Guatemala City travel guide

Guatemala City Tourism | Guatemala City Guide

You're Going to Love Guatemala City

Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala, and sees the past and present combine in a fascinating way. You will encounter old churches in one area, and find many modern restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping malls in another part of the city.

Guate, as the locals call it, hides some curiosities such as Mayan ruins and the Mapa en Relieve de Guatemala, a huge map of the region that you have to witness from above. There are also plenty of museums where you can learn about the country's history and culture.

Your trip to Guatemala City would not be complete without trying the delicious street food, discovering traditional Guatemalan fare, and eating at a restaurant featuring a live marimba band. The street markets are an unforgettable experience and the perfect occasion to interact with locals.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Guatemala City

1. Admire the Antique Architecture

Classic architecture abounds, and the city's churches are emblematic of this. Visit the Iglesia Yurrita, the Catedral Metropolitana de Guatemala, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, or El Calvario.

2. Visit Museums

You can learn about traditional dress and see some amazing paintings at the Museo Ixchel. The National Museum of Modern Art in Zona 13 is worth visiting and so is the Popol Vuh Museum in Zona 10 if you are interested in archaeology.

3. Explore Mayan Ruins

Head to Zona 7 to see the ruins of Kaminaljuyu, a former Mayan city. Some mounds are visible from the exterior, and you can explore some excavations. Visit the Museo Miraflores in Zona 13 to learn more about the ruins.

4. Shop on the Plaza Central

The Plaza Central is one of the main attractions of Guatemala City. This is where you will find the Central Market where you can shop for souvenirs and sample street food. Take a stroll on the Plaza Central on Sundays to see live music and art performances.

5. Discover the Zona Viva

The Zona Viva is a small area inside of Zona 10 with a high concentration of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. You can eat dinner at Kacao, where your food will be served by waiters in traditional dress, before dancing the night away at the Secret Garden.

What to do in Guatemala City

1. Catedral Primada Metropolitana de Santiago: Be Brought to Your Knees

Dating back to the late 18th century, the massive Catedral Primada Metropolitana has withstood severe earthquakes and regime changes to make it to the present. A site of pilgrimage for the faithful, its artistic, cultural and historic importance make it a worthwhile visit for people of all religious persuasions. Visit and you're sure to be blown away by the classic art found within the cathedral. It's a wonderful place to begin an architectural tour of the capital of Guatemala.

2. Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena: Admire the Art of the Maya

This museum is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Maya artists past and present. With art and artifacts dating back hundreds of years, the museum takes guests on a journey through each step of the textile process. As you walk through its exhibition halls, you'll get a close-up view of the methods and technologies developed by these storied peoples. You're also sure to be impressed with the beauty of the patterns and designs of different clothing, blankets and tapestries produced in the area.

3. Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias: Take Guatemala's Cultural Pulse

This cultural center is situated in the city's civic center, and it's built in the shape of a seated jaguar. Bearing the name of Nobel Laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias, it is home to a dizzying array of dance, theater, and arts performances and exhibits throughout the year. If you're interested in arts and culture, this is an absolute must during your stay in Guatemala. Events cater both to locals and visitors, and the complex is large enough to suit all tastes.

4. National Palace of Culture: An Interesting Fusion of Architecture

One of the most imposing buildings in the city, the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura towers over the Parque Central. Fusing Spanish Renaissance and neoclassical traditions, the structure is a must-see. Guided tours take visitors through the halls, where they can enjoy murals, sculptures and banquet halls. Visitors get to see the presidential balcony, stained-glass windows that elevate the religious status and various other items of interest. It's a great way to learn about the history of the city and country.

5. Museo Popol Vuh: Explore Historic Art

This world-renowned museum is home to one of the world's largest exhibits of Maya artifacts. Situated on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquin, the collection spans pre-Columbian and colonial art. Everything from funerary ceramic art to stone sculptures can be found within the halls. Visit, and you'll be treated to exhibits that rival those of any major museum in the world. Of special note is the Maya pottery, which includes incredibly well-preserved vases and bowls. This is definitely a trip that is fun for the whole family, and your kids might even enjoy it more than you do.

1. Catedral Primada Metropolitana de Santiago: Be Brought to Your Knees

Dating back to the late 18th century, the massive Catedral Primada Metropolitana has withstood severe earthquakes and regime changes to make it to the present. A site of pilgrimage for the faithful, its artistic, cultural and historic importance make it a worthwhile visit for people of all religious persuasions. Visit and you're sure to be blown away by the classic art found within the cathedral. It's a wonderful place to begin an architectural tour of the capital of Guatemala.

2. Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena: Admire the Art of the Maya

This museum is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of Maya artists past and present. With art and artifacts dating back hundreds of years, the museum takes guests on a journey through each step of the textile process. As you walk through its exhibition halls, you'll get a close-up view of the methods and technologies developed by these storied peoples. You're also sure to be impressed with the beauty of the patterns and designs of different clothing, blankets and tapestries produced in the area.

3. Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias: Take Guatemala's Cultural Pulse

This cultural center is situated in the city's civic center, and it's built in the shape of a seated jaguar. Bearing the name of Nobel Laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias, it is home to a dizzying array of dance, theater, and arts performances and exhibits throughout the year. If you're interested in arts and culture, this is an absolute must during your stay in Guatemala. Events cater both to locals and visitors, and the complex is large enough to suit all tastes.

4. National Palace of Culture: An Interesting Fusion of Architecture

One of the most imposing buildings in the city, the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura towers over the Parque Central. Fusing Spanish Renaissance and neoclassical traditions, the structure is a must-see. Guided tours take visitors through the halls, where they can enjoy murals, sculptures and banquet halls. Visitors get to see the presidential balcony, stained-glass windows that elevate the religious status and various other items of interest. It's a great way to learn about the history of the city and country.

5. Museo Popol Vuh: Explore Historic Art

This world-renowned museum is home to one of the world's largest exhibits of Maya artifacts. Situated on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquin, the collection spans pre-Columbian and colonial art. Everything from funerary ceramic art to stone sculptures can be found within the halls. Visit, and you'll be treated to exhibits that rival those of any major museum in the world. Of special note is the Maya pottery, which includes incredibly well-preserved vases and bowls. This is definitely a trip that is fun for the whole family, and your kids might even enjoy it more than you do.

Where to Eat in Guatemala City

Zona 5 and Zona 1 are the best areas to find street vendors offering shucos, sliced mangoes, and gauchitos. The best restaurant in Zona 1 is San Ángel, because of the view and steak and shrimp. Zona 10 is where you will find most of the restaurants. Casa Chapina is the best place for traditional fare and live marimba music, or head to Hacienda Real for great steaks. A meal at most restaurants should cost Q30 to Q45, a mid-range meal should cost Q50 to Q100, and eating at an upscale restaurant can cost Q200 or more.

When to visit Guatemala City

Guatemala City in June
Estimated hotel price
£8
1 night at 3-star hotel
Guatemala City in June
Estimated hotel price
£8
1 night at 3-star hotel

The climate is warm and humid during the summer. You should ideally plan your trip to Guatemala City between November and March for drier and cooler weather. The month of August can be busy because of the Fiesta Patronal de la Virgen de la Asunción, but this is an occasion to see fireworks and parades.

How to Get to Guatemala City

Plane

La Aurora International Airport (GUA) is located in the southern portion of the city in Zona 13, about five miles from the center. You can ride a bus to any other area for only Q1. You can take a taxi from the airport to Zona 10 for Q90, while some hotels offer a free shuttle service.

Car

Driving in Guatemala is not easy due to the fact that roads are not well marked. You can follow highway CA-1 if you come from the Mexican border or highway CA-8 if you come from San Salvador. Highway CA-9 connects Guatemala City with Escuintla to the south, and highway CA-19 can be followed to reach Guatemala City if you are coming from the east of the country.

Bus

Chicken buses or trambillas are a popular transportation method to get from one city to another. You can take a chicken bus to Guatemala City from any city in Guatemala. The cost of a trip is calculated based on how long the trip is, and you will usually pay Q10 per hour. Many first-class buses will also take you to Guatemala City. You can take the bus from Antigua for only Q8, from Puerto Barrios for Q80, and from Flores for Q80. Intercity and international bus companies include Ticabus and Línea Dorada, and bus stops are scattered throughout the city.

Airports near Guatemala City

Airlines serving Guatemala City

United Airlines
Good (2,466 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,904 reviews)
KLM
Good (292 reviews)
Air France
Good (299 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,076 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,657 reviews)
British Airways
Good (943 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (937 reviews)
Iberia
Good (668 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (642 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Good (2,250 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (97 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,140 reviews)
Avianca
Good (693 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (789 reviews)
Frontier
Good (1,445 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (446 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (99 reviews)
Volaris
Good (388 reviews)
China Airlines
Good (11 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Guatemala City

Most hotels are located in Zona 10. Comfort Hostel and Hotel Mansión Imperial are good choices if you are looking for affordable accommodation in this area. If you would rather stay in Zona 1, consider the Hotel Pan American. The Hotel Barceló Guatemala City in Zona 9 is a good choice if you are looking for a more upscale experience.

Popular neighbourhoods in Guatemala City

Zona 1 - this is the Centro Histórico, where most of the attractions are. You can spend an afternoon shopping on the Plaza Central, or tour the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura to see the artwork and murals and learn about the country's history.

Zona 10 - this is a more modern area with hotels, restaurants, bars, and shopping malls. The Zona Viva is where you will find most of the nightclubs and bars.

Zona 13 - this area is worth visiting if you want to catch a soccer game at the Domo Polideportivo de la CDAG or discover South American fauna at the La Aurora Zoo.

Where to stay in popular areas of Guatemala City

Most booked hotels in Guatemala City

Real Intercontinental Guatemala
Excellent (9, Excellent reviews)
£107+
Clarion Suites Guatemala City
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
£72+
Barceló Guatemala City
Excellent (8.8, Excellent reviews)
£63+
Grand Tikal Futura Hotel
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
£86+
Conquistador Hotel & Conference Center
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
£51+
Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
£81+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Guatemala City

Public Transportation

There are three different bus systems in Guatemala City, and the fare is only Q1 regardless of where you are going or which system you use. The Transmetro buses are green and there are only two routes. You can ride the Transurbano buses, which are blue and white, if you have a prepaid SIGA card. This is a more convenient option since there are more stops and more routes, including one that will take you from Zona 1 to Zona 10. There are also chicken buses, which are painted red; these will stop anywhere along their route if you ask the driver.

Taxi

Yellow taxis use meters. There is a minimum price of Q25, and you will typically pay Q8 per mile. You will also find white taxis, which are not formerly registered and do not use a meter. Prices can vary since you will have to negotiate with the driver. Get a driver's contact card and call them again if you can negotiate a good rate with them.

Car

Driving can be difficult in Guatemala City due to lack of road markings and proper signs. If you choose to drive, you can rent a car for Q450 a day at the Hertz, Alamo, or National Car Rental agencies inside of the airport. You can also rent a local driver for around Q300 a day.

The Cost of Living in Guatemala City

Shopping Streets

The Plaza Central is the best place to shop for souvenirs, crafts, and textiles. Visit the Mercado de Artesanias in Zona 13 if you want more shopping options for traditional textiles and clothes. You will find more modern shopping malls in Zona 10 and 11, including the Oakland Mall, Arkadia Shopping Mall, and La Pradera, where you can buy clothes and accessories.

Groceries and Other

The Plaza Central is the best place to find fresh food. There's a Walmart near the airport, the Hiper Paiz Supermarket in Zona 1, and the Econo Super in Zona 9. There are many small family-owned grocery and convenience stores everywhere in the city. A quart of milk typically costs Q12, a loaf of bread should cost Q13, and you will have to spend around Q17 for a dozen eggs.

Cheap meal
£4.10
A pair of jeans
£48.32
Single public transport ticket
£0.14
Cappuccino
£1.85
Other popular cities in Guatemala