7 fun Guatemala itinerary ideas for every kind of traveler!

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If you are looking for an amazing Guatemala itinerary than you have come to the right place. In this article you find all kinds of trip ideas starting from one week up to one month.

All itineraries have different focus points, include excursion tips and accommodation suggestions, plus a map. We filled in some excursions and tours to give you an idea of what you can do on your trip. Feel free to replace anything you like according to your interests.

As we already discussed extensively in our Guatemala travel guide, Guatemala is a charming country that offers a wide spectrum of interesting places to visit and a lot of fun things to do!

But which route are you going to follow on your Guatemala trip?

Start by answering these 2 questions:

  1. How much time do you have?
  2. What are your points of interest?

 

Then proceed to skim the itineraries below and check out the one(s) that spark(s) your curiosity.

Note:

  • The same destinations reoccur over multiple itineraries. That’s why you can find more elaborate information about popular stops below the summary of the travel routes.
  • You can also find extra information about suggested accommodation below the summary.

2 weeks in Guatemala

How to spend 2 weeks in Guatemala?

In this amount of time you can travel to multiple top destinations in the country and have plenty of time to do a couple of very cool excursions. You have a little more breathing room in between stops so you can cover more distance.

We’ve created three itineraries.

  • The first one covers all the popular highlights of the country. It includes activities like volcano hiking, a jungle visit, exploring Maya ruins and getting a tan at the Caribbean beach.
  • The second itinerary is an off the beaten path tour. Here you reach more remote destinations that are not as frequently visited by travelers. But still in combination with hot spot Antigua because it has to be part of your Guatemala trip. And Flores, so you can visit Maya ruins.
  • The third itinerary is for the laid-back traveler. You want to savour this country without climbing volcanoes or nightly jungle walks. Just enjoy nice scenery, good food and natural as well as cultural highlights.

3 weeks in Guatemala

So, you have the luxury to spend 3 weeks in Guatemala! Great!

This means you have enough time to visit all the highlights and do some extra excursions on your trip. No need to rush through, you can take your time when visiting a place that you really like.

We created an itinerary for the more active traveler. So this trip challenges you to do some super cool and intensive activities. No worries, the active days are alternated with relaxation days, it is a holiday after all.

4 weeks in Guatemala

1 Month in Guatemala is pure bliss. You can travel slow, stay longer at destinations you really like and do all the excursions that seem interesting, challenging and fun.

We created one ultimate route to spend your 4 weeks at all the top destinations. You’ll be visiting Maya ruins, explore the best natural highlights, swimming in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean. Also included is some time in the jungle at a river lodge, a 2-day volcano hike, swimming at Semuc Champey and you end with a spectacular 3-day hike to Lake Atitlan where you can rest 2 days before heading home.

Check out the Ultimate Guatemala route

The Full Itineraries!

Itinerary 1: Guatemala Natural Wonders - 1 week

Stops: Flores – Lanquin – Antigua

Highlights: Tikal ruins or Yaxha National Park – Semuc Champey and K’an Ba cave tour  – Lake Atitlan

Day 1 – 2: Flores

Day 1: Arrive at Flores international airport and transfer to your accommodation. Spend the rest of the day discovering the cute Flores peninsula.

Day 2: Go visit one of the famous Maya ruins in the vicinity. Tikal is gorgeous and the most popular site. Therefore it can get really crowded. Tip: If you want to escape the crowds go see the ruins of Yaxha instead. These ruins are also beautiful and offer a breathtaking view over Lake Yaxha!

Read more about Yaxha ruins

Accommodation suggestion Flores/Tikal

Backpackers: Hostel Peten Express Tikal

Couples: Hotel Jungle lodge Tikal

Day 3 – 4: Lanquin & Semuc Champey

Day 3: Transfer day to Lanquin. This takes about 8 hours.

Day 4: Excursion to the turquoise pools of Semuc Champey. Spend all day swimming and relaxing. Include a trip to the K’an Ba Caves for a bit more adventure.

Read more about Semuc Champey

Accommodation suggestion Lanquin & Semuc Champey

For backpackers: Hostal El Portal

For Couples: El Retiro Lodge

Day 5 – 6 and 7: Antigua

Day 5: Transfer to Antigua. This takes about 9 hours. Spend the afternoon and evening discovering colourful Antigua.

Day 6: Go on an excursion to Lake Atitlan: a full day tour to 3 villages around Lake Atitlan takes up at least 12 hours.

Day 7: Enjoy the rest of your day in Antigua. If your transfer to the airport or to your next travel destination is in the late afternoon you can fill your day with some of the activities in the list below

Read more about things to do in Antigua

Accommodation suggestion for Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel ! This hostel has a hot tub which is ideal to rest your sore muscles after all the sightseeing.

Couples:  Maya Papaya

Flores
Flores

Itinerary 2: Guatemala Highland Route - 1 week

Stops: Antigua – San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan – Quetzaltenango

Highlights: Hiking and sleeping on Volcano Acatenango or visiting Chichicastenango market – smaller hike up Indian’s nose with sunrise over the lake – zip line adventure

Day 1 – 2 – 3: Antigua

Day 1: Arrive at Guatemala City airport and transfer in about 1 hour to Antigua. Spend the rest of the day settling in at your accommodation and strolling around the cobblestone streets of the city. Visit the famous Santa Catalina Arch and the artisan market.

Read more about fun things to do in Antigua.

Option A for active travelers:

Day 2 and 3: Go on an organised 2-day volcano hike up the Acatenango volcano. A challenging hike rewarded with stunning views over the surroundings and probably you see eruptions from nearby Volcano Fuego.

Tips:

  • Dress in layers and bring a warm jacket
  • Bring an extra sleeping matt
  • Take your own food and drinks with you

 

Option B for laid-back travelers:

Day 2: Do a private guided tour to Chichicastenango market and Iximche Pyramids. Chichicastenango is a popular and immense open-air handicraft market where you can bargain over the price of your very cool souvenirs. It’s a top experience to visit this market.  Iximche is a small archeological site that was very important in the history of Guatemalan people.

Day 3: Take an authentic cooking class: This excursion goes to the nearby Jocotenango village where you will learn how to cook a Guatemala dish that you can choose yourself. Savour your creation afterwards on a rooftop terrace overlooking volcano Agua.

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel ! This hostel has a hot tub which is ideal to rest your sore muscles after the hike.

Couples:  Maya Papaya

Day 4 – 5: Lake Atitlan

Day 4: Transfer to San Pedro La Laguna, a picturesque village at Lake Atitlan, and enjoy the rest of your day taking in the stunning scenery. Tip: rent a kayak to explore the lake or go on a zip line adventure.

Read more about the towns of Lake Atitlan.

Day 5: Wake up early to do a sunrise hike to the Indian’s Nose. Take in some of the best views of the lake. A guided hike is recommended for safety reasons. (It is still dark when you  start your challenging climb to the top.)

Accommodation suggestion San Pedro La Laguna

Backpackers:  Mikaso Hotel and restaurant

Couples:  Wachalal Lake Lodge

Day 6 – 7: Quetzaltenango

Day 6: Transfer to Quetzaltenango alias Xela. Drop your stuff at the hostel and start exploring the city. Visit the hot springs Fuentes Georginas to relax your muscles after these intensive hiking days.

Read more about fun things to do in Xela.

Day 7: Enjoy the rest of the day here before your transport to the airport or to the next destination on your journey.

Accommodation suggestion Xela

Backpackers: Casa Seibel

Couples: Black Cat Hostel

Backpacking Guatemala - Antigua
Antigua - Santa Catalina Arc and street view

Itinerary 3: Guatemala Highlights - 2 weeks

Stops: Flores – Rio Dulce – Livingston – Lanquin – Antigua – San Pedro La Laguna at  Lake Atitlan

Highlights: Tikal or Yaxha – Rio Dulce Canyon & jungle – Livingston Caribbean beach – Acatenango volcano hike – Indian’s Nose hike 

Day 1- 2: Flores

Day 1: Arrive at the airport of Flores. Get to your accommodation and settle in. Spend the remaining of the day strolling around the peninsula getting some first great shots of your trip.

Day 2: Time to visit one of the many Maya ruins in the vicinity. Tikal is a world famous and popular Maya site. It therefore can get really crowded. Yaxha is also a beautiful site but far less crowded than Tikal.

Check out more Maya ruins in Guatemala

Accommodation suggestion Flores/Tikal

Backpackers: Hostel Peten Express Tikal

Couples: Hotel Jungle lodge Tikal

Day 3 – 4: Rio Dulce

Day 3: Transfer to Rio Dulce: A shuttle bus takes about 4,5 hours.

Don’t stay in Rio Dulce itself but in a jungle lodge near the river. The only way to get here is by a small boat. An employee of the lodge you are staying at will arrange your pick-up at the Rio Dulce dock.

Get back to basic and in touch with nature in the jungle of Guatemala. Go on a guided jungle walk to spot animals as a late night activity.

Day 4: Take a speed boat through the canyon and enjoy the scenery. You can spot many birds and lush vegetation on your way to the Caribbean town of Livingston.  Relax the rest of the day at the beach and savour the Garifuna vibe.

Read more about things to do in Rio Dulce

Accommodation suggestion Rio Dulce

For backpackers: El Hotelito Perdido

For couples: Dreamcatcher Eco lodge

Day 5 – 6: Livingston

Day 5 – 6: These two days are to enjoy the Caribbean town of Livingston. Spend some time beach bumming or choose to do an activity like a waterfall tour, kayaking, paddle boarding, renting a jet ski,…

Accommodation suggestion for Livingston

For backpackers: Casa Rosada

For couples: Casa Nostra

Day 7 – 8: Lanquin and Semuc Champey

Day 7: Transfer day to Lanquin. This takes about 8 hours with a shuttle bus service.

Day 8: Visit Semuc Champey. These turquoise pools are amazing for a day of swimming and relaxing. Tours mostly include a rope swing jump in the river, an exploration of the nearby K’an Ba caves and a river tubing adventure.

Read more about Semuc Champey

Accommodation suggestion Lanquin & Semuc Champey

Backpackers: Hostal El Portal

Couples: El Retiro Lodge

Day 9 – 10 – 11: Antigua

Day 9: Transfer to Antigua. This takes about 9 hours with a shuttle bus service. Spend the rest of the day having a stroll around town and go to bed early as the next two days will be challenging.

Day 10 – 11: Do a 2-day hike up  Acatenango volcano. This guided tour is no walk in the park. You will sleep on the volcano in very basic tents on a small matt and with a provided sleeping bag. It’s very likely you see eruptions from nearby Fuego volcano.

Tips:

  • Bring extra food and drinks
  • Dress in layers and bring a warm fleece or jacket for the night
  • Bring extra sleeping matt

 

Read more about things to do in Antigua

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel ! This hostel has a hot tub which is ideal to rest your sore muscles after the hike.

Couples:  Maya Papaya

Day 12 – 13 – 14: Lake Atitlan

Day 12: Transfer to San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan. With a shuttle bus service this takes about 4 hours.

Enjoy the rest of the day discovering this backpackers favourite Atitlan town. Or take a water taxi to any of the surrounding villages.

Day 13: Get up early and go on a guided sunrise hike to Indian’s Nose. Once you reach the lookout point you get some of the best views over the lake. In the afternoon you can rent a kayak and venture on the lake.

Day 14: If you have some time left before you go home or to your next travel destination, I recommend visiting Santiago de Atitlan. Hire a local guide on arrival to show you around the hotspots of the largest town around the lake. You learn about history and the tradition of Maximon.

Read more about the towns of Lake Atitlan

Accommodation suggestion San Pedro La Laguna

Backpackers:  Mikaso Hotel and restaurant

Couples:  Wachalal Lake Lodge

Things to do in Guatemala - Semuc Champey
Natural pools of Semuc Champey

Itinerary 4: Guatemala off-the-beaten-path - 2 weeks

Stops: Flores – Lanquin – Coban – Quetzaltenango – Antigua – Monterrico

Highlights: Yaxha ruins – Semuc Champey – Candelaria Caves – Laguna Lachua – Tajamulco volcano hike – towns around Antigua – Monterrico Pacific beach and Natural reserve

Note: The disadvantage of this trip is that some destinations are harder to reach as they are off-the-beaten-track. So be prepared to do some more effort to get from A to B. As a reward you get to see spots in Guatemala that aren’t frequently visited by tourists (yet)

Day 1 – 2: Flores

Day 1: Arrive at the airport of Flores and transfer to your accommodation. You can use the rest of the day to get over your jet lag and explore the peninsula.

Day 2: Discover gorgeous Yaxha National Park. If you go in the morning you can explore Yaxha and the neighbouring sites of Nakum and Naranjo. With an evening visit you can see the sun set over lake Yaxha from up an ancient Maya temple which is a sublime experience.

Read more about Yaxha ruins

Accommodation suggestion Flores/Tikal

Backpackers: Hostel Peten Express Tikal

Couples: Hotel Jungle lodge Tikal

Day 3 – 4: Lanquin and Semuc Champey

Day 3: This day is completely spent by getting to Lanquin. Expect the ride to be bumpy and long. It takes about 8 hours by shuttle bus. But it is so worth it! Settle in for the night at your jungle lodge.

Day 4: Today you visit Semuc Champey’s turquoise pools and the nearby K’An Ba caves. You can go tubing in the Cahabon river and even jump off a 10 metres high bridge into the river if you like that kind of activity.

Read more about Semuc Champey

Accommodation suggestion Lanquin & Semuc Champey

Backpackers: Hostal El Portal

Couples: El Retiro Lodge

Day 5 – 6: Candelaria Caves and Laguna Lachua

Day 5 & 6: 2-day tour Candelaria Caves and Laguna Lachua

Day 5: Transfer from Coban to the Candelaria Caves. This impressive cave system is one of the largest in Central America. It is a system of rivers and caves that you will explore in a guided tour. Sleep in an ecohostel without electricity.

Day 6: Transfer to Laguna Lachua and enjoy your day of relaxation at this gorgeous lake in the middle of nature. Get back to basic and just be. At the end of the day you get transported back to Coban where you can spend the night.

Note: You are not allowed to swim everywhere as there are crocodiles living in the area. So abide the signalisation!

Accommodation suggestion for Coban

Backpackers: Hostal El Calvario

For Couples: Hostal Casatenango

Day 7 – 8 – 9: Quetzaltenango (Xela) and Tajamulco Volcano

Day 7: Transfer from Coban to Quetzaltenango takes about 6 hours with a shuttle bus service. Spend a free evening in Xela.

Day 8 – 9: Hike the Tajamulco Volcano in this guided 2-day activity. At 4222 metres high it is the highest point in Central America! So if weather is good, you will be rewarded with some stunning views and cool photo opportunities. (Don’t worry, you start the climb at 3000 meters so you don’t do the entire thing)

Read more about things to do in Xela

Accommodation suggestion Xela

Backpackers: Casa Seibel

Couples: Black Cat Hostel

Day 10 – 11: Antigua

Day 10 : Transfer to Antigua. With a shuttle bus service. This takes less than 3 hours. Go explore the city on foot.

Read more about things to do in Antigua

Day 11: Visit 6 towns around Antigua on a guided excursion. Explore San Juan del Obispo, Ciudad Vieja, San Antonio, San Felipe, Jocotenango, Macadamia and learn more about Antigua’s past at the same time.

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel ! This hostel has a hot tub which is ideal to rest your sore muscles after the hike.

Couples:  Maya Papaya

Day 12 – 13 – 14: Montericco

Day 12: Take a shuttle bus to Montericco. This takes about 2.30 hours. Drop your stuff at your accommodation and head over to the beach to relax. Stick around or return to watch the sunset.

Day 13: Visit the Montericco natural reserve. Spot wildlife like numerous bird species, iguanas, turtles, caiman and plenty more. Learn about this unique ecosystem, it’s fauna and flora. Take a look at the turtle hatchery ‘The Tortugario’ You can even participate in releasing the baby turtles into the ocean. (From September to January)

Day 14: Enjoy the last sunrise on the beach. Transfer to the airport or to your next destination.

Accommodation suggestion Monterrico

La Palma B&B Monterrico

Sunset at Monterrico
Sunset at Monterrico

Itinerary 5: Guatemala Laid-back - 2 weeks

Stops: Antigua – Monterrico – San Marcos La Laguna – Quetzaltenango

Highlights: cooking class – chocolate making class – salsa class – Pacific Ocean – Monterrico Natural Reserve – Chichicastenango market – Santiago de Atitlan – Hike Indian’s Nose – Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs

Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4: Antigua

Day 1: Arrival at Guatemala City Airport and transfer to your accommodation in Antigua. Take the rest of the afternoon to settle in and have a nice dinner. Go for an evening walk around town. Inform at your hostel what kind of excursions you can do in the vicinity.

Day 2: Take the whole day to explore the city on foot. There is plenty to see and it is the best way to get to know a place. Be sure to check the Parque Central, the Santa Catalina Arch, La Merced and the handicraft market near the Arch. In the evening you can opt to take a salsa class or go for a drink in town. We recommend Cafe No Se or El Atico de Frida.

Day 3: Take a cooking class and learn how to make a traditional Guatemalan dish. Savour your creation on a rooftop terrace with a view of the Agua Volcano. If you rather learn how to make chocolate, you can attend a chocolate making workshop in town.

Day 4: A free day to fill in how you like. Pick another excursion to do or go to explore the city some more.

Read more about the best things to do in Antigua

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel  (This hostel has a hot tub)

Couples:  Maya Papaya (New, comfortable and delicious food)

Day 5 – 6 – 7: Monterrico

Day 5: Transfer to Monterrico. This takes about 2.30 hours. Settle in and head over to the Pacific beach to feel the black sand between your toes and watch the waves crash in. End the day with a seafood dinner and a magnificent sunset on the beach.

Day 6: Visit the Monterrico Natural Reserve and observe this unique ecosystem of wet forest and its inhabitants. Also take a look at the turtle sanctuary where they hatch baby turtles to release them into the ocean.

Day 7: Chill at the beach or at the swimming pool of your hostel. Do a little surfing.

Note: Watch out for the strong rip current if you swim in the ocean.

Accommodation suggestion Monterrico

La Palma B&B Monterrico

Day 8 – 9 – 10 – 11: San Marcos La Laguna at Lake Atitlan

Day 8:Transfer to San Marcos La Laguna and settle in at your accommodation. Walk around this very small hippy town, take a water taxi to visit nearby San Juan La Laguna and learn how to weave fabrics the traditional Guatemalan way.

Day 9:Do a day trip to Chichicastenango market. The most famous handicraft market from Guatemala. Walk around the colourful stalls and bargain for your souvenirs. You can find a wide variety of goods here like leather bags, belts and jackets, clothes and fabrics, jewelry, masks, musical instruments, all kind of small trinkets and plenty more stuff.

Day 10: Take a water taxi to Santiago de Atitlan. Hire a local guide who can show you around the largest town of the lake. You get to see all the highlights of this town going from A to B in a tuc tuc. The guide explains more about the past of Atitlan, the Maya people and the tradition of Maximon.

Day 11: Wake up before dawn to go on a sunrise hike to Indian’s nose. Watch the sun rise over the lake and take in the breathtaking views. (And take a lot of stunning pictures as well) In the afternoon you can take a water taxi to San Pedro La Laguna and explore this nice town. If the lake is calm you can opt to hire a kayak and venture on the lake.

Read more about the towns of Lake Atitlan

Accommodation suggestion San Marcos La Laguna

Pasaj Cap

Day 12 – 13 – 14: Quetzaltenango

Day 12: Transfer to Quetzaltenango. Settle in at your accommodation. Take the rest of the day to walk around town and have dinner.

Day 13: Visit the Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs on an organised tour or by yourself. We visited on our own. It was a bit more adventurous to get there and back on your own. We took a chicken bus to the town of Zunil and hitchhiked our way up the mountain to the hot springs.

Day 14: Enjoy your last day in Xela before transferring to the airport or to your next travel destination.

Read more about things to do in Xela

Accommodation suggestion Xela

Backpackers: Casa Seibel

Couples: Black Cat Hostel

Xela Guatemala street view
Xela street view

Itinerary 6: Guatemala Active - 3 weeks

Stops: Antigua – Quetzaltenango – Lake Atitlan – Lanquin – Rio Dulce – Livingston – Flores

Highlights: Pacaya Volcano hike – tour of the towns around Antigua – 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan – zip-line adventure – sunrise hike to Indian’s Nose – Semuc Champey tour – Rio Dulce canyon tour by motorboat – Caribbean beach – Tikal ruins

Day 1 – 2 – 3 – 4: Antigua

Day 1: Arrive at Guatemala City airport and transfer to Antigua. This takes around 1 hour. Settle in at your hostel and have a relaxing evening

Day 2: Walk around town and visit the hot spots like the main plaza, the Catalina Arch, La Merced and many more

Day 3: Hike Pacaya volcano on a guided day trip from Antigua. With spectacular views over the Lagoon of Calderas and the other volcanoes nearby such as Agua, Acatenango and Fuego it’s a trip to never forget.

Day 4: Visit the towns around the city on a guided tour. On this tour you get to know 6 towns around Antigua and its history.

Read more about things to do in Antigua

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel  (This hostel has a hot tub)

Couples:  Maya Papaya (New, comfortable and delicious food)

Day 5 – 6 : Quetzaltenango alias Xela

Day 5: Transfer by shuttle bus to Quetzaltenango. This takes about 3 hours. Settle in and explore the area.

Day 6: Let your muscles relax in the Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs. This relaxing trip is a good way to let your muscles rest after the volcano climb and all the walking around on foot.

Whatever you decide to do today, make it a low-intensity activity because you start your 3-day hike tomorrow.

Read more about things to do in Xela

Accommodation suggestion Xela

Backpackers: Casa Seibel

Couples: Black Cat Hostel

Day 7 – 8 – 9: 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan

Quetzaltrekkers is a non-profit organisation that benefits the children of Guatemala. A great 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan takes you through pine forests, valleys, coffee plantations, and small pueblos. On arrival you can see a breathtaking sunrise over the lake.

Settle in at your accommodation.

Day 10 – 11 – 12: Lake Atitlan

Day 10: Use a watertaxi to get from town to town around the lake.

Santiago de Atitlan is the largest town. Hire a local guide when you arrive at the dock. He will show you around Santiago in a tuc tuc explaining you about history and traditions of the Mayans. Nice viewpoint included over the lake.

Visit the small town of San Juan La Laguna to buy some nice handmade souvenirs. At the same time you can learn how to weave at a women’s weaving cooperation.

Day 11: Go on a zip-line adventure  flying high in the treetops and over the lake. A 6-hour tour full of adrenaline, nature and cool views.

Day 12: Hike up Indian’s Nose to see the sunrise over the Lake. Be rewarded with gorgeous views over the lake and some great photo moments.

Read more about the towns of Lake Atitlan

Accommodation suggestion San Pedro La Laguna

Backpackers:  Mikaso Hotel and restaurant

Couples:  Wachalal Lake Lodge

Accommodation suggestion San Marcos La Laguna

Pasaj Cap

Day 13 – 14 – 15: Lanquin and Semuc Champey

Day 13: Transfer to Lanquin. This takes minimum 8 hours by shuttle bus.

Day 14: Go on a tour to Semuc Champey. This includes free time to swim in the pools, a guided adventure in the nearby K’An Ba caves, tubing the river Cahabon, rope swing in the river and a 10 meter high jump from a bridge in the river if you dare.

Day 15: Relaxation day at your jungle lodge. Enjoy nature and relax.

Read more about Semuc Champey

Accommodation suggestion Lanquin & Semuc Champey

Backpackers: Hostal El Portal

Couples: El Retiro Lodge

Day 16 – 17: Rio Dulce

Day 16: Transfer day to Rio Dulce. This takes a minimum of 8 hours by shuttle bus. In the evening you can go on an organised jungle walk to spot wildlife.

Day 17: Go on a tour of the Rio Dulce Canyon by motorboat. The views are spectacular. You can spot many birds sitting on shipwrecks or just flying in front of your boat. Wildlife and lush vegetations are the main words that come to mind when thinking of this trip. You end your trip at Livingston. A Garifuna Caribbean town with white sand and palm trees.

Read more about Rio Dulce

Accommodation suggestion Rio Dulce

Backpackers: El Hotelito Perdido

Couples: Dreamcatcher Eco lodge

Day 18: Livingston

Day 18: Relaxation day at the Caribbean beach. You can also opt to visit the 7 Altars Waterfalls.

Accommodation suggestion for Livingston

Backpackers: Casa Rosada

Couples: Casa Nostra

Day 19 – 20 – 21: Flores

Day 19: Transfer to Flores, the gateway to the Mayan world. This takes about 1 hour by boat to get back to Rio Dulce. There you take a bus to Flores. This sets you back 6 hours.

Day 20: Visit Tikal Ruins. These gorgeous and popular ruins almost look like something from another planet. They were once the setting of a scene in Star Wars IV A New Hope.

Day 21: Depending on your schedule you can choose how to spend this day. If you have some time left take a walk around town, get some last pictures before you leave Guatemala.

Accommodation suggestion Flores/Tikal

Backpackers: Hostel Peten Express Tikal

Couples: Hotel Jungle lodge Tikal

Things to do in Guatemala - Tikal ruins
Tikal - Maya Ruins

Itinerary 7: Guatemala Ultimate route - 4 weeks

Stops: Flores – El Remate – Poptun – Rio Dulce – Livingston – Lanquin – Antigua – Monterrico – El Paredon – Quetzaltenango – Lake Atitlan

Highlights: Tikal – Yaxha National Park – Finca Ixobel – Rio Dulce canyon – Livingston Caribbean beach – Semuc Champey – Acatenango Volcano – Montericco Natural reserve – El Paredon Pacific beach – 3-day hike from Xela to Atitlan

Day 1 – 2 – 3: Flores

Day 1: Arrive at Flores Airport and transfer to your accommodation. Settle in and go discover this colourful peninsula.

Day 2: Visit Tikal Ruins. These world famous Maya ruins are immensely popular. Partly because they were the setting of a scene in the movie: Star wars A New Hope, and partly because they are just extremely stunning. Best time to go is in the early morning so you can beat the crowds. A sunrise tour is a good option to visit Tikal.

Day 3: Take a free day to relax and explore more of Flores

Accommodation suggestion Flores

Hostel Peten Express Tikal

Day 4 – 5: El Remate

Day 4: Transfer to El Remate. This takes about 45 minutes by shuttle bus. This small rural town is more basic and quiet.

Day 5: Visit Yaxha National Park. More Maya ruins for you to discover today. The surroundings of the ruins are gorgeous. Lush vegetation and dozens of howler monkeys welcome you at this park that has beautiful Lake Yaxha and the ruins as its center piece. In the vicinity you can also visit Ruins Naranjo and Nakum.

Read more about Yaxha ruins

Accommodation suggestion for El Remate

Backpackers: La Casa de Don David

Couples: La Lancha

Day 6 – 7: Finca Ixobel in Poptun

Day 6: Transfer to Finca Ixobel in Poptun. First travel with a shuttle bus from El Remate back to Santa Elena. This takes about 45 minutes. There you transfer to Finca Ixobel in Poptun. You can ask the shuttle bus driver to drop you off at the Finca. It is known by drivers.

Day 7: Enjoy the piece and quiet of Finca Ixobel. 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.

They have their own bakery and make fresh homemade meals every day! On site, far away from the lodges, is a bar where locals and travelers come together to have a drink and a laugh.

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.

Accommodation suggestion Poptun

Finca Ixobel

Day 8 – 9: Rio Dulce

Day 8: Transfer to Rio Dulce takes about 3 hours in a taxi. Settle in at your river lodge and find out what tours you like to do in the area. Enjoy the facilities of your jungle lodge. Get more in touch with nature and your surroundings. Go for a walk on the territory, hire a kayak or kick back in a hammock with a book. At night you can go on a guided jungle night walk to spot animals.

Day 9: Take a trip in a motorboat through the Canyon to Livingston. On this trip you can spot a lot of birds, like pelicans, sitting on shipwrecks. And see local fishermen trying to catch their lunch for the day.

Stay at Livingston and check in at your accommodation.

Read more about Rio Dulce

Accommodation suggestion Rio Dulce

Backpackers: El Hotelito Perdido

Couples: Dreamcatcher Eco lodge

Day 10 – 11: Livingston

Day 10 – 11: These 2 days are reserved to hang out at the beach or at the swimming pool of your hostel. Do a hike to the Seven Altars Waterfalls. Take in the Garifuna vibe of this Caribbean town. Enjoy awesome seafood, the sun and the waves.

Accommodation suggestion for Livingston

Backpackers: Casa Rosada

Couples: Casa Nostra

Day 12 – 13 – 14: Lanquin – Semuc Champey

Day 12: Transfer day to Lanquin. This takes about 8 hours with a shuttle bus service. Enjoy the surroundings of your jungle lodge. Tube the river, take in some sun.

Day 13: This is what you’re here for. Go on a guided Semuc Champey tour. Swim in the turquoise waters of the pools, watch the powerful rive Cahabon submerge under the ground. Explore the K’An Ba caves with nothing more than a candle to light the way. Tube the river and try out a giant rope swing.

Day 14: Relax a day in nature before heading over to backpackers hub Antigua

Read more about Semuc Champey

Accommodation suggestion Lanquin & Semuc Champey

Backpackers: Hostal El Portal

Couples: El Retiro Lodge

Day 15 – 16 – 17 – 18 – 19: Antigua

Day 15: Transfer day to Antigua. Count about 9 hours by shuttle bus service.

Day 16: Take a stroll around town and visit the highlights of the city. The Catalina Arch, the main plaza, church La Merced, handicraft markets and many more.

Day 17 – 18: Go on a 2-day hike of Volcano Acatenango. It is not an easy hike. You spend the night on the volcano. Probably you see eruptions of nearby Fuego volcano and a terrific sunrise in the morning.

Tips:

  • Bring extra food and drinks
  • Dress in layers and bring a warm fleece or jacket for the night
  • Bring extra sleeping matt

 

Day 19: A free day to do an extra tour like a cooking class, a salsa class, a chocolate making workshop. You can also go on a guided tour to explore the towns around Antigua.

Or spend it walking around town and relax before you head over to your next destination.

Read more about things to do in Antigua.

Accommodation suggestion Antigua

Backpackers:  Matiox Hostel  (This hostel has a hot tub)

Couples:  Maya Papaya (New, comfortable and delicious food)

Day 20 – 21: Monterrico

Day 20: Transfer to Monterrico. This takes about 2.30 hours. Take your time to relax at the beach. Be sure to stick around to witness the sun set over the ocean. Watch out for the strong undertow.

Day 21: Visit the Monterrico Natural Reserve. This unique fauna and flora is conserved and protected area. Spot wildlife and visit the turtle hatchery. If you are lucky you can even help release the baby turtles into the ocean.

Accommodation suggestion Monterrico

La Palma B&B Monterrico

Day 22 – 23: El Paredon

Day 22: Transfer to El Paredon. Takes about 2.40 hours by taxi. Surfers Paradise. The waves here can be very strong so if you are a beginner it might be best to just watch the pro’s. There might be a strong undertow too.

Day 23: Another free day at the beach watching the waves crash in or chill near the swimming pool of your hostel.

Accommodation suggestion El Paredon

The driftwood surfer

Day 24 – 25: Quetzaltenango alias Xela

Day 24: Transfer to Xela. The easiest way is to get back on your route until Antigua. There you can find a shuttle bus to Quetzaltenango

Taxi: 2.40 h to Monterrico – Bus: 4 hours to Antigua (once daily, check hours before you go) or Shuttle to Antigua : 2.30 h – Shuttle: 3 hours to Xela

Day 25: Free day to explore Xela.

Read more about things to do in Xela

Day 26 – 27 – 28: 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan

Day 24 – 25 – 26: Quetzaltrekkers is a non-profit organisation that is well-known and established in Quetzaltenango. The money they make goes directly to support the children of Xela. To educate and support them.

They organise this 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan, the last destination on your Guatemala itinerary. During this trip you pass through different gorgeous landscapes and small towns until you reach Lake Atitlan where you can see a breathtaking sunrise over the lake.

Accommodation suggestion Xela

Backpackers: Casa Seibel

Couples: Black Cat Hostel

Day 29 – 30: San Pedro La Laguna Lake Atitlan – or San Marcos La Laguna Lake atitlan

Day 29: Take a watertaxi around the lake and visit the towns of your interest.

Santiago de Atitlan is the largest. Hire a local guide here for a 2-hour trip around town. He shows you the highlight of this town riding you around in a tuc tuc.

San Juan La Laguna is small and the main street is full of nice handicraft shops. Ideal to support the community and get a nice souvenir. Learn the original weaving techniques from a local.

San Marcos is also tiny and has a real hippie vibe.

San Pedro La Laguna is a nice town to stay at. It has a good, relaxed vibe and there is a lively atmosphere in the evenings as well.

Read more about the towns of Lake Atitlan

Day 30: Enjoy your last day at the lake before you leave for the airport or to get to your next destination of your trip.

Accommodation suggestion San Pedro La Laguna

Backpackers:  Mikaso Hotel and restaurant

Couples:  Wachalal Lake Lodge

Accommodation suggestion San Marcos La Laguna

Pasaj Cap

Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan

Read more about the destinations on your Guatemala itinerary

Check out more accommodation options for your Guatemala trip

How to get around in Guatemala?

What is the best way of transportation?

Read the Guatemala transportation guide for more elaborate information about how to get from A to B.

Your best way to travel in between destinations is by shuttle bus.

  • You can arrange pick up at your accommodation.
  • Drop off can be in front of your next accommodation or at a central place at your next destination.
  • Most hostels work together with shuttle companies and can easily arrange your transportation.
  • You can find tour companies at all tourist destinations where you can arrange your transportation.
  • It is more comfortable then a public bus
  • Not all the roads are in perfectly good shape.
  • Unforeseen circumstances can delay your transfer. Think about landslides due to rain. Obstructions like boulders or fallen trees, accidents,…
  • It is very likely that you have to switch shuttle busses more than once during 1 transfer.
  • Shuttle buses are usually fully loaded.

How to organise your excursions?

For most excursions we’ve included links in the itinerary where you can book your tour. Just click on the link and take a look. You can always search for more opportunities by clicking around on the platform.

You can also book your excursions on arrival if you don’t like to book your tours in advance.

  • Popular and good hostels always offer tours and excursions in the vicinity of the destination you are at. This way you can see what you like to do when you get there.
  • In most touristy places you can find more than one tour operator where you can book your excursions. This way you are more free to fill in the itinerary as you go.

Best time to visit Guatemala

Dry season runs from November until April.

This is the best time to visit the country.

Perfect months are February and March. You have less people in this period because it falls in between holidays and the weather is good for travel.

Read more about the best time to visit Guatemala in the travel guide.

Guatemala itinerary ideas conclusion

So we made 7 itineraries for you to pick from

1. Guatemala Natural Wonders – 1 week

2. Guatemala Highland Route – 1 week

3. Guatemala Highlights – 2 weeks

4. Guatemala Off-the-Beaten-Path – 2 weeks

5. Guatemala Laid-Back – 2 weeks

6. Guatemala Active – 3 weeks

7. Guatemala Ultimate Route – 4 weeks

Hope you have found what you are looking for. So you can start planning your trip. If there is anything we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Make sure to read these interesting facts before you leave.

Safe travels!

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I love your photography. You have such vivid and diverse photos. I’ve been to Guatemala a couple of times but only on short border hops from Belize. I enjoyed Tikal and staying there overnight but you make Flores sound so beautiful that I would want to spend some time there as well.

Thanks! We fell in love with Guatemala the minute we entered! It’s all beautiful 😍😍

This is timely. Since we spend 3 months a year in Mazatlan it Cancun, we have started lining up other countries to visit from those bases. Belize is on it. Guatemala seems too outdoorsy for old folks like us.

Hehe! It doesn’t sound old if you’re planning all these trips. And I believe you would enjoy Guatemala a lot. You don’t have to backpack it 😃 Just get a nice collectivo or shuttle… You can visit Tikal easily from Belize 😉

I’ve never been to this area of Guatemala, but have been hearing more and more about it in recent years. I didn’t realize that Antigua was a popular hub for backpackers. I have never gone backpacking myself, but if I ever was to do it looks like visiting Antigua isn’t a bad place to start. Crazy that sometimes there are more backpackers here than actual locals!

Guatemala is high on our list. We initially wanted to visit this summer along with Belize and Yucatan in Mexico but because we’re not sure how the weather is during the summer months (apparently very hot and humid) we’ll keep these destinations for another time. Both Antigua and Livingston seem like places to spend a few days. Thanks for this itinerary!

I just love Guatemala! I travelled there a few years ago and your pictures and tips bring back a lot of memories. What a great post for travellers exploring Guatemala.

VERY timely post as we are looking to visit Guatamala either this year or early next. We have Tikal for sure on our list to visit, as well as hopefully some jungle trekking. Lake Atitlan too of course, because, well, your photo! 😉

Thanks 😄 you will fall in love with Atitlan, just like we did! Have a lot of fun and don’t hesitate to send us a message if you need specific information!

I would love to visit Guatemala! Your post describes such a diverse range of activities and locales, it sounds like there is something for everyone. When I go, I would love to wander around to different areas of the country as it sounds like you did to experience all parts of it!

Guatemala looks exceptional through your lens. Chichicastenango market would keep me busy for hours, plus the cave tour. Fun! If one were not a backpacker and had not been to Guatemala, what town would you recommend starting with?

I’d recommend starting with Antigua. There are loads of nice hotels too. With Antigua as a hub, you can travel to most places on a day trip. Although spending the night in places like Atitlan, Flores, and Rio Dulce are a must 😄 Should write a non-backpacker guide!!

I’ve heard so many great things about Guatemala but I didn’t realize there were Mayan ruins. We visited ruins in Mexico but would love to see those in Guatemala. A nighttime jungle tour would also be so cool!

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