Must-see attractions in Central America

  • Taller Dario López

    Península de Azuero

    One of Panama's top artisans, Dario López has been making colorful masks for folkloric dancers since the 1960s. These days most of his masks and satin…

  • Museo de Chocolate


    Granada's new chocolate museum is excellent if you're traveling with children: the 'beans to bar' chocolate workshop, where participants learn to roast…

  • Galería de Héroes y Mártires


    Be sure to stop by this moving gallery devoted to fallen revolutionaries, with displays of faded photos, clothes and weaponry. Check out the exhibit (with…

  • Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

    Quepos to Uvita

    Around 1.5km east and uphill from Dominical, this wildlife sanctuary takes in injured and orphaned animals as well as illegal pets. Its mission is to…

  • Centro Arte para la Paz

    El Salvador

    Opened in 2000 as a charitable initiative to support victims of domestic violence, the Centro Arte para la Paz now organizes a range of cultural…

  • Jardín Botánico La Laguna

    San Salvador

    Moss-covered bridges, pebbled paths, small waterfalls and ponds home to croaking frogs, turtles and feeding fish provide the perfect antidote to city…

  • Casa Museo Comandante Carlos Fonseca


    Commander Carlos Fonseca, the Sandinista equivalent of Malcolm X (read: bespectacled, goateed, intense, highly charismatic), grew up desperately poor in…

  • La Galería


    Overflowing with art by Guatemalan painters and sculptors, this gallery functions as both an exhibit space and cultural center, hosting lectures, films…

  • La Semilla de Dios

    El Salvador

    Local cooperative La Semilla de Dios, founded in 1977 by Fernando Llort, crafts quality products in workshops behind the store. If you ask permission you…

  • Belize City, Belize, Belize, Central America

    Swing Bridge

    Belize City

    This heart and soul of Belize City life, crossed by just about everyone here just about every day, is said to be the only remaining manually operated…

  • Corozal House of Culture

    Northern Belize

    Built in 1886, this fine old Spanish Colonial building once housed a bustling market beside the old customs house. It was one of only 11 buildings spared…

  • Waiku Centro de Arte

    Caribbean Coast

    This excellent social project is run by two English-speaking activists, Greta and Yesi, whose small arts center displays painting, handicrafts, clothing…

  • Ruins of an ancient maya pyramid (La Danta) deep in the Guatamalan jungle. Trees growing on the structure. Shot in El Mirador national park in Northern Guatemala. ; Shutterstock ID 1711358266; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    El Mirador

    El Petén

    Buried within the furthest reaches of the Petén jungle, just 7km south of the Mexican border, the Late Preclassic metropolis at El Mirador contains one of…

  • Sunset from top of Temple 216 at Yaxha site.


    El Petén

    The Classic Maya sites of Yaxhá, Nakum and El Naranjo form a triangle that is the basis for a national park covering more than 37,000 hectares and…

  • Panama City, Panama - march 2018: Ship crossing the Panama Canal, Miraflores Locks, Panama City; Shutterstock ID 1055607245; Your name (First / Last): Alicia Johnson; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial ; Full Product or Project name including edition: Panama

    Miraflores Visitors Center

    Panama Canal

    The easiest way to visit the Panama Canal is to head to the Miraflores Visitors Center, just outside Panama City. This modern center features a four-floor…

  • Lamanai Mayan ruins.


    Northern Belize

    Perhaps the most fascinating Maya site in Northern Belize, Lamanai lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town up the New River (or 36 miles by unpaved road)…

  • Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

    El Petén

    A scientific research center within the Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre, Scarlet Macaw Biological Station offers wildlife-watching/archaeology tours and…

  • A howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) is seen in Barro Colorodo island, in the artificial Gatun Lake of the Panama Canal on November 23, 2015. The island was declared a nature reserve on April 17, 1923 by the U.S. government. It was initially administered by the Panama Canal Company, and since 1946 it has been administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, forming the Barro Colorado Nature Monument together with five adjacent peninsulas. AFP PHOTO / Rodrigo ARANGUA / AFP / RODRIGO ARANGUA        (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

    Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden

    Bocas del Toro Town

    One of the joys of visiting Bocas is touring the 'Monkey Farm' botanical garden a couple of kilometers northwest of the center. Painstakingly carved out…

  • Mangrove swamp at Coiba National Park. Coiba Island, Veraguas province, Pacific ocean, Panama, Central America.; Shutterstock ID 112236317; Your name (First / Last): Alicia Johnson; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial ; Full Product or Project name including edition: Panama

    Parque Nacional Coiba

    Veraguas Province

    This national marine park contains Panama's largest island, the 503-sq-km Isla de Coiba, as well as astounding biodiversity; more than two dozen species…

  • Templo I


    Templo I, the Templo del Gran Jaguar (Temple of the Grand Jaguar), was built to honor – and bury – Ah Cacao. The king may have worked out the plans for…

  • Iglesia de Santo Tomás


    This church on the plaza's east side dates from 1540 and is often the scene of rituals that are more distinctly Maya than Catholic. Inside, the floor of…

  • Templo IV


    Templo IV, at 65m, is the highest building at Tikal and the second-highest pre-Columbian building known in the western hemisphere, after La Danta at El…

  • Tikal

    El Petén

    The most striking feature of Tikal is its towering, steep-sided temples, rising to heights of more than 44m, but what distinguishes it is its jungle…

  • Crater Azul

    El Petén

    This stunning spring-fed tributary lies just a 90-minute boat ride from Sayaxché, during which you pass birdlife and a mix of farms, fields and forests…

  • El Mirador

    Western Highlands

    This viewpoint is 4km uphill from Chiantla. It's worth the steep climb on switchback roads for the absolutely stupendous views. On a clear day you can…

  • Playa Santa Teresa

    Mal País & Santa Teresa

    Playa Santa Teresa is a long, stunning beach that's famous for its fast and powerful beach break. The waves are pretty consistent and can be surfed at…

  • East Acropolis & Structure 216

    El Petén

    Near the site entrance is the high point of Yaxhá (literally): Structure 216 in the East Acropolis. Also called the Temple of the Red Hands, because red…

  • Panama Viejo Ruins, Panama City

    Panamá Viejo

    Panama City

    Founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Ávila, the city of Panamá was the first European settlement along the Pacific. For 150…

  • Templo Maya el Ceibal Peten, Guatemala; Shutterstock ID 1029397006; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update


    El Petén

    With its strategic position on the west bank of the Río de la Pasión, the independent kingdom of Ceibal amassed considerable power controlling commerce…

  • Quiche Mayan capital burned by Pedro de Alvarado in 1524. Major unexcavated Mayan archeological site.
The ruins of the ancient K'iche' Maya capital of K'umarcaaj



    The ruins of the ancient K'iche' Maya capital of K'umarcaaj remain a sacred site for the Maya, and contemporary rituals are customarily enacted here…

  • Toucan bird

    Panama Rainforest Discovery Center

    Panamá Province

    Geared toward ecotourism and environmental education, this is an excellent facility for birdwatchers and nature-lovers. Since you are probably here to…

  • Black-bellied whistling ducks at Palo Verde National Park.

    Parque Nacional Palo Verde

    Northwestern Costa Rica

    At the head of the Golfo de Nicoya, the 198 sq km Parque Nacional Palo Verde is a wetland sanctuary in Costa Rica’s driest province. The park’s shallow,…

  • Honor guards at National Palace, Guatemala City, Guatemala

    Palacio Nacional de la Cultura

    Guatemala City

    On the north side of Parque Central is this imposing presidential palace, which was built between 1936 and 1943 during the dictatorial rule of General…

  • Zaculeu, old capital of the Mam people, Guatemala, Central America


    Western Highlands

    A remnant of the Mam capital, the Zaculeu archaeological zone was 'restored' by the United Fruit Company in the 1940s, leaving its pyramids, ball courts…

  • Reserva Biológica Indio-Maíz

    The Río San Juan & Islas Solentiname

    The second-largest tract of intact primary forest in the country, the Reserva Biológica Indio-Maíz is a vast wilderness and a hugely important rainforest…

  • Aerial overlooking two vessels during manoeuvres in Gatun Locks, Panama Canal.

    Gatún Locks

    Colón Province

    The impressive Gatún Locks, 10km south of Colón, raise southbound ships 30m from Caribbean waters to Lago Gatún. Just the size of them is mind-boggling:…

  • Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

    Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

    The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is Belize’s most famous sanctuary and one of its biggest protected areas. This great swath of tropical forest…

More destinations you need to see