To visit Guatemala is to discover a multitude of hidden treasures. Discover this incredible Central American country through these 10 of the most beautiful places in the country!
- 1. Lake Atitlan
- 2. Semuc Champey
- 3. Tikal
- 4. Antigua
- 5. Chichicastenango Market
- 6. Guatemala City
- 7. The Georgine Fountains
- 8. Quetzaltenango
- 9. Monte Rico
- 10. Livingston
Guatemala is a rather unknown country which nevertheless has a unique culture and breathtaking varied landscapes. Located in southern Mexico , this small territory is immeasurably rich: lush jungles, resounding flora and fauna, multicolored cities, remains of some of the most powerful cities of pre-Columbian times, etc.
All this bathed in a still living and vibrant Mayan culture. Above all, the generosity of its inhabitants will not fail to make you love this endearing country. Without further ado, here are the 10 most beautiful places to visit in Guatemala!
1. Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlán is known to be the most beautiful lake in the world, spreading its clear waters in a vast valley encircled by three volcanoes . A simply stunning setting, cradle of the Mayan people. Indeed, many villages dot the banks of Atitlán, home to 3 Mayan communities: the Kakchikels, the Tzutuhils and the Quichés.
Here, you just have to let yourself be carried away by the sweet life of the lake. The women still wear the guilpil, a traditional multicolored dress, and you will have the opportunity to see them weaving. Do not miss to taste the local cuisine! The Mayan community, enterprising and active, imbues the place with a mystical aura that is simply unique in the world.
Jump aboard a lancha (motorboat) to reach these places, off the beaten track, not to be missed:
- San Antonio Palopo
- Santa Catarina and its multicolored houses
- Saint Mark
- Santiago Atitlan and his brotherhoods
- The Quixaya swimming pools
2. Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is undoubtedly one of the most heavenly places you will ever see. However, this little gem has to be earned. To access the site, you will have to travel hours of rough road through the jungle. But the game is worth the candle!
Here, you can swim in turquoise water inhabited by a multitude of small fish that will come to nibble your toes. These unusual swimming pools, enveloped in lush vegetation, offer a simply idyllic setting.
On site, you can embark on a hike in the heart of the jungle, certainly challenging, but which will not fail to amaze you: gigantic butterflies, fanfare of bird songs, fruit trees, etc. At the end of the journey, you arrive at a watchtower which offers you a spectacular view of the Semuc Champey gorge.
A place out of time, completely wild, which also offers the luxury of being little visited!
Tikal was one of the most powerful cities of the Maya civilization. Although some constructions date from the 4th century BC, the kingdom experienced its peak between 200 and 900. Huge pyramids were then built, culminating above the canopy.
Today, Tikal National Park is one of the most important archaeological sites in America. Located in the north of Guatemala, in the heart of the Petén jungle, it houses the remains of imposing temples and palaces, witnesses of the grandeur and technological refinement of the city.
Visitors can freely get lost in this huge complex and admire the ruins buried in the vegetation. All your senses will be awakened in Tikal: the pungent smell of the jungle, the moist atmosphere, the howl of monkeys, the bright colors of toucans, and more.
A word of advice: bring binoculars to observe the fauna!
Antigua is considered the most beautiful city in Guatemala. Its colorful streets with colonial architecture are home to many monuments punctuating the history of the city: the ruins of the cathedral of Santiago, the arch of Santa Catalina, the church of La Merced, etc.
Antigua was founded in the 16th century by the Spaniards to become the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala. However, it has been the victim throughout its history of many devastating earthquakes, which will cause it to lose its status and which still mark the old stones of the city. Today, many tourists flock there and Antigua enjoys a gentle and peaceful atmosphere.
3 blue giants dominate the streets of the city: these are the volcanoes of Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Often bathed in mist, they give the city its special atmosphere.
5. Chichicastenango Market
Locals flock to the Chichicastenango , or Chichi , market every Thursday and Sunday. And for good reason: it is one of the oldest and most famous markets in Central America! Huge maze of stalls of all kinds, it immerses you in the heart of Mayan culture.
Let yourself be transported by this whirlwind of smells and colors for a day. Stop at the Church of Santo Tomas, on the steps of which a multitude of flowers with striking scents are sold, and admire the magnificent traditional outfits of Mayan women. A real immersion, which is also a perfect opportunity to bring back beautiful typical memories.
6. Guatemala City
Guatemala City suffers from a very bad reputation and it is not for nothing. The capital of Guatemala is dangerous. However, your plane will most certainly land there and, provided you respect a few basic rules of caution, the city offers some real points of interest.
This is perhaps the best opportunity for you to learn more about Guatemalan history. The city is full of museums, including the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology which houses an impressive collection of pre-Columbian objects and works of art. More broadly, walking through the historic district (zones 1 and 2) allows you to admire the colonial and modern architecture of the city and some beautiful monuments: el Palacio de Gobernación , the cathedral, the National Palace, etc.
7. The Georgine Fountains
Not far from the town of Quetzaltenango, nestled on the Zunil volcano, are las Fuentes Georginas , hot springs. The baths they supply mainly attract locals who come to relax there. Their sulfur water has medicinal properties recognized throughout the country.
By bathing in the Georginas , you enjoy a breathtaking privileged setting. The opal waters, bathed by a waterfall, are caught in a setting of lush vegetation covering the steep sides of the volcano. Moreover, it is an ideal place to meet Guatemalans.
Do you want to visit the Fuentes Georginas ? Take a picop from the beautiful town of Zunil , which is also worth a visit.
Quetzaltenango , commonly called Xela (pronounced “chela”), is the second largest city in Guatemala. It is a charming, calm and peaceful place, in which you will feel safe. Its historic center is very pleasant and has a certain character.
You can visit a rich architectural and cultural heritage, impregnated jointly with colonial and indigenous culture. Indeed, the city is home to a large Mayan community, which represents 75% of the inhabitants, against 40% nationwide.
In the evening, the center of Xela is lively and you can enjoy a wide range of restaurants, bars and concerts.
9. Monte Rico
Monterrico is located on the Pacific coast, in the south of Guatemala. Get ready to face the heat and humidity! Life in this small fishing village is lived at the rhythm imposed by the tropical climate: mild and peaceful.
The atmosphere here is quite different than elsewhere in the country. The houses are thatched, the trees are even heavier with fruit, the air is pungent, the green seems greener, and the ocean waves crash wildly on long gray beaches.
In Monterrico, you can take a walk or sip a cocktail in a wooden hut on the beach. The Hawaii nature reserve is nearby: a large mangrove teeming with life. You can explore it before sunrise, aboard a canoe, and observe the many birds that live there. An unforgettable experience !
Livingston is a special destination to visit during your stay in Guatemala. You will only be able to access this small isolated village on the Caribbean coast by boat. By visiting Livingston, you will meet the Garifunas, an Afro-Caribbean people resulting from the interbreeding between natives and escaped black slaves.
Here, the culture is radically different than in the rest of the country. You will find it hard to believe, yet you are still in Guatemala! Enjoy the sweet atmosphere of Livingston, lulled by reggae and cumbia , and relax on the paradisiacal Playa Blanca . Above all, do not miss to taste the cuisine of the Garifunas, to die for!
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