Ideal travel route Guatemala: 3 to 4 weeks

Ideal travel route Guatemala: 3 to 4 weeks

Guatemala is one of my favorite destinations and one of the most diverse travel destinations in Central America. You can visited lush jungle, surf, explore Inca Ruins and climb an active volcano. Wether you’re more interested in a cultural experience of an immersing yourself in nature, Guatemala is a great destination. It’s becoming more and more popular among backpackers, so traveling around is becoming easier and easier, but it’s not yet overrun by tourism. I’d recommend at least 3 weeks to be able to visit all the places in this travel route for Guatemala.

Antigua Guatemala

My itinerary

  • Guatemala City:  Fly into the city and continue straight on to Antigua
  • Antigua: 5 days
  • El Paredon: 3 days
  • Lake Atitlan 5 days 
  • Lanquin/Semuc Champey: 2 days
  • Flores/Tikal: 3 days 
  • Rio Dulce: 3 days 

Transportation in Guatemala

Traveling in Guatemala is easiest by bus. For short distances you can try the local chickens. For longer distances there are the tourist shuttles. Usually they are a lot faster than local buses and a lot safer as well. Expect to pay around $25 for a 8-10 hour bus. In the cities and villages you can usually grab an uber/taxi or tuktuk to take you from place to place.

Guatemala City

You’re likely to fly into the country here. Guatemala City is known not to be very safe, so I chose to continue straight on to Antigua to maximize my time there.

Guatemala city to Antigua

By bus: There is no direct public bus from the airport. This means, you’ll first have catch a taxi/bus into the city, before grabbing the bus to Antigua. This is not a comfortable journey after an international flight, so I’d recommend pre-booking a shuttle to avoid this experience. It is however the cheapest option, costing only 20Q (to be paid in cash) and the buses run regularly throughout the day. 

By shuttle: Personally I’d recommend booking a shuttle through your hotel or hostel. I don’t mind taking public transport, but when I arrive after an international flight, I like to just relax and not worry about getting to my hostel. This should cost around $20 or $50 for a private taxi. It’s about an hour drive to Antigua. 


I personally really love Antigua. I think it may just be the prettiest city in all of Central-America. There’s a lot of historic buildings and museums, tons of great restaurants and of course the famous volcanos to climb. You will need two days to do the Volcano trek and another 2 to explore the town and its surroundings.

Check out my full guide on Antigua for more tips.

Antigua to El Paredon

Tourist shuttle: In this case, the tourist shuttle is available for $15/€14/110 quetzal. I booked it through my hotel: El Paredon Surf house. There is no direct bus from Antigua, so with the transfers you’d have to make, I would argue the shuttle is the best option. 

El Paredon

El Paredon is one of those wonderful spots with great surf, but it’s not overly developed yet. Hostels and restaurants are popping up and I can see this beach town becoming more popular quickly. It’s mainly a great destination if you like to surf. If you don’t, I would spend more time exploring the towns on Lake Atitlan.

El Paredon to Lake Atitlan

Tourist shuttle: Book your shuttle at your accommodation. There are shuttles to Panajachel and from there you can take a lancha/boat to the town you are staying in on the lake. Since I was leaving a little late, I booked a shuttle straight to San Pedro. Just keep in mind the road to San Pedro is long and not that comfortable. 

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan, situated in a volcanic crater, surrounded by cute villages is a destination you must visit in Guatemala. The most convenient town to base yourself in is San Pedro, but read my guide to Lake Atitlan if you want to find out more about the villages and what to do here.  The lake offers great hikes, nature reserves and also villages with markets and interesting Maya culture. I recommend 5 days to be able to visit/stay in the different towns around the lake.

Lake Atitlan to Lanquin

Tourist shuttle: If you are staying in San Pedro or Panajachel, you’ll be able to book this shuttle in any tourist office. The trip takes 10 hours and leaves from Panajachel. I paid $30 and this included the boat from San Pedro to Panajachel. From there I was picked up at the Selina hostel. 

Lanquin/Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey are the famous turquoise pools hidden in the jungle near Lanquin. I’d recommend taking 2 days here. There’s not much to do besides Semuc Champey, but after the long bus ride it was nice to have a day to relax. I stayed at Zephyr Lodge, which has an incredible pool with a view.

If you want to know exactly how to visit Lanquin and Semuc Champey find my guide here. 

Lanquin to Flores

Tourist shuttle: You can arrange the shuttle at your hotel. Make sure to book in time. I did Tikal already on a previous trip, so I went straight to Rio Dulce. The shuttle to Rio Dulce only runs if there are enough people. I was lucky, but keep that in mind if you’d like to take that route. Most of the time booking through the hostel is the best option. The trip to Flores should be between Q150/Q200. ($20/$25). The trip will take 8-9 hours. 


One of Guatemala’s most famous sites is Tikal. This city of Maya temples was personally my favorite archeological Maya site that I’ve ever visited. I’d recommend 3 days. 1 to visit Tikal, 1 to explore Flores and 1 to either chill or explore Yaxha, another archeological maya site.

Go here for my full guide to visiting Flores and Tikal 

Flores to Rio Dulce

Tourist shuttle: You can arrange the shuttle at your hotel. It will take around 4 hours and from town you’ll have to take a boat to your lodge.

Rio Dulce

Rio Dulce is the perfect place to relax a few days before ending your trip. Prioritize finding nice accommodation on the river, to fully enjoy the beautiful nature this place has to offer. The nearby town, Livingstone I personally didn’t like that much, but I loved my resort on the river. From there you can kayak, take a boat ride, explore waterfalls, hot springs and the nearby beach. From Rio Dulce you can catch a bus back to Guatemala City to fly out from there or head back to Antigua.

Rio Dulce to Guatemala City 

Tourist shuttle: From Rio Dulce you can either continue your trip into Belize or take a shuttle back to Guatemala City to fly out from there.