Guatemala represents a country rich in geographic diversity, indigenous history, and natural wonders. Sandwiched by both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the country exists between a coastal plain and a volcanic mountain range. As a result, the terrain consists of wetlands, lakes, rivers, and lagoons as well as the many impressive mountains. From a tourism perspective, Tikal, the Mayan archaeological site, stands out as Guatemala’s most well-known attraction as indigenous history of the country remains vibrant and prevalent throughout most areas. There are many towns, cities, and natural attractions in the country that each have unique personalities and atmospheres. For example, known for its cobblestone streets, red-tiled roofs, and famous markets, the town of Chichicastenango stands within mountains and valleys in the middle of the country. It is also known for the prominent 400 year old Santo Tomas Church. Nearby, Lake Atitlan represents a beautiful destination and major tourist center. This very large lake continues to receive many accolades each year as the scenery surrounding the water is breathtaking. Around the lake, many attractive small towns rest within three towering volcanoes such as Panajachel- another hub of tourism. Lastly, Tikal remains one of Guatemala’s most visited places as one of the largest and most important Mayan archaeological sites in existence. Tikal was at its peak over one thousand years ago with 100,000 inhabitants. Yet still, the site includes around 3000 structures including many temples, towering pyramids, and other relics plus excavation activities are still discovering many more.
The city of Antigua, a UNESCO world heritage site, stands as a charming colonial style establishment with a mild climate where time appears to have come to a standstill. As the former capital of all of Central America, Antigua sits between three volcanoes and is known for its well-preserved Spanish historical influenced architecture of streetscapes and pastel facades. The colorful extensive markets are well worth a visit to purchase merchandise or to simply watch the daily rhythm. Additionally, the Cathedral of San Jose which shows the history within many of the beautifully renovated old ecclesiastical and civic structures within the city. Thanks to the dozens of Spanish-language schools that operate here, Antigua is a global hotspot. Yet it remains a vibrant Guatemalan town; its churches, plazas and markets are throbbing with activity. Outside the city, indigenous communities, coffee plantations and volcanoes offer ample opportunities for exploration.
Guatemala City is the most modern and cosmopolitan city of the Central American region with a population of more than 2 million. It is the ideal setting for conferences and conventions and has renowned golf courses, medical centers equipped with the latest technologies, and world-class shopping centers. When here, visiting the Historic Center is a must. There, with more than 200 years of existence, establishments such as the Presidential palace, national cathedral, the Central Market, iconic churches and buildings, and museums- are a true testament to the country’s historic evolution. Artisan markets show the wonderful textiles and handmade products influenced by the Mayan culture. Furthermore, the Aurora Zoo is another great touristic experience in the city. Since 1924, the zoo has been the home to exotic animals from around the world. As the largest Central American Zoo, a visit to its 40 acre property is truly an marvelous experience. In regards to dining, the city offers cuisine from many countries including that of French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese or Argentinian food. Additionally, coffee houses here are some of the best in the world due to Guatemala being home to some of the finest sourced beans