Central Highlands
This region is home to the capital of Guatemala city and at least one active volcano
 Western Highlands
By far the most beautiful part of Guatemala, this region includes many indigenous Mayan villages. Lake Atitlan is also in this region, along with at least 2 active volcanoes.
 Eastern Guatemala
A dry region on the routes to Honduras and El Salvador, with a mostly Hispanic population, and dedicated to cattle ranching.
 Caribbean Coast
This coast is home to many beaches.
 Northern Lowlands
This region has very dense jungled rainforest, and some amazing Mayan ruins, including Tikal.
 Pacific Lowlands
This consists of the rolling foothills of the Sierra Madre, extending across the wide Pacific plain to beautiful beaches.


  • Guatemala City — Capital and largest city with many amenities
  • Antigua Guatemala — Colonial Spanish capital of Central America, a World Heritage site, and the most popular among tourists
  • Flores — Island city capital of Petén, good starting point to access Mayan ruins of Tikal.
  • Melchor de Mencos — Border city which is the main crossing point to Belize
  • Panajachel — Gateway to Lake Atitlán, a beautiful and busy tourist area
  • Puerto Barrios — Caribbean seaport with speedboats to and from Belize
  • Puerto San José — Pacific seaport
  • Quetzaltenango — Second largest city, in the western highlands. Commonly called "Xela".
  • Sayaxché — River gateway in Petén

Other destinations

  • Lake Atitlán — Beautiful lake region in the mountains surrounded by many picturesque villages and volcanoes, which is becoming more and more touristic
  • Monterrico — The beach closest to Guatemala City and Antigua, volcanic sand.
  • Rio Dulce — Known as "a ‘one of a kind’ ecological and cultural heritage for humanity", and home of one of the largest bridges in Central America, the area surrounding this emerald "Sweet River" has many sites to see and things to do. From jungle hikes to the Hot Springs Waterfalls (Rio Dulce is home to Finca Paraiso), visiting Castillo San Felipe de Lara, sailing & watersports, seeing the colorful, friendly surrounding villages & landscapes to taking a Lancha tour through the Majestic Canyon from Livingston. There are plenty of places to stay, including some sweet spots right on the water. Rio Dulce is also a huge hub of access to not only places within Guatemala, such as Antigua, Tikal, Cobán, Semuc Champey and more, but is equally a point of access to the surrounding countries of Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Maya ruins

  • El Mirador — massive early Maya site, perhaps the cradle of Maya civilization. Still being uncovered and studied; less developed for visitors than the other largest Maya sites.
  • Tikal — long considered the largest of Maya ruins (although the ongoing investigations of El Mirador may challenge this claim), this huge and impressive ancient Maya site is probably worth the trip to Guatemala by itself. Stay in the park or in nearby Flores the night before in order to organise an early morning trip to Tikal, to see the sun rise over the ruins. Tours are easily organised from the surrounding areas.
  • Aguateca — some of the best-preserved Mayan ruins in Guatemala where you are more likely to encounter archaeologists at work than tourists with cameras
  • El Peru (Waká) — a three day trek/boat trip from Flores and identified as the source of many looted Maya artifacts
  • Iximché — ruins in the Central Highlands, an easy day trip from Guatemala City or Antigua.
  • Nakúm — an impressive Classic Maya site
  • Yaxhá — ruins with more than 500 structures, between Flores and Melchor de Mencos

Leave a Reply