Are you planning to travel to Central America? Include Guatemala in your travel plans! It is amazing! This Guatemala itinerary takes you to the top spots in this fascinating country. Before you go, read this list of 10 things you should know about Guatemala.

But beware, you might fall in love with its nature, people and cool backpacking hubs, just like we did! 

Check out our Guatemala backpacking guide for more profound info and to make the most out of your time there.

Do you like to travel in the comfort of a group with an experienced guide? Check out the Guatemala Experience.

Some of our posts contain affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through one of these links, we get a small commission on the sale. You will never pay extra for an affiliate product. Thanks for your support!

Flores – The gateway to the Mayan world


Photo by Michiel Ton on Unsplash

After crossing the border from Belize into Guatemala our first stop is popular backpacking hub Flores. The most charming part of town is located on a small island on Lake Peten Itza.

It is a cute little place where you can enjoy the backpacker vibe. Walk around town and take in the stunning views. Don’t forget to try out Jorge’s rope swing as we did!

Flores is also called the gateway to the Mayan world. From Flores, it is easy to explore ancient Mayan ruins like Tikal, Uaxactun, and Yahxa.

It can get pretty crowded in Flores as it is so tiny and a lot of people want to visit it.

Travel Scam - The day we believed we had scabies
Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Image Courtesy HostelWorld

Best Hostel in Flores

Hostel Peten Express Tikal


Awesome lake views

Swimming pool

El Remate

The last time we visited El Remate was on our first backpacking adventure in Guatemala. It was in 2012.

In my memory, El Remate was nothing more than a deserted dirt road with a restaurant and a couple of houses. We arrived there in the pouring rain, discovering that our raincoats did a very lousy job at keeping us dry.

After crowded Flores, we enjoyed the peace and quiet of El Remate a lot.

We wnt to the Ruins of Yaxha at sundown and that is most definitely the right time to go!!

El Remate is getting more popular and so there are some more activities than in 2012. Some of the offered activities include zip-lining and kayaking.

Best Lodging in El Remate

La Casa de Don David


Beautiful Garden

Great location

Poptun – Finca Ixobel

Semuc Champey Guatemala and Semuc Champey Caves

Photo by OOT


Photo by OOT


Photo by OOT

We really enjoyed the more rural life in El Remate. That’s why we made Finca Ixobel in Poptun our next stop.

Finca Ixobel had everything we were looking for! It is located in the middle of nature. If you like to swim in a natural pond and enjoy a good hike then this is the place for you! You can even go horseback riding here.

We felt so at home at the Finca that we eventually stayed for more than 2 weeks. They have their own bakery and make fresh homemade meals every day!

We’ve met some pretty cool people staying here and even had the opportunity to fly over the area in a Cessna plane for free! Lucky bastards! 🙂

Poptun itself for us was less attractive than the Finca. We only went there to do a little basic shopping and made a fun day out of it.

Guatemala Backpacking - Swim in Crater Lakes and Explore Ancient Mayan Ruins
Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Best lodging in Poptun

Finca Ixobel


Great Backpacker Vibe

Awesome Domain

Rio Dulce – Livingston


Photo by OOT

Where the Rio Dulce flows into the Gulf of Honduras you can find Livingston, a laid-back town with a reggae vibe. An excellent town to savor the Caribbean side of Guatemala.

We visited it as a day trip from our cool riverside hostel Finca Tatin. but you can also spend the night in Livingston.

For us, the boat trip from Finca Tatin to Livingston was maybe even better than Livingston itself. The views of wildlife and nature are simply amazing!

The hostel is located in the middle of the jungle, only reachable by boat. We are both afraid of spiders but we (tried to) put that fear aside and enjoy our stay in the jungle. If your up for it you can take a jungle tour at night to spot some of the wildlife.

Want to know more about this part of the trip? Take a look at this article about Rio Dulce and Livingston.

Rio Dulce Guatemala - Lake Izabal to Livingston

Best River lodging in Rio Dulce

Finca Tatin


Great Backpacker Vibe

Awesome Domain

Semuc Champey – Lanquin


A very bumpy and long ride took us to Lanquin. The place to be if you want to visit the natural wonder Semuc Champey!

Our hostel was El Retiro Lodge and we loved our stay there! Situated next to the river Cahabon, these lodges are the perfect place to relax. We had a really fun day tubing the river whilst enjoying some beers.

There is a restaurant on site. You don’t have the opportunity to go shopping or anything else here. There is only nature surrounding you!

So make sure to bring some cash to pay for your stay, day trips, and food.

The hostel (just like any other hostel in Lanquin) organized a day trip to the natural pools of Semuc Champey. Don’t miss out on all the swimming fun and make sure to go on the cave tour.

8 Best Semuc Champey Hostels - Where to stay in Semuc Champey

Our Lodge in Lanquin

El Retiro Lodge


Great Backpacker Vibe

Fun Activities and tours


Top Things to do in Antigua Guatemala - Only Once Today

Photo by OOT

Antigua is the capital for backpackers in Guatemala. From time to time you see more backpackers than locals wandering the streets of this very charismatic city. In spite of this, we lost our hearts to Antigua and returned multiple times over the years.

Antigua is the perfect hub to explore more of the beauty that Guatemala has to offer.

Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Image Courtesy HostelWorld

Backpacker Hostel in Antigua

Matiox Hostel


Backpacker Vibe

Kitchen – Activities

Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Image Courtesy HostelWorld

Boutique Hostel in Antigua

Maya Papaya


Beautiful Hostel

On-Site Restaurant

Places to visit using Antigua as a hub


Photo by OOT

Lago Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular places to visit in Guatemala. It has such a magical vibe that we visited it a couple of times and even decided to rent a studio there for a couple of months. Find out more about the different towns surrounding Lake Atitlan.

Lesbian travel and being gay in Guatemala
Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Awesome Atitlan Lodging

Pasaj Cap


Best views on the lake

Quiet and beautiful


Photo by OOT


 The market of Chichicastenango is a must-do if you plan on taking or sending home some truly awesome Guatemalan travel gifts! It is the place to be to get fabrics, masks, belts, bracelets, paintings and much more. A day trip can be arranged from almost everywhere in Antigua.


Mingle with locals and other travelers alike in this interesting Guatemalan city. A great place to shape up your Spanish or hike up a volcano.

Quetzaltenango has plenty of restaurants and cute little cafes where you can chill. There is a big local farmers market with fresh meat, veggies, fruits, etc.

On colder days I can recommend a swim in the hot springs Fuentes Georginas. Hitchhiking there and back is half the fun of the trip!

Hostels aren’t that luxurious as in Antigua, but you can find a decent bed at a good price. Most hostels in Quetzaltenango also operate as a travel agency so you can book a lot of different tours via the hostel.  As well as transportation to your next destination.

Best Things to do in Antigua - Colonial Backpacker Capital of Guatemala
Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Image Courtesy HostelWorld

Best Hostel in Quetzaltenango

Casa Seibel


Backpacker Vibe

Kitchen – Quiet hostel

Monterrico and El Paredon

Monterrico and El Paredon are the only places on this list that we didn’t visit ourselves. But I include these beach town on the Pacific side to make this Guatemala travel itinerary a little more diverse.

Maybe this isn’t the best place to go swimming because of the strong undertow, but if you are lucky you can see baby turtles hatching here.

Monterrico also has mangroves where you can go wildlife spotting.

El Paredon has more of a backpacker vibe and backpacker hostels.

Best Lodging in Monterrico

La Palma B&B


Swimming Pool

Awesome food!

Mezcal Hostel Cancun - Best Hostel Cancun Centro

Image Courtesy HostelWorld

Best Hostel in El Paredon

The Driftwood Surfer


Swimming Pool – Beach

Backpacker Vibe

We’ve traveled a couple of times to Guatemala and we will probably go back there again. There is just so much to see. We’ve had a great time discovering this country and we wish the same for you!

I hope you like this Guatemala itinerary, and that it can be of help planning your trip.

Not convinced yet?

Here are 10 Reasons why Guatemala should be in your Central America itinerary.

Let us know if you think there is anything we should add to this Guatemala itinerary and happy travels!

Guatemala itinerary - Best Nature and cool Backpacking hubs
10 Things you should know before visiting Guatemala

Dit artikel is ook beschikbaar in het: Nederlands (Dutch)