Guatemala, a captivating destination in Central America, offers a diverse array of attractions and experiences. From vibrant city life to historic sites and lush natural landscapes, this fascinating country has something for every traveler. Picking the right place to stay can make all the difference in how you experience Guatemala, so it’s essential to choose wisely to ensure a memorable adventure.
One of the country’s most enchanting locations is Antigua, a gorgeous colonial masterpiece that charms its visitors with jaw-dropping streetscapes, excellent dining options, and a vibrant nightlife. When it comes to accommodation, budget-conscious travelers can find dorm beds from 60 GTQ, while private rooms can cost between 140 to 300 GTQ. Meanwhile, larger cities like Guatemala City boast luxurious options like the Hyatt Centric Guatemala City, which offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, and a fitness center.
No trip to Guatemala would be complete without visiting the stunning natural wonders it has to offer, such as Lake Atitlán or the Tikal National Park. With an abundance of lodging options available, from lakeside retreats to eco-lodges, travelers can find accommodations that cater to their preferences while taking in the breathtaking surroundings. So, whether you’re backpacking or seeking a lavish retreat, Guatemala’s diverse accommodations are guaranteed to enhance your travel experience.
Where To Stay
Choosing the Right Area
Antigua is a gorgeous colonial masterpiece and a highlight for most travelers to Guatemala. The town features jaw-dropping streetscapes, an excellent selection of restaurants, and a small but varied nightlife. Antigua is perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in culture and history while enjoying a charming and vibrant atmosphere.
Situated along the shores of Lake Atitlán, Panajachel is a thriving tourist destination known for its natural beauty, vibrant markets, and outdoor activities. This area is ideal for travelers who want to explore the stunning landscapes, enjoy water sports, and even participate in some adventure activities like hiking or zip-lining around the lake.
Tikal is home to the world-renowned Tikal National Park, which boasts ancient Mayan ruins amidst dense jungle surroundings. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, archaeology, and breathtaking views of Guatemala’s natural wonders. If you want to step back in time and explore the Mayan civilization, Tikal should be on your list.
Often referred to by its nickname “Xela,” Quetzaltenango is the second-largest city in Guatemala and offers a more authentic, less touristy experience. Here, you’ll find a lively central square, bustling markets, and a mix of colonial and indigenous architecture. If experiencing the local culture is your priority, Quetzaltenango is a great option.
The charming island town of Flores is located on Lake Petén Itzá and serves as the perfect base for exploring the northern region of Guatemala, including nearby Tikal. With its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and welcoming atmosphere, Flores offers an idyllic setting to relax after a long day of sightseeing and adventure.
Fun Fact or Interesting Story: Did you know that Lake Atitlán is often referred to as the most beautiful lake in the world? It is surrounded by three towering volcanoes and offers breathtaking views, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Things to do:
- Explore the historic streets of Antigua, visiting its churches and museums
- Join a guided tour of the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park
- Go zip-lining, hiking, or mountain biking near Lake Atitlán in Panajachel
- Try some authentic Guatemalan cuisine at a local market in Quetzaltenango
- Enjoy a relaxed boat tour around the picturesque island town of Flores
When traveling to Guatemala, you’ll find various accommodations to suit your preferences and budget. Here’s a list of common lodging options in the country:
Hotels in Guatemala range from high-end luxury establishments to budget-friendly ones. One of the best places to find a variety of hotels is in Guatemala City, offering options like Hotel Vista Quince, AC Hotels by Marriott Guatemala City, and Courtyard by Marriott Guatemala City. Other popular hotel destinations include Antigua, Panajachel, and Quetzaltenango.
Hostels provide budget-friendly accommodation for travelers looking for a more social experience. These establishments typically feature dormitory-style rooms, shared facilities, and common areas to mingle with fellow travelers. Some popular hostels in Guatemala include Tequila Sunrise Hostel and Yellow House Hostel B&B. You’ll find hostels in various tourist destinations across the country, such as Antigua and Lake Atitlan.
Guest houses or “casas de huespedes” are another affordable accommodation choice, offering a more intimate and local experience. These establishments are usually owned and managed by locals, providing a home-like atmosphere. One example of a guest house in Guatemala is Adra Hostel, where visitors can book a private room or a shared dorm.
Eco-lodges are an excellent choice for nature lovers and environmentally conscious travelers. These accommodations strive to minimize their environmental impact while providing a unique and immersive experience. At Lake Atitlan, you can find beautiful eco-lodges like Lush Atitlan and La Fortuna, blending comfort with sustainability.
For travelers who prefer more privacy and the comforts of home, vacation rentals are an ideal option. You can find vacation rentals in popular areas like Antigua, Panajachel, and Flores. Renting a house or apartment allows you to enjoy your vacation at your own pace, cook your meals, and perhaps even explore lesser-known local spots.
Fun Fact: The magnificent Casa Prana near Lake Atitlan offers luxurious accommodation with breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes. This beautiful villa is nestled in the tropical gardens of Santa Cruz, making for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Keep Guatemala’s fantastic range of accommodation types in mind when planning your trip and choose the one that best suits your needs, preferences, and budget. Enjoy your stay!
Budgeting Your Stay
Guatemala offers a variety of budget-friendly accommodations for travelers. Hostels are a popular choice, with dorm beds starting at 60 GTQ. Free Wi-Fi is standard in most places, and some even offer complimentary breakfast. However, not all hostels have a kitchen, so check beforehand if you want to cook your meals. A few budget accommodation options include:
- Hostel 1: Free Wi-Fi, shared kitchen, 6-8 bed dorms
- Hostel 2: Complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, private rooms available
For those seeking a more comfortable stay without breaking the bank, Guatemala has plenty of mid-range options. A common choice for travelers is the Hotel Aurora Antigua Guatemala, which offers rooms starting at $63. It includes:
- Free parking
- Laundry facilities
There are also a variety of self-catering apartments available, including Airbnb, with prices starting around US$30.
If you’re looking for high-end accommodations during your Guatemala trip, there are many options as well. From upscale hotels to luxurious resorts, the country offers a plethora of choices for those seeking the finest lodging. While prices can vary greatly, expect to spend more for these exclusive stays.
Fun Fact: An unforgettable adventure, and a popular “must-do” for visitors to Guatemala, is camping on a volcano. The Acatenango Volcano, near Antigua, offers breathtaking views and a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you listen to the rumble of the volcano while sleeping under the stars.
Things to Do
In addition to discovering the perfect place to stay, there are countless activities for travelers to enjoy during their visit. These include exploring the colorful and historic city of Antigua, shopping for traditional crafts at local markets, or taking in the awe-inspiring views of Lake Atitlán. The diverse landscape and rich culture of Guatemala ensure there’s something for everyone, from adventure-seeking hikers to history enthusiasts.
When traveling to Guatemala, it’s essential to prioritize your safety. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you have a secure and enjoyable trip.
- Travel with others: There’s safety in numbers, so try to make friends during your travels (The Broke Backpacker). If possible, join a group or organized tour to explore the country.
- Avoid walking at night: Stick to well-lit, busy areas during the day and avoid walking alone at night to minimize the risk of robbery or other incidents.
- Use public transport or taxi: Instead of walking through unknown areas, take public transport, or hail a taxi to get around safely. Also, remember to only use official taxis or ridesharing services to avoid any potential issues.
- Don’t display signs of wealth: As a general precaution, try not to wear expensive watches, jewelry, or use mobile devices in public as this may attract unwanted attention (Guatemala Travel Advisory).
- Invest in a money belt: Keep your valuables safe by using a money belt or a hidden pouch. You may also want to carry a “dummy wallet” with minimal cash and a few expired cards, in case of a pickpocketing situation (JTG Travel).
- Learn some Spanish phrases: Familiarize yourself with basic Spanish phrases for navigating, asking for help, and conveying politeness. This can make your interactions with locals smoother, and they’ll appreciate your effort.
- Stay updated: Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts while in Guatemala and make it easier to locate you in case of emergency. You can also follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information.
Fun Fact or Interesting Story
Did you know that Lake Atitlán, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Guatemala, is actually a massive volcanic crater? Sitting 1,500 meters above sea level, it’s also one of the deepest lakes in Central America (Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site). Don’t miss out on the chance to visit this breathtaking, natural wonder!
Things to Do
While in Guatemala, don’t forget to explore the country’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Some must-see attractions include:
- Discover the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Marvel at the colorful colonial architecture in Antigua.
- Witness traditional weaving techniques at a local textile market.
- Hike up to one of Guatemala’s numerous active volcanoes.
- Take a boat tour around the scenic Lake Atitlán and visit the surrounding villages.
Guatemala is a captivating destination with a diverse range of attractions, making it an excellent choice for travelers seeking to explore nature, culture, and history. From the mesmerizing beauty of Lake Atitlan to the bustling city of Antigua, there’s something for everyone in this Central American gem.
If you’re planning your first visit to Guatemala, Antigua is a great place to start. The city offers a taste of Guatemala’s rich history, with charming cobblestone streets and well-preserved colonial architecture. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the vibrant nightlife scene—El Caseo is the best area to stay in Antigua Guatemala for a lively night out.
For the budget-conscious traveler, Santa Ana offers affordable accommodation options with plenty of things to see and do. Meanwhile, if you’re visiting with family, Barrio de La Concepción is the perfect neighborhood to enjoy a relaxing, family-friendly experience.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Lake Atitlan, with its stunning views and vibrant local culture. Panajachel, located on the lake’s northern shore, is a convenient home base for exploring the region, offering various hotels, tour companies, and restaurants.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Guatemala is home to the largest number of Mayan ruins in the world? Don’t miss out on visiting the incredible Peten region, where you can explore ancient ruins and immerse yourself in lush rainforests.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking to experience a new culture, Guatemala offers a wealth of opportunities to create unforgettable memories. So pack your bags, and get ready for an amazing trip!