About 30 miles (50 km) and just over an hour and a half’s drive southwest of Guatemala City (traffic-dependent) lies Pacaya Volcano, one of the few active volcanoes in the world that you can climb, camp on, and even toast marshmallows in its heat vents.

An ideal half-day trip from both Guatemala City and Antigua, the majority of people visiting Pacaya choose to go on a guided tour as it generally works out more time and cost-effective. However, there are several other ways to get to the volcano, including private transfers, taxis, and renting a car. You can also take a local bus, but this involves having to change several times. 

The two-hour climb up Pacaya is relatively strenuous--albeit rewarding--and should not be done without a local guide. If you do make your own way to the park then you can find local guides at the entrance, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of them don’t speak much English, so if you want to find out more about the volcano and its history then you’re better off joining a group or organizing a private tour who will have an English-speaking guide to accompany you.

The majority of tours, like this 8-day Best of Guatemala itinerary, include a visit to Pacaya—but if you’re feeling even more adventurous, then you might want to consider an overnight trip to Acatenango like this 6-day Mayan Adventure trip or this epic 16-day Volcano Trek, which involves summitting SEVEN volcanoes!

By Private Transfer or Taxi

Duration: 1.5-2 hours (traffic dependent)

Private transfers are one of the easiest ways to get around Guatemala. You can organize a car to pick you up from your accommodation, take you where you want to go and drop you back at your door afterward. This is an ideal option for families and groups. You can even organize to visit Pacaya on the way to Antigua and be dropped off at your accommodation there afterward.

If flexibility is key, then you can also take a taxi to Pacaya. This will allow you to leave at your leisure, but you’ll have to negotiate a day rate including waiting time. We don’t recommend leaving valuables or bags in a taxi. However, whether you take a taxi or a private transfer, you’ll have to organize a local guide at the entrance to the park. If you want an English-speaking guide then you can organize a private tour instead.

By Rental Car

Duration: 1.5-2 hours (traffic dependent)

Renting a car in Guatemala can be pretty hit and miss, and we generally don’t recommend it to anyone not used to driving in Central America. Between dodging speeding buses, motorbikes, landslides, and construction on winding mountain roads, sitting in traffic for hours on end, and dodgy drivers with no insurance, it can be quite a stressful experience.

If that doesn’t put you off, then the drive out to Pacaya is beautiful--once you get out of the city. The quickest way is via CA-9, but if you prefer to take the scenic route then you can take Carr a. Villa Canales via Lago de Amatitlan. You can pick up a car at the airport or in the city, but you will normally have to return it back to where you picked it up from. There is parking at the base of the volcano and you’ll be able to find a local guide at the entrance to the park. Be very careful with leaving valuables in your car.

By Local Bus

Duration: 2.5-3 hours (traffic dependent)

Those who are feeling super adventurous can also get from Guatemala City to Pacaya via local ‘chicken’ bus, but this does take several hours and a couple of changes. Be very careful with your valuables on the buses and be prepared for quite a long, hot, bumpy ride there and back. With the two-hour hike to the top and then another hour or so back down to the bottom this will make for quite a long day, so make sure you leave early in the morning and head back before sunset to make sure you don't miss the last bus home.


Map of How to Get from Guatemala City to Pacaya Volcano
Map of How to Get from Guatemala City to Pacaya Volcano