Tucked away in the jungle just under 330 miles (530 km) north of Guatemala City, the Mayan temples of Tikal National Park are often the highlight of any visit to this incredible country.
Fortunately, getting from Tikal to Guatemala City is relatively easy, with private transfers and shuttle buses the most popular options. The drive back does take at least 8.5 hours though, so if time is of the essence, then the best way to get back to the capital is to hop on a short flight.
The nearest transport hub to Tikal National Park is Flores. Connected to the mainland via a bridge and famed for its fascinating history and colonial buildings, the majority of people stay here and take day tours out to Tikal, although it is possible to overnight in the park as well.
By Private/Group Tour
Duration: varies. Minimum 3 days
Joining a private or a group tour is the perfect way to experience as much of Guatemala as possible, especially when pushed for time. A lot of tours start and end in Guatemala City, but there is also the option to join or conclude a tour in Flores.
One of the benefits of taking a tour that includes transport from Tikal is that you will probably stop to see some of the sights on the way to Guatemala City, like Semuc Champey or Rio Dulce. Your English-speaking guide will also explain a lot about the culture, and you’ll get a much more in-depth and unique experience than if you were to travel alone.
Private tours also offer a lot of flexibility.
Check out some of our itineraries, including this amazing 11-day Best of Guatemala tour or this 7-day Guatemalan Highlights trip to find out more.
With over 6 flights connecting Flores to Guatemala City every day, and a flight time of less than an hour, flying is the easiest way to get from Tikal to the capital. Depending on whether you are staying in Flores or in Tikal itself, you will just need to take a transfer, a taxi, or a bus out to the airport.
Some tours also include flights from Tikal to Guatemala City.
Duration: 9-10+ hrs (traffic dependent)
If you don’t want to fly, then a private transfer is the next most comfortable way to get from Tikal to Guatemala City. You can arrange to be picked up either at your hotel in Tikal National Park or Flores before being dropped off at your hotel in Guatemala City.
It is also possible to take a taxi, but we would recommend going for a private transfer and organizing it in advance. This way you can ensure that you have AC, a big enough car for you and your luggage, and it’s much safer.
Traffic dependent, the journey time is a minimum of 8.5 hours, so you’ll want to stock up on snacks and water for the ride. You can also ask your driver to stop for photo ops and bathroom breaks, but they usually have a specific place where they like to stop for lunch.
You might also want to look at stopping at Rio Dulce en-route to break up the journey for a night or two.
By Shared Shuttle
Duration: 9+ hrs (traffic dependent)
Another good way to get from Tikal to Guatemala City is via shuttle. You can travel during the day or overnight, and there are four different levels of tourist buses that you can choose from. These include big comfortable buses with reclining seats, AC, an onboard toilet, WiFi and charging ports, luxury minibusses, and budget buses.
You will have to make your way from Tikal to Flores where you can then jump on the shuttle. There are smaller minibusses that drive around the island picking everyone up as the big buses are not allowed into the smaller streets in Flores itself, but once everyone is ready you’ll hit the road. The journey normally takes a minimum of 9 hours, traffic dependent.
By Local Bus
Duration: 9+ hrs (traffic dependent) from Santa Elena Bus Station
If you don't want to splash out on a tourist shuttle, then there are also big buses that go all the way from Santa Elena bus station to Guatemala City. It's easy to get from Flores to Santa Elena bus station via tuk-tuk or on foot. You can also take direct shuttles and chicken buses from Tikal to the Santa Elena bus station.
There are overnight buses and day buses. If you want to splash out then there are tourist buses with charging ports and reclining seats, but these are considerably more expensive. They drop you at their bus depots in Guatemala City. For safety reasons, we do not advise choosing a bus that arrives into Guatemala City after dark, especially if you're traveling alone. Always be vigilant with your valuables and your belongings.