The capital city of Guatemala with a population of around 2.5 million. The city does not have a very good reputation, as it has a turbulent and violent past, but actually is not a bad place to visit and there are a number of interesting things to do and see such as the old historic centre, a selection of museums and the crazy central market. The city will be the entry point for your Guatemala vacation and is well connected to the rest of the country via air and road.
Antigua is a land where everything works. Power lines run underground, litter is collected and building standards are adhered to. Aside from this, it is utterly stunning: situated between three volcanoes – the Agua, Fuego and Acatenango make for a beautiful setting. The city has a thriving language school scene and the cuisine on offer is some of the best in the country. Residents here are called panza verde (green belly) as they consume a significant amount of avocados which are grown in the area. You may feel as though you have stepped back in time when visiting Antigua, although there are many contemporary activities such as art galleries, performing arts, film and forums which make for a thriving cultural tourism scene.
Chichicastenango is a small town which lies at an altitude of 1 965m above level and is nestled among the crests of mountaintops. Narrow cobbled streets and red-tiled roofs which are often covered in mist, make this Guatemalan location seem surreal and isolated from the rest of the country. The Thursday and Sunday markets make it popular with tour groups who flock to the area to experience the local culture and history. One can find everything from textiles, traditional wooden masks and native woodcarvings at the famous handicraft markets. The 400-year-old Santo Tomas church is also a major tourist attraction close to the markets. The Shamanic and traditional ceremonies are ever-present in the city, despite the influx of tourism. Long before the Spanish invasion, Chichi was an important trading post and remains a beautiful and interesting place to visit with many religious and Shamanic ceremonial overtones.
Lake Atitlan is recognized as the deepest lake in Central America and is estimated to be up to 340m deep. The lake, which does not flow into the sea, is surrounded by three volcanoes and is characterized by the towns and villages of the Maya people. Formed by an eruption 84 000 years ago, the lake is recognized as one of the most beautiful in the world. It also supports the farming of coffee and other crops which include corn, onions, beans, avocados, strawberries and the local pitahaya fruit. The lake is also rich in fauna which provides the local people with a sustainable food source.
Tikal was once the home to over 100 000 Maya people. It is located 548km north of Guatemala city and each year, tourists flock to the area to admire its 70m high pyramid and ancient plazas. The site, which is situated in the jungle, is located in the Tikal National Park and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 3000 ancient temples and palaces. Today, Tikal attracts both archaeologists and tourists alike to witness these attractions, which include ceremonial platforms, terraces, steam baths and plazas.
One can visit the active city of Flores, just half an hour from the entrance of the Tikal National Park, where one can enjoy a picturesque setting on the Lake Peten Itza. Flores is also an excellent place to set out to the Mayan site of Aguateca.