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Guatemala: The Next Top Travel Destination. Here’s Why You Need to Go!

Suspension bridge, Guatemala
Written by Chris Osburn

This blog post was updated on December 23, 2019.

Are your travel senses tingling? Just a little past our neighbors south of the border in Mexico, there’s an oft-overlooked country that has everything you’re looking for. From beautiful beaches to amazing adventures, and awe-inspiring architecture, there are innumerable reasons why Guatemala is zooming toward the top spot on the bucket lists of many in-the-know jet-setters.

The list of reasons for why you should visit gorgeous Guatemala ASAP, is endless. But here’s a few of our favorites.

We hope you’re ready to start packing!

Beautiful Beaches

Ocean sunset in Guatemala

Many of Guatemala’s most populated sights are inland, which means a lot of visitors don’t make it to any of the country’s beautiful beaches or spend much time on the coast. That’s good news for beach-bound holidaymakers hoping for ample elbow room. For a chilled out Caribbean holiday, head to Livingstone or the white sand paradise of Playa Blanca. For black sand beaches, superior surfing conditions and rural seaside splendor make for Guatemala’s Pacific coast and locales such as Champerico, the laidback resort town of Monterrico and the fishing community of Playa Tilapia (which literally means “fish beach”.

Lovely Lakes

Backpacker in Guatemala

There’s more to making a splash in Guatemala than the Pacific and the Caribbean. The country is home to three serenely scenic lakes: Lake Izabal, Lake Petén Itzá, and Lake Atitlán. Particularly noteworthy (and worthy of your vacation in and of itself) is Lake Atitlán. Situated in the lush western highlands and surrounded by volcanoes, Atitlán is considered by many to be not only the prettiest place in Guatemala but also the loveliest lake in the world.

Amazing Mayan Ruins

Mayan ruins at TIkal, Guatemala

Tikal is one of the largest Mayan sites with more than 3,000 ancient temples and other structures to see. Among them is 230ft Temple IV, the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas. When you go, try to plan your trip to take in a sunset. It’s spectacular and offers a chance to hear the eerie cry of the howler monkeys serenading each other in the rainforest as the sun goes down.

Very Volcanic

Church and volcano in Guatemala

Would you toast a marshmallow atop an active volcano? You could do just that at Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s hottest destinations and possibly the planet’s most accessible active volcanoes. A short but steep hike will get you to Pacaya’s top where (with a nod from your knowing guide) you can cook your marshmallow over a small crater. But Pacaya is one of several volcanoes in Guatemala, whether you’re looking for an easy sightseeing day trip or a remote rainforest expedition, there’s a volcano in Guatemala for everyone.

Age-Old Antigua

Children in Guatemala

Colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, volcano views and a short distance to many of Guatemala’s most popular sights mean Antigua is an ace-base. This Unesco World Heritage site is more than just a place to lay your head though. With a full agenda of cultural activities, loads of Spanish language programs, and a delicious food and drink scene, there’s plenty to between all your doings beyond the city’s walls.

Chichi Shopping

Market in Guatemala

Located in the breathtaking Guatemalan highlands is Central America’s biggest market: Chichicastenango. If you’re a fan of pottery, jewelry and textiles be prepared to be especially smitten by the handicrafts offered here. Love a bargain (and a bit of haggling)? You ought to find a shopping spree at this twice-weekly market to be an exhilarating experience.

Tasty Times

Guatemalan coffee

Not only is Guatemala one of Latin America’s most affordable destinations, it’s also one of its tastiest! The country is well known for growing exceptional coffee and cocoa – and for producing award-winning rums. The indigenous and Spanish influenced cuisine is delicious too. So if you’re a foodie on a budget, you can splurge in style and live it up without busting the budget.

Are you getting ready to go to Guatemala? We would love to hear about your plans and why you’re hip to this Central American hot spot.

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About the author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and curator and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world and has called London home since 2001.

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1 Comment

  • Your article is right on point. Chichi market on Thursday and Sunday is simply amazing and great way to learn about Mayan market and watch people. Tikal is not to be missed on Guatemala Itinerary. No where else in Central America you are going to see the impact the Mayans had. While in Guatemala, don’t forget to taste the coffee and all the tropical fruits.