. I could go on but you get the idea.

In this article, I’ll go over all the top places to see in Guatemala and at the end of the post, I’ll add any necessary tips that will aid you in your travels to beautiful Guatemala.

Cool Places to Visit in Guatemala

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With so many amazing destinations to travel to in the world, you may be wondering, is Guatemala worth visiting? And the answer is absolutely, Guatemala is worth visiting for a variety of reasons.

The country offers a diverse range of experiences, blending natural beauty, culture and history all into one. I spent just under 2 months here and still had so much more exploring to do. Here are a few of the compelling reasons to consider going to Guatemala.

  • 🐒 Mayan Ruins: Guatemala is home to some of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the world.
  • 💦 Natural Beauty: From the stunning Lake Atitlán, to the diverse landscapes of Semuc Champey, Guatemala boasts a wide array of natural wonders.
  • ⛪️ Colonial Cities: Antigua, Guatemala is the best example.
  • 🧶 Cultural Diversity: Experience traditional Mayan customs, colorful textiles, and unique handcrafts.
  • 🌋 Adventure Opportunities: Can we say sleeping atop a volcano to watch an active volcano erupt through the night?
  • 🙂 Friendly Locals
  • 💰 It’s affordable! Guatemala tends to be more budget-friendly compared to some other Central American destinations.
  • 🫔 The food! Local cuisine is diverse and flavorful, influenced by Mayan and Spanish cultures.
Colorful Door in Flores Guatemala
Beautiful building in Antigua Guatemala

Best Places to Visit in Guatemala Quick List

Below I have listed the best places to visit in Guatemala for easy viewing. If you would like more information about a specific place in Guatemala, click on the blue links below for more details.

  1. Antigua
  2. Volcán Fuego
  3. Tikal Ruins
  4. Semuc Champey
  5. Chichicastenango Market
  6. Volcán Tajumulco
  7. Lake Atitlan
  8. El Paredon
  9. Livingston
  10. Rio Dulce
  11. El Mirador Ruins
  12. Pacaya Volcano
  13. Lake Peten Itza
  14. San Marcos
  15. Guatemala City

15 Cool Places to Visit in Guatemala

Places to Visit in Guatemala copy
Santa Catalina arch the most popular thing to see in antigua

Antigua

I couldn’t make a best places to visit in Guatemala post without starting off the list with Antigua. Antigua is the most popular, most loved and best cities in Guatemala.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture. Cobblestone streets lead to charming colonial buildings, vibrant markets, and the iconic Santa Catalina Arch.

Beyond its architectural splendors, this charming colonial town is a gateway to outdoor adventures, with opportunities to explore nearby coffee plantations, hike to panoramic viewpoints, or visit the ancient Mayan ruins of the surrounding highlands.

With its timeless allure, Antigua invites travelers to wander through history, savor the flavors of local cuisine, and create memories that will last forever. Check out the guides below to help plan your trip to Antigua.

Fuego Volcano Erupting at Night

Fuego Volcano

The hottest place to see in Guatemala is Fuego Volcano. Volcan Fuego is one of Guatemala’s most active and predictable volcanos, with live eruptions happening about every half hour.

The best way to witness Fuego in all of its glory is by embarking on an overnight trek to hike Acatenango, which you’ll be rewarded with a front row seat the raw forces of nature up close and all night long.

The trek to the summit of Acatenango is challenging, marked by steep ascents through diverse landscapes. This is one of the best things to do in Guatemala and being prepared will dramatically increase the enjoyment level of this journey.

Book a Tour →

Best Places to Visit in Guatemala is Tikal
Tikal National Park

Tikal Ruins

The Tikal Ruins is one of the most famous places in Guatemala. This archaeological marvel takes you back in time to the heart of ancient Mayan culture.

Located in the northern jungles of Petén, Tikal stands as one of the most significant archaeological sites of the ancient Mayan civilization. The towering pyramids and temples rise above the lush canopy, providing a glimpse into Guatemala’s ancient past.

The site is renowned for its wildlife, and the sounds of howler monkeys and exotic birds echo through the ancient ruins. Between the jungle and Indiana Jones vibes, Tikal is one of the coolest places to visit in Guatemala.

Semuc Champay in Guatemala

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is one of the most remote places to visit in Guatemala. Tucked away, deep in the rainforest, this geological marvel consists of a series of terraced limestone pools, each filled with turquoise water.

The natural limestone bridge, invites you to swim in the refreshing waters, hike to panoramic viewpoints, and bask in the tranquility of this remote paradise.

Most travelers visit Semuc Champey in route to Tikal from Guatemala City or Antigua. The journey is long, windy, and bumpy but this natural masterpiece is worth the effort.

💦 Read Full Guide: Semuc Champey Travel Guide

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    Volcán Tajumulco

    Coming in at the tallest place to visit in Guatemala is Volcan Tajumulco. Did you know that the tallest peak in Guatemala is also the tallest peak in Central America?

    Tajumulco Volcano stands at an elevation of 13,845 feet, located in southwestern Guatemala, near the border of Mexico. The gateway town to hiking this impressive volcano is Quetzaltenango, also known as Xela.

    It is possible to hike Volcan Tajumulco independently, but I’d recommend hiring a guide as hikers often choose to camp overnight to be able to watch sunrise from the summit. A guide will help arrange this for you.

    Book a Private Guide →

    A man reading the newspaper at the Chichicastenango Market
    Church of Santo Tomás

    Chichicastenango Market

    The Chichicastenango Market is one of the best places to visit in Guatemala for a taste of indigenous traditions and culture. Every Thursday and Sunday, Chichicastenango often referred to as Chi Chi, hosts one of the most vibrant and largest markets in Central America.

    The market is a kaleidoscope of colors, offering an array of textiles, handicrafts, and local produce. When you visit this place in Guatemala, you can immerse yourself in the culture and witness the spiritual ceremonies take place at the Santo Tomás Church.

    Livingston

    The most isolated place to visit in Guatemala is Livingston. This lively town can be found on the Caribbean coast and can only be accessed by boat.

    The town is nestled at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, surrounded by rainforests and mangrove swamps. As you navigate the waterways to reach Livingston, you’ll pass by wooden houses, lively markets, and the rhythmic beats of Garifuna music.

    The town’s laid back atmosphere invites you to kick back, relax and get your groove on. Don’t leave town without trying the local dish tapado (seafood coconut soup) and experiencing the lively Garifuna drumming and dance.

    This is where to go in Guatemala for an off-the-beaten path adventure. Book a three day tour and experience all that the Caribbean side of Guatemala has to offer.

    Book a Tour →

    I'm Jess Traveling in Lake Atitlan

    Lake Atitlan | Beautiful Guatemala

    Next on our Guatemala places to visit list is Guatemala’s second most visited destination behind Antigua, Lake Atitlán. Get ready for unparalleled natural beauty of the Western Highlands.

    Surrounded by three towering volcanoes – San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán – the beautiful lake is often hailed as one of the most stunning places in the world.

    The shores of Lake Atitlan are dotted with adorable towns, and each lakeside village, such as Panajachel, San Pedro la Laguna, and Santiago Atitlan, has its own unique character.

    Boat rides across the lake provide epic views of volcanoes, while hiking trails lead to elevated viewpoints and panoramic vistas. Lake Atitlan is a must visit destination in Guatemala for healthy retreats, cultural charm, and a beautiful setting.

    🛶 Lake Atitlan Travel Guides:

    Best Things to do on Lake Atitlan

    Best Places to Stay on Lake Atitlan

    Im Jess Traveling in the ocean in El Paredon
    El Paredon one of the best places to visit in Guatemala

    El Paredon

    One of the best places to go in Guatemala for a coastal escape is El Paredon. Located on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala, El Paredon is a charming seaside town and where to go surfing in Guatemala.

    The main reason to visit this sleepy beach town is for the waves, but there are a handful of other things to do in town if surfing isn’t your thing.  Whether you kayak the mangroves, party at a beach front hostel or simply to relax and soak up the sun, the sunsets of El Paredon won’t disappoint.

    Rio Dulce

    Speaking of the waterway that connects Livingston to the rest of the country. The Rio Dulce, meaning “Sweet River,” flows gracefully from Lake Izabal to the Caribbean Sea, carving a stunning route through dense rainforests and limestone cliffs.

    This is not only one of the best places to go in Guatemala but it’s a boat journey to hidden hot springs, old colonial forts along the river banks, and a chance to spot wildlife.

    This riverine adventure unveils a side of Guatemala where nature, history, and local traditions converge along the enchanting waters of the Rio Dulce. Consider a homestay in one of the Mayan villages along the river.

    El Mirador Ruins | Remote Places in Guatemala

    If you have ample time to travel Guatemala and don’t mind putting in the steps, trekking to the remote El Mirador Ruins are a must visit in Guatemala. A journey into the heart of ancient Mayan civilizations, offering a rare archaeological adventure.

    Located deep in the northern Petén jungle, El Mirdor is home to some of the largest and earliest Mayan structures, including the iconic La Danta pyramid.

    The multi-day trek requires an expedition through dense, pristine rainforests, where howler monkeys and exotic birds accompany your journey. The perfect place to visit in Guatemala for the archaeology enthusiasts and adventures spirits alike.

    Hiking Pacaya Volcano a beautiful place in Guatemala
    Horse on Volcan Pacaya

    Pacaya Volcano

    Pacaya Volcano, or Volcán Pacaya, is one of the coolest places to visit in Antigua Guatemala. It’s also one of the most popular places to visit due to its proximity to Antigua and that it can be hiked in a half a day.

    Volcan Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes that surround Antigua. The trail up the volcano eventually turns into lava rock. Don’t forget to bring your marshmallows so you can roast them over the volcano when you reach the lava field.

    Book a Tour →

    🥾 Read the Full Guide:  Hiking Volcán Pacaya

    View of Flores Island from Lake Pete Itza

    Lake Peten Itza

    Lake Petén Itzá is the second largest lake in Guatemala and is a tranquil oasis in the northern Peten region. Flores is the gateway town for exploring Tikal National Park and Flores Island sits within the lake.

    Flores Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and has some of the most colorful buildings in the country. There are many ways to explore the lake, kayaking, a boat tour, jet skis, and even paddle boarding.

    Visit this Guatemala destination for vibrant sunsets, natural beauty, and adventure at your fingertips.

    San Marcos Guatemala a place to visit

    San Marcos

    The most popular town on the shores of Lake Atitlan is San Marcos. This adorable town is a tranquil and spiritual haven, drawing travelers seeking a serene escape.

    Known for its laid-back vibes and stunning lake views, San Marcos has earned a reputation as the “hippie” town of Lake Atitlan. The village is dotted with yoga studios, holistic healing centers, and meditation spaces.

    The town’s narrow pathways lead to charming cafes, artisan shops, and holistic retreats, all framed by the majestic backdrop of the lake surrounded by volcanos. Don’t miss out on this Guatemala place to visit if you are seeking relaxation or self-discovery.

    ☕️ Read Full Guide: San Marcos Travel Guide

    Guatemala City

    Finishing off our 15 cool places to visit in Guatemala list is Guatemala City. If you are traveling to Guatemala, chances are very high that you’ll be passing through the city at one point.

    Guatemala City is the capital and largest city of Guatemala. Known for its culture, historic sites, and modern amenities, Guatemala City will more than likely be your entry and exit point.

    The city’s historic center, Zona 1, features the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace of Culture. Whether you explore the city or fly in and out, Guatemala City provides a gateway to explore all the best places to see in Guatemala.

    Guatemala Travel Tips

    Guatemala Travel Vlogs

    Would you rather see what traveling Guatemala is like? Joe and I spent 7 weeks in Guatemala eating, exploring ancient ruins and hiking volcanos. It was an epic adventure.

    Check them out after you read this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.

    Sunrise atop Acatenango watching Fuego erupt

    Guatemala Tours

    Guatemala is a smaller country and you can cover a lot of ground in a couple weeks, especially if you have someone work out the transportation, accommodations and logistics for you.

    Going on a group tour through Guatemala is a great way to see the highlights, meet a group of alike minded travelers and experience the culture of Guatemala.

    📌  Here are a few great Guatemala Tours to check out:

    Standing in Tikal
    A man carrying a basket of chickens in the Chichi Market

    Guatemala Travel Tips

    • Sunscreen – This is my go to reef safe sunscreen I use daily.
    • Mosquitos are swarming, make sure to apply mosquito spray if you don’t want to get eaten alive.
    • Book your accommodations in advance if you are traveling here during high season.
    • Get an eSIM for your phone to stay connected with a local high-speed data network while you travel.
    • Tap water is not safe to drink in Guatemala (or most Central American countries for that matter).
    • Travel Insurance – It’s very affordable when you consider the alternative.
    Things to do in Antigua Guatemala
    Streets on Antigua Guatemala

    Final Thoughts on these Places to Visit in Guatemala

    Guatemala is a hidden gem, but I have a feeling that it won’t stay hidden much longer. From remote waterfalls tucked away in the rainforest to trekking through the jungle to the tallest pyramid in the world, its safe to say that there are some incredible places to visit in Guatemala.

    Make Guatemala your next vacation destination for the affordability, outdoor adventures, and tasty cuisine. Colonial cities, ancient Mayan ruins, and natural wonders are a few of the many surprises that await you.

    If you found this article useful, let fellow travelers know in the comments below 👇.

     Guatemala Travel Guides ↓

    The Ultimate Guide to Guatemala 

    22 Epic Things to do in Guatemala 

    What to Pack for Guatemala 

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