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Exotic Guatemala lies at the heart of the Mayan world. It’s a country steeped in history, proud of its traditions and culture, with breath-taking scenery. There are vivacious markets and volcanic landscapes, mystical lakes, and tropical jungle embracing ruined pre-Conquest Mayan settlements.

The old Spanish capital of Antigua has shady plazas, and colonial houses and courtyards bursting with bougainvillea. A few hours’ drive up into the highlands is exquisite Lake Atitlán, surrounded by forest-cloaked volcanoes. Concealed in the jungle of the far north are the Mayan ruins of Tikal – a magnificent abandoned city where temples tower high above the forest canopy, rich in wildlife.

Many villagers live a traditional life little changed since those pre-Columbian times. From choice – not to please tourists - they still wear richly-woven costumes, the vivid hues and intricate designs varying from place to place. The authentic markets in highland villages are a hive of activity and a kaleidoscope of colour, while the gentle tones of marimba music are all-pervasive in the flowery courtyards. The frequent indigenous festivals are characterised by Catholic and evangelical motifs intertwined with the mysticism of the old beliefs.

Our holidays to Guatemala

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Essential information



Time difference

GMT -6 hrs.

Key events

Semana Santa (Easter)
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

More essential information

Our insider tips for Guatemala

Nicola Gude

Nicola Gude

Shopping for a wood-carved painted or varnished mask at the twice-weekly market in Chichicastenango. This is the biggest and best market, which spills out of the main plaza in one of the most culturally interesting misty upland villages.
Antonio Vaquero

Antonio Vaquero

Exploring deep into the rainforest at Tikal. Beyond the plazas are trails leading to half-hidden ruined temples, where you will be accompanied by spider monkeys and chattering parakeets. Go early, when there is more wildlife than tourists.  
Rafe Stone

Rafe Stone

Easter in Antigua: it’s busy, but with good reason. The festival includes parades and processions, and a magnificent carpet of flowers decorates the city streets.


Edward Welham

Heading off into the less visited parts of the country: the tropical Caribbean port of Livingstone on the Caribbean coast where English is widely spoken and a history of piracy still on display. 

What our experts say

Guatemala is one of those countries which really surprise even those of us who consider ourselves Latin American experts.  Lake Atitlan, Mayan Tikal and colonial Antigua are popular tourist magnets, but for me the backroads I explored on a mountain biking trip a few years ago opened my eyes to its hidden delights. The turquoise sunlit pools of Semuc Champey, the kaleidoscopic market at Zunil literally bursting with fruit and flowers, the traditional towns eking out their survival in the frost bitten highlands, dense tropical forests fringing the Caribbean flavoured Rio Dulce: any one of these was worth a visit in itself...

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

Product and Marketing

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