Guatemala is beautiful and colorful country with active volcanos and Mayan’s ruins. Locals calls it “Little India” regarding overall buildings/streets look and lot of stray dogs 🙂
One week can be a short time to see everything but we did our best to explore and feel Guatemalan culture and atmosphere. Planning your trip you should have in mind that you want to just see beauty of country or have some adventures like see eruptions of Fuego Volcano. Here is our trip itinerary for one week in Guatemala:
Day 1: We arrived in Guatemala City, the country’s capital, where most international flights arrive. Depending on your arrival time you can visit e.g.
Tikal National Park
Day 2: We booked a tour from Guatemalan Adventure to Tikal and next day we took morning flight (4 am) from Guatemala City to Flores. At the airport in Flores we were waiting for people to join our group, we had time for traditional Guatemalan breakfast. And then we head to Tikal National Park, home to some of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the world. We spend the day exploring the ancient temples and pyramids, and keep an eye out for wildlife such as monkeys, turkeys and coatis. We came back to hotel around 8 pm.
Day 3 and 5: We took private transfer to Antigua Guatemala. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour from Guatemala City. We spent here total full 2 days and explored the city’s beautiful colonial architecture, colorful chicken buses, variety of food and cafes. Look for cafes with view on Acatenango and Fuego Volcano. We recommend to visit:
- The Central Plaza is a beautiful square and perfect place to sit, eat or take a stroll. We really enjoyed Cafe Condesa and their chocolate.
- Santa Catalina Arch is a brightly yellow colored arch and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Antigua
- Churches: La Merced Church it’s close by Plaza and has yellow facade and ornate interior. Other worth to visit are Inglesia de San Francisco El Grande and Convento Santa Clara.
- Antigua Guatemala has several local markets where you can find everything from handmade textiles to fresh produce. It’s a great place to get a taste of the city’s culture and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
Day 3-4: The Acatenango volcano hike is one of the most popular outdoor adventures in Guatemala. Acatenango is the third-highest volcano in Central America. It is located about an hour and a half from Antigua, and has beautiful views of the active Fuego Volcano. Climbing to 3,976m is no easy, and the air is thin and cold and it’s important that you are in good physical condition to make it to the top.
The hike starts early in the morning and before departure our tour Wicho and Charlie’s provided breakfast and they gave us lunch and dinner for the hike. We got also water to carry and some snacks. They provided all necessary equipment (gloves, trekking poles etc.) but you should be prepared with warm clothes and good hiking shoes. If you want you can ask for porter to carry your backpack to the top and also back.
Hike typically takes about six hours to reach the summit. The trail is steep and can be challenging, but the views along the way are worth the effort. The hike is through pine forests, past small farms, and up rocky switchbacks. As you climb higher, you will be able to see the Fuego Volcano spewing ash and if you are lucky also lava. You will be able to see the neighboring Volcano de Agua and Volcano de Pacaya.
Reaching base camp you can decide to go closer to Fuego to the lookout, which is located a safe distance away from the volcano and with good conditions you will see lava. The hike to the Fuego Volcano lookout is a challenging but rewarding experience.
Camping on Acatenango is an unforgettable experience. You wilnll be able to see the stars shining brightly above, and with good weather see the Fuego Volcano eruptions. With our cloudy weather we could just hear the eruptions. Next morning you will climb the summit and come back for breakfast. The descent can be just as challenging as the climb
After Volcano trekking we came back to Antigua Guatemala and spent there one more day.
Day 6 -7: From Antigua we took private transport to Lake Atitlán, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. We spent 2 days exploring the charming towns that surround the lake. Each town has its own unique character and charm, and exploring the area is a must.
One of the most popular towns around Lake Atitlan is Panajachel. It’s the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs or try some delicious food. We also visited Reserva Natural Atitlan and saw bats, coatis, monkeys and lots of butterflies.
It is a good start point to take a boat and enjoyed the stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes and towns. Transfer by boat between each towns can be about 20-35 Guatemalan quatzals.
The area around San Juan La Laguna is known for its beautiful scenery. Visitors can take a guided tour of the surrounding hills and forests, where they can see a variety of plants and animals. For better view you can do Mirrador Cerro 0.8-mile out-and-back trail and it takes an average of 35 min to complete. It has beautiful colorful stair at the top. Lot of people also are doing Indian Nose hike from here.
Another town we visited was San Pedro la Laguna and we took a tuk tuk and it took about 20minutes. You can explore the town’s cathedral, many shops, and cafes.
Towns around lake look beautiful during night and we also spent here our New Year Eve and it was amazing and recommend to stay here to see all this fireworks around the lake.