The diverse landscapes of Guatemala have captivated travellers ever since the first Mayan ruins were stumbled upon by John L. Stephens in the 19th century. The ancient historic sites of the Maya can be visited all over Guatemala, with impressive sites such as Tikal offering hours of Indiana Jones-style exploration. The culture of the contemporary Maya can be encountered in the colourful markets of the highlands, whilst more rugged pursuits can be enjoyed trekking through jungles, reaching the summit of volcanoes, descending into caves or whitewater rafting down turbulent rivers. Over on the Pacific coast there are some world-class surfing beaches to test your skills at or, of course, you could just loll in a hammock on the beach and sip a coconut. There’s so much to see and do with a Guatemala hotel.
Where to Stay in Guatemala
Guatemala City – The busy capital is home to the best museums and galleries in the country and offers an excellent place to deepen your understanding of Guatemala. From your hotel in the city you can take a tour of the capital to see the sights or head out to the Xetulul Amusement Park with the kids.
Antigua – There are few cities that are as beautiful as Antigua. However, the city’s charms are not just aesthetic: it also boats historical significance as the former capital and a vibrant contemporary culture that makes it a must-visit destination. The pastel coloured colonial relics host a thriving cafe and dining scene, and it is all set amidst the backdrop of three volcanoes. From your Antigua hotel you can explore the Mayan markets, visit the historic buildings, take a trip to coffee plantations or scale those brooding volcanoes.
Lago de Atitlán – The serene beauty of this volcanic lake is complemented by the small settlements around it and the fishermen in rustic crafts who glide across its surface. In the background fertile hills are shadowed by volcanoes, adding a sense of danger and mystery to this beguiling place. A hotel here is perfect for relaxed trekking, sightseeing amongst picturesque locales, the chance to scuba dive above sea level or paraglide into a volcanic crater. Gulp!
Flores – The island town of Flores offers delightful cubist houses that drape themselves around the gentle hills sloping down to the waters of Lago de Petén Itzá. Enjoy the lake views from the balconies and terraces of the many bars and restaurants and take in the flowers that festoon the houses. Now that you are relaxed, it’s time for that jungle trek through the Petén rainforest to emerge, like an explorer, at the immense archaeological site of Tikal.
How to Make the Most of Your Hotel in Guatemala
The Mayan sites of Tikal, Coban, El Mirador and many others must top your list of places to see. Theses deserted cities still puzzle historians, and their towering pyramid structures cannot help but strike awe into any visitor. The colourful market towns of the contemporary Maya, such as Chichicastenango, are fascinating, and you can also appreciate Mayan culture in the colonial town of Antigua.
The Pacific coast offers some great surf beaches to tackle, whilst inland there are rainforests filled with howler monkeys, and the occasional jaguar, to trek through. The verdant canyons of the Río Dulce make for an enervating boat ride, whilst a walk around the volcano-ringed Lago de Atitlán offers plenty of opportunity for serene contemplation. You can scale the volcanoes that ring Antigua or enjoy the cool bars and cafes that line its pretty streets.