Panorama of Guatemala
Our Suggested Itinerary to Discover Guatemala in 16 Days
Discover the colors and nature of Guatemala and it’s people! This 16-day tour will give you a great overview of the country. Expore the unmissable sites such as the colonial city of Antigua, Lake Atitlan and the Petén region with its archaeological sites. Visit the city of Quetzaltenango and it’s small surrounding villages in the highlands of Guatemala. Then, take in the Caribbean vibes in the coastal city of Livingston, capital of the Afro Carib Garifuna culture. A trip to Copan, Honduras completes this complete panorama of Guatemala!
Length of stay: 16 days
Kind: Must-See Guatemala
Fix: For all public
Countries visited: Guatemala, Honduras
- Day 1 : Guatemala City
- Day 2 : Antigua
- Day 3 : Antigua
- Day 4 : Antigua
- Day 5 : Panajachel
- Day 6 : Panajachel
- Day 7 : Quetzaltenango
- Day 8 : Quetzaltenango
- Day 9 : Guatemala City
- Day 10 : Coban
- Day 11 : Flores
- Day 12 : Flores
- Day 13 : Livingston
- Day 14 : Livingston
- Day 15 : Copan
- Day 16 : Guatemala City
Your customized trip
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Day 1 : Guatemala City
Bienvenidos a Guatemala!
Arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, meet your driver and transfer to Antigua. Overnight stay at the hotel Meson María.
Day 2 : Antigua
Surrounded by 3 majestic volcanoes, this ancient capital of Central America has suffered many natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions… Yet, Antigua remains one of the most beautiful cities in Guatemala.
The city is home to more than thirty monasteries, convents and a grand cathedral in the central square. The cobblestone streets adjoin the colorful patios of the colonial houses. Stroll along the arcades of Parque Central, admiring the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango in the distance.
Note : walking visit of the city (no vehicle required).
Overnight stay at the hotel Meson María.
Day 3 : Antigua
Option included: English speaking local guide (mandatory).
Climb the Pacaya Volcano:
This morning, depart early for Pacaya Volcano, one of 3 active volcanoes in Guatemala. After a 1 hour and 30 minute drive, begin the ascent (3 hours hiking, 400 meters of altitude difference). The hike is accessible to all and offers beautiful views of the valley and the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. At the base of the cone, observe the crater and fumaroles escaping. Lava flows can be seen when the volcano is active. Descend the giant and return to Antigua around 1PM. Free afternoon to explore Antigua.
Note: Good physical condition is recommended! There is the possible to do this activity on horseback. Option included : Entrance fees to volcan Pacaya. Option included: English speaking local community guide (mandatory for your climb).
Overnight stay at the hotel Meson María.
Day 4 : Antigua
Depart for the Mayan site of Iximché, the capital city of the Mayas Kaqchikel who allied themselves with the Spanish settlers against the Maya Quiché. The conquistadors established the first Spanish city of the country, but the Kaqchikels revolted and burned the city in 1562. The site is sometimes the place of Mayan rituals practiced by shamans and locals alike!
Emblematic Lake Atitlan:
Continue on to Lake Atitlan, a true symbol of Guatemala. This beautiful lake is nestled between 3 volcanoes at 1,600 meters above sea level–the panoramic views are magnificent! There are many small villages that sit on shores of the lake, often only accessible by boat. Here, they celebrate local festivals and host markets rooted in tradition.
Arrive in Panajachel at the end of the day. Overnight stay at the hotel Dos Mundos Panajachel.
Day 5 : Panajachel
Boat Trip to Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan
In the morning, hop on a boat and discover the Tzutuhil villages of Lake Atitlan. The Tzutuhil are one of the 21 Mayan peoples of Guatemala. They are present in only a handful of villages located southwest of Lake Atitlan. Visit Santiago Atitlan where you’ll discover a curious syncretic cult: Maximón, the cigarette smoking God of Guatemala is feared as much as he is idolized. Somewhere between good and bad, the villagers offer Maximón gifts in the form of cigarettes, alcohol or money.
After, discover the small Mayan village of San Juan La Laguna. Here the weavers’ cooperative will open its doors to teach you about the techniques of natural coloring and traditional weaving. Appreciate the naive paintings that represent scenes of daily life in the region.
Return to Panajachel and spend the rest of your afternoon free to explore the small town.
Option included: English speaking local guide for the day.
Overnight stay at the hotel Dos Mundos Panajachel.
Day 6 : Panajachel
Market day in Chichicastenango:
Today travel to Chichicastenango to explore it’s famous market (Thursday and Sunday). The Kaqchikel Indians descend from surrounding villages twice a week to sell their handicrafts here. The city is transformed into a real kaleidoscope of colors and smells! The women wear the traditional huipil, representing the seasons of the Mayan calendar. In the center of the village, shamans purify the stairs of the church with incense and partake in Mayan rituals.
Transfer to Quetzaltenango , the main city of the Guatemalan highlands. Spend the afternoon discovering this charming city.
Overnight stay at Hotel Modelo.
Day 7 : Quetzaltenango
Market Delights in San Francisco el Alto:
The city of San Francisco el Alto is transformed on Fridays when it hosts one of the biggest markets in all of Guatemala. This traditional market is perfect for visitors looking for a souvenir or two! You’ll find it all: a livestock fair, fruit and vegetable stands and clothes and various utensils that extend as far as the eye can see.
Next stop at the village of San Andres Xecul, known for it’s colorful church. Here, witness Catholic symbols which mingle with indigenous ones in an explosive mix.
Meet Don Andres, who has been a weaver since the age of 15 , and visit his workshop to learn the art of using a loom.
Travel back to Quetzaltenango, nicknamed “Xela “by the Guatemalans. Overnight stay at the Hotel Modelo.
Day 8 : Quetzaltenango
At 2,300 meters above sea level, the surroundings of Quetzaltenango is inhabited largely by Mayan indigenous populations.
Visit Almolonga, it’s church and local market. Take a relaxing break at Fuentes Georginas. Cross fields cultivated on the foothills of the Zunil volcano, whose activity heats the local springs. Stop for a swim in this beautiful setting!
Transfer to Guatemala City in the afternoon (approximately 5 hours). Overnight stay at the Hotel Stofella.
Day 9 : Guatemala City
The Verapaces Highlands
Today, depart for the region of Alta Verapaz whose mountainous landscapes are covered with mist, waterfalls and lush forests.
Visit a coffee cooperative made up of small producers of the Q’eqchi ethnic group in the highlands of Cobán. A community member accompanies visitors to the plantation, explaining the history of coffee in Guatemala, the processes of production and roasting.
Continue on to Cobán, capital of Alta Verapaz located at 1,300 meters above sea level. The name of the city comes from the Indian Quek’chi, meaning “between the clouds”.
Option included: Entry fees
Overnight stay at the hotel Casa Duranta.
Day 10 : Coban
Mayan Underworld in the Candelaria Caves
Head north of Alta Verapaz to explore the Caves of Candelaria.
The main gallery is nearly 22 kilometers long and 60 kilometers of additional networks have been added, making up one of the largest underground cave networks in Latin America! Discover a part of the network that the Mayas regarded as an entrance to the underworld of Xibalba (approximately 1.5 hours)!
In the afternoon, continue to Flores in the heart of Petén region.
Option included: Entry fees and excursion to Candelaria Caves. Overnight stay at the Hotel Maya Internacional.
Day 11 : Flores
Tikal: Jewel of the Mayan world
Day dedicated to the exploration of the impressive city of Tikal, built in the 4th century BC. The impressive Mayan city reached its peak between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD.
Some 3,000 structures rise from the rain forest in a mystical atmosphere. The temple of The Great Jaguar faces the Temple of the Masks on the great square, the heart center of the city. At 65 meters high, the Snake Temple was the highest building in the new world until the 19th century.
Nature is not to be outdone, engulfing the traveler who enters the reserve. Watch for spider monkeys, pheasants, coatis, toucans and other multicolored parrots. The cries of howler monkeys can be heard for miles around. Smells of lianas and roots surprise the traveler.
In 2017, new research techniques discovered uncovered temples still buried in the jungle. Tikal has not yet finished revealing all its mysteries…
Transfer to Flores on the peninsula of Lake Peten Itza.
Option included: English speaking local guide in Tikal.
Overnight stay at the hotel Maya Internacional.
Day 12 : Flores
Departure for Yaxha, which means “green water” in the Mayan language. The site is located on the shores of Lake Yaxha, which was used to supply the Maya population with fresh water. We walk on the trails of this immense and uncrowded site.
Don’t miss the sunset from from the Temple of las Manos Roja
Then travel approximately 4 hours to Rio Dulce. Here, start to feel the Caribbean vibes! Overnight stay at Hotel Banana Palms.
Day 13 : Livingston
Relaxing boat ride down the Río Dulce (private boat). Cross canyon and stop to swim in the hot springs. Reach the village of Livingston by boat. A large part of the of the population is of Garifuna, descended from the Black Caribs. The contrast with the rest of the country is striking!
Overnight stay at Hotel Villa Caribe.
Day 14 : Livingston
Mayan Stories at Quirigua
This morning board a boat for Puerto Barrios (40 minute sail) and then continue on to the ruins of Quirigua, an archaeological site in the valley of Motagua. Quirigua was an important and respected city during the Mayan Classic period (200 – 900 AD). The site is particularly famous for the beauty of its steles, the highest reaching 10.70 meters high and 65 tons!
After, travel to Copán, Honduras (approximately 3 hours) where you’ll spend the night. Option included: private boat from Livingston to Puerto Barrios. Overnight stay at the hotel Terramaya boutique.
Day 15 : Copan
Mayan Wonders in Copán, Honduras
In the morning, discover the archaeological site of Copán, close to the border with Guatemala. The city was an important cultural and scientific influence at its peak in the 7th century. IIt’s baroque style, sculptures and finely ornamented steles make it one of the most spectacular Mayan cities. You may also enjoy bird watching on site.
Transfer to Guatemala City (4 hours 30 minutes).
Option included: English speaking local guide in Copan. Overnight stay at the Hotel Stofella.