Ready For Your Vacation In Guatemala, But Not Sure Where To Go?
Here’s a helpful list of Guatemala’s prime tourist destinations, along with some less known locations that are sure to make your Guatemalan vacation a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Antigua is a great central destination for anyone traveling to Guatemala. The city hosts several must-see landmarks for sightseeing, and has an atmosphere all of its own, from the city’s Panza Verde inhabitants to its biweekly traditional markets. Don’t believe us that Antigua is so fascinating, just ask UNESCO, as the city has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Founded in 1542, Antigua was the first planned city in the Americas, structured on a rigid grid pattern, and is easily recognized by its cobblestone streets. The city served as the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala prior to moving the capital in 1773 to Guatemala City, due to the constant tremors and damaging earthquakes in September and December of that year. Following the move of the capital to Guatemala City, the name Panza Verde, or green belly, was given to those that remained in Antigua. It is said that the people received this name because of their reliance on avocadoes for a food source after the damage to the city from earthquakes.
If only in Antigua for a day or two, a half-day city tour is well worth taking to collect some insight into this unique city. Our Experience Antigua Group Walking Tour will grant you access to some of the most incredible landmarks of Antigua including: San Francisco church and ruins, Santo Domingo ruins, La Merced church and ruins, the street with the famous Santa Catalina Arch, buildings around the Main Square (Municipality, Palace, Cathedral), and Casa de Jade's Jade Museum.
Tikal is located within The Department of Petén. Petén, which occupies approximately 1/3 of Guatemala’s area, is made up of a huge expanse of tropical rainforest, swamps and savannah that forms part of an untamed wilderness that stretches into the Lacandón forest and collects Maya cities from late pre-classic and classic period.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tikal National Park, is located within the Petén Department. This 360 square mile protected national park is located on the edge of the “Reserva de la Biósfera Maya”, where a large assortment of animal species can be found. The park’s main attribute is the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, Tikal (Tik’al). The city was likely called Yax Mutal by its inhabitants and is one of the largest urban centers and archeological sites of the Maya Civilization, dating back to the 4th Century BC. Other places of interest within the Petén Department are Yaxha and Topoxte. Although these sites are not as popular as “Tikal” or “El Mirador”, they were still very powerful in their time and very beautiful. Yaxhá is located over a hill surrounded by the Sacnab and Yaxhá lagoons. It is inside a zone of two square kilometers, where more than 1700 structures have been identified (Hermes, et al., 1999). The site was inhabited by the Maya civilization since the Pre-classic period (1500 B.C. – 250 A.C.) through the Classic period (250-950 A.C.).
This travel destination is definitely worth the trip. From early morning howler monkeys, to ancient Mayan artifacts, there’s something for every adventure traveler looking to pique their interest. Want to check out Tikal before you make the trip, Click here for an interactive map of the main attraction within Tikal National Park.
This volcanic crater-lake is the deepest lake in Central America, and renowned as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Multiple Mayan archeological sites have been discovered at the lake; the latest Mayan “underwater city” (located 55 feet below the lake’s level) discovered, dates back to the late pre-classic period.
Deep beneath Lake Atitlán’s surface, lies a majestic city of the Pre-Classic Mayan Civilization from over 2,000 years ago. Our exclusive access to the city allows you to experience Mayan ruins like never before. Witness the island city that was used as a religious pilgrimage for the Maya before it was covered with over 50 feet of water.
Many traditional Mayan lakeside communities are found near Atitlán. The inhabitants of the area still dress in customary garb and practice many traditions of their culture, some with a fusion of Spanish influence, including the worship of Maximón. Daily boat taxis are available to take you to both San Juan and Santiago across the lake from Panajachel, the most popular location for lake visitors. A nature reserve allows visitors to experience the beautiful view from a different perspective high above the canopy zip lining across the lake. Kayaking on the lake and volcano hikes are also popular tourist activities.
Aside from the lake’s many attractions and activities, the year-round perfect weather and breath-taking view make Lake Atitlán a prime location for leisure time and simply relaxing as the waves lap your comfortable villa’s shore line and enjoy a tasty cocktail made with Guatemala’s own made Zacapa rum.
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