As a slow traveler I’m not used to spending just one week in a country. I squeezed Guatemala into my schedule last minute, but it was well worth it! Granted, a week in Guatemala is not enough. Unfortunately sometimes a week is all you have to work with. Here’s my itinerary for one week in Guatemala. I would say the easiest way to get to Guatemala is by flying. However, we were on a tight budget and decided on a shared overnight shuttle from Managua, Nicaragua to Guatemala City, Guatemala. With more money to spend I would skip the excruciatingly long ride fly to Guatemala City.
From Guatemala City we immediately continued on to Antigua. So we started our one week trip in the most beautiful city in Guatemala. It is one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever been to! It isn’t that big, but I could spend weeks exploring the little streets and enjoying the great vibes of this old colonial town. There are so many old ruins and beautiful buildings that you’ll want to stop on every corner. From Antigua you can also climb the Acatenango Volcano, which takes 2 days. This is something you must absolutely do if you have the time. However, if you don’t feel like climbing a volcano Antigua has plenty to offer itself. Besides all the beautiful churches and ruins it has some of the best restaurants and an amazing craft market.
The famous lake is more than worth a visit. It is surrounded by 12 volcanos and lots of little towns to visit around the lake. Definitely take a few days to explore them all! You’ll arrive in Panajachal where you can take the boat to the other towns. Most people stay in San Pedro la Laguna. This is the party destination with lots of backpackers. San Pedro also has a volcano you can hike up! If you’re looking for a more quiet place to stay head to Santa Cruz or San Marcos. Here you’ll find more of a ‘yoga/hippie’ vibe. We stayed in the little town of San Marcos. There is a very nice backpacker hostel called ‘hostel del Lago’. It has a yoga deck overlooking the lake, good food and it’s gorgeous location on the waterfront makes it a great place to relax.
Possibly Semuc Champey
Literally everyone told us to go here. We unfortunately couldn’t make it here, because it takes some time to get there and we didn’t want to rush. We decided to spend more time in some of the other places we visited, but we could have squeezed it in if we really wanted to. It is right in between Antigua and Flores so it could be a good stopover. The main attraction here are the stunning turquoise pools.
Probably the Guatemala’s biggest attraction is the legendary Maya city Tikal. Hidden in the jungle it is a magical place to visit. What was most surprising to me is that when me and my friend visited Tikal, we barely saw any other tourists. We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! It was almost a private tour as me and my friend only had 2 other people joining us. For a more in depth guide you can read my little guide to Flores and and Tikal.
(Update Dec 2022: On a recent trip to Central America, other travelers have let me know that the experience has changed quite a bit. It unfortunately has gotten a lot more popular and crowded.)