There are plenty of reasons, why you should travel to wonderful ancient Guatemala! Some of them are:
- fairytale landscapes like not from this world and gorgeous nature
- strong Maya culture
- tremendous ancient Maya temples in lush jungle
- delicious dishes made of tortillas, beans, plantains, vegetables, eggs and tasty corn drinks
- ancient colonial cities
- active volcanoes
- great handicrafts
After you have read this articles, I´m sure your next journey will lead you there
Places to visit:
- Lago Atitlan
- Western highlands (Chichicastenango, Rabinal, Salamá,..)
- Lanquin and Semuc Champey
- El Remate, Flores
- Climbing volcanoes, e.g. Volcano Pacaya or Acatenango
- Wandering trough lush jungle to a natural wonder in Semuc Champey
- Visiting Maya ruins – the most impressive one is Tikal
- Exploring the ancient (and most beautiful city in Central America) Antigua
- Enjoying the tranquility and peace in El Remate by the Lago Petén Itzá
- Get to know the vibrant Maya culture and visiting the biggest handicraft market in Chichicastenango
- Driving along deadly roads in the western highlands
- Relax and eat good food in the small colonial city Flores
After an about 18-hours drive by shuttle bus (60$) from León (Nicaragua) through Honduras and El Salvador (3 boarder crossings!) I arrived quite tired, but happy that everything went well, in one of the most impressive cities, I´ve ever seen – Antigua.
Shuttle buses: If you are wondering, how to travel by shuttle bus – that´s very easy! You can get tickets in every city, for example León, in travel agencies or hostels. In Guatemala it´s very common for tourists to travel by shuttle buses, and many people think, it´s also saver. I think, it´s just more comfortable sometimes, because you don´t have to change buses many times, especially on longer journeys and on border crossings. But if you want to get to know and feel the Guatemalan culture and get in touch with local people, the local buses are the best way to travel!
I stayed for three nights in Antigua, in the quiet and cheap family-run hostel “El viajero” for 40 Quetzales (5$) per night for a dorm-bed. Fresh drinking water, garden use and big clean bathrooms included.
Exploring the city was really fun und the colourful colonial buildings, streets and churches are giving you the feeling, like you were travelling back in time. Also many people are still wearing the traditional dresses of the Maya. From everywhere in the city, you can see the majestic volcano “Volcán De Agua”. The best way to explore the small city is on foot.
What to see and do in Antigua:
- Parque Central
- Ruins of the cathedral San José, which was 1733 destroyed by an earthquake
- Ruins, museum and church Hermano Pedro
- Arco Santa Catalina
- Church La Merced
- Cerro de la Cruz, on a hill close to Antiuga
- Iglesia San Fransisco
- Markets with plenty of handicrafts
- Catedral de Santiago
- Volcanos Pacaya and Acatenango
- Convento de las Capucchinas
- Parque Union with Churches San Pedro and Santa Clara on both sides
- Museo de Arte Colonial (60Q)
- Plaza de las pilas
Sometimes I went to my favourite café in Antigua “Fernando´s Kaffee” for having breakfast, lunch or just a coffee. It´s really worth it to try it out. They also sell self-made chocolate and coffee and you can sit in the nice little garden in the backyard.
Where you can also eat a huge traditional meal for not even 2 $ is the comedor “La Canche”. It´s at the opposite of the church La Merced and a bit hidden.
I really enjoyed wandering the whole day through the streets, watching people, drinking coffee or eating some street food, exploring ruins, churches and museums, and so on. The climate was very kind, sunny and warum during the days and a bit cooler during night.
The “Día de los muertos” (day of the dead) is also celebrated in Guatemala (and Mexico) and you can buy souvenirs for that event everywhere.
From Antigua it´s very easy to explore volcanoes, like Pacaya or Acatenango.
I decided to visit the volcano Pacaya, which is an about 1,5 hours drive from Antigua. The easiest way is to book a 1-day-tour (60Q – 7,5 $), from many hostels or travel-agencies, with a local guide. It´s not allowed to climb up without a guide! There you can also rent horses.
I really enjoyed this tour, even though there were many people, because it was a Saturday, and I was a bit disappointed, because one could not see the lava flow anymore, from the eruption about one year ago. But still it smoked everywhere and it´s possible to grill marshmallows on some points 😉 It´s a really mystic place to me!
The next step in Guatemala was Lago Atitlan. A story for the next time
Thanks for reading!
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