Cobán, in the Guatemalan Central Highlands, is just 125 miles (200 km) from Antigua, but the mountains and notoriously bad roads mean that it is at least a six-hour drive from the city.
Although Cobán deserves a few days to explore properly, the majority of visitors use it as a stopping off point to break up the long journey from Antigua to Lanquín/Semuc Champey, a two-hour drive east. As with most places in Guatemala, there are several ways to get to Cobán, including as part of a tour, or with a private transfer, rental car, tourist shuttle, or local bus.
You can also take in Guatemala's best sights including a trip to Cobán and the Alta Verapaz Highlands on this Guatemala Culture & Outdoor discovery tour.
By Group/Private Tour
Duration: 6+ hr drive from Antigua (minimum 5-day tour)
With plenty of hidden treasures in the region though, one of the best ways to experience Cobán and the beauty of the Central Highlands is to join a tour. Whether you choose a private tour or join a group, there is so much to see in the region, and your English-speaking guide will be able to show you the best of it.
Check out this amazing 5-day Guatemalan Adventure to learn more about the waterfalls, caves, and natural beauty of the region. Our local specialists can arrange for personalized tours and amendments to the itinerary to suit your needs, including pickups from Antigua rather than Guatemala City.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 6+ hrs
The most comfortable way to travel from Antigua to Cobán is via private transfer or by procuring the services of a private car with a driver. They will pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at your accommodation in Cobán and will stop en-route for photo opportunities (if requested) and bathroom breaks.
Tip: request that the car definitely has AC before beginning the journey. The majority of private transfers and private cars do, but it never hurts to double-check, especially before beginning a 5+ hour journey through winding mountainous roads and dense jungle! Private transfers can also accommodate more than four passengers, so if you are a big group then this is definitely the best way to go.
By Taxi or Rideshare
Duration: 6+ hrs
You can also take a taxi or Uber from Antigua to Cobán, although the ridesharing apps have been known to cancel bookings or request higher prices once you get in the car, especially if they don't think they're going to be able to get a return fare.
Prices can also increase if there is traffic or you make stops along the way. Ensure if you are taking a taxi that you confirm a price before you get in the taxi and even if they ask for payment when you get in the car, don't pay the full amount before you arrive at your destination.
Guatemalan taxis can be quite small and AC is more of a luxury than a guarantee, so if there are 3-4 of you and you have a lot of luggage or want AC then you might be more comfortable going for a private transfer.
By Rental Car
Duration: 6+ hrs
It is possible to rent a car in Antigua and drive out to Cobán and the Central Highlands. Cobán makes the perfect stop on the way out to Lanquín and Semuc Champey, and you can also check out the caves at Candelaría and Laguna Lachúa if you have enough time. The roads are winding and mountainous, but the scenery is beautiful and parking is easier to find than in Antigua.
To drive in Guatemala you must have an international driver's license and be confident with Guatemalan traffic, including chicken buses that come flying around corners at breakneck speed!
By Shuttle Bus
Duration: 6-7+ hrs
Another relatively easy way to get from Antigua to Cobán is by public shuttle. You will be picked up from your hotel in Antigua and dropped at your accommodation in Cobán on arrival. Bear in mind that some of the buses will stop halfway to change buses so each driver only has to drive halfway before turning around and driving back again.
By Local Bus
Duration: 9-10+ hrs
To get the local bus (chicken bus) from Antigua to Cobán you would be best off first taking a bus to Guatemala City, then changing in Guatemala City and taking a bus to Cobán. This isn't really recommended as it's not the safest way to travel, as pickpocketing is rife, the buses are old and decrepit, and the drivers are a bit too speedy, especially on the mountain roads. The local bus also takes a lot longer than the alternative methods and isn't that much cheaper than taking a shuttle.