Guatemala boasts of having the most densely packed list of features worth seeing anywhere in Central America. This small Latin American city has an array of attractions ranging from the world-famous marvels of Mayan ruins to the lush jungle reserves, endless hiking opportunities and a blend of modern metropolitan with the colonial towns. What’s more, Guatemala is still intact with the ancient traditions from before the days of Columbus. Here are the top things to do in this pristine city.
Explore Maya Ruins
Devoting any less than two days to the gigantic Mayan ruins at Tikal, would be an injustice. The views encasing Tikal are as impressive as the ruins themselves. Make climbing the steep steps of Temple 1 and V, the highlight of your expedition. You can spend a night in the adjacent Jaguar Inn so that you explore the ruins right after dawn, a time when howler monkeys seem to outnumber the tourists.
Enjoy Colonial Antigua
Antigua constitutes a unique grid layout and logically-ordered street numbers, which make half the reason for the numerous tourist visits. The city also features cobble-stoned, colonial charm that provides the perfect calm setting for visitors. Antigua is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Guatemala, due to this colonial heritage. Other towns are not as beautiful owing to the modern urban sprawl.
Admire Lake Atitlan
Globally, it has one of the most scenic settings for a lake. Lago de Atitlan is surrounded by three volcanoes namely, San Pedro, Toliman and Atitlan. Explore the lake by renting a kayak or boat in any of the neighboring towns. Also, the water is clean enough for a swim.
Shop Souvenirs at Chichicastenango Market
A trip to Guatemala will be incomplete if you fail to visit the town of Chichicastenango and check out the magnificent market. The market is filled with indigenous vendors selling an array of handicrafts, textiles, food, flowers, pottery, medicinal plants and farming items, on Thursdays and Sundays. It provides the ultimate insight into the local culture.
Roast Marshmallows on volcanoes
Guatemala is home to numerous volcanoes, some of which are active. It means that you can roast marshmallows in the heat released from the summit. Pacaya is one of the readily accessible volcanoes. With an altitude of 8,371 feet, the Pacaya volcano has remained active since 1965. You can hike the volcano on your own, but for safety purposes, it is prudent to use a guide. One of the greatest thrills in hiking this volcano is the fact that you will get a chance to peer inside its cone.
Relax on the Beach
Although Guatemala is not considered a place to go beach hunting, it is endowed with relaxing seaside stretches that provide the perfect relaxation and magnificent sunsets. Its Pacific beaches are filled with black sand, which is a result of the state’s volcanic countryside. You can view the sea turtles that nest on the volcanic sand. Monterrico, which is among the best Guatemala beaches, provides several activities like horse riding. You can also tour the mangrove swamps or take Spanish classes.