Guatemala may not be the most popular country in Central America, but that’s what attracted me in the first place. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to visit whole Guatemala. So, we decided to stay in Antigua and in Tikal and visit other places from these destinations.
We landed in Guatemala City and followed the advice from almost every travel blog review we read, to go straight to Antigua and don’t stay in Guatemala City. There is an Antigua shuffle bus right outside the airport, that will go to Antigua as soon as the bus is full. Because we were the only ones going to Antigua, we paid the driver to take us alone to Antigua. We didn’t want to waste any time to explore Guatemala 😉
Antigua is even more beautiful in real life than on the pictures. Colorful colonial buildings, churches, ruins and Guatemalans in traditional clothing characterize this town. Mountains surround Antigua, which ensures a breathtaking view (especially in the morning). This town is rightly included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Even though Antigua looks very colonial from the outside, this town is modern in its own way. There are a few backpackers who started their own businesses here and it shows! Modern restaurants, coffee laces & shops are part of this town, but they’re all located in colonial (restored) buildings. We could have stayed definitely longer than 3 days in this town!
You can visit and book a lot of trips from Antigua to other places, even trips to Belize. We decided to visit Lake Atitlan and hike up the Pacaya Volcano.
This big lake is surrounded by volcanos and villages. We booked a tour where a local guide would take us to three villages: San Pedro, San Marcos, Santa Cruz. Lake Atitlan is one of the nicest views we’ve ever experienced! If I have to describe this lake, it would be: peaceful & calm.
Hiking up a volcano is a popular thing to do in Guatemala. Pacaya Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala, so you can imagine I was a little nervous. I’m not going to lie, the hike up the volcano was hard and steep. In the first 5 minutes, I thought I was never going to make it all the way up. But the view at the top, was 100% worth it. So be prepared for a difficult and steep hike, but one that’s worth it! After enjoying the view and recovering from the hike up, we walked on lava stones and prepared s’mores from the steam coming out of holes.
I always find the The Inca’s and Maya’s fascinating. After seeing the Machu Picchu, I knew I wanted to see more Inca and Maya cities. It’s so fascinating to see how they build these big these cities centuries ago! So, Tikal was next on our list to visit in Guatemala. Tikal is located in the rain forest of Guatemala and is one of the largest cities of the Maya’s that’s discovered.
I would recommend to walk through the park with the guide because you learn so much more about the rain forest, the Maya’s and the constructions/temples you’re seeing.
Ixpanpajul Nature Park
After Tikal, we stayed another day in Flores. Because Flores is a little town and there isn’t that much to do, we decided to visit a Nature Park nearby. We thought it would be a touristy park, because it offers so many services: from hose back riding to zip lining, but we were the only ones in the whole park! The only people we saw were the people who worked in the park. We got lucky! We did the walking route where you pass multiple hanging bridges. This was one of our most memorable moments in Guatemala! Just when we were walking on this high hanging bridge, and I was kind of peeing my pants, we saw and heard howler monkeys in the trees nearby. The complete silence of the jungle combined with a loud roar from the loudest monkeys on earth was unforgettable!