Itinerary #1: Guatemala's Volcanoes, Lakes & Jungles
From the southern volcanoes to the northern jungles, this classic Guatemala adventure covers a lot of ground. You'll explore Spanish colonial Antigua, hike the still-active Pacaya volcano, tour the villages and markets around Lake Atitlán, discover complex Maya ruins at Tikal, Uaxactún, and Yaxhá, and go boating on the Río Dulce amid lush rainforest.
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 2||Antigua Walking Tour, Local Foodie Tour||Antigua|
|Day 3||Hike Pacaya Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 4||Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 5||Free Day at Lake Atitlán||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 6||Visit Chichicastenango Market, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 7||Fly to Tikal National Park||Tikal National Park|
|Day 8||Tour Tikal National Park & Uaxactún||Tikal National Park|
|Day 9||Yaxhá Ruins Tour, Transfer to Río Dulce||Río Dulce|
|Day 10||Río Dulce Boat Tour||Río Dulce|
|Day 11||Finca Paraíso Hot Springs, Fly to Guatemala City||Guatemala City|
|Day 12||Depart Guatemala City|
On Days 1 and 2, you'll wander through Antigua's historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch, the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara. Admire the city's palaces and the Paseo de Los Museos complex, and try mestizo food on a foodie tour. Hike the dried lava fields on the slopes of Pacaya volcano on Day 3. Spend Days 4 and 5 discovering Lake Atitlán, hopping on a boat for a tour of the nearby towns, women's weaving co-op, and a shrine to a Maya saint, and settling into the village of Jaibalito before enjoying kayaking, water sports, and ziplining.
On Day 6, browse the market at Chichicastenango and notice Iglesia de Santo Tomás, a Roman Catholic church built on a former Maya temple site. Days 7 and 8 are for exploring the ruins of Tikal National Park and the Maya archeological site of Uaxactún. Day 9 is for adventures in Yaxhá National Park, an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center, and Río Dulce National Park. Take a boat tour on the Río Dulce the following day en route to Livingston, stopping at the 17th-century Castle of San Felipe. On your last full day, dip in the cool river and stand under the thermally heated waterfall at Finca Paraíso. Learn more
Itinerary #2: The Best of Guatemala & Copán
Skipping Tikal National Park, this best-of-Guatemala trip adds a cross-border excursion to Honduras' Maya ruins of Copán. In Guatemala, you'll join a food tour of Antigua, meet the locals of villages around Lake Atitlán, shop for authentic souvenirs in Totonicapán, check out the Iximché Maya ruins in the western highlands, and see the flora and fauna as you cruise down the beautiful Río Dulce.
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala, Transfer to Antigua & Cooking Class||Antigua|
|Day 2||Antigua Walking Tour||Antigua|
|Day 3||Canopy Zipline Tour, Chocolate Museum Experience||Antigua|
|Day 4||Antigua Street Food Tour||Antigua|
|Day 5||Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Lake Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 6||Visit Chichicastenango Market, Handicraft Workshop||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 7||Tour Iximché Ruins, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 8||Transfer to Río Dulce||Río Dulce|
|Day 9||Río Dulce Boat Ride, Transfer to Copán (Honduras)||Copán|
|Day 10||Explore the Copán Ruins & Macaw Mountain||Copán|
|Day 11||Transfer to Guatemala City, Walking Tour||Guatemala City|
|Day 12||Depart Guatemala City|
Spend two days getting acquainted with Antigua. Dive into the culture with a cooking class taught by local chefs who belong to the Sacatepéquez Indigenous community and visit landmarks like the Palacio del Ayuntamiento ("City Hall Palace"); Casa Santo Domingo, a former convent; the Palace of the Captain's General; La Merced Church, and the Paseo de Los Museos complex. Enjoy a ziplining adventure and chocolate workshop at a coffee farm the following day. Then browse markets and street food vendors in Antigua on Day 4 before learning about the cuisine and history on a walking tour.
Boat around Lake Atitlán to see villages and a shrine to a Maya saint on Day 5. Day 6 is for wandering the colorful Chichicastenango market and visiting Totonicapán, where locals make handicrafts with foot looms. Tour the ancient ruins of Iximché on Day 7, relax at Río Dulce National Park on Day 8, and watch for waterbirds on the Río Dulce on Day 9. Next, experience Garifuna culture in Livingston and explore the Maya archaeological site of Copán and Macaw Mountain Bird Park in Copán, Honduras. Returning to Guatemala the next day, you'll stroll through Guatemala City's historic center and religious landmarks. Learn more
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Itinerary #3: Guatemala Culture & Cuisine Tour
Another classic itinerary highlighting Guatemala's culture and cuisine; this time, you'll spend less time in Antigua and more time in Guatemala City. Take a Maya cooking class and explore historic landmarks in Guatemala City, toast marshmallows over volcanic vents on Pacaya, try tapado, a seafood stew, in the Afro-Guatemalan community of Livingston, and be impressed with the sandstone monuments of Quiriguá.
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Maya Cooking Class||Guatemala City|
|Day 2||Guatemala City Tour||Guatemala City|
|Day 3||Hike Pacaya Volcano||Guatemala City|
|Day 4||Transfer to Antigua, Walking Tour||Antigua|
|Day 5||Visit Chichicastenango, Transfer to Lake Atitlán||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 6||Lake Atitlán Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 7||Tour Iximché Ruins, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 8||Antigua Street Food Tour, Fly to Tikal||Tikal National Park|
|Day 9||Explore Tikal National Park||Tikal National Park|
|Day 10||Transfer to Río Dulce, Boat Ride & Hot Springs||Río Dulce|
|Day 11||Transfer to Guatemala City, Stop at Quiriguá Ruins||Guatemala City|
|Day 12||Depart Guatemala City|
Kick off your holiday with two days taking in Guatemala City. Join a traditional Maya cooking class and tour sites like Plaza de la Constitución, the National Palace of Culture, the Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen, and Mercado Central. Hike dried lava fields to the top of Pacaya volcano on Day 3. Day 4 is for touring Antigua's Spanish colonial Old Town and delving into Maya archaeology and culture with its museums, palaces, and churches. On Day 5, visit Chichicastenango's open-air craft market, and enjoy boating around the villages and water sports on Lake Atitlán on Day 6.
Discover the ruins of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom at Iximché on Day 7 before returning to Antigua and sampling tasty street food on a culinary tour. The next day, you'll board a quick flight to wander through sites like Lost World and the Window Palace of Tikal. Then, on Day 10, stop at Finca Paraíso, a beautiful river and waterfall, on your way to Río Dulce National Park. Here you can admire the 17th-century Castle San Felipe en route to Livingston, where you'll experience the Afro-Guatemalan community's Garifuna culture. Finish at the ancient Maya archaeological site of Quiriguá, famous for its 17 sandstone stelae. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Guatemala Volcano & Coast Adventure
Enjoy a slower-paced adventure that focuses on volcanoes and the Pacific Coast. You'll overnight on Acatenango volcano and summit Pacaya near Antigua, and take a surfing lesson or practice your skills and release sea turtle hatchlings into the wild at El Paredon.
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua & Food Tour||Antigua|
|Day 2||Bike Ride & Coffee Tour, Guatemalan Cooking Class||Antigua|
|Day 3||Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight||Antigua|
|Day 4||Sunrise on Acatenango & Descent||Antigua|
|Day 5||Transfer to El Paredon||El Paredon|
|Day 6||Free Day in El Paredon||El Paredon|
|Day 7||Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour & Chichicastenango Market||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 8||San Pedro Volcano Hike||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 9||Kayaking & Hiking Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 10||Antigua Walking Tour & Chocolate Workshop||Antigua|
|Day 11||Pacaya Volcano Day Hike||Antigua|
|Day 12||Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart|
On Day 1, see Antigua's main plaza, Parque Central, and sample mestizo food on a walking food tour. Learn the inner workings of the De la Gente coffee cooperative near Agua volcano before preparing Guatemalan food during a cooking class on Day 2. Then, you'll lace up your hiking boots and trek through a cloud forest to Acatenango volcano and the village of La Soledad. You'll camp overnight at a spot overlooking Antigua Valley and Fuego volcano and enjoy the sunrise before summiting. You'll transfer to the Pacific Coast the next day to surf, sunbathe, or learn about sea turtle conservation at a local sanctuary at El Paredon.
Then you're off to tour the waterfront towns around Lake Atitlán, browse the Chichicastenango market, admire a church built on a former Maya temple site, and watch a traditional dance performance. Hike up San Pedro volcano on Day 8, where you'll spot endemic wildlife, and kayak to the Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna villages and trek along the shoreline to Jaibalito on Day 9. Pass 18th-century churches and palaces on a walking tour of Antigua the following day and learn about the history and harvesting of cacao during a chocolate workshop. On your last day, climb the smoking Pacaya volcano for stunning vistas of surrounding volcanoes. Learn more
Itinerary #5: Culture & Beaches in Guatemala & Belize
This multicountry itinerary covering the highlights of Guatemala and Belize is perfect for travelers looking for a blended beach and wildlife holiday with a bit of culture. You'll explore the jungles of San Ignacio and seek out the very large Blue Morpho butterfly, horseback ride to the Maya Xunantunich Ruins, and swim with manatees in marine life-rich Caye Caulker Marine Reserve in Belize. Bookended by stints in Belize, you'll tour the sprawling Tikal National Park and walk the historic cobbled streets of Antigua.
|Day 1||Arrive in Belize, Transfer to San Ignacio & Butterfly Farm||San Ignacio|
|Day 2||Horseback Ride to Xunantunich Ruins, Transfer to Tikal (Guatemala)||Tikal National Park|
|Day 3||Explore Tikal National Park, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 4||History Walking Tour, Guatemalan Cooking Class||Antigua|
|Day 5||Antigua Countryside Bike Tour||Antigua|
|Day 6||Transfer to Caye Caulker (Belize), Optional Activities||Caye Caulker|
|Day 7||Snorkeling at Caye Caulker Marine Reserve||Caye Caulker|
|Day 8||Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour||Caye Caulker|
|Day 9||Swim with Manatees, Transfer to Ambergris Caye||San Pedro Town|
|Day 10||Snorkel Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley||San Pedro Town|
|Day 11||Catamaran Cruise & Beach Picnic||San Pedro Town|
|Day 12||Transfer to Belize City & Depart|
Arriving in Belize first, you'll settle into San Ignacio on the Río Macal and see rare butterflies at Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm. Ride horseback along the banks of the Río Mopan and past the village of San José Succotz to Xunantunich Ruins before crossing the Guatemala-Belize border and exploring major points of interest, including temples and pyramids at Tikal National Park. Day 4 is for a history walking tour of Spanish colonial Antigua and a cooking class taught by local chefs from the Sacatepéquez Indigenous community. Meanwhile, Day 5 brings a countryside cycling adventure to San Antonio Aguas Calientes.
Returning to Belize, relax on the beach at Caye Caulker Village near the Belize Barrier Reef and snorkel among coral gardens, sea turtles, and exotic fish at the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve, the Blue Hole, and Lighthouse Reef. Swim with manatees and continue your snorkeling adventures on Day 8 at the idyllic coral island of Ambergris Caye off of San Pedro Town. The following day, boat to Hol Chan marine reserve for more exotic fish and marine life and swim with rays and nurse sharks at Shark Ray Alley. On Day 11, cruise around Belize's reef in a catamaran near the coral-rich Mexico Rocks. Learn more
More Great 12-Day Guatemala Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other 12-Day Guatemala Itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.