Guatemala / Itineraries

Guatemala Highlights

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This classic 10 night itinerary packs in the key highlights of Guatemala including Antigua, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan, Flores and Tikal. In addition, it includes visits to two of Guatemala's lesser known Mayan sites at Iximche and Yaxha.

  • Day 1 — Airport to Antigua

    Most flights from the UK & Europe to Guatemala entail a late arrival so, after making the short transfer from Guatemala City airport to Antigua, you’ll probably want to get to bed not long after reaching your hotel, especially as you have a relatively early start tomorrow.

    Suggested Accommodation: Villa Colonial
    • — Antigua
  • Day 2 — Antigua to Lake Atitlan via Chichiastenango

    After a traditional Guatemalan breakfast, you will meet up with your driver for the two-hour plus journey from Antigua to Chichicastenango.

    Every Thursday & Sunday, Chichicastenango, or Chichi as it is more commonly known, is home to a bustling, colourful market in which villagers from the surrounding hills descend on the town to sell their assorted wares as well as engage in traditional ceremonies and rituals.

    Although not the biggest market in the country, Chichi is a fun, easily navigated introduction to Guatemala’s indigenous customs and commerce and an early opportunity to rummage amongst the numerous stalls and vendors for traditional furnishings and crafts such as the colourful masks you will see throughout the country.

    Although not included, we suggest partaking of the market day, buffet lunch at the Hotel Santo Tomas in town before continuing on your way to nearby Lake Atitlan.

    Having checked in at the hotel of your choice, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Atitlan Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Chichicastenango
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    • — Chichicastenango
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    • — Chichicastenango
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  • Day 3 — Lake Atitlan

    Alexander von Humboldt, the great German naturalist, described Lake Atitlan as “the most beautiful lake in the world” and some two hundred years after his visit, few would disagree.

    Surrounded on all sides by steep escarpments, not to mention three mesmeric volcanoes along its southern shore, Lake Atitlan’s appeal lies not just in its natural beauty but in the fact that very little seems to have changed over the years.

    Traditional, Mayan villages are still dotted around the lake while, on it, fishermen still ply their trade from small, wooden canoes.

    This morning, you will enjoy a private guided boat trip on Lake Atitlan, visiting a selection of villages and simply enjoying the views all around you.

    Returning to your hotel in time for a late lunch, the rest of the day is free for you to relax or perhaps head into the local town of Panajachel for a stroll. Depending on the day of the week, another twice-weekly market takes place at nearby Solola.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Atitlan Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Lake Atitlan
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    • — Lake Atitlan
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    • — Lake Atitlan
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  • Day 4 — Lake Atitlan to Antigua via Iximche

    Departing Lake Atitlan, your journey today sees you return to Antigua with a stop en-route at Iximche.

    Throughout its history, Guatemala’s numerous Mayan tribes have engaged in wars against each other. In the Highlands, one of the most aggressive and successful of these many tribes were the Kaqchikel, who made Iximche their capital from 1470 to 1524.

    In contrast to the stereotypical image of a Mayan ruin – surrounded by tropical jungle in pan flat plains – Iximche is located atop a high plateau with steep-sided ridges all around. During the winter months, when the wind picks up, it can get decidedly chilly.

    Despite their military prowess, and the city’s natural defences, the Kaqchikel were defeated by the Spanish in 1524 and Iximche sacked. Despite this, almost five hundred years on, the site remains sacred to the local Mayans and it is not uncommon to see traditional ceremonies being performed within the ruins.

    From Iximche, it is an approximate sixty-minute drive to Antigua. On arrival, you will be dropped at the hotel of your choice with the rest of the day at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Casa Encantada Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Iximche
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    • — Iximche
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    • — Iximche
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  • Day 5 — Antigua

    Consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful towns in Latin America, Antigua enjoys a picture postcard setting within a natural bowl, flanked by steep sided hills and with the brooding presence of Mt Agua volcano standing sentinel to the south.

    The nation’s capital until 1771, Antigua has been the scene of numerous, devastating earthquakes over the years although, to wander its streets today, it seems hard to believe.

    Often described as a museum town, every building in the historic centre either dates back to the colonial era or, if of more recent provenance, blends in seamlessly with its surroundings. Even the ruined remnants of previous earthquakes simply add to the town’s atmospheric appeal.

    It is only fitting therefore that your return to Antigua begins with a private, guided walking tour of town, taking in the key sites and locations.

    After your morning tour, the rest of the day is free for you to explore independently at your leisure.

    Being a very compact town, there is almost nowhere in Antigua that can’t be reached on foot while, for the best views and photographs, head up to the Cerro de la Cruz.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Casa Encantada Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Antigua, San Jose El Viejo
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    • — Antigua
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  • Day 6 — Antigua (day trips out)

    Having enjoyed exploring the centre of Antigua the day before, today will be spent visiting some of the key attractions on its outskirts.

    First up is San Antonio Agua Calientes, a nearby village that is renowned for its traditional textiles and crafts. It is then another, short drive to Santiago Zamora, home to the Kaqchiquel indigenous community and a female artisan cooperative known as Ixoki’ aj Quiema’ who create beautiful, traditional textiles using techniques dating back hundreds of years.

    After a traditional Guatemalan lunch nearby, the afternoon will be spent at La Azotea Cultural & Coffee centre, a multi-purpose visitor centre encompassing the history and production of Guatemala’s world-renowned coffee as well as its traditional musical instruments and costumes.

    You will then return to your hotel in Antigua where the remainder of the afternoon is free.

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Casa Encantada Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
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    • — La Azotea
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  • Day 7 — Antigua to Flores

    The morning is free for you to relax at your hotel before being transferred to Guatemala City for the late afternoon flight to Flores in the north of the country.

    On arrival at Flores airport, you will be met and transferred to your chosen accommodation.

    If staying in town, the tiny island of Flores (Isla de Flores) is perfect for exploring on one’s own as well as being home to numerous bars and restaurants, not to mention a great night market.

    (As an alternative to the above, it is possible to catch the early morning flight to Flores and spend the bulk of the day here rather than Antigua).

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Isla De Flores Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Antigua
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    • — Antigua, Iglesia La Merced
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    • — Flores
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  • Day 8 — Flores (Day trip to Tikal)

    Undoubtedly one of the highlights of any holiday to Guatemala, the ruins at Tikal are amongst the largest and most impressive from the great Mayan civilisation that ruled over Guatemala as well as much of southern Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

    Dating back to the 6th century BC, Tikal came to prominence during the Classic Period, roughly 200 to 900 AD, when its population is confidently reckoned to have reached some 100,000 inhabitants, something to contemplate when you visit today its near deserted, jungle-covered ruins today.

    Having undergone extensive excavation and reconstruction over the years, one could spend days exploring Tikal in depth although, for most visitors, a full morning tour will suffice to visit the main, central part of the city. If you do wish to visit for longer, it might be worth considering staying at one of the on-site hotels.

    After lunch at a nearby restaurant, you will return to Flores. En-route (unless you opt to stay at the hotel), there will be a stopover at Las Lagunas hotel from where you will take a boat trip to Monkey Island.

     

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Isla De Flores Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Tikal
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    • — Tikal
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  • Day 9 — Flores (Day trip to Yaxha)

    Although Tikal was the dominant Mayan city in this part of Guatemala, it was by no means alone. There were numerous other towns and cities, frequently in conflict with each other, such as Yaxha.

    Pronounced Yasha, and thought to be the third largest city in Peten with a population going on for 40,000, the word Yaxha means Green Water in Mayan and refers to the large lake next to the city.

    Although not on quite the same scale as Tikal, nor as extensively excavated, Yaxha receives far fewer visitors than its illustrious neighbour and, for many people, this is very much part of its appeal.

    Wandering around the ruins largely on your own, the only sounds you are likely to hear come from the extensive birdlife as well as the cacophonous chatter of howler monkeys in the overhead trees, often heard but seldom seen.

    Approximately ninety minutes’ drive from Flores, after exploring the ruins in the morning you will return to your hotel in the afternoon.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Isla De Flores Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Yaxha
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    • — Yaxha
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    • — Yaxha
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  • Day 10 — Flores to Guatemala City

    The final, full day of your holiday is largely free for you to do as you please.

    If you wish to explore further, you might consider a morning excursion to nearby Ixpanpajul Natural Park or, for those who like messing about on the water, it’s easy enough to arrange a scenic trip on Lake Peten with one of the numerous water taxis.

    In the late afternoon, you will be transferred back to the airport for the return flight to Guatemala City and a night in the nation’s capital.

    (If you prefer, you can have the last night back in Antigua instead).

    Suggested Accommodation: La Inmaculda Hotel Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Flores
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    • — Flores
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    • — Flores
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  • Day 11 — Guatemala City & Home

    Depending on flight times, today is at leisure for you to relax at your hotel or, if there is time, explore something of Guatemala City.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Guatemala City
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    • — Guatemala City
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    • — Guatemala City, museums
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Please Note

This itinerary is no more than a sample idea which can be tailor made to your exact requirements.

The 'From price' is for travel in September and is based on two adults sharing the same room throughout. Supplements apply for sole occupancy / transport.

The quoted price does not include international flights.

Suggested Accommodation

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When to visit Guatemala

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  • February

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  • March

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  • April

    25°C
  • May

    24°C
  • June

    23°C
  • July

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  • August

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  • September

    24°C
  • October

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  • November

    19°C
  • December

    19°C
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