Guatemala is a magical place. If you’re into the Maya, the mountains, the markets or a million other things, you’re bound to be captivated. People come and they stay. Or they leave and return. There's almost too much going on here, and even the shortest trip takes you completely different places, with new challenges and surprises. Students of Spanish flock to Antigua, a gorgeous town nestled between three volcanoes, while those travelers seeking more off-the-beaten-track destinations might head to lesser known places like Lago de Izabal or Nebaj, a Maya village hidden in a remote fold of the Cuchumatanes mountains. And sooner or later, just about everyone ends up in the Highlands – Lago de Atitlán being an irresistable drawcard...
Guatemala's Maya heritage is everywhere. El Petén's remote archaeological sites are unmissable; the fascinating town of Chichicastenango adheres to pre-Hispanic beliefs and rituals even now. Santa Lucía Cotzumalguapa, on the other hand, provides a glimpse into the mysterious Pipil culture, with some interesting carved stone heads and relief scenes to be found in fields and fincas (plantations) around town.
Sure, Guatemala’s got its problems (most visible in its sprawling capital, Guatemala City), but it isn’t the scary place your mother fears it is. Travel here, once dangerous and uncomfortable, is now characterized by ease – you can do pretty much whatever you want, and will only be limited by your imagination.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
- Follow the volcanoes from Antigua all the way to Costa Rica
- Explore the best of Guatemala and Mexico in 13 days
- Search for paradise on a Mayan Encounter
- Discover the highlights of Guatemala on an 8-day tour
Last updated: Jan 17, 2013
Tips & articles
18 October 2011
In this excerpt from the November 2011 issue of Lonely Planet Magazine, our travel editors advise a reader where to...
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