10 Top Tourist Attractions in Guatemala

For those looking to unearth a vacation destination with all of the trappings of the Old & New Worlds, there’s no better place to do it than in Guatemala. The country has a rich and distinctive culture from the long mix of elements from Spain and the native Maya people. This diverse history and the natural beauty of the land has created a destination rich in interesting and scenic sites. Here are some of the most impressive tourist attractions in Guatemala.

10El Mirador

El Mirador was a major Mayan city that flourished from about the 6th century BC and abandonment at the end of the 9th century. The ruins of El Mirador were rediscovered in 1926 but received little attention due to its remote location deep in the jungle of northern Guatemala. Today the site remains largely covered by tropical jungle. Visiting El Mirador is not for the faint of heart. The village of Carmelita is the nearest point to the ruins that you can go by car. From there it takes a grueling trek of at least five days and four nights through the jungle with ants, ticks and mosquitoes that never relent. That said, people who make this journey will never forget it.


Livingston is one of Guatemala’s gems tucked away on the Caribbean coast, and can only be reached by boat. Fortunately, two ferries head out and back each and every day. The town is the hub of the Garifuna culture, meaning tourists have a chance to taste the local menu and music during their visit. Evenings in Livingston are full of excitement and you may just have the opportunity to take part in the Punta, a regional dance with an incredible beat.

See also: Where to Stay in Livingston

8Parque Central Quetzaltenango
Parque Central Quetzaltenangoflickr/Harry Diaz

Parque Central is the heart of Quetzaltenango, serving as the city center and a major local and cultural hub. The city is situated in between three massive volcanoes, offering a beautiful and primitive aura to the area. Sometimes shortened to Xela, the city is also home to Fuentes Georginas, the local natural sulfur springs. The city boasts multiple opportunities to explore local Mayan villages or to travel about a day’s journey to Laguna Chicabal, a sacred lake situated in the cloud forest and perhaps a visitor’s greatest chance of spotting a Quetzal bird in the wild.

See also: Where to Stay in Quetzaltenango

7Volcan Pacaya

Located close to Antigua, Volcán Pacaya, is an active volcano, last erupting on May 27, 2010. While there are trails and hiking opportunities open to the public, this is not a site for the faint of heart and care should be given in the preparation of your visit. If you’ve got your heart set on climbing Volcán Pacaya and seeing the magnificent view it affords, plan on setting aside at least one whole day for your journey – if not more.

See also: Where to Stay in Antigua


Monterrico is a bit off the beaten path of Pacific coastal Guatemala. With beautiful black sand, volcanic beaches and far fewer faces than you’ll spot at some other beaches, it’s great for those looking for a true “escape” from reality. However, the Pacific currents and tides make for rough water and only very experienced swimmers should leave the safety of the beach to explore the waters of the ocean. If you’re into environmentalism and conservation, you can actively take part in saving a sea turtle by visiting one of the local sea sanctuaries (during the appropriate season) and help facilitate the release of baby sea turtles into the warmth and safety of the ocean.

See also: Where to Stay in Monterrico


Flores is a located on Lake Petén Itzá and connected to land by a causeway, on the other side of which lie the twin towns Santa Elena and San Benito. It was here, on the island of Flores, that the last independent Maya state held out against the Spanish conquerors. For many tourist, the main reason to visit Flores is its proximity to the famous Maya ruins of Tikal. But the island city itself is a great Guatemala tourist attraction, filled with colonial, red-roofed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a historic church and many hotels and restaurants.

See also: Where to Stay in Flores

4Chichicastenango Market

Often shortened to “Chichi”, this is THE shopping destination of Guatemala. Located between two and three hours southwest of Guatemala City, ChiChi may be home to the brightest and most vibrant native market in all of the Americas. With a vast array of local fabrics, textiles, clothing, masks, wood-crafted items, pottery and even fireworks, there’s no reason that anyone should leave Chichicastenango Market empty handed. The city is also famous for their ability to celebrate and often host festivals, feasts and fiestas which tourists are welcomed to share in.

See also: Where to Stay in Chichicastenango Market

3Santa Catalina Arch
Santa Catalina Arch

Antigua was once the capitol city of Guatemala, up until the year 1773 when a massive earthquake decimated the town. In 1776, it was ordered abandoned and what had once been a buzzing and vibrant capitol city took on the aura of a quiet provincial town. Known for its old-world style Spanish architecture by way of palaces, cathedrals, universities and hermitages, Antigua is a charming jewel in Guatemala. The Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua has become a visual cue to let everyone know that they’ve arrived. The city is a particularly popular tourist attraction during Holy Week, with parades and floats and carpets of flowers lining the streets. It’s absolutely breath-taking.

See also: Where to Stay in Antigua

2Lago de Atitlan
Lago de Atitlan

Lake Atitlán was described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world. Situated in the Guatemalan highlands, the lake is a stunning exhibition of natural splendor. The portal to Lake Atitlán, the city of Pananajachel, is also a portal to an indigenous world of the Mayans and other ancient peoples. It is a beautiful area, with many tourist attractions, opportunities for exploration, scuba diving and learning Spanish.

See also: Where to Stay in Lago de Atitlan


Situated in the lowland rainforest of northern Guatemala, Tikal is one of the top tourist attractions in Guatemala due to its beauty and ancient wonders. The name Tikal translates as “Place of Voices” (sometimes, “Place of Tongues”) and once boasted a bustling population of a quarter million or more. Today, however, all that is left of this ancient metropolis are a number of beautiful Mayan ruins. The city is surrounded by a large wildlife preserve, full of monkeys, parrots, deer, macaws and other incredible specimens. You’ll need to set aside a minimum of two days for a thorough exploration of this natural gem.

See also: Where to Stay in Tikal

More Guatemala tourist attractions can be found in the Explore Guatemala page.

Map of Tourist Attractions In Guatemala


  1. says

    Visiting Tikal is always been something I’ve wanted to do. I actually plan on heading there next year and can hardly wait for that to come. I’ll have to make sure I hit most of these other attractions as well.

  2. says

    Wow. That picture of Santa Catalina Arch reminds me so much of Leon, Nicaragua. I guess it must be the Spanish-type architechture. Looks amazing. Never been to Guatemala, but that place along with Lago de Atitlan look spectacular and definitely worthy of a visit!

  3. says

    I lived in Guatemala for about a year when I was a kid. I returned about 30 years later. It was the happiest year of my childhood, and 30 years later, it was everything that I remembered. My trip to Tikal will go down in memory as one of the most exciting trips ever.

  4. says

    I like beaches, the best time to capture beach image is sunset. This is an informative blog, sharing the Livingston and most visited spot in Guatemala are great.

  5. Antonio says

    Great selections and definitely places to see, but you left out what is possibly the most beautiful place to see in Guatemala. Semuc Champey in Coban. If anyone is coming, definitely need to do some research and get there.

  6. Lindsay says

    Hmmm… That picture of Flores is not correct. I entered the photo at tineye.com and it looks like they are the Kelimutu Lakes somewhere in Indonesia. Disappointing!

  7. Maritza says

    I was born and raised in the south of Guatemala and I have been living in California for 25 years. Guatemala is a beautiful country, I definitely recommend to visit Lake Amatitlan in Panajachel, the ruins in Tikal, Antigua Guatemala, Belice, Semuc champey, Esquipulas Temple, Xocomil in Retauleu.. Guatemala is an amazing country to visit and it will be a great experience for anyone who visits :-)

  8. says

    I spent a summer in Guatemala back in 85 as a foreign exchange student. So I not only did the tourist thing but my hosts took me all over the place and we did things like fishing in a beautiful river/stream off the beaten path. We also climbed volcano Agua 12,340 feet. More of a good hike than mountain climbing. Didn’t go to Tikal but went to most of the other places. The entire country is absolutely stunning and breathtaking with its natural beauty. I’ll never forget it and want to go back some day when I have the time.

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