Is Guatemala City Worth Visiting?

Is Guatemala City Worth Visiting?

140

OMAAT readers have collectively been just about everywhere, so I’m sure some people will have thoughts here.

Is Guatemala City worth visiting?

I’ve been to a few countries in Central America, and largely they’re worth visiting for the beautiful nature. Other than Panama City, I can’t say I’ve specifically gone out of my way to visit a city in Central America, short of a mileage run or being enroute to somewhere else.

I loved visiting Calala Island in Nicaragua

But I’ve vaguely heard pretty good things about Guatemala City, and am tempted to visit. I’m not expecting Paris or Hong Kong, but can any OMAAT readers who have been to Guatemala City chime in? Are there any great restaurants? Is it a fun place to spend a few days, with things to see and do? Are there any fun day trips from the city? Is it safe enough (assuming you use common sense and aren’t acting like an idiot)?

Why I’m considering a trip to Guatemala City

Why am I asking about Guatemala City? A few reasons…

First of all, if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s a country that I haven’t visited, so it’s another one I’d like to check off my list (when you get to 100+ countries, it’s fun to be able to check off countries that aren’t too far away).

Beyond that, flights from the United States to Guatemala are ridiculously cheap — you can fly roundtrip from Miami to Guatemala City for $130 right now, for example.

To top it all off, there’s a Hyatt Centric in Guatemala City that gets awesome reviews, looks pretty nice, and is quite affordable.

Hyatt Centric Guatemala City pool

At some point in the not-too-distant future, this seems like a worthwhile long weekend trip — cheap flights, a good hotel option, and a new country.

Bottom line

I can’t say that Guatemala City has historically been at the top of my list of places to visit, but I’m seriously considering traveling there. Guatemala is a country I haven’t been to, fares are super cheap, and there’s a nice-looking and reasonably priced Hyatt, so for me that’s just about enough reason to plan a trip.

To those who have been to Guatemala City, any thoughts?

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  1. Maria Lauf

    Please Do
    Guatemala is the country of contrast.
    The beauty of the nature it is impressive.
    Once you go there you'll love to visit again. The fact that you can inmerse in the Mayan culture like 2000 years ago has not price.the people are so friendly the university of Chicago had a study that the Guatemalan people are very happy and content
    After you go please post the pictures of the active fire volcano. Enjoy amigo.

  2. Samuel M Salazar

    First you must start at Antigua next to Tikal. then you must or should hire a tourist guide. Then last back to Antigua.

  3. Robert

    I have been to Guatemala at least a dozen times. i have stayed in Antigua each time, because Guatemala City is considered dangerous by my friends in Antigua. Antigua is a beautiful city with a rich history. Lake Atitalan and Chlchicastenango are worthwhile sites to see, however you must use caution as you would in any foreign country.

    1. Samuel M Salazar

      Guatemala is not any more dangerous than any place in the. Great USA. Pick up any news paper any city in USA and read it.

  4. Rose

    I lived in Guatemala City for two years with my husband before we were married. If you really wanted to, there are a few interesting things to do/see in the City but to be honest I'd highly recommend going to Antigua or the Pacific coast instead. They are both fairly short rides from the city and are so charming. At that hotel you would be in zone 10 which is central and kind of the...

    I lived in Guatemala City for two years with my husband before we were married. If you really wanted to, there are a few interesting things to do/see in the City but to be honest I'd highly recommend going to Antigua or the Pacific coast instead. They are both fairly short rides from the city and are so charming. At that hotel you would be in zone 10 which is central and kind of the "cool" party type area where young people go out at night and there are some trendy restaurants etc. It would get old quick and getting anywhere in the city is a huge pain as the traffic is horrendous. You will need to be aware of which zones to avoid and you will certainly have to be very aware of muggers at all times. This is an issue all around the country but in the city it's much more of an issue. When I lived there shootings were a problem in that area of zone 10. While my husband was playing at a bar with his band, the bar was shot at from a car driving by. He has also been mugged multiple times, once at gunpoint. Not trying to freak you out, like I said I lived there for two years (as a young American gringa) and never had anything bad happen, but it easily could have. So basically I'm saying just go to Antigua, it's a beautiful historical small city that isn't far away.

  5. Jose

    Hello my name is Jose!

    I'm also a dual citizen guatemalan American and I grew up in the mere roots of a vibrant, colorful, cultural but also dangerous city... you will encounter vestige of early colonization in zone 1 (national palace, teatro nacional, and bicentennial churches...) and also are gonna be able to visit mayan ruins with century old ruin within the city as it is Kaminal juyu! The cosmopolitan side of the city just...

    Hello my name is Jose!

    I'm also a dual citizen guatemalan American and I grew up in the mere roots of a vibrant, colorful, cultural but also dangerous city... you will encounter vestige of early colonization in zone 1 (national palace, teatro nacional, and bicentennial churches...) and also are gonna be able to visit mayan ruins with century old ruin within the city as it is Kaminal juyu! The cosmopolitan side of the city just like any other place is set for a good trip.

  6. Karen

    Guatemala is a beautiful place to visit. Just like any other country it has it bad side where you will encounter thieves. But if you use precautions, common sense and of course don't be showing off your stuff you will be okay. When I go I don't take my good jewelry and I try not to get attention to myself.

  7. Hector RIVERA

    I was born in Guatemala and race in USA I been back with my husband (American ) 7 times and he loves Guatemala it will be a long list to mention. If you go to the wright places you will enjoy the beauty of this place even you can live like a King down there.

  8. Jacobo Tefel

    I have brought many business visitors form the US to Guatemala, including Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlán amd Mayan cities like Tikal. And they were delighted and surprised of how beatiful the country is, and how warm the people are. It has been a surprise to many, they all tell me. Try it, and is only 2 hours flight from Miami!

  9. Jaime Diaz

    Guatemala is in my opinion one of the best places to travel too. We have beaches, forest, tropical weather and the most humble people you will ever meet.
    You must visit Antigua , atitlan , Tikal and coban. This places will leave you breathless.
    The food the culture can't explain it with words.
    We are visiting again during Christmas if all is well.
    We were there Easter week and can't wait to go again. Christmas.
    Safe travels

  10. Oswaldo Giron

    Guatemala beutiful country love native music.Antigua ,Atitlan .tikal.i. the city Paseo cayala zona viva 10 Paseo de la sexta to much to see .I was there August 2021.for two weeks.dont drive.traffic is bad everywhere yo go morning and afternoon.everything else es good I enjoyed I love to go back In near future.

  11. Ryan Gonzalez

    I went to Guatemala City two months agoDefinitely I recommend to go there. The city is a cosmopolitan city. The biggest city in Central America with around 8 millions the metropolitan area. It’s ranked on the top of the 5 biggest cities of Hispanic speaking in the world. Country population more than 22 millions people.
    1. Mexico City (Mexico)
    2. Buenos Aires (Argentina)
    3. Bogota (Colombia)
    4. Lima (Peru)
    5....

    I went to Guatemala City two months agoDefinitely I recommend to go there. The city is a cosmopolitan city. The biggest city in Central America with around 8 millions the metropolitan area. It’s ranked on the top of the 5 biggest cities of Hispanic speaking in the world. Country population more than 22 millions people.
    1. Mexico City (Mexico)
    2. Buenos Aires (Argentina)
    3. Bogota (Colombia)
    4. Lima (Peru)
    5. Guatemala City (Guatemala)

    Places to visit Zona 10 called zona viva
    Zona 1. Oldest zones paseo la sexta. National palece.
    Ciudad Cayala zone 16
    Mouseums zone 13
    Arqueologicals site zone 11
    Biggest Malls zone 10, 11, 15
    Mapa en relieve zone 2
    Clubs, bars, restaurants, Malls, and hotels zone 10
    National theater.
    A much more . Gays bars and clubs zone 10 and zone 1.

  12. Maura

    Definitely visit Guatemala Make sure you visit Antiqua and Panajachel take s boat ride on the lake and view many volcanoes Beautiful !!! As with any city around the world you gave your areas that you need to be aware of your surroundings People are so friendly saying “hola or bueno Dias “ without knowing you Nice atmosphere away from the rushing around here in U.S. and not even acknowledging each other

  13. Tim Wodzynski

    I have been living in Guatemala City for five years and it is a safe city to live in. Depending on your budget there is also the Intercontinental and the Camino Royal in zone 10.

    There is a great sushi restaurant in zone 10 and the sevice is awesome and it is called Naru. There's a fantastic Indian restaurant in Zone 14 called Mount Everest and a Thai/Indian restaurant called the Three Elephants (Tres Elefantes)....

    I have been living in Guatemala City for five years and it is a safe city to live in. Depending on your budget there is also the Intercontinental and the Camino Royal in zone 10.

    There is a great sushi restaurant in zone 10 and the sevice is awesome and it is called Naru. There's a fantastic Indian restaurant in Zone 14 called Mount Everest and a Thai/Indian restaurant called the Three Elephants (Tres Elefantes). There are also some restaurants in the Fontebella Plaza also in Zone but I've only been to the Italian restaurant there, which I can highly recommend.

    If you have time I would also recommend visiting Livingston and going on the day trip to la Playa Blanca and Siete Altares both of which are really beautiful and they are on the Caribbean side of Guatemala. Panajachel, Antigua are worth visitng and if you are feeling adventurous you can climb a volcano or two.

  14. Ana

    Guatemala has a lot beautiful places to visit
    Antigua I close to the city and is a beautiful and safe place

  15. Luis

    Guatemala city is a very nice city to visit, check ciudad, cayala, district zone 4 , zone 10 has alot places to check it out, such as Okland mall and on the top has roof top that opens at night and has so many restaurants that are so upscale looking, you can walk in avenida Las americas with has many monuments, plaza espana, German plaza wich has pieces of the Berlin wall, zone 14 plaza...

    Guatemala city is a very nice city to visit, check ciudad, cayala, district zone 4 , zone 10 has alot places to check it out, such as Okland mall and on the top has roof top that opens at night and has so many restaurants that are so upscale looking, you can walk in avenida Las americas with has many monuments, plaza espana, German plaza wich has pieces of the Berlin wall, zone 14 plaza tiffany and also zone 14 there is a restaurant call salvaje check it out, if you want to have dinner at rotating restaurant you can go to zone 15 the views are great, use uber all the time the most safe way to travel, Guatemala city has many places to go but you will need weeks , those are just a few to check out

  16. Bob

    During my visit I took my grand daughter to the zoo which is about a 15 minute drive from the city. Marvelous zoo, quite clean, and many various animals in natural environments. Particularly the hippopotamus's. Also consider a trip to Antigua, once the most important seat of Spanish colonial government between Mexico City and Lima Peru, to view the ruins of colonial edifices that make it a museum of Spanish colonial history.

  17. Mercedes Mendez

    I am from Guatemala and my whole family still lives there. The city seemed really dirty last time I went but there was a really good restaurant named Tabasco. As for day trips if you go to lake atitlan try to stay in a smallish town NOT panajachel (unless what you really wanted was a trip to Europe.) Check out tikisate or another place on the coast. Careful though, Guatemala's got some seriously sick undertow.

  18. Vicky Roche

    Yes! Definitely, on your way to Antigua, make a stop at Mirador Altamira in Milpas Altas, about 30 mins from the city, The view is breathtaking. While having Brkfst, the view of the three Volcanos & their small town's will be amazing & worthwhile. Enjoy your trip!

  19. Natalie Ayala

    Yeah I would definitely recommend visiting Guatemala, it’s climate is awesome, it’s not too hot , not too cold, silmilar to weather in Los Angeles. More than Any place, I would say, visit Antigua, so you can get a good thorough experience with the culture, also the food is to die for! Nicaragua and Guatemala, are my 2 favorite places to vacation at.

  20. Henry G Brown III

    Just left there and only spento three days. The beach on the pacific side isnt worth seeing. I stayed at a new resort which was new and amazing but because of the Volcanos the sand is actually crushed lava rock atleast where i stayed. We only spent a night at the beach before heading to Antigua. We really enjoyed the city and food. Webwere theremon a weekend amd the central park has a city gathering...

    Just left there and only spento three days. The beach on the pacific side isnt worth seeing. I stayed at a new resort which was new and amazing but because of the Volcanos the sand is actually crushed lava rock atleast where i stayed. We only spent a night at the beach before heading to Antigua. We really enjoyed the city and food. Webwere theremon a weekend amd the central park has a city gathering every weekend. It was cool to mingle with the locals. Guatemalans are some of the nicest people. You still have the cops trying to tax you at road blocks like most Hispanic countries. But outside the road blocks, the police appeared to be very friendly and helpful in the Antigua area. I can't wait to go back to see more. Cheap ticket from Atlanta makes it a great spot to visit.

  21. Gavino

    I lived in Guatemala once and had five trips there altogether.
    Instead of Guatemala city why not opt for quetzltenango or Xela as it's better know. Situated in the western highlands ( 2300 metres or 7600 ft above sea level. Eleven universities, 30 trade schools lots of Spanish language programs and affectionately called the cradle of culture. Then there is also Lago Attitlan with its many Mayian villages, or Antigua a real jewel. Guatemala...

    I lived in Guatemala once and had five trips there altogether.
    Instead of Guatemala city why not opt for quetzltenango or Xela as it's better know. Situated in the western highlands ( 2300 metres or 7600 ft above sea level. Eleven universities, 30 trade schools lots of Spanish language programs and affectionately called the cradle of culture. Then there is also Lago Attitlan with its many Mayian villages, or Antigua a real jewel. Guatemala city is dangerous to some degree. Travel with an open mind and don't advertise that you have money ( you do anyway). Dress down...be humble and learn a little espanol. Have fun and be safe

  22. Amir

    Guatemala City is definitely worth visiting. For a short trip, I would not try to fit in travel to tourist traps (like Lake Atitlan and Tikal), but if you have more time in the country they are certainly worth a visit. In the city, I recommend checking out La Sexta on a weekend day for great people watching. It's a long pedestrian strip where folks from all walks of life take a stroll, shop, and...

    Guatemala City is definitely worth visiting. For a short trip, I would not try to fit in travel to tourist traps (like Lake Atitlan and Tikal), but if you have more time in the country they are certainly worth a visit. In the city, I recommend checking out La Sexta on a weekend day for great people watching. It's a long pedestrian strip where folks from all walks of life take a stroll, shop, and eat. While there you might stop for lunch at Nawal, a Palestinian-owned bakery and shawarma shop. Beyond La Sexta, I recommend you try some of the high-end restaurants the city has to offer. I recently went to an upscale Japanese spot called Salvaje in Zone 14 that exceeded my expectations. There is also a vibrant party scene in Zone 10, if you are into night life. I disagree with recommendations to visit Cayala. I find it boring and sterile.

  23. Aaron Hernandez

    Panajachel is where my mom was born. Youust visit and make it a point to go to the little towns surrounding the lake Atitlán. You will find the indigenous dress to change colors and patterns. You will enjoy it. You can also zip line or paraglide if you're into that.

    Look to see if you can visit Semuc Champey. This includes visiting some caverns and a river that is aqua colored. It's an experience like...

    Panajachel is where my mom was born. Youust visit and make it a point to go to the little towns surrounding the lake Atitlán. You will find the indigenous dress to change colors and patterns. You will enjoy it. You can also zip line or paraglide if you're into that.

    Look to see if you can visit Semuc Champey. This includes visiting some caverns and a river that is aqua colored. It's an experience like no other.

    Tikal is also a must. You will see the capital city of the Maya empire. You can climb up a scaffold and then stand atop one of the pyramids and view the forest canvas....what an experience.

    Lastly, go to Izabal and visit the lake and river there. There is also a castle that was built by the Spaniards that stands today, cannons and all.

    Enjoy your trip!

  24. Hector

    I'm from Guatemala, and let me tell you that Guatemala has great places to visit: Antigua Guatemala, Atitlán Lake, Biotopo. The secret is to get to Guatemala City and ask for your hotel (Hyatt Centric for your case) for tour options to those places. In the city there are nice places like Cayala, but nothing like first world cities. If you are able you can also hop into an internal flight and go to Petén (Tikal specifically)

  25. Darlene T

    Guatemala is a beautiful country. I’ve visited a few times though it is a poor country it is rich in culture. Must go is Antigua, Panahachel you won’t be disappointed, the people are welcoming and the food and culture are fantastic. I wish more people would go, please let me know if you visit these 2 places at least. The volcano views are one in a million, I’m telling you I know you will want...

    Guatemala is a beautiful country. I’ve visited a few times though it is a poor country it is rich in culture. Must go is Antigua, Panahachel you won’t be disappointed, the people are welcoming and the food and culture are fantastic. I wish more people would go, please let me know if you visit these 2 places at least. The volcano views are one in a million, I’m telling you I know you will want to go back and explore, and on your 2nd trip there go to Tikal it’s full of pyramids and you will think you were visiting Egypt. Guatemala has gotten a bad rap for some reason but it’s definitely a place to go.

  26. Antonio

    Others have said just about everything. I'm a United 1MM dual citizen USA/Guatemala. Guatemala city is just a Central American capital city. Same as other capitals in that region, very normal. Antigua is magical, go there no matter what. And from there, go to Atitlan. If you have time, make it to Tikal. There is much more to Guate, but for a first-timer these are the necessities.

    1. SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT

      Isn't it great that UAL resumed LAX-GUA nonstop flights after more than 10 years? On some days, UAL is the only airline flying non-stop in the market. Avianca has pared back it's schedule and DL is no longer operating daily.

      I can remember (pre-9/11) when Spirit used to fly the route non-stop with it's then new 319's....packed liked a sardine in a tin can then...packed like a sardine in a tin can now...lol Spirit...

      Isn't it great that UAL resumed LAX-GUA nonstop flights after more than 10 years? On some days, UAL is the only airline flying non-stop in the market. Avianca has pared back it's schedule and DL is no longer operating daily.

      I can remember (pre-9/11) when Spirit used to fly the route non-stop with it's then new 319's....packed liked a sardine in a tin can then...packed like a sardine in a tin can now...lol Spirit wrote the book on "densification". Even Spirit's Big Front Seat back in the day was tight!

      SO_CAL_RETAIL_SLUT

  27. Magda Sican-Grove

    I was born in Guatemala and because of poverty I wasn't able to go any other places but my small City. Now that I'm more comfortable here in the United States I was able to save money and take a trip to Flores Petén. I toured the lake and Tikal and oh my God I was blown away by the beauty I have been missing. I also went to one the volcanoes and roasted marshmallows in the lava heat, go for it you will love it. Also try Antigua and Panajachel.

  28. Rafael Antillon

    Go, is one of the most beautiful places I have been, just choose the places you are going to, they're so many, I would like to recommend, Antigua, Tikal, Atitlan, Rio Dulce, El Biotopo, Volcano Fuego y Pacaya, and several beaches if you like the hot weather

  29. Leslie

    You definitely don’t want to skip going to Guatemala- the dollar goes a long way and it’s got a lot to offer - I believe you’d love Cayala , Antigua , Atitlan, Tikal, IRTRA, Semuc Champey ,etc…
    The weather is comfortable and it’s a very colorful country- most people are very nice ! Btw… I’ve been to Tikal 5x in 30 yrs so what does that tell ya - look up each other places I recommended - good luck - enjoy !

  30. Leslie

    You definitely don’t want to skip going to Guatemala- the dollar goes a long way and it’s got a lot to offer - I believe you’d love Cayala , Antigua , Atitlan, Tikal, IRTRA, Semuc Champey ,etc…
    The weather is comfortable and it’s a very colorful country- most people are very nice ! Btw… I’ve been to Tikal 5x in 30 yrs so what does that tell ya - look up each other places I recommended - good luck - enjoy !

  31. Greg Evans

    I've lived in Guatemala City since 2004. I haven't stayed in the Hyatt Centric just been to the Plaza where it's located. Lots of well-known restaurants there as well as small local ones, there's a PF Chang's and a Friday's if you want to stick to what you may know, plus there is a food court with smaller restaurants with International cuisine. Around that area you can find lots of entertainment within walking distance, Plaza...

    I've lived in Guatemala City since 2004. I haven't stayed in the Hyatt Centric just been to the Plaza where it's located. Lots of well-known restaurants there as well as small local ones, there's a PF Chang's and a Friday's if you want to stick to what you may know, plus there is a food court with smaller restaurants with International cuisine. Around that area you can find lots of entertainment within walking distance, Plaza Fontabella with even more variety of restaurants a block away and there are other stand alone restaurants such as Rendez-vous which someone mentioned as well as Pecorino which I recommend.

    Ciudad Cayalá is also a very nice stay. AC Marriott is a great place to stay and in Cayalá you're inside a private area, it's a large complex with the hotel, luxury residences some of which are Airbnb's, you'll find shops, restaurants, cafés, a little wine bar, green areas, a cinema, a Supermarket and even a church. I did that staycation with my family a couple months ago and highly recommend it.

    For a day trip I agree with the person who mentioned Antigua for all its history and nice spots, I like Santo Domingo del Cerro which is a cultural spot with one of my favorite places for breakfast - El tenedor del cerro. Just outside Antigua I would also recommend Finca La Azotea and Finca Filadelfia if you want to do something outdoorsy. World class coffee is produced in Antigua and you can get a coffee tour at both places and do horseback riding or rent a bicycle. Another spot would be Amatitlán, named for the lake it's on, there's a spa called Santa Teresita which has natural hot springs from the nearby volcano.
    Hope this has been helpful.

  32. Vivian Harvey

    Two great museum right next teach other on a university grounds, the Ixchel Museum of Maya Textiles, and the Popol Vuh Museum, a museum of Guatemalan history. Both are terrific. I go to Guatemala most winters, live in Panajachel on the lake. I've been going since 1987 (not last winter, tho...)

  33. Terry

    My ex & I visited Tikal & Chichicastenango, which was charming. (I believe we stayed in a colonial hotel, Hotel Museo Mayan Inn ?) Was great fun, and you're right, a nice get-away from Miami.

  34. Marc

    Let me know if you go - I plan on doing a weekend trip there shortly. Intrigued by the city and flights are inexpensive!

  35. Sofia santos

    Guatemala City was the capital of all Central America, for more than 3 centuries if we Include The Majestic ANTIGUA GUATEMALA, IT HAS THE OLDEST HISTORIC DOWNTOWN , the First Sinagoge , great Museums ,beautyful Palaces. Delicious Gastronomy. Affordable prices, excellent hotels amazing Nature. Rain forest, mountains, lakes, sand beaches in the Caribbean and pacific coast, delicious Country, and the number one holly week.

  36. Alma Castaneda

    Guatemala is awesome, there are lots of places to visit, like Antigua (colonial village) Atitlán, (with a beautiful blue lake) and Tikal a Mayan city, just to mention a few. Also, skeep Starbucks and visit a local coffee shops, you will find some in downtown or Antigua, if you have a chance, they have the best coffee in the world. I recommend Filadelfia coffee farm or El injerto those are my favorites

  37. Tomas

    Long Weekend: Antigua. Overnight Guatemala City if needed to position for flights.

    1 week: Antigua, Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Tikal.

    What Avgeek wouldn't want to fly into/ out of Mundo Maya International Airport (FRS) !! Tikal is stunning and very worthwhile.

  38. peter vl

    Having traveled around the world for 30+ years including to less-than-commonly-popular places, I’m a huge fan of Guatemala. But by that I don’t mean Guatemala City. I mean places already mentioned by others with Lake Atitlan ( check out the outstanding Casa Palopo which is the only Relais&Chateaux in Guatemala), Antigua and Tikal with its beautiful ruïnes ( check out La Lancha ) amongst the very best. With a population that is gentle, friendly and...

    Having traveled around the world for 30+ years including to less-than-commonly-popular places, I’m a huge fan of Guatemala. But by that I don’t mean Guatemala City. I mean places already mentioned by others with Lake Atitlan ( check out the outstanding Casa Palopo which is the only Relais&Chateaux in Guatemala), Antigua and Tikal with its beautiful ruïnes ( check out La Lancha ) amongst the very best. With a population that is gentle, friendly and most client oriented, local food that is outstanding ( assuming one likes spices and stews and flavors) and an outstanding climate that varies from where exactly you visit ( don’t expect aircon in many of the best top boutique resorts cuz it’s not necessary), I have nothing but praise about that wonderful country.

    1. Steve

      Wow, Casa Palopo looks exceptional. Glad i found this comment, thanks for sharing going to be looking at booking this asap! Seems like this is the best spot for lake atitlan. Thanks Pete!

  39. Cat

    So my family is from Guatemala. I spent a lot of time traveling there as a kid but we never spent too much time in the Capital. My husband and I recently decided to use the capital as our base for other things and it worked out great. From there, you can take a small plane to Flores and see Tikal. There are a lot of tour groups that will organize this for you, including...

    So my family is from Guatemala. I spent a lot of time traveling there as a kid but we never spent too much time in the Capital. My husband and I recently decided to use the capital as our base for other things and it worked out great. From there, you can take a small plane to Flores and see Tikal. There are a lot of tour groups that will organize this for you, including the flight. We decided to book on our own and found a private guide instead.

    You can also do tours to Antigua or Lake Atitlán. I definitely don't recommend trying to rent a car to get around; the driving style can be very hectic and scary if you're not familiar.

    We took advantage of a free day and booked a tour of the city. Even with all the years of passing through, I got to see and learn a lot of things that were completely new. Use your common sense in regards to safety and you'll be fine!

  40. Kristen

    My boyfriend is from Guatemala and he took me in June. Antigua is beautiful. Great Food. Beautiful architecture. We also went to Lake Atitlan and went across the lake to the other towns where they show you how they make their clothes and coffee, ect. I never felt unsafe but we stayed in Antigua. Visit Altamira Park for amazing photo opportunities and the town right down the street is hobbitenango. They have little hotels that...

    My boyfriend is from Guatemala and he took me in June. Antigua is beautiful. Great Food. Beautiful architecture. We also went to Lake Atitlan and went across the lake to the other towns where they show you how they make their clothes and coffee, ect. I never felt unsafe but we stayed in Antigua. Visit Altamira Park for amazing photo opportunities and the town right down the street is hobbitenango. They have little hotels that look like hobbit houses. Go! You won't regret it!

  41. Surf Cycling Hawaii

    very nice place Panajachel. I like this place.

  42. Tony Medina

    Guatemala city, a big city and as such ,avaid going to some areas that may not be safe. Around the airport and the financial district are very nice areas, excellent Italian restaurants, buildings with interesting arquitecture!

    Guatemala is a beautiful country!! El Tikal amazing pyramids about 35 minutes away by jet service to Las Flores. Lake Atitlan one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Antigua (ancient) the previous capital a city not...

    Guatemala city, a big city and as such ,avaid going to some areas that may not be safe. Around the airport and the financial district are very nice areas, excellent Italian restaurants, buildings with interesting arquitecture!

    Guatemala is a beautiful country!! El Tikal amazing pyramids about 35 minutes away by jet service to Las Flores. Lake Atitlan one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Antigua (ancient) the previous capital a city not far from Guatema city. Magistic volcanos.

    Overall, visit Guatemala. Check the latest travel conditions .

    Happy travels.
    Tony

  43. Hugo Quinonez

    Try to visit Panajachel it's beautiful

  44. stogieguy7

    Guatemala City, overall is NOT a safe city to visit. Sure, if you stay in the Zona Rosa (where the Intercontinental is) then yes that's fine. But most of the rest of the city is pretty dodgy. As pointed out, Antigua is less than an hour away and certainly worth visiting. But that's really about it.

    Having been there many times for work, I don't think I'd waste my personal money on a trip there. Just my opinion.

  45. D.

    Go to Antigua. It’s about 45 minutes from GC. You’ll love it!!!

  46. Michael Hines

    I went at the beginning of the year. Guatemala City is decent enough - it has a hand full of interesting cultural sites and restaurants. But to me its more of a stopping off point for a night, before heading to its neighbor Antigua Guatemala a short drive away (the original, colonial capital city of Guatemala). Also one might visit Atitlan, a stunning volcanic lake a few hour further west beyond Antigua.

  47. Norma

    Guatemala is always worth visiting, there is so much to do, has a variety on architecture and cloture; try to ask locals for places to visit, and foods to eat! Visit museums and Have Fun!

  48. Jen

    Guatemala is so worth visiting. The capital, Antigua, if you have abundance of time the ancient ruins in Peten. I been to Guatemala several times never had a problem. I don’t wear jewelry or bring expensive items and I don’t flash my money or phone and passport around. Be street smart blend in like anywhere else and you’ll be fine.

  49. Tony J Manetti

    Stay at the Casa Santo Domingo Hotel in nearby Antigua. Absolutely enchanting!

  50. Erick

    Guatemala city is worth an overnight visit, maybe more if you have a local host. Otherwise the Westin or intercontinental are your best bets. And stay to within walking distance of each for good food and nightlife. Don't stray too far and you should be ok. Ask concierge for local restaurants. donde Mikel is excellent. As is the sushi bar in the intercontinental. If still there. Then Antigua is a must!

  51. Lucrecia

    I am sick to hear Guatemala City is so dangerous. First of all the a few cities and Countries I know have their side of Beauty and other side NO + dangerous. Guatemala City, Antigua Guatemala, Ocean Beach, Caribbean side and more can offer you a dream experience if you find the right source to find a safe tourism guidelines or agency (search and you will be fine and happy to ENJOY GUATEMALA

    1. Patty

      Hi, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I visited 5 yrs ago for personal reasons and my cousin who leaves there asked me not to wear my jewelry but I did anyway.,, and on our way to Cayalan two individuals on a motorcycle pretended that we hot them put the motorcycle down came to the window and demanded for us to open our windows and I told my cousin Run his s ass over...

      Hi, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I visited 5 yrs ago for personal reasons and my cousin who leaves there asked me not to wear my jewelry but I did anyway.,, and on our way to Cayalan two individuals on a motorcycle pretended that we hot them put the motorcycle down came to the window and demanded for us to open our windows and I told my cousin Run his s ass over …that’s what I would do and she told him I’ll run to you over and finally he moved … so it is dangerous if you don’t know the city specially, so yeah be careful just like Paris and Italy it’s common for thieves so anyway but the ruins of beautiful and there’s a few into nature and beaches I suggest you go there

  52. Maria

    Being from Guate would recommend to go if you stay most of yiur time an hour away from Guatemala city in Antigua. Beautiful colonial place. Atitlan lake a little bit further could be a day trip. Mayan ruins in Peten (whole day travel) are amazing. All depends on the time you have to stay. But if going for just a couple days, Antigua… just beautiful

  53. Jonas

    Like many cities Guatemala City has it's different sides. Its packed with interesting surprises if you know where to look. Three years ago, one of the most important contemporary American painters, Evan Hecox came to Guatemala city to find inspiration, and he did beautifully.
    You can also see Guatemala city like a Hub, where you can ride to the wonderful Antigua one day and the next day take a 75$ round flight to Xela,...

    Like many cities Guatemala City has it's different sides. Its packed with interesting surprises if you know where to look. Three years ago, one of the most important contemporary American painters, Evan Hecox came to Guatemala city to find inspiration, and he did beautifully.
    You can also see Guatemala city like a Hub, where you can ride to the wonderful Antigua one day and the next day take a 75$ round flight to Xela, one of the most breathtaking places in the country. Let us know if you need anything during your trip, my family and I will be more than delighted of sharing the blessings of our country with you. Wish you a wonderful trip!!!

  54. Manny

    Points hotel in Antigua. El Convento. Its SLH so I think you can book through Hyatt . Grand suite is $200 a night (all suites are great)

    Skip the city or make it your last night and have a nice dinner before early morning flights back to US

  55. Krabnov

    Guatemala: spend one or two days max. Antiqua and anywhere around the Lake Atitlán is where you really want to be.

  56. Andy

    Like others said, Guatemala City is nice and in most parts very clean. Don't miss out on Antigua, which is a 40 minute taxi/uber ride away, but you can do that easily as a daytrip. In Guatemala itself, the Kaminal archeological park is fascinating, in particular since it is still being used by the indigenas for their cults. Also the Museos Popol Vuh and Ixchel are nice, including their campus. Most areas are safe during...

    Like others said, Guatemala City is nice and in most parts very clean. Don't miss out on Antigua, which is a 40 minute taxi/uber ride away, but you can do that easily as a daytrip. In Guatemala itself, the Kaminal archeological park is fascinating, in particular since it is still being used by the indigenas for their cults. Also the Museos Popol Vuh and Ixchel are nice, including their campus. Most areas are safe during day time.

    I usually stay in the Westin Camino Real, which is the city's iconic hotel, built in the 1950s but steadily renovated. Staff is really excellent and availability for suite upgrades is generally good.

  57. G Greene

    Absolutely not. Firstly, it's one of the most dangerous cities in the world. And you really feel that after dark. Secondly, the danger isn't even worth it, because it's also just really boring and charmless. It's only worthwhile as a stopover toward the wonderous sights almost everywhere else in Guate.

    1. Byron

      I would highly recomend your visit to Guatemala! It's like any other country of the world. Of course there is a safety issues or suburbs like in the United States but nothing mayor. If you are an autdoor person? You should go to to the ancient City of the Mayans! Tikal Peten. Forma there you can go to Livingston Izabal! Volcán de fuego if you like to hike and see the amazing volcán at night....

      I would highly recomend your visit to Guatemala! It's like any other country of the world. Of course there is a safety issues or suburbs like in the United States but nothing mayor. If you are an autdoor person? You should go to to the ancient City of the Mayans! Tikal Peten. Forma there you can go to Livingston Izabal! Volcán de fuego if you like to hike and see the amazing volcán at night. There is a lot to see in Guatemala depending on your time and budget! There is great hotels from 10 stars to 1 star again depending on your budget. Good luck on your trip!! Go explore different cultures in your on words don't let anyone tell you and you will be amazed and may want to go back! Google it also! Buena suerte I am from Guatemala living in the United States.

  58. Dylan

    I stayed at the Hilton near the airport for one night a few years back and the hotel staff strongly advised against walking alone at night in that area.

    I spent most of my time in Antigua and Lake Atitlán which were incredible. I was at the latter when the volcano erupted in 2018. Flights were delayed for a day or two while the runways in Guatemala City were swept free of ash.

  59. ALEX FLORES

    I just moved to Guatemala after 27 years in the stataes. It's a safe country despite what some may say. Yes, you'll see lots of armed security, and the police don't enforce the traffick laws, but people have common sense and just keep to themselves. If you want to visit and make your dollars go the long haul, you have to spend it like the locals do. Eat where the locals eat and sleep like...

    I just moved to Guatemala after 27 years in the stataes. It's a safe country despite what some may say. Yes, you'll see lots of armed security, and the police don't enforce the traffick laws, but people have common sense and just keep to themselves. If you want to visit and make your dollars go the long haul, you have to spend it like the locals do. Eat where the locals eat and sleep like a local (no A/C). You'll be fine without the A/C. Specially if you go to antugua. Im not here to push the places all the tourists all get talked about though. So turns out that all the tourist get told to go to Antigua. The real places that you need to visit are the xocomil and its sister parks that are all in the same vicinity to the west of the country. There's also a auto safari in the area that is huge. The drive to black sand beaches with surfing waves like monte rico are near too. One of the amusement parks is a recreation of jurassic park. Its called dino park. The hotels in the area are the bomb and theres lots of hostels that are for real cheap. Why pay so much to stay at the hyatt and use their pool when you can pay Q100=$14 and go to one of the modern water parks in the area. All these fun is in the city of retahuleu. This is where the local tourism goes. So the pricung is set for locals. Antugua is kot cheap because the foreigners go there. So its yoyr choice be with the locals where theres roller coaster or go walk cobblestone roads and eat a lot because tbh thats what you do in antigua. Oh and hike the nountains. It's hyped tbh because thats where the where the tourism historical aspect is. There's tge abadoned hotels at the beach in Guatemala, def worth the visit if youre a hippy and want to bonfire at this place. The only tourust place I do recomend is Panajachel. Mayan hustory, Antigua is Spanish conquustador history. Lastly the country is heavily restricted by Covid lately, lots of cases so expect the locals to desert the streets early because there's nothing to do. Yepbars close early. Latest se will stay open is 9 pm. Thats the run down from someone who Mis living here and has reallu discovered the path not taken by foreigners mostly.

  60. Alan

    I haven't seen it mentioned here but Zone 1 in Guatemala City (the city center) is slowly becoming much hipper and is definitely worth a visit. Zone 10 and Cayala are sterile by comparison.

  61. BF

    I stayed in Antigua and took a day trip to Guatemala City. Guatemala City was definitely worth spending a day in and I'd probably be happy spending 1-2 nights(max) there. That said, Antigua is the place to go in Guatemala and from memory it is only a 1 hour car journey to Guatemala City. We paid (I think) $20 for private car transfer to and from the city. We could have paid an extra $10...

    I stayed in Antigua and took a day trip to Guatemala City. Guatemala City was definitely worth spending a day in and I'd probably be happy spending 1-2 nights(max) there. That said, Antigua is the place to go in Guatemala and from memory it is only a 1 hour car journey to Guatemala City. We paid (I think) $20 for private car transfer to and from the city. We could have paid an extra $10 to have the driver show us around for the day but we opted for exploring by ourselves.

  62. Joanne Cyr

    I lived in Guatemala for several years and spent a couple of them in Guatemala City. I visit at least once a year. YES! Visit Guatemala City!

    The Hyatt Centric is a lovely hotel. I highly recommend it. As for food, go out Jake's and do the 10 course tasting menu at Flor de Lis. Check out Zone 1 and eat some street corn in Parque Central. Quattro Grados in Zone 4 has excellent...

    I lived in Guatemala for several years and spent a couple of them in Guatemala City. I visit at least once a year. YES! Visit Guatemala City!

    The Hyatt Centric is a lovely hotel. I highly recommend it. As for food, go out Jake's and do the 10 course tasting menu at Flor de Lis. Check out Zone 1 and eat some street corn in Parque Central. Quattro Grados in Zone 4 has excellent restaurants and is quite hip. Enjoy your stay! Definitely take a trip out to Lake Atitlan and stay a few days. Spend some time in Santiago, my home away from home and the place I will retire someday. Participate in a traditional Mayan ceremony. Seek out Dolores Ratzan. She speaks Tz'utujil, Spanish and English and can translate for you. I'm planning on visiting in December and seeing my friends. I can't wait!

  63. Joe

    Ben,
    What countries are you missing?

  64. Sharon

    Guatemala is Beautiful! See comments of others- don't forget Semuc Champey and Tikal! ...So many places to visit! I spent 2 months there, and am still in touch with people in-country, and the country struggles with poverty and crime, which has been exacerbated by covid, which is out of control. The Mayan people are gentle, generous and kind and the street markets are so fun. Take precautions beyond "just not doing stupid things", know the...

    Guatemala is Beautiful! See comments of others- don't forget Semuc Champey and Tikal! ...So many places to visit! I spent 2 months there, and am still in touch with people in-country, and the country struggles with poverty and crime, which has been exacerbated by covid, which is out of control. The Mayan people are gentle, generous and kind and the street markets are so fun. Take precautions beyond "just not doing stupid things", know the zones where you are traveling and be mindful of your safety. Flights are cheap for a reason- I wouldn't go right now- but I would definitely go!

  65. Matthew

    Was just there - stayed at Hyatt Centric. Great trip. I'll text you some details.

  66. Antonio

    Guatemala has the oldest Mayan Ruins in the world, also Antigua it's a old city with more than 500 years old with great restaurants and hotels, people it's very friendly with tourists and if you are into adrenaline, don't skip to watch live Lava from Pacaya volcano... You won't be disappointed.

  67. Mitch

    I can't speak much to the city itself, but the beautiful parts are definitely outside the city. Lake Atitlan is gorgeous. It is surrounded by three towering dormant volcanoes. Panajachel is the biggest city along the lake but the Hotel Bambu is on the opposite side of the lake in a cove and has wonderful gardens. The lake is a few hours outside Guatemala City. Chichicastenango has the largest outdoor market in the country.

  68. Daisuke77

    Guatemala City is a fun and exciting adventure. But for a first trip I would suggest staying in Antigua, which is not far from the Guatemala City Airport. Antigua, Guatemala is an international class touristic city, comfortable for walking around, lots to see, good restaurants and clubs, without the difficulties of the capital. Go to Guatemala City later. If you have extra days in between go to Lake Atitlan which is spectacular. If you have more days, see Tikal.

  69. LB

    Really, I can’t believe you haven’t been! Skip GUA and get ASAP to Antigua, FFing Fantastic!! Smoking volcanoes and rumbles, mariachis playing in the zocalo, ruins from the 1700s earthquake, omg!! Then a few nights at Casa Polopa on Lake Atitlan, heavenly! Side trip to Chicastanango, for their market. The Casa can arrange “Chi-chi” for you. I’ve traveled to 125 countries and Guatemala is still one of my favorites. Talk about Lucky…to have such a...

    Really, I can’t believe you haven’t been! Skip GUA and get ASAP to Antigua, FFing Fantastic!! Smoking volcanoes and rumbles, mariachis playing in the zocalo, ruins from the 1700s earthquake, omg!! Then a few nights at Casa Polopa on Lake Atitlan, heavenly! Side trip to Chicastanango, for their market. The Casa can arrange “Chi-chi” for you. I’ve traveled to 125 countries and Guatemala is still one of my favorites. Talk about Lucky…to have such a fabulous destination on your doorstep!,!!

  70. Ben

    For a weekend trip on an inexpensive ticket, take a taxi from the airport to Antigua and enjoy a few days in an old colonial city. You’ll have a good time, it’s a nice introduction to Central America and hopefully will pique your interest to see more of it.

  71. John

    You will find good restaurants and quite a few historic places, but definitely the fun is out of the city. Look up Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlan and Tikal, but going to the Mayan ruins would take more than just a weekend.

  72. R. Goddard

    If going to Guatemala, visiting Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua is a must.
    Traffic can be bad during rush hour.

  73. Carlos C

    Guatemala doesn’t deserve travelers like you. Don’t go.

  74. Carlos

    Don’t go, too intense for you cheap expectations. It feels like you are very delicate. Guatemala doesn’t deserve travelers like you.

  75. Dr. Stan

    Went to both GUA and Antigua, 20 years a, go. Memorable mostly for one thing: tuna pizza. Sounds horrible and I don't eat pizza (except the cheese!). But it was the most delicious treat and after all these years it is the one thing that I identify with GUA. I don't know if it is a Guatemalan concoction or not, but I have never seen it offered here in México City. So, if you happen to see it on a menu, you might enjoy a taste. Buen viaje!

  76. Jane

    I just spent 10 days there and it was beautiful! Definitely visit Antigua and Guatemala City. There are local restaurants there where you can eat traditional food. You can go to the president’s house which they do a tour for you to see parts of the inside. There are beautiful churches to see. If you like the beach, you can go to monterrico which is only 2 hours away. You can also go and see...

    I just spent 10 days there and it was beautiful! Definitely visit Antigua and Guatemala City. There are local restaurants there where you can eat traditional food. You can go to the president’s house which they do a tour for you to see parts of the inside. There are beautiful churches to see. If you like the beach, you can go to monterrico which is only 2 hours away. You can also go and see the Mayan ruins and hike in the jungle… that is if you’re staying for a substantial amount of time. They did have curfew when I went, so a lot of places do close early.

  77. Eskimo

    I don't really follow much today with Covid stuff going on, but like many have said Guatemala isn't as bad as it's portrayed. But also nothing much to do either. However, since you've been to so many places, I can't really say you have many other places to visit before Guatemala.

    As for Antigua Guatemala, it's nice but posts here kind of make it overrated. I would prefer San Miguel de Allende better, even with...

    I don't really follow much today with Covid stuff going on, but like many have said Guatemala isn't as bad as it's portrayed. But also nothing much to do either. However, since you've been to so many places, I can't really say you have many other places to visit before Guatemala.

    As for Antigua Guatemala, it's nice but posts here kind of make it overrated. I would prefer San Miguel de Allende better, even with the American tourists. But again, you've been many better places already, time for Guatemala.

  78. Jack

    Can't recommend Guatemala City but Antigua (short and cheap ride away) is a fantastic little town.

  79. Luis Sandoval

    Guatemala City it’s a nice city, good restaurants, good food, nice weather all year round, green and a very clean. It is safe as any city you should go to the right places. You can visit Ciudad CAYALA, there an A/C Marriott there but the Hyatt Centric is nicer and have good breakfast.
    In CAYALA there are many restaurants as in zone 10 where the Hyatt is.
    Restaurants Rendezvouz, Mario’s, El Parisino zone...

    Guatemala City it’s a nice city, good restaurants, good food, nice weather all year round, green and a very clean. It is safe as any city you should go to the right places. You can visit Ciudad CAYALA, there an A/C Marriott there but the Hyatt Centric is nicer and have good breakfast.
    In CAYALA there are many restaurants as in zone 10 where the Hyatt is.
    Restaurants Rendezvouz, Mario’s, El Parisino zone 10, Montanos, to name some.
    You can travel to Antigua Guatemala, I recommend Casa Santo Domingo, 45 minutes from the city, or lake Atitlan I recommend Hotel Atitlan 2hours 30 min you can combine both tours it is in the same direction
    Guatemala city is more than tourist excpect ti be.
    I hope this help you !

    1. YEHUDI SABBAGH

      If you visit Guatemala City you must visit Antigua Guatemala, distribute your time 50.50

    2. Steve

      We've been to Guatemala countless times. We have family on West coast. Guatemala City nice, stay in zone 10(good restaurant everywhere) or Barcelo (at Barcelo you'll need to get ride everywhere). Check out Oakland Mall. Day trips can be Antigua (stay a couple days, you'll enjoy more). Lake Atitlan(stay a couple days, you'll enjoy more). Cayala (where rich folks think they can hide). IRTRA a long day trip, but worth it. East Coast has Rio...

      We've been to Guatemala countless times. We have family on West coast. Guatemala City nice, stay in zone 10(good restaurant everywhere) or Barcelo (at Barcelo you'll need to get ride everywhere). Check out Oakland Mall. Day trips can be Antigua (stay a couple days, you'll enjoy more). Lake Atitlan(stay a couple days, you'll enjoy more). Cayala (where rich folks think they can hide). IRTRA a long day trip, but worth it. East Coast has Rio Dulce. Petan and all those require more than a day tripGuatemala is a beautiful country, MOST people nice and helpful (I assume you speak Spanish). It is dangerous if you act like a tourist though. Find trustworthy guide/driver. We usually go for a couple weeks at a time. If we are going to play tourist, we go for at least 4-5 weeks(have to visit family). Stay safe and enjoy.

  80. gavinmac

    No one goes to Guatemala City for tourism. It's dull, dirty, and dangerous. What you do is get a 35 minute taxi ride from the airport to Antigua, which is arguably the most beautiful, tourist friendly, colonial town in Latin America.

  81. Fed UP

    there’s a Hyatt Centric in Guatemala City .... oh that will give you a taste of the local culture, cuisine and people, by being sheltered away in an american chain hotel....

  82. Mendy

    I think it’s a waste of time but go to Antigua Guatemala which is just an hour away!

  83. Esther

    Hi: Why don't you spend one night in Guatemala City to visit one or two museums . It is a good idea to take taxis rather than walk, if you are alone. I especially like the Popul Vu Museum for Maya history. Then spend most of your time in the colonial city and World Heritage Site of Antigua (45 minutes away). Stay in one of the historic Hacienda hotels like Hotel Casa Santo Domingo (at...

    Hi: Why don't you spend one night in Guatemala City to visit one or two museums . It is a good idea to take taxis rather than walk, if you are alone. I especially like the Popul Vu Museum for Maya history. Then spend most of your time in the colonial city and World Heritage Site of Antigua (45 minutes away). Stay in one of the historic Hacienda hotels like Hotel Casa Santo Domingo (at the edge of the historic district) or Posada de Don Rodrigo (in center of historic area, next to the yellow arch). You can make arrangements for day trips or to continue to Tikal for a few nights. A well-respected company is Antigua Tours owned by Elizabeth Bell who has written several guidebooks to the area. The office is in the lobby of Hotel Casa Santo Domingo. There is another office more center-city.

  84. Jose

    I am from guatemala and I just cameback from it.....1) get negative covid test (travel test) and have one before you comeback, if you stay in the city choose a well known hotel, and get ubber or regular taxi, be careful at night because it might be a curfew in place by the government, and is not safe to be around by yourself. The previous person wrote to stay one day in the city, and...

    I am from guatemala and I just cameback from it.....1) get negative covid test (travel test) and have one before you comeback, if you stay in the city choose a well known hotel, and get ubber or regular taxi, be careful at night because it might be a curfew in place by the government, and is not safe to be around by yourself. The previous person wrote to stay one day in the city, and the rest in Antigua, I think is a good idea.. Antigua is safer, but try to be back earlier to the hotel. Do not use public transportation, to many people together and many pick pockets. Have fun, and be safe!

  85. Santastico

    No. Skip it and go to Antigua. Make sure you get a bulletproof car to move around.

    1. stereotype opinions

      IT IS MORE LIKELY TO GET SHOT IN ANY US CITY IN A RANDOM SHOOTING SPREE THAN IN GUATEMALA CITY...

    2. R. Goddard

      If going to Guatemala, visiting Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua is a must.
      Traffic can be bad during rush hour.

  86. Gary Steiger - FreeFrequentFlyerMiles.com

    I have visited Guatemala three times. I don't like large cities very much, and found not much to like about Guatemala City, except that it has the international airport. But it is the way to get to some really interesting places:

    Do make your way to Antigua, and hire a guide there to show you everything. Stay at the Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo (https://www.reservations.com/hotel/hotel-posada-de-don-rodrigo-antigua) and ask for a quiet room away from the bar/restaurant...

    I have visited Guatemala three times. I don't like large cities very much, and found not much to like about Guatemala City, except that it has the international airport. But it is the way to get to some really interesting places:

    Do make your way to Antigua, and hire a guide there to show you everything. Stay at the Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo (https://www.reservations.com/hotel/hotel-posada-de-don-rodrigo-antigua) and ask for a quiet room away from the bar/restaurant area. It is a block north of the square. It consists of a combination of three hasiendas. Try breakfast at the convent just up the street.

    Then, if you can, make your way to Chichicastenango on market day. (Thursdays and Sundays if I am remembering correctly - check that). The markets are the most colorful in the world. Go! (https://havecamerawilltravel.com/places/chichicastenango-market-guatemala/) Stay at the Mayan Inn. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g292004-d306968-Reviews-Hotel_Museo_Mayan_Inn-Chichicastenango_El_Quiche_Department.html) Insist on a room in the old part of the hotel. Look at the photos to see why. The market is just next to the hotel.

    Public and more comfortable private transportation is available between these cities.

    And then there is Tical, one of my favorite national parks in the world. You can take a short flight to Flores, then a bus to the park. (https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Guatemala-City/Tikal#r/Fly). Or, less expensively, you can take a bus all the way. (https://www.beyondmyborder.com/guatemala-city-to-tikal-flores/)
    Stay at the hotel inside the park. (https://www.tikalinn.com/en/). You can hire a guide to explain what you are seeing in the park.

  87. madily

    Guatemala is my second country and i can say it's worth the visit !!! i go every 6 months ,im also around cuilco,Huehuetenango,and la mesilla .

  88. Jill Gee

    I just returned back to California and I can’t wait to return. I went to Antigua and felt 100% safe. Quaint town full of friendly people. I even walked around at night as a solo female traveler. I was in Antigua for 4 days. If you’re a lady and afraid to go alone, join this group for travel buddies.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1497644866959003/

  89. Robin Vogel

    I cannot really speak to Guatemala City itself, but the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala is about one hour away and well-worth visiting. A bit farther afield is Lago Atitlan, also a wonderful place to spend a few days.

  90. Esther

    Hi: Why don't you spend one night in Guatemala City to visit one or two museums . It is a good idea to take taxis rather than walk, if you are alone. I especially the Popul Vu Museum for Maya history. Then spend most of your time in the colonial city and World Heritage Site of Antigua ( 45 minutes away). Stay in one of the historic Hacienda hotels like Hotel Casa Domingo (at the...

    Hi: Why don't you spend one night in Guatemala City to visit one or two museums . It is a good idea to take taxis rather than walk, if you are alone. I especially the Popul Vu Museum for Maya history. Then spend most of your time in the colonial city and World Heritage Site of Antigua ( 45 minutes away). Stay in one of the historic Hacienda hotels like Hotel Casa Domingo (at the edge of the historic district) or Posada de Don Rodrigo (in center of historic area, next to the yellow arch). You can make arrangements for day trips or to continue to Tikal for a few nights. A well-respected company is Antigua Tours owned by Elizabeth Bell who has written several guidebooks to the area. The office is in the lobby of Casa Domingo. There is another office more center-city.

  91. Andrew

    Went to Guatemala about 5 years ago with my then girlfriend (now wife) and we loved it. Second the many comments about violent crime - we had a few moments of feeling unsafe, but that was mostly while in-transit (people stopping the car/bus to rob and/or kill was all we heard about from locals, especially on the chicken buses).

    We spent most of our time in Antigua and around Lake Atitlan, both of which...

    Went to Guatemala about 5 years ago with my then girlfriend (now wife) and we loved it. Second the many comments about violent crime - we had a few moments of feeling unsafe, but that was mostly while in-transit (people stopping the car/bus to rob and/or kill was all we heard about from locals, especially on the chicken buses).

    We spent most of our time in Antigua and around Lake Atitlan, both of which I'd highly recommend visiting. We ended up missing our flight out of GUA, so we stayed the night at the Westin there. We didn't venture out from being exhausted, but could be worth a few days of exploring. I wouldn't pass up some of the other places the country has to offer that have been mentioned just to stay in the city for the weekend.

    I also had some of the worst food poisoning of my life thanks to an upgrade to F and the meal they served on AA GUA-MIA.

  92. Miguel Larach

    Hello, Miguel from Honduras here. I’ve been to Guatemala City and neighbor towns quite a few times for special events: weddings, bridal showers, birthdays, etc… I’d recommend go to Guatemala city for 2 days, then Go explore Antigua Guatemala (I think there is an Intercontinental hotel there; I usually stay at the Casa Santo Domingo hotel, though…) which is the old city town about 1 hour drive from the city. And perhaps you can catch...

    Hello, Miguel from Honduras here. I’ve been to Guatemala City and neighbor towns quite a few times for special events: weddings, bridal showers, birthdays, etc… I’d recommend go to Guatemala city for 2 days, then Go explore Antigua Guatemala (I think there is an Intercontinental hotel there; I usually stay at the Casa Santo Domingo hotel, though…) which is the old city town about 1 hour drive from the city. And perhaps you can catch a flight to Tikal, which is the Mayan city and many archeological Sites there.

  93. John

    I’ve been to Guatemala City quite a few times on business and never had any trouble, but I was always careful and traveled with a group of coworkers. Guatemala has one of the highest violent crime rates in the Americas, and foreign tourists are not exempt. I’d say that going to Guatemala City instead of Antigua would be like going to West Palm and never setting foot on Palm Beach.

  94. AC

    GUA is okay and fine for a day or two (its huge / urban!), but +1 to Antigua and absolutely stay at El Convento (SLH). It's a converted nunnery and the rooms are gorgeous with incredible amenities (we had a plunge tub + courtyard in a base room), amazing rooftop pool, and great hotel restaurant. The restaurants in Antigua are great, too. Antigua is ~1 hour away, but we took an Uber from GUA to...

    GUA is okay and fine for a day or two (its huge / urban!), but +1 to Antigua and absolutely stay at El Convento (SLH). It's a converted nunnery and the rooms are gorgeous with incredible amenities (we had a plunge tub + courtyard in a base room), amazing rooftop pool, and great hotel restaurant. The restaurants in Antigua are great, too. Antigua is ~1 hour away, but we took an Uber from GUA to Antigua and it was only ~$30. Antigua is incredibly walkable, a lot of history, and there's a beautiful hike to an overlook of the city and the neighboring volcano.

    Tikal was one of my favorite trips ever, but getting to Tikal from GUA is tough. You have to fly to Flores on a tiny prop plane, and then take a taxi ~1.5 hours from the airport to the park. You should also absolutely stay in the park if you go to Tikal - but its very much so an eco-tourism destination (not luxury). The island of Flores is cute, though - I recall having a lunch at a nice (???) Ramada Inn hah.

  95. Tyler

    Haven't spent time in the city but would highly recommend Antigua and Atitlán! There's a great SLH hotel in Antigua which is a great jumping off point for exploring the volcanos, and Atitlán is just beautiful. Fav country in the world.

  96. TedG

    Ben I've been to Guatemala several times. I also did a Spanish Immersion course in Antigua for two months and helped build homes during a stint with Habitat For Humanity many years ago. I say go and enjoy yourself.

  97. Never In Doubt

    The pyramids at Tikal were in the original Star Wars rebel base on Yavin 4! Rewatch the movie before you go!

  98. Hug

    If talking about Guatemala, why the picture of Calala Island in Nicaragua? It is a different country, not even neighboring or geographically comparable. Pretty bad profiling just because It is in Central America.
    When you visit Rome, do you post pictures of Paris ?. Ignorant blogging
    The only thing you got right is the Hyatt Centric.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Hug -- Please reader the paragraph before the picture: "I’ve been to a few countries in Central America, and largely they’re worth visiting for the beautiful nature."

      Since I haven't been to Guatemala, I also don't have any pictures of Guatemala to post...

      Please be polite -- there's no need to call me ignorant for posting a picture I took in Central America.

  99. Kim

    I really enjoy Guatemala but I’ll echo what others are saying and I would head to Antigua. It’s not far from the airport. I easily spent a week there. My favorite is the area around lake atitlan though. But for a short trip I’d stick to Antigua. Tikal is another option. I did an overnight from GUA. I believe it was 4500 lifemiles. Stayed in the park and left the next day. In Guatemala city I’ve stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn a few times and the Intercontinental.

    1. beyounged

      AV is no longer flying to Flores, Tikal would be an expensive TAG flight away.

  100. JJ

    I think it's worth it for a long weekend. I was lucky and went to Antigua during Holy Week and the place was decorated and very busy. GUA City is like most other cities - there are some decent hotels, restaurants, a market near the main square, a few art museums, etc. I felt safe in Uber and Taxis, but buses aren't recommended.

    It's also a great opportunity to bring back top shelf Guatemalan...

    I think it's worth it for a long weekend. I was lucky and went to Antigua during Holy Week and the place was decorated and very busy. GUA City is like most other cities - there are some decent hotels, restaurants, a market near the main square, a few art museums, etc. I felt safe in Uber and Taxis, but buses aren't recommended.

    It's also a great opportunity to bring back top shelf Guatemalan rums like Botran 10/15/18 at duty free on the way back (I've found 15 to be the best for the price) at a fraction of what you can get

  101. DenB®

    If you're thinking of this as a "weekend" thing, I'd be surprised if you get enough out of the trip to ever go back. I'll pile on here about La Antigua and I'll add that if you yiu truly won't spend more than 4 days in Guatemala, then none should be in the capitol because Antigua has so much more to offer: the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's the Learn Spanish...

    If you're thinking of this as a "weekend" thing, I'd be surprised if you get enough out of the trip to ever go back. I'll pile on here about La Antigua and I'll add that if you yiu truly won't spend more than 4 days in Guatemala, then none should be in the capitol because Antigua has so much more to offer: the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's the Learn Spanish capitol of the world, its cobblestone streets will charm you and it feels safer than GUA. One attraction I enjoyed a decade ago was La Azotea coffee plantation tour, where I learned a lot and bought bags of truly irreplaceable coffee. La Antigua will be truly memorable. GUA, worth a day if you've already spent 4 at the other.

  102. beyounged

    just came back from GUA two weeks ago. currently making a video about it on my youtube channel with the same name as my username here, take a look if you want to see very recent info.
    Very safe in downtown Guate city, but: a bit boring besides a vibrant plaza and bustling central market. recommend you take a look at a direct van transfer from GUA airport to any Antigua hotel for 80...

    just came back from GUA two weeks ago. currently making a video about it on my youtube channel with the same name as my username here, take a look if you want to see very recent info.
    Very safe in downtown Guate city, but: a bit boring besides a vibrant plaza and bustling central market. recommend you take a look at a direct van transfer from GUA airport to any Antigua hotel for 80 quetzales (11 bucks) per person. Very nice hotel selection in Antigua too, no big chains for points though. You have old ruins and a nice volcano view, you can see it explode every 20 minutes, and at night the lava lights up the sky!
    One boutique hotel that you can try there is Hobbitenango, it is a fairy paradise in the clouds, everything looks like it comes from Lord of the Rings!
    If you really want to experience it, go for a private transfer from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, try some unique lodgings by the lake such as Casa Del Mundo, Isla Verde, etc. There is also a few really ridiculously expensive lodges up in the hills overlooking the entire lake and volcanoes, insanely beautiful at sunrise.
    After reading the blog for nearly a decade, I would say you won't go for Acatenango no matter how much I recommend it hahaha.

  103. CJ

    Antigua was my favorite spot in Guatemala

  104. Nate nate

    If you are just looking to check the box on the country, consider going to Tikal, which is more easily accessible from Belize.

  105. Per

    I am a big fan of Guatemala. I have visited two times, but haven't spent much time in Guatemala City. I consider Lago de Atitlan one of the most beautiful places I've been to, but unfortunately it's around 3-4 hours to get there from the airport. You should consider Antigua. It's a small town and sort of the gateway to traveling in Guatemala, about 50 minutes drive from the airport. It's very touristy, but also...

    I am a big fan of Guatemala. I have visited two times, but haven't spent much time in Guatemala City. I consider Lago de Atitlan one of the most beautiful places I've been to, but unfortunately it's around 3-4 hours to get there from the airport. You should consider Antigua. It's a small town and sort of the gateway to traveling in Guatemala, about 50 minutes drive from the airport. It's very touristy, but also very cute with narrow streets and gorgeous old colonial buildings. Very quiet, safe and relaxed compared to the capital. There is a handful of 5-star hotels to choose from. You can also go hiking and climb active volcanoes from there if you feel a bit adventurous!

  106. Jason

    Skip Guatemala City and go to Antigua and Lake Aititlan. That’s the real deal in Guatemala. I’m sure the Hyatt is fine but Antigua is interesting and will give you the sense that you’ve visited somewhere rather than just a chain hotel that could just as well be in Des Moines.

  107. Seat14A

    Also, a day trip from the city to Tikal, one of the best Msyan sites anywhere.

  108. Peter

    @Ben, I used to echo your sentiments about "checking off" countries. I loved being able to say I've been to "X number" of countries. However, as I've gotten older and looked back on my travels, I've realized that it is a terrible mentality to have and is the absolute worst reason to travel. I've learned that I love traveling because I love seeing new places and learning about the culture, meeting people, etc. Having been...

    @Ben, I used to echo your sentiments about "checking off" countries. I loved being able to say I've been to "X number" of countries. However, as I've gotten older and looked back on my travels, I've realized that it is a terrible mentality to have and is the absolute worst reason to travel. I've learned that I love traveling because I love seeing new places and learning about the culture, meeting people, etc. Having been to so many places now, I find myself wanting to go back to those where I only got to spend a day/layover/few hours whatever because I did not really get to see them. Also, frankly, the more I hear people say "I've been to X number of countries" - I find myself thinking who gives a sh!t...? Yes, you've been to 100+ countries but I've been reading OMAAT for a long time now and I know TONS of those are layovers or cities where you didn't really leave the hotel. Just food for thought.
    Also, yes, Guatemala is well worth it but I would use Guatemala City as more of a jumping off point.

  109. Ryan

    While we're at it, if you're only going to GC, I highly recommend eating at Sublime. It's a massive course menu of avant garde cuisine for a very reasonable price and you can walk it from Hyatt Centric (we did, though it's a little far).

    Mercado 24 is good too, but much more casual.

    Just across from Mercado 24 is Fleur De Lis, which often gets noted as GC's best restaurant. They don't allow kids...

    While we're at it, if you're only going to GC, I highly recommend eating at Sublime. It's a massive course menu of avant garde cuisine for a very reasonable price and you can walk it from Hyatt Centric (we did, though it's a little far).

    Mercado 24 is good too, but much more casual.

    Just across from Mercado 24 is Fleur De Lis, which often gets noted as GC's best restaurant. They don't allow kids so I couldn't go. There's also a brewery on the same street as these two restaurants. Very hip area. Zona 4 I think.

  110. Ryan

    I've stayed at the Hyatt Centric in GC and it's AWESOME. Amazing heated pool.

    You should also go to Antigua and stay at the El Convento hotel, an SLH so you can use Hyatt points (I did and it was a great value).

    If you feel like making the trek, Lake Atitlan is amazing too, though there are no points hotels out there that I'm aware of.

    1. Efer

      Did you get any Hyatt status benefit at El Convento?

    2. Ryan

      I booked with free night certificates and points. They gave me a BIG upgraded room and then of course the free (DELICIOUS) breakfast was included. Amaizng hotel.

  111. Sol Osterkatz

    I absolutely recommend Guatemala but probably wouldn't spend too much time in Guatemala City. It's been a few years since I've been but Antigua is unbelievably charming with wonderful restaurants and an abundance of beautiful boutique hotels (one I believe is an SLH property). And if you're up for a little adventure then Lake Atitlan is absolutely incredible. There are more luxurious offerings available now but La Casa del Mundo is truly one of my...

    I absolutely recommend Guatemala but probably wouldn't spend too much time in Guatemala City. It's been a few years since I've been but Antigua is unbelievably charming with wonderful restaurants and an abundance of beautiful boutique hotels (one I believe is an SLH property). And if you're up for a little adventure then Lake Atitlan is absolutely incredible. There are more luxurious offerings available now but La Casa del Mundo is truly one of my absolute favorite hotels that I've ever stayed in.

  112. pwc

    Absolutely yes.

    I put together a conference there for around 100 people, right before COVID hit.

    The Hyatt Centric is great--it opened just a couple of years ago and is in a safe neighborhood, connected to a major shopping center and near a lot of restaurants in the business district.

    The city itself is probably not worth more than a couple of days. Antigua is absolutely beautiful and not far, at all. I would recommend...

    Absolutely yes.

    I put together a conference there for around 100 people, right before COVID hit.

    The Hyatt Centric is great--it opened just a couple of years ago and is in a safe neighborhood, connected to a major shopping center and near a lot of restaurants in the business district.

    The city itself is probably not worth more than a couple of days. Antigua is absolutely beautiful and not far, at all. I would recommend 2 days Guatemala City, 2 days Antigua, with some day trips. Pacaya volcano is great. Moderate hike for those in good fitness and easy to get to from the city. If you want, you can ride a horse up. Iximché ruins are great, as well, and Lake Atitlán is worth an overnight. Absolutely stunning and not expensive, at all.

    We worked with Maya Exotic, and they were a phenomenal tour company, handling all of our day trips and transportation.

  113. Laurie

    Pls check on covid situation in Giatemala.vaccine rollout has been very slow.
    Guat City has some nice restaurants but i wouldnt make it the focus of my trip.
    Spend the day in Antigua- a short drive.
    If Tikal National Park is open you can see the ruins of a Mayan City . This involves a flight to Flores. Stay overnight at Las Lagunas Hotel and fly back to Guat. City in the morning. You can have a great trip in 4 full days.

  114. Becky

    I'll echo others that have said Antigua is better. BUT you asked about Guate City and haven't gotten much advice about it, so my recommendations:
    1. Tour the Palacio Nacional de la Cultural (Palace). English guides vary in quality but it's beautiful nonetheless.
    2. Walk the Plaza Mayor on a Sunday - not sure if it's still happening due to covid, but it's basically a street festival with music, food, etc.
    3....

    I'll echo others that have said Antigua is better. BUT you asked about Guate City and haven't gotten much advice about it, so my recommendations:
    1. Tour the Palacio Nacional de la Cultural (Palace). English guides vary in quality but it's beautiful nonetheless.
    2. Walk the Plaza Mayor on a Sunday - not sure if it's still happening due to covid, but it's basically a street festival with music, food, etc.
    3. Futbol/soccer game at Estadio Mateo Flores - even if you don't like sports, go for an hour to soak up the atmosphere.
    4. Eat at Casa Escobar. Cayala is basically a western shopping mall but this restaurant stands out.
    5. Also the popular hike to Pacaya Volcano is just as easy to access from Guatemala as Antigua, though from the capital you'll most likely need to book a private tour/driver.

  115. Nolan

    I second the people saying visit Antigua. Also visit Lake Atitlan. Beautiful country. Guatemala City itself is just kinda eh.

  116. Pablo

    Visit Roatan in Bay Island, Honduras!
    You won’t regret it!

  117. Dramsier

    I have a trip to Guatemala booked in November. Antigua and Lake Atitlan seem to be the most popular stops. There is also a Hilton Garden Inn near the airport that is a great award redemption at 10,000 HH points per night for rooms that can be $100+.

    1. AC

      I've stayed at the HGI, and I don't recommend it. Rooms are air conditioned that well and the hotel seems dated (at least from my stay in March 2020) - it wasn't comfortable. Hopefully its changed.

  118. Brian

    Antigua is lovely, but set aside a couple of days for Tikal. It's one of the most majestic sights you will ever see and your legs will get a great workout climbing to the top of all the pyramids.

  119. Efer

    Guatemalan here. Yes, its worth it. If you spend 2-3 nights you can get good experiences.

  120. keitherson

    I'm glad you're soliciting viewers for travel advice, but something irks me about you posting about considering a trip to a destination only because of a cheap fare.

    Guatemala City is great though, the old city Antigua Guatemala is world renowned and probably one of the most touristed destinations in Central America. There are also many overnight hikes up to the volcanoes for gorgeous views above the clouds.

    1. Never In Doubt

      “ but something irks me about you posting about considering a trip to a destination only because of a cheap fare.”

      That’s weird to think that. Even weirder to admit it (even anonymously!).

  121. Lonilon

    Antigua is so much more beautiful than Guatemala City and only one hour away. Stay there!

  122. Been there

    Go to Antigua - it's only about 45 minutes away and beautiful, and oriented (for better and for worse) toward tourism and culture. Many other fantastic places to visit in Guatemala as well that are less well traveled by Norteamericanos than Antigua. Guate is big and busy... I guess it depends on what you want out of going to Guatemala.

  123. Mak

    Guatemala City is a great university town. Home of Universidad Francisco Marroquin, one of the finest educational institutions in the Americas.

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Antonio

Others have said just about everything. I'm a United 1MM dual citizen USA/Guatemala. Guatemala city is just a Central American capital city. Same as other capitals in that region, very normal. Antigua is magical, go there no matter what. And from there, go to Atitlan. If you have time, make it to Tikal. There is much more to Guate, but for a first-timer these are the necessities.

Magda Sican-Grove

I was born in Guatemala and because of poverty I wasn't able to go any other places but my small City. Now that I'm more comfortable here in the United States I was able to save money and take a trip to Flores Petén. I toured the lake and Tikal and oh my God I was blown away by the beauty I have been missing. I also went to one the volcanoes and roasted marshmallows in the lava heat, go for it you will love it. Also try Antigua and Panajachel.

Patty

Hi, I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I visited 5 yrs ago for personal reasons and my cousin who leaves there asked me not to wear my jewelry but I did anyway.,, and on our way to Cayalan two individuals on a motorcycle pretended that we hot them put the motorcycle down came to the window and demanded for us to open our windows and I told my cousin Run his s ass over …that’s what I would do and she told him I’ll run to you over and finally he moved … so it is dangerous if you don’t know the city specially, so yeah be careful just like Paris and Italy it’s common for thieves so anyway but the ruins of beautiful and there’s a few into nature and beaches I suggest you go there

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