7 fun Guatemala itinerary ideas for every kind of traveler!

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What we talk about in this article

We’ve written a bunch of extensive guides on different destinations in Guatemala. We visited all of these destinations ourself and you can read exactly how we liked the places and which things we did when we visited. Now, it’s time to put all of these places together into an amazing and memorable Guatemala itinerary! 

For us, we stayed over 6 weeks in Guatemala, so, we travelled super slow and we went back and forward a few times.

Then we went back a few years later and rented a place at Lake Atitlan. Needless to say we fell in love with Guatemala and we hope you get the same rewarding experience when travelling there!

How to use these Guatemala itinerary ideas?

We know most travellers will only have 1 or 2 weeks for a country like Guatemala. That’s why we wanted to make this resource as usable as possible for as many people as possible. 

We try to compile different Guatemala itinerary ideas for 7 days. This way, you’ll be able to easily combine a second route in order to get your own 2 weeks Guatemala itinerary, according to your own needs and preferences. 

At the end of this post, we cover a longer travel route for people who want to go slowly and see everything!

How to travel?

In Guatemala, most travellers choose public transportation for their trip. But in the end, you can choose your own way of travelling. 

We combined a lot of chicken buses with tuctucs and, of course, tourist shuttles (those are abundant in Guatemala)

Make sure to read our guide on public transportation in Guatemala to learn how to get from one place to the next.

How to get there in the first place?

Getting to Guatemala is different for most travellers. Some will travel straight to Guatemala City from their closest airport, while other will be travelling overland from Mexico or Belize. 

Read how you can cross the border from Mexico to Guatemala. This route brings you from Chiapas to Antigua.

Or, read about how you can cross the border into Guatemala from Belize. This route brings you from San Ignacio, Belize, to Flores, Guatemala.

Aside from the overland public transportation options, you can also arrive from the South, like El Salvador or Honduras. 

Or alternatively, you arrive by airplane in the airport of Guatemala City (or a different one) 

Check flight prices from your starting location.

Time needed for your trip

This is a discussion point, as usual. We love to travel slow and take a few days in each place. This way, we don’t need to rush and we get some spare time even after we saw all the main tourist attractions. It gives us more time to explore the local vibe, visit a local market and take some time to just hang out. 

But we know that not everyone likes this slowness or maybe just doesn’t have the time to do this.

That’s why you may assume that, if you’re a fast traveller, you can do more in a week than we do. We usually take a week to see 2 destinations ‘and the nearby attractions). If you’re fast, you might be able to squeeze in 3 places or more in one week. 

But, remember that you’re in Guatemala. Things will never go at the same pace you want or expect them to go. It’s obligatory to take a step back and let things happen at the pace they do.

Ok, let’s get started!

1. Antigua and Lake Atitlan in 1 week

This first itinerary has 2 of our favourite destinations in Guatemala: Antigua and Lake Atitlan. We have these destinations in 1 week in Guatemala, because we will fill it up with cool things to do in these areas. So, fear not, it’s not too slow or boring!

During this trip, you discover the beauty of the colonial city of Antigua, which is a true traveller highlight. From Antigua, there are tons of exciting day trips you can do. 

After that, explore the magic of Lake Atitlan, a destination where we fell in love with. Here, you can enjoy the peace and quiet or engage in different activities.

Specifications for Antigua and Lake Atitlan in 1 week


7 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, Slow Boat


2 - 4

Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this trip

Let’s start of in Antigua for 3 days. There’s a ton of things to do in Antigua, but you can also spend a few days doing day trips from Antigua. 

Get to know the city by following a local guide during a walking tour of Antigua or get to know the amazing Guatemalan cuisine by joining a cooking class. As a tour outside of the city, you can also go visit a coffee plantation during a coffee tour.

We recommend staying in Antigua for 2 or 3 days, according to the excursions and activities you want to do. Then, let’s move on to Lake Atitlan, where you get to see a different Guatemala.

Have a look at the villages and towns around Lake Atitlan to determine where you want to have your base. Maybe you want to stay in the same town for a few days and explore the region from there, or maybe you rather switch villages in between, in order to explore those places better. 

At Lake Atitlan, there are quite a lot of things to do. Check out these memorable Lake Atitlan tours. You can easily fill 3 weeks with the activities in this region: book transportation to the beautiful Chichicastenango market and hire a guide to hike to the Indian’s Nose peak. Or hike up Volcan Atitlan. Maybe you want to explore the underwater wonders at the Lake by booking a diving sessions. It’s just too much to sum up here!

Where to sleep

For this one week Guatemala itinerary, you have a lot of choice on accommodation, especially at Lake Aititlan, you can choose from all the different villages. 

First, have a look at the lodging in Antigua. We compiled a list with the very best hostels in Antigua. The, Antigua is one of the few places where you can actually find stunning boutique hotels, set in beautiful colonial buildings, and luxury hotels where you can get pampered.

For Lake Atitlan, there is soo much choice, depending on your own wants and needs. Most likely, you arrive in Panajachel, where you could get accommodation to explore from there on. Check out the best hostels at the lake, sorted per village. Alternatively, plan a real holiday at Lake Atitlan, by booking a luxurious retreat with views over the lake.

Where to sleep in Lake Atitlan

2. Antigua and the beaches in 1 week

Combine culture and relaxation in one week in Guatemala, by visiting Antigua and some of the local Pacific beaches. You can either spend longer in the city, or expand your time at the beach according to your own needs and wishes.

Antigua is a cultural highlight, but it’s more than just culture. You can engage in some adventurous and exciting activities as well.

At the beaches in Guatemala, there are a few things to see and do, but you can expect this to be more chill and laid back. Explore the different beaches in Guatemala and select your favourite.

Specifications for Antigua and the beaches


7 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus


2 - 4

Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this trip

Begin your journey in Antigua for three days. There is much to see and do in the city of Antigua. Delve into the heart of the city with a local guide on a walking tour of Antigua, or immerse yourself in the rich Guatemalan culinary traditions by participating in a cooking class. For an adventure outside the city, a visit to a coffee plantation on a coffee tour is highly recommended. 

After the exploration of Antigua itself, consider arranging one or more day trips from here, to explore the region better and of course, have some fun! 

Based on your chosen excursions and activities of interest, a stay of 2 or 3 days in Antigua is advisable.

After your visit to Antigua, make your way to the Pacific coast, where the black sandy beaches await! Check out the different beach towns that you can visit in Guatemala and select one (or two, or three) that resonate most with your style and wishes.

Where to sleep

Start by exploring accommodation options in Antigua. We’ve put together a list showcasing the top hostels in Antigua. Additionally, Antigua stands out as one of the destinations where you can spend the night in an exquisite boutique hotel located in charming colonial buildings. Antigua is also a great place to book a luxury hotel, as there are many to choose from, even if you’re on a budget.

Then, at the beach, it also depends on your own travel needs. For instance, if you want to go surfing in El Paredon, why not book a bed or room in a surf hostel. Or maybe you want to go and release baby turtles in Monterrico. Plan and book accordingly!

3. Mayan ruins and the Sweet River in 1 week

In this Guatemala itinerary for 1 week, we’re not going to Antigua, so if you want to visit the most beautiful city in Guatemala, then you should combine this trip with one of the others and extend your stay! Instead, we will discover the history and nature in the East of the country. We enjoyed this region so much, we spent weeks here!

The Mayan ruins that are most popular and interesting, are located in the Flores region, where you will get time to explore more than one Mayan city ruin. After that, we cruise through a lush part of Guatemala to visit the Rio Dulce area. First, travel through the town of Rio Dulce, with an ancient castle and a nearby hotspring. Then, get a lancha and make your way to the coastal town of Livingston. Along the way, you get to see tons of wildlife and a close encounter with the local river communities.

This is Guatemala at its best!

Specifications for Mayan ruins and the Sweet River in 1 week


7 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, River Boat



Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this itinerary

We only have 3 main stops in this itinerary, but each of these has a lot of activities and excursions to offer. So, your week will be filled with action, culture, history, nature, and a little bit of relaxation!

In Flores, you can engage in tons of different activities, as there is a lot to see and do in and around Flores. Obviously, the Mayan ruins of Yaxha and Tikal are the main tourist draw in this area. Have a look at the other Mayan ruins in the area. Maybe you want to stay even longer here!

From Flores, we move South, to the Rio Dulce area. We took a half time break in the small town of Poptun, where Finca Ixobel is a great place to enjoy some peace for a few days. The town of Rio Dulce is a shock for many, as it is busy and loud. We only stayed for 2 nights before moving on to a river lodge and explore the Rio Dulce river. 

Have a look at the things to do in Rio Dulce to find out if a stay in town is something you want to do or not. We enjoyed the Castillo de San Felipe, but we loved Finca Paraiso hot springs even more.

For the last stop in this trip, move on to Livingston, the Caribbean town on the Rio Dulce. You need a boat to get there, but it’s very much worthy of your time.

Where to sleep

During this week long trip, you have a lot of accommodation options to choose from. Flores is quite a touristy area, so there are many hostels and hotels to choose from. Have a look at these amazing hostels in Flores, unless you rather stay in a boutique hotel in Flores. We stayed in backpacker accommodation in El Remate for one night when we visited Yaxha ruins.  And if you want to go to Tikal, check out these lodges inside Tikal National Park.

At the Rio Dulce, you can either spend a night near or in the town of Rio Dulce. But you can also move straight to a river lodge on the Rio Dulce. We combine both lodging options in our Rio Dulce accommodation guide.

For Livingston you get to choose. You can either visit on a day trip or choose to spend a night in one of the Livingston lodges or hostels.

Where to sleep the rest of this trip

4. Natural Wonders of Guatemala in 1 week

Guatemala is full of natural beauty. During this itinerary, we won’t visit Antigua nor Lake Atitlan, so it’s a great idea to combine these 2 itineraries in order to get an amazing 2 week holiday in Guatemala. (Check itinerary 5)

During this 7 day itinerary for Guatemala, you discover the ancient Mayan cities, located in the Peten area in the North-East of the country. 

After that, you move South to experience some of the most beautiful natural places in Central America: the Rio Dulce area and the beautiful limestone pools of Semuc Champey. 

All of these destinations take you into the rural Guatemalan life and you can be sure that this trip will fondly stay in your memory forever!

Specifications for Natural Wonders of Guatemala


7 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, River Boat



Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this trip

Let’s explore the natural wonders. We start our journey in Flores. There’s a good chance that you crossed the border from Belize into Guatemala in order to reach Flores, the gateway to the Mayan world. 

Flores has a lot of highlights, but most people actually come to see the Mayan ruins, like Tikal and Yaxha. But there are many more of these lesser known Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

Your journey South continues as we move on to the Rio Dulce area: the perfect spot for wildlife spotting and bird watching. Here, you can explore the jungle, the Rio Dulce River and the majestic, green Canyon that leads up to the Caribbean. Don’t forget to visit the Garifuna village of Livingston.

Now that you’re already used to the nightly sounds of the jungle, it’s time to move on to Lanquin and the picturesque Semuc Champey pools. This is a perfect place to find peace in nature and of course, to visit Semuc Champey.

If you have the time, we recommend to continue travelling East and visit the sights in the Guatemalan highlands as well.

Where to sleep

The Natural Wonders of Guatemala offer a lot of jungle and river lodging. But before that, you get a few nights in Flores, which has different accommodation options. Have a look at the backpacker hostels and boutique hotels in Flores. Or, go all the way, and book a night in a lodge in Tikal National Park.

After Flores, Rio Dulce is next. Here, most travellers book a Rio Dulce river lodge or stay in the town for a night before they move to the river. For the Caribbean leg of this trip, choose one of the amazing accommodation options in Livingston.

For the final stop in the Guatemalan jungle, check out the most popular accommodation in Semuc Champey.

5. The Highlands Route in 1 week

The Guatemalan Highland route is just stunning. No, we’re not lying at all. All of the places in this itinerary are just so Instagram worthy, you won’t be able to choose your favourite sight or sunset view after this trip. 

Explore the colonial city of Antigua, gaze at the setting sun at Lake Atitlan, explore the local culture in the different villages around the lake, travel higher up into the mountains to visit the handicrafts market of Chichicastenango, and continue your travel to Quetzaltenango, a sometimes forgotten, but amazing destination in Guatemala.

Specifications for The Highlands Route


7 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, River Boat



Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this itinerary

Let’s see: we start out in Antigua, a backpacker favourite and the place where backpackers tend to stay longer than intended. There are a lot of things to see in Antigua, but you can also arrange one or more day trips from Antigua to explore the surrounding area. 

From Antigua, it’s only a few hours to reach Lake Atitlan, where you can choose between a variety of smaller villages. Will you stay in one place and explore the lake from there? Or will you book accommodation in different villages to get a real feel for the local vibe?

Explore the Lake Atitlan towns and book a tour to get to know the area. You could even stay in Panajachel, where you arrive when coming from Antigua, and then book a boat tour to visit a few of the lakeside villages.

From Lake Atitlan, we recommend travelling to the handicrafts market in Chichicastenango. If you don’t fancy to visit a touristy market, then have a look at the market in Solola, near Atitlan.

Last stop on this trip: Quetzaltenango. This town is one of the larger cities in Guatemala and it is usually skipped by travellers.  You won’t see any tour groups or holiday makers here. So, go to Quetzaltenango to see how life in a Guatemalan city really goes!

Where to sleep

The Highlands Route has 3 main stops, but you could explore Lake Atitlan further and plan more stops in that area, like we did over the years.

At the first destination, there’s no shortage in sleeping options. Have a look at the best hostels in Antigua or maybe a boutique hotel is a better fit for your travel plans. Alternatively, you can also pamper yourself in a luxury hotel in Antigua.

Lake Atitlan is also a haven for people who look for specialty lodging options. Have a look at the boutique and luxury hotels around Lake Atitlan. Or check out the most popular and unique backpacker hostels at Lake Atitlan

In Quetzaltenango, the hostel and hotel range is smaller, but you can still manage to get great accommodation in order to get to know this city. Check out the best hostels in Xela for your trip.

6. Pacific to the Caribbean coast in 2 weeks

During this Guatemala itinerary for 2 weeks, We start at the Pacific coast. (In theory, you have to start from Guatemala City or Antigua in order to be able to do this)

we discover the colonial town of Antigua before crossing through the entire country to see the Caribbean town of Livingston. 

Along the way, you get to explore the famous limestone pools of Semuc Champey, where the wild Rio Cahabon moves underground for a few hundred meters. Here you can enjoy a leisurely swim in the dense jungle of inland Guatemala. 

Right before landing in Livingston, a boat ride through the stunning El Canyon on the Rio Dulce river is the perfect place for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. 

This itinerary combines the lush nature with the colonial history of Guatemala.

Specifications for Pacific to the Caribbean coast


14 days


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, River Boat



Destinations in this itinerary

Things to do during this trip

While starting at the beach, you can engage in some beachtime activities.  In Guatemala, this includes surfing, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, releasing baby turtles, and so much more. Explore the different beaches in Guatemala and book your hotels and transportations according to your personal needs and wishes.

Antigua is next. This popular colonial city has a lot to offer. Check out the things to do in Antigua and things you can do on a day trip from Antigua.

Then, it’s time for a few cool natural wonders. From Antigua, going East, we first come across Lanquin and Semuc Champey, where you can explore the lush inland jungle of Guatemala. And of course, there are the beautiful turquoise pools of Semuc Champey.

After that, continue your journey to the Rio Dulce area. Here, you can choose what to do. Maybe you first want to see the things to see in and near Rio Dulce town, like Finca Paraïso hot springs and the Castillo de San Felipe. Or maybe you want to go straight to one of the amazing Rio Dulce River lodges. Your trip to the Rio Dulce area would not be complete without taking a boat trip to Livingston, for a day or maybe longer!

Where to sleep

This trip takes a little longer and gives you the opportunity to explore more places and more accommodation. First, have a look at the different beaches and their lodges.

In Antigua, there’s so much choice for accommodation, you will have a difficult time choosing. We recommend these boutique hotels in Antigua, so you can’t go wrong with these.

In Lanquin and the Semuc Champey area, there’s an abundance in jungle lodges and riverside accommodation. Check out the best hostels in the Semuc Champey area.

In Rio dulce, most people opt for a lodge on the Rio Dulce, but you can also get a hostel or hotel in town. For your last stop, find one of the beachfront or riverfront lodges in Livingston to get a feeling of that laid back Caribbean vibe!

7. All of Guatemala in 3 weeks

Do you have the time to explore all of Guatemala at a slower pace? Then we recommend taking at least 3 weeks to cover all the important destinations. 

If you want your travels to be more specific or if you have a dedicated goal for your trip to Guatemala, then you might want to take more time to see those places. For instance, if you want to see all of the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, you need more time! Or if you want to spend a night in every beach town in Guatemala, the same is true!

In 3 weeks, you have enough time to visit all the main, interesting sights. Here’s an itinerary that you can follow to see all of Guatemala in 21 days.

Specifications for All of Guatemala in 3 weeks


3 weeks


Shuttles, Chicken Bus, Boat



Destinations in this itinerary

We start this journey in Antigua, the most popular destination in Guatemala. It’s perfect to introduce yourself into this country. There’s a lot to see and do in Antigua, so, you’ll have to make choices for activities. We get back to Antigua in a few days, so you can split up activities as you like.

For accommodation, spend the night in one of these hostels or boutique hotels. Or maybe you want to splurge on a luxury hotel.

Next, book your shuttle to Lake Atitlan (or go by chicken bus if you’re up for that). It’s only a few hours driving to get to Panajachel. From there, you can visit any of the Lake Atitlan villages and towns or you can also book a tour at the lake, in order to explore more!

We recommend visiting a few towns during a boat tour. Spend the night in one of the backpacker hostels or splurge with a luxurious resort stay at Lake Atitlan.

Did you already know these interesting facts about Lake Atitlan?

Quetzaltenango is a destination that is often skipped by travellers.  Tour buses also skip this city.

That means it’s the ideal destination to explore the real Guatemalan city life. There are quite a few interesting things to see and do around Quetzaltenango.

The city also has some beautiful hotels and backpacker hostels where you can rest your head!

El Paredon is the first Guatemalan beach stop in this list. It’s accessible from Quetzaltenango, but you can reach it from Lake Atitlan or Antigua as well. In this dreamy beach location, we spent 2 days.

Take your time to chill and relax. Get some hammock time or try your luck during a surf session with a local guide. 

El Paredon is one of the most popular beaches in Guatemala. It’s particularly know for it’s amazing surf waves. On most days, those waves are suitable for beginners as well.

Monterrico is another Guatemalan beach village. We added it as a second stop in this Guatemala itinerary for 3 weeks, because in 3 weeks, you can take an extra day at the beach!

This laid back beach town is known for releasing turtles on the beach. This used to be an exclusive activity you could easily partake in, but if you plan your travels now, you might want to check if there are any releases planned and if you’re allowed to join in.

Antigua is the best hub for travelling in this region. As it’s the second time visiting, you probably already saw some of the interesting sights. Now, you can focus on a dedicated tour or two.

Will you go on a day trip from Antigua or visit a coffee plantation? Or would you rather explore the city during a guided walking tour. Maybe a cooking class where you learn how to make local dishes and visit the Antigua market.

Let’s leave the beautiful highlands behind and delve deep into the Guatemalan jungle. Lanquin is located in the middle of the country. Even tough the distance is manageable, the road there can be tricky. That’s why you should definitely count an extra day for this destination. Part of your day will be spent travelling through the jungle, which is already an amazing experience in itself.

From Lanquin, you can visit the picturesque limestone pools of Semuc Champey. Then, spend the night on one of the backpackers hostels or lodges near Semuc Champey or in Lanquin.

A similar jungle trip awaits as you make your way from Lanquin to Rio Dulce. There are a few things to see and do in Rio Dulce, like the Castillo de San Felipe and the Finca Paraïso hot springs

Most travellers enjoy a stay in one of the Rio Dulce river lodges or hostels.

We recommend taking a tour to the Caribbean village or Livingston, where the Rio Dulce meets the ocean. If you like the vibe, you can also book a night in a hostel in Livingston.

Flores, the gateway to the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Aside from the fact that there’s a lot to do in and around Flores, most visitors come here to explore the ancient ruins of Tikal or Yaxha

The area is super popular and offers a few accommodation options, like the hostels in Flores or the boutique hotels in and around Flores. We spent a night in El Remate, for quick access to the ruins. You can get even better access by spending a night in Tikal NP itself.

Map with destinations in the 'All of Guatemala' itinerary

Frequently asked questions about our Guatemala itinerary

Our Guatemala itinerary ideas have something for every type of travellers. They offer an immersive experience into the country’s vibrant culture and breathtaking natural landscapes. Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions to help you prepare for an unforgettable adventure.

How many days do you need for Guatemala?

To fully experience the diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and historic sites Guatemala has to offer, we recommend a minimum of 10 days. This allows for a relaxed pace to explore major attractions as well as some hidden gems.

This means that you can combine 2 of our itinerary ideas in a perfect mix & match for your needs and wishes.

How to get around in Guatemala?

For comprehensive details on navigating through Guatemala, including options ranging from public transportation to private transfers, we recommend referring to our guide on transportation in Guatemala. It will give you all the necessary information to traverse the country efficiently and comfortably.

Is Guatemala a cheap country to visit?

Yes, Guatemala is generally considered a budget-friendly destination. Expenses for lodging, meals, transportation, and activities are relatively low compared to many other tourist destinations. This makes it an attractive option for travellers looking to experience a rich culture and stunning landscapes without breaking the bank. However, as with any trip, planning and budget management are key to making the most of your finances.

Have a look at these prepaid travel cards, which get you the best exchange rates and don’t take commission on every withdrawal.

Is Guatemala tourist-friendly?

Yes, Guatemala is very tourist-friendly, offering a wide range of facilities and services tailored to international visitors. English is commonly spoken in major tourist areas, and the locals are known for their warm hospitality. Additionally, there is an abundance of tourist information available, making it easy for visitors to navigate the country and its attractions.

What should I pack for Guatemala?

For your trip to Guatemala, we’ve curated a comprehensive packing list to ensure you’re fully prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Our list caters to the warm climate and diverse adventures awaiting in this captivating country. Here are a few tips:

  • Read our Guatemala packing list to ensure you don’t forget essentials.
  • Pack your camera to capture the unforgettable moments.
  • Bring clothes that allow for layering, suitable for the diverse climates across different regions in Guatemala.

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.

What is the 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.

Do I need a visa for Guatemala?

Whether or not you need a visa for Guatemala, depends on your country of origin. We can’t answer that question for every country of origin, so, we recommend checking the exact document needs for your personal situation on the iVisa website

iVisa has detailed information for every destination, for every traveller.

Guatemala itinerary ideas conclusion

We 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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