10 Spectacular Things to See and Do in Guatemala
If you want to spend a travel time that will be completely different from any other, then you’re at the right place. This article is about Guatemala and some splendid sites and activities you can do in this country.
1. Visit Guatemala City
Although people generally don’t like it because of its crowdedness and elevated crime rate, this is probably the city where you will fly anyway, so why not use a day or two to see some interesting stuff. One of the places that’s worth a while is Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, with its huge collection of Maian artifacts. The Museo Popol Vuh is specially dedicated to the Guatemalan cultural heritage, as well as Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena. Other than this, don’t skip the Presidential Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
2. Backpack through Central American rich culture
Guatemala is a smaller Mexico’s neighbor county that shares a lot of cultural and historical heritage, such as Mayan ruins and pyramids. It also has a wonderful volcanic landscape with greenery and lakes along the way. Talking about culture, you can’t miss Tikal, the famous Mayan city from the classic period. It is located in the rainforest and covered with mystery. In 1979 this place was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and visitors are allowed to climb to the top of the temples and enjoy the views of the surrounding nature.
3. Check out the charming city of Antigua
Guatemala has its portion of colonial architecture since it belonged to the Spanish crown a long time ago. Cities like this are charming due to their bright-colored houses built during the colonial era. Its architecture resembles the Baroque style but with an obvious exotic touch thanks to 3 surrounding volcanoes, lively markets, and stunning nature. This is one of the best places in Latin America for history lovers.
4. Learn or improve your Spanish
While there, you should focus on some activities and not just places to visit. One of the most useful ones is perfecting your Spanish or learning some basic vocabulary if you’re a newbie. Don’t worry about the people. They are considerate towards strangers and appreciate it when you try to speak their language. Also, Central America generally has some very clean and understandable dialects that are excellent for beginners since they don’t speak too fast.
5. Teach some English to the locals
Since they teach you Spanish, you can return the favor and teach English abroad. This language exchange is the best thing for cultural immersion. Teaching English by volunteering overseas can give you the possibility to come to places like Guatemala in the first place, so make sure you know those options. You can help locals and stay at shared homes for no extra charge.
6. Are you interested in some volcano hiking?
Many of the Guatemalan volcanoes are still active. Now if you want the typical selfie with volcano lava in the background we suggest you be more careful. But still, for hiking lovers, this small adventure can be amazing. While visiting Antigua, you can have an excursion to the Pacaya Volcano and climb it up. It’s currently dormant so you don’t have to worry a lot.
7. Try rich Guatemalan cuisine
Those lively markets offer some of the most authentic homemade dishes so don’t forget to stop by and try them. The food is pretty cheap as well and you will certainly enjoy it. The best examples are Pupusas, corn tortillas stuffed with beans, cheese, or meat. There are also empanadas, another budget-friendly option and they are mostly vegetarian in Guatemala. The breakfast is caloric, but healthy. It includes scrambled eggs, tomato, and avocado. In restaurants, you can choose a spicy turkey soup called Kak’ik, a spicy chicken stew called pepián, and some rellenitos for dessert.
8. Try coffee and chocolate
The Guatemalan soil is very fertile for growing coffee beans and the coffee from here is famous around the world. Don’t forget to try it, and maybe even visit some of the plantations where you can learn how the coffee beans are being cultivated and later used to make coffee. As for the chocolate, there is even a museum in Antigua and a bunch of artisan shops at every corner. Cacao was used by Maias as a gift from the gods which explains a lot of its cultural significance. Coffee and chocolate can make great souvenirs or gifts as well.
9. Visit the mystical lake Atitlán
This is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Volcanoes and mountains make a perfect frame for this scenery. There are a couple of interesting towns in the area which are all different from one another. There is a hippie place called San Marcos, a backpacker place called San Pedro, Maian historical spot called Santa Cruz, and Jaibalito, a charming place accessible only by water.
11. Enjoy some sun on the Pacific coast of Guatemala
After so many Mayan ruins, backpacking, and cultural exchange, you deserve a couple of days at the beach. There is no better place than Monterrico to relax and enjoy the sun. Many endemic animals such as turtles, birds, and reptiles come to this nature reserve. Also, if you like surfing or you want to give it a try, this place is ideal for you.
As you can see, Guatemala offers cultural activities, good food, volunteering options, hiking, and cultural and language exchange. Make sure you grab the opportunity to learn Spanish, learn about the Mesoamerican culture, and help locals by teaching them some English as well.