Your Guide to Exploring the Republic of Guatemala: 10 Riveting Things to Do and See in the Guatemalan Lands
Updated On: May 26, 2023
Guatemala, Central America is a hidden gem that tends to go unnoticed by many dedicated travelers although it embraces some of the world’s fascinating countries. Guatemala is a rare find located in Central America, offering its visitors a myriad of options to keep them entertained and looking for more. Although it lies on the southeast borders of Mexico, Guatemala never earned the same extravagant publicity.
No matter what you are looking for, chances are you will probably find it here. You can have a unique cultural experience, exploring the raw beauty of the small towns. Since weaving is a popular business around here, you’ll definitely come across brand new local goods that will leave you inspired. There is also a whole lot of rich history hanging in the air waiting for you to uncover. If you happen to be a nature lover, well, there are plenty of destinations that will induce your enthusiasm.
Thanks to its strategic location, Guatemala serves as an ideal spot for the nature freaks out there. Some of the beautiful nature form it bestows upon the world include active volcanoes, tropical jungles, coral reefs, splendid beaches, and mountain lakes.
Walk through this exhilarating list of the best things to do while unearthing the secrets and history of Guatemala:
1. Explore the Mayan Ruins of Tikal
Many civilizations have walked our earth thousands of years ago; some of which we have never encountered or, in some cases, heard of. The Mayan culture is one of the most significant civilizations that inhabited Guatemala some thousands of years ago, leaving behind traces of their existence.
If you’re into history, Tikal is one of the prominent destinations in Guatemala that will draw you to where the breeze is laden with historic tales. It is home to the renowned Mayan ruins as well as numerous temples and pyramids that were excavated. This fascinating area represents the ancient city that was once home to the Maya civilization.
Besides the amazing historical information you will encounter in this spot in Guatemala, birdwatching and observing wild animals is another activity that you can do there. This place is home to red coatis, gray foxes, and howler monkeys. Moreover, don’t miss the beautiful lake town of Flores.
2. Attend An All Saints Day Kite Festival
One of the annual celebrations that take place in Guatemala is the All Saints Day. It occurs on November 1st or 2nd every year, and it resembles that well-known Mexican festival, the Day of the Dead. On this day, all of the cities in Guatemala honor their beloved ones who passed by visiting their graves and bringing their favorite food and drinks.
In Santiago, a kite festival takes place, where people gather and fly some giant kites, displaying some vibrant colors in the sky. They also put on some of their most bright clothes and bring along some beautiful flowers. This festival usually takes place near the Sacatepéquez cemetery in Santiago.
You can attend this festival if you happen to be in Guatemala around the time of the celebration, which is in November. It is a great opportunity to explore Santiago in a different way. You will also get to immerse in a tradition that may not take place in wherever you come from, ensuring a unique cultural experience.
3. Climb to Cerro de La Cruz (Hill of the Cross)
Mountains are your way to behold a city’s raw beauty with no obstructions. Antigua is a Guatemalan city with pristine allure, observing it from a relatively high point is an experience you don’t want to miss. And, that is when Cerro de La Cruz mountain comes to grant you your wishes. It is the highest hill situated in north of Antigua.
Climbing to the top of this mountain is an easy hike that is suitable for people of all ages and different fitness levels. On an elevated spot of this mountain stands a stone cross. It was build as a tribute to the patron saint of the city. This hill offers picturesque views over the cityscape of Antigua. It is nice to take a deep look into the city before exploring its different parts.
4. Settle In Antigua Guatemala
Antigua, the old capital of Guatemala, is a big city where unspoiled natural landmarks are to be spotted everywhere. Volcanoes surround the old city, creating fascinating scenes that work as splendid backdrops in photos. In fact, the whole city became one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, rapidly becoming one of the most popular cities, not only in Guatemala but in all of Central America.
The city pulsates with life, offering a lot of adventurous activities and exhilarating things that will keep you occupied and joyfully immerse in the culture. Whenever you decide to fly to Guatemala, we encourage you to pick Antigua to settle in. That way, you will take your time exploring the city, given all the fun activities it offers and rich history that you’d like to discover.
5. Go Swimming in Semuc Champey
When you are looking for a paradise-like spot to relax, Semuc Champey is the heaven you dream about. It is a natural monument that sits in Alta Verapaz near Lanquin town. Semuc Champey is not just a hyped up destination that doesn’t live up to your expectations. On the contrary, it exceeds your expectations in the best ways possible.
This attraction is ideal to relax in the waters and shake the stress off your system. It is home to fascinating swimming spots with the most splendid views ever. You can swim in vast natural pools and let yourself blend with the cascading waterfalls. There are also splendid parks around the waters that you can explore and enjoy the pretty nature.
6. Have An Authentic Caribbean Holiday at Livingston
If you are looking for some Caribbean vibes to spend your holiday, Livingston is there for you. It is a town located in eastern Guatemala, embracing an interesting diversity of different cultures. Nonetheless, its location on the Caribbean coast made it one of the best tourist attractions in Guatemala, given its authentic summer vibes.
Beaches are everywhere to be found when it comes to Livingstone. It is an ideal spot to enjoy the serene shores, swim in the Caribbean sea, and have some palatable seafood meals. We should also declare that the cultural diversity found here greatly contributed to the creation of a spiced-up cuisine. There is a lot to enjoy around this beautiful town and we promise boredom will never seep into your day.
7. Embark on A Journey in Lanquín Caves (Grutas de Lanquín)
The Lanquín Caves are one of the amazing natural wonders that Guatemala offers to the world. It is located in the Central Highlands outside the town of Lanquín. They are limestone caverns that the ancient people of the Maya civilization considered sacred, believing they were the doorways to the underworld.
Before you actually venture into the marvelous Lanquín Caves, you will walk through natural landscapes in some impressive scenes that make you one with nature. The area in which the cave is located was declared a national park in the ‘50s.
Lush green forests and blue waters surround the cave, adding a more scenic view to the splendid area, especially when you are looking from inside the cave to the outer world. We promise all you do here will leave you astonished and spellbound.
8. Travel Back in Time at the Ixchel Museum of Mayan Costumes
Booking a guided tour in the Ixchel Museum is an amazing cultural experience if you are interested in learning about the ancient civilization of the Maya. Located within the campus of Francisco Marroquin University, this museum is just like any regular museum you have visited. It is an unconventional museum of textiles and clothing, exploring the timeline of dressing in the Mayan civilization throughout the years.
Your tour around this museum usually takes an hour or so. Your visit can be extended if you happen to be curious about the other exhibitions in the museum. Clothing and attire are not the only collections on display. In fact, there is a wide array of notable objects, including books, ceramic, jewelry, and textiles.
9. Hike to the Pacaya Volcano
The culture of Guatemala is a rather rich one and since it’s home to a wide array of vast natural landscapes and several volcanoes, hiking happens to be a huge part of Guatemalan life. Volcanoes are a huge part of this country’s geography, some of which are still active, yet Pacaya Volcano stands out among all of them.
It is a popular hiking spot among visitors and locals, drawing thousands of adventurous tourists every year. If you have a venturesome soul, we do believe knowing that it is an active volcano will even add more fun to your great venture. You just need to have permission from the authorities since there are times when summiting the volcano is prohibited, depending on its activity.
10. Enjoy the Great Outdoor at the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii (Monterrico Nature Reserve)
The Biotopo Monterrico Hawaii is an ideal spot to enjoy yourself, for it offers more than a few things to do, all of which are satisfying for the daring souls. Located in the region of Monterrico on the southern coast of Guatemala, the area has a humid weather and is home to some amazing wildlife as well as aquatic life.
Once you step a foot into the 20km-long nature reserve, you will start spotting magnificent species of birds, embellishing the already splendid trees and drawing your attention to the vast sky. You can also go on a boat tour and observe the fascinating lagoons while appreciating the beautiful species of turtles and other aquatic life. Other activities in this awe-inspiring area include kayaking, horse-riding along the beach, and interesting tours of birdwatching.