All The Reasons Why You Should Travel To Guatemala

Guatemala is a vibrant country that holds a rich history, the Caribbean Sea, unique black sand beaches, hospitable people and more.

By Kari Apted | Published


Guatemala is a small country in Central America, about the same size as the state of Ohio. The country’s natural beauty and low cost of living make it the international vacation you didn’t know you needed. Although Guatemala’s turbulent past has left it with a reputation as a dangerous place to visit, most travelers report experiencing nothing but kindness and hospitality.

According to the travel planning website Kayak, some of the airlines that fly from North America to Guatemala City include Delta, Spirit, and Frontier. Many flights have a layover in Miami, and some route through El Salvador. December is generally the most expensive month to fly to Guatemala, while February is the cheapest.

Accommodations in Guatemala are generally affordable, and there is a wide variety of lodgings to choose from. For the adventurous, there are campsites, hostels, and simple cabin-like dwellings to rent. Those who prefer a bit more creature comforts will be delighted to choose from luxury spa hotels, quaint boutique hotels, or Airbnb villas and apartments.

Suppose you’ve ever traveled to Guatemala or other Central American countries. In that case, you’re probably already familiar with the Chicken Bus, a colorfully renovated collection of retired American school buses that provide cheap public transportation around the city. But don’t worry that you’ll be sharing your seat with livestock. Even though the buses were named for how often people brought animals aboard, it’s rare to see that today.

Guatemala has so many ancient ruins and historical sites that it’s been dubbed the Mayan Center of Central America. It is full of artifacts and treasures from 18,000 years of human history and includes a model of Tikal, the country’s most notable site of Mayan ruins. Start your tour of ancient civilization at the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in the capital of Guatemala City.

While the capital and other Guatemala cities are full of extraordinary colonial architecture and other things to see, you’ll want to venture into the countryside. Guatemala is full of thick rainforests where you can see spider monkeys, iguanas, and colorful toucans in their natural habitat. The small nation’s interior boasts 37 volcanoes—three of which are active—surrounded by hiking trails.

Guatemala is one of the few countries where you can visit the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea in one vacation. There are 14 beaches in Guatemala, including the white sand Playa Blanca on the Caribbean side and the black volcanic sands of Playa Monterrico on the Pacific side. Surfers should be sure to visit the tiny, laid-back fishing village of Playa El Paredon to experience Guatemala’s best surfing.

Water lovers will also appreciate the Rio Dulce aquatic excursion in eastern Guatemala. It’s a 25-mile journey that begins at Lago (Lake) Izabal, on to Livingston at the Caribbean Sea, and includes stops at canyons, hot springs, and rainforests. Semuc Champey is another gorgeous location that offers stunning turquoise limestone pools and waterfalls.

Don’t let fear keep you from experiencing all Guatemala has to offer. As in most countries, tourists are most at risk in crowded areas where petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching occur. Traveling in groups, remaining vigilant, and keeping money and important documents hidden under your clothes can all help ensure a safe vacation.