25 Can’t Miss Things to Do and See in Guatemala

View from Volcan Pacaya (Photo by Flickr user Christopher Crouzet)

1. Take a guided walking tour of Tikal and learn about the lives of the ancient Mayans

2. Feeling a bit daring? Ask if you can try eating a termite from one of the many termite mounds in the jungle. They taste like carrots!

3. Stay at Earth Lodge, a series of cabins and tree houses residing at an avocado farm on a mountain overlooking Antigua. Buy the Earth Lodge cookbook, or at least try everything they prepare for you in the main lodge. Delicious!

4. Visit Old Town Outfitters in Antigua and take a long bike tour through the countryside. You can pick the tour that best fits your interest, and enjoy an active day of exploration!

5. Hike Volcan Pacaya and roast marshmallows over the geothermal heat radiating from the cracks (most guides bring these along if you do a guided hike). Also be sure to check out the natural caves that have been formed on the slope of the volcano. It’s like a natural sauna!

Pacaya Volcano (Photo by Flickr user Bruno Girin)

6. Stay in Antigua and walk the beautiful cobblestone streets

7. Go to the Antigua market and get lost in the maze of produce and woven handmade crafts typical to the country

(Photo by Flickr user Miquel Lleixà Mora)

8. Visit Lanquin and stay at a lodge in the jungle

9. While there, take a hike through Semuc Champey National Park

10. During your hike, be sure to swim in the natural springs

Road to Lanquin, Guatemala (Photo by Flickr user Boris G)

11. For the extra adventurous souls out there, take a guided cave tour in Lanquin where you swim and climb through underground caves by the light of a candle. These caves were once considered sacred by the Mayan people, who called them the “heart of heaven”

12. Stay at the Casa Roja in El Remate in the Petén region (this is a good place to depart from for your tour of Tikal!)

13. Always be on the lookout for leafcutter ants, who besides humans, make up the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth!

14. Ride one of the many hard-to-miss and colorful chicken buses that can be found anywhere in Guatemala

15. Visit a mango farm. Enjoy eating the delicious fruit straight from the tree, while you can also learn about process of growing and selling mangos in Guatemala

16. Visit the town of Panajachel on the banks of the famous Lake Atitlan

17. Venture across the lake and have a stay at La Iguana Perdida for a night or two

Lake Atitlan (Photo by Flickr user Mike Fox)

18. Take a boat tour to the other side of the lake to visit the Mesoamerican Institute of Permaculture (IMAP) which promotes permaculture, sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty in Guatemala

19. Hike Indian Nose on the northwest shore of Lake Atitlan, and see incredible views of the lake as well as the neighboring towns of San Juan and San Pedro

La Iguana Perdida (José Moreno)

20. Stay at the mountain school (La Escuela de la Montaña) and take a tour of the coffee finca in the town

21. Improve your Spanish skills with personal one-on-one immersion classes

22. Visit Quetzaltenango, also commonly known by its indigenous name of Xela, which is the second largest city in the country. Be sure to check out the music and art scene in the city that is considered “The City that is the Soul of Culture”

Quetzaltenango (Photo by Flickr user Luis Amezquita Gamez)

23. Take a trip to the small coastal town of Chiquistepeque and enjoy some amazing sunsets and much-needed beach time

24. From your hostel in Chiquistepeque, take a tour to visit a salt farm and learn about the process of harvesting salt from the ocean for sale

25. Finally, and most important, get fried plantains anywhere you can find them, and eat as many as possible!

Plantain (Photo by Flickr user Great British Chefs Team)

“You may cut the flowers, but you can not stop the spring” -Pablo Neruda

About the author

Margo Brookfield

Margo was born and raised a Midwestern girl from Kansas City. She recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a major in International Studies focusing in comparative development in Francophone Africa, and has studied both French and Spanish in college. Last year she studied social pluralism and development with the School for International Training in Cameroon, focusing her thesis research on the impacts of education on Muslim girls in the northern city of Ngaoundéré. Margo has been a big supporter of Kiva for a number of years and is very excited to finally put all of her studies in development into practice and work to affect positive change in the world. In her spare time you can find her hiking, baking, reading a good book, spending time with her family (including her six nieces and nephews), or planning her next big adventure!