Sunheron logoSunheron
About SunheronFAQContactBlog
Find destination...
  • About Sunheron
  • FAQ
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • °C


    Places in Guatemala that will enchant you


    Places in Guatemala that will enchant you


    With almost half of the country in the jungle and surrounded by volcanoes, there's no doubt that Guatemala will reward nature lovers, mountain trekkers and enthusiasts of the ancient Mayan civilisation. This and much more is on offer in Central America's third largest country. Guatemala is a diverse country and we recommend setting aside at least a month to visit.

    Explore more about:

      The flower island of Flores

      An island located in Guatemala's third largest lake, Lago Petén Itzá. The island is connected by a bridge to the mainland, where you can be on the other side within a few minutes walk. The island town of Flores itself is really tiny, but incredibly picturesque. All the houses have colourful facades, some make an effort to decorate with flowers (even though it's not in season) and a walk along the promenade gives it just the right romantic atmosphere.

      The place is a good starting point for a visit to the largest and longest running Mayan city – Tikal. At the time of its glory, up to 50,000 inhabitants lived here. Today, Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourists from all over the world flock here to explore the site and experience the atmosphere of the ancient civilisation for themselves. In our opinion, Tikal is a place not to be missed when visiting Guatemala. The buildings are tall and make for an epic feel.

      View of the Flores island surrounded by the sea

      The most beautiful sunset with the sounds of nature can be experienced just an hour from Flores, at the top of the Yaxha Pyramid. If you time your trip well, you can first walk through the former Mayan city in the light, which is not as impressive as Tikal, but still has its charm. Then, at sunset, you'll climb to the top of the tallest pyramid for a spectacular view of the surrounding jungle and lagoon. It's amazing to watch the sky as it casts its spell and listen to the sounds of monkeys and parrots.

      The colonial town of Antigua

      Antigua is a colonial town where you can wander through the beautiful streets until you reach the icon of the whole town, the yellow arch – the Santa Catalina Arch. Or take a short walk up the Hill of the Cross, where you'll have an outstanding view.¨

      View of Santa Catalina Arch, houses and a street

      Don't miss the famous market, which is not only good for buying souvenirs, which are the cheapest in all of Guatemala, but also be sure to try some traditional food there. We can recommend the Pepián stew, or the chicken soup – Caldo de Pollo served with vegetables and rice.

      Basically, the whole of Guatemala is built on volcanoes and you can go and hike a few of them. The biggest travel destination is Acatenango. Or actually Fuego, to be more precise. Acatenango isn't particularly interesting, but everyone wants to climb to the top of it to watch the erupting Fuego volcano from afar. Climbing the volcano is not suitable for untrained individuals. It is a strenuous two-day hike with an overnight stay at the top, carrying approximately 15 kg of gear in your backpack, and the terrain is not suitable for people of smaller stature as there are a lot of very high steps. Watching an erupting volcano is definitely an experience of a lifetime, but we definitely recommend preparing physically and mentally for this hike in advance.

      View of an erupting volcano - Fuego

      If you prefer easier and shorter hikes, you may enjoy a hike to Pacaya volcano instead of Acatenango. The hike takes about an hour and a half, but almost the whole way you're walking on hardened lava that has turned to gravel and is quite slippery, so be careful! Then at the top you watch steam coming out of the volcano, which is so hot you can even roast marshmallows on it.

      Guatemala is famous for its amazing coffee. Visit a coffee plantation where the staff will be happy to show you around, show you how coffee is grown and processed, explain the differences between coffees and maybe even give you a tasting. But when you visit, make sure you check first whether the coffee is flowering or harvesting at the time – so there's plenty to see.

      Volcanic Lake Atitlán

      There are several villages around Atitlán and each one is different in its own way. The village of Panajachel is the largest of these and will most likely be your first stop, as most of the buses go here. Panajachel is not particularly interesting, there are more picturesque places around the lake.

      San Pedro la Laguna is a place for party types. It is a larger village where most travelers stay overnight. If you don't like noise and parties and prefer to spend your nights more quietly, we would recommend a different place to stay.

      San Juan la Laguna is a village located right next to San Pedro and is much quieter and more picturesque. The beautiful main street is typically colourfully decorated and life here seems calmer compared to San Pedro. Plus, there's a wonderful view of the entire lake and surrounding volcanoes to climb. Another viewpoint that we recommend to climb is the so-called Indian Nose. A volcano that is really shaped like the head of an Indian with a big nose.

      View of lake Atitlán and volcanoes in the background

      San Marcos la Laguna is probably the most enjoyable place. The village is not large, and you get a nice hippie vibe when you arrive. San Marcos attracts visitors mainly because of its legendary energy vortex, and if you're looking for a place to just be, San Marcos is perfect. Here you can buy eco products with zero waste, practice yoga, or sample vegan food.

      You can usually take a boat around the lake, or if the villages are close together, there are tuk tuks and once in a while a chicken bus, which is the local public transport. Chicken buses are quite unpredictable and no one (not even the locals) knows the timetable, so you need to have a certain amount of patience when travelling on this. Also, beware of the correct terminology, locals call these buses Camioneta.

      The surrounding countryside of Lanquin

      Lanquin is actually a bit of a backwater, with barely a working ATM. But the main reason to visit this place should definitely be the Semuc Champey – natural cascading pools. The road to Semuc is on unpaved roads, so get a 4×4 or a ride in a local tour company's car. Just watch out for bruises, it’s a bumpy ride. Semuc is beautiful from below as well as above. The hike up to the viewpoint will take you about 45 minutes, but the view is worth it! Then at the bottom, you'll be rewarded with a refreshing swim.

      Aerial view of Semuc Champey - natural pools

      There is also a cave near Semuc Champey that is suitable for adrenaline junkies. There is an activity similar to canyoning. You get a candle in your hand and you're good to go. Along the way, you will duck, swim, crawl and eventually be told to "slide" into a black hole. It takes a certain amount of courage, but the experience is awesome. You will feel the wax dripping on your hands throughout the journey, if you have a headlamp, we recommend you bring it to use instead of the candle.

      Other Sunheron blog posts