This trip will take you to Guatemala's top highlights in nine days. Wander through Guatemala City on a guided tour, visit Tikal National Park and Flores, and explore Actún Kan Caves before transferring to Lanquín to see Semuc Champey's famous turquoise pools. Next, visit Ram Tzul and the Biotopo del Quetzal, where you can spot Guatemala's national bird. Enjoy a street food tour and cooking class in Antigua, then transfer to Lake Atitlán for a village tour, chocolate workshop, and ziplining.


  • See ancient Maya ruins at Tikal National Park
  • Go bird-watching at Ram Tzul and the Biotopo del Quetzal
  • Enjoy a street food tour in historic Antigua
  • Get your adrenaline pumping with ziplining at Lake Atitlán

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Enjoy a Guided Tour Guatemala City
Day 2 Fly to Flores, Visit Tikal National Park Flores
Day 3 Excursion into Actún Kan Caves, Transfer to Lanquín Lanquín
Day 4 Day Trip to Semuc Champey, Transfer to Cobán Cobán
Day 5 Enjoy Nature at Ram Tzul & the Biotopo del Quetzal, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Antigua Street Food Tour & Maya Culinary Master Class Antigua
Day 7 Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Lake Atitlán Village Tour, Chocolate Workshop Lake Atitlán
Day 8 Zipline Adventure at Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua Antigua
Day 9 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Enjoy a Guided Tour

Guatemala City
You'll discover Guatemala City on a half-day tour with a local guide

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arriving at Guatemala City International Airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your nearby hotel. You'll meet a local guide to learn about the history and culture of the city on a half-day tour.

Visit the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"), near the Plaza de la Constitución. Here you can tour the National Palace of Culture, which houses a museum showcasing Guatemala's history, art, and culture. You'll also visit some of the city's most famous religious landmarks, such as the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the whitewashed Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

Day 2: Fly to Flores & Visit Tikal National Park

Flores, Guatemala
Board a flight to charming Flores in northern Guatemala

Catch a domestic flight to Flores, a charming town on an island on Lake Petén Itzá in northern Guatemala. Once there, check into your hotel and head out to visit the famous Tikal National Park, a 1.5-hour drive away. Tikal is known worldwide for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. The UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya civilization. It features the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV (the Great Jaguar), which stands 270 feet (70 m) tall.

Spend the day with an expert guide exploring this vast complex of temples and pyramids. See all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way while enjoying the sights and sounds of the jungle.

Day 3: Excursion into Actún Kan Caves, Transfer to Lanquín

Admire the scenery en route to Lanquín 

Take the opportunity today to explore the regional municipal park of Actún Kan Caves, located in Santa Elena de la Cruz on Lake Petén Itzá. The park comprises several hills covered with forest, which hide an extensive network of caves or caverns. Like all caves in Maya culture, this underground system was used for different ceremonies and had religious and cultural importance to the area's people.

You can walk into the cave to see the rare vegetation and animals that have made it their home. Learn about the rituals once performed here, and admire the gorgeous rock formations hanging from the cave roof or protruding from the ground. You might even spot bats that seek refuge in the cool chambers of the cave. Afterward, meet your driver and head south to Lanquín, a small, colorful mountain town in the Alta Verapaz region. 

Day 4: Day Trip to Semuc Champey, Transfer to Cobán

Semuc Champey from above
Spend time swimming in stunning Semuc Champey and climb El Mirador
Hop in a 4WD vehicle and head to Semuc Champey. This otherworldly natural landmark is famous for its terraced turquoise pools. Just before entering the area, stop to tour the Kam'ba Caves. Your guide will lead you by candlelight into underground caverns filled with rivers, waterfalls, and unique rock formations. Afterward, take an innertube ride down the Río Cahabón before entering Semuc Champey. Once here, embark on a 45-minute uphill hike to El Mirador, a stunning viewpoint overlooking the terraced pools 2,300 feet (700 m) below.

Spend some time swimming at the falls. The best place to snap photos near the terraces is atop a natural limestone bridge that rises 100 feet (30 m) above the water. Afterward, return to Lanquín and transfer to the highland city of Cobán. The mountains surrounding Cobán are filled with evergreen forests, coffee plantations, and freshwater streams; there is even a small national park in the middle of town. This idyllic environment makes Cobán a favorite of nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Day 5: Enjoy Nature at Ram Tzul & the Biotopo del Quetzal, Transfer to Antigua

Ram Tzul, Alta Verapaz
Seek out the resplendent quetzal in Ram Tzul

Today's destination will be Ram Tzul, an eco-resort with a restaurant and an impressive waterfall. The resort is set within a lush, beautiful nature reserve. Here, you can spot the resplendent quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, which has been revered since the time of the ancient Maya. This rare specimen is most commonly seen from January to June.

Next, visit the Biotopo del Quetzal, a cloud forest reserve covering 2,580 acres (1,044 ha). Once there, embark on a one-hour nature hike to a 45-foot (13 m) waterfall plunging into a lagoon. When the day's activities are finished, catch a shuttle transfer to the colonial city of Antigua

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Antigua Street Food Tour & Maya Culinary Master Class

Antigua Street Food Tour
Enjoy a street food tour in Antigua
Meet a local expert guide who will introduce you to Guatemala's rich culture through its gastronomy. On a walking tour along Antigua's cobbled streets, you'll taste culinary creations with influences dating back thousands of years. You'll stop at eight traditional restaurants and vendors, each serving up a variety of savory and sweet local treats. Besides the delicious food, you'll learn about Antigua's history, visit 16th-century ruins, and enjoy views of the nearby volcanoes.

Later, enjoy a cooking class where a chef will introduce you to the culinary heritage of Maya culture. For the Maya, food was a source of nourishment and a way to prevent illness and treat psychological problems. During the class, you'll prepare your own Maya fusion-style meal. Menus vary according to the season, but they will always include pepián (a traditional spiced stew made with meat, vegetables, and fruit), jocón de pollo (chicken cooked in a tomatillo and cilantro sauce), and a vegetarian dish. 

Day 7: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Lake Atitlán Village Tour, Chocolate Workshop

Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlán
Hop aboard a boat to cruise Lake Atitlán and its small villages like Santa Cruz la Laguna

Meet your driver for a private transfer from Antigua to Lake Atitlán, a drive of approximately 2.5 hours. Once you arrive, take a private boat tour to visit the quaint Maya villages surrounding the lake. Enjoy a sailing excursion, stopping at various villages to meet the residents and learn about daily lake life. Highlights include touring a women's weaving co-op and a shrine to the Maya saint, Maximón.

Later, participate in a "bean to bar" chocolate workshop. Besides crops like coffee and bananas, Guatemala also produces cacao (cocoa), the main ingredient in chocolate. Cacao has been cultivated here for thousands of years and was even enjoyed by the ancient Maya. During the workshop, you'll learn about this history and the process of growing the cacao, harvesting it, and roasting the beans. Of course, the tour concludes with a delicious tasting. 

Day 8: Zipline Adventure at Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua

Try canopying or ziplining over the San Buenaventura Valley
Today, you'll enjoy some high-adrenaline fun on a zipline adventure around the lake. You can choose between two zipline circuits during this 2.5-hour experience, one of which crosses the green San Buenaventura Valley while the other runs over a bay on the lake. During the excursion, you'll reach heights of up to 196 feet (60 m) and enjoy views overlooking forests, waterfalls, and volcanoes. Afterward, transfer from Lake Atitlán back to Antigua via Panajachel.

Day 9: Depart Guatemala City

Guatemala City skyline
Say goodbye to Guatemala
It's your last day in Guatemala! Your driver will transfer you to the airport in Guatemala City to catch your departing flight. Have a safe journey home or to your next destination!

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Map of Best of Guatemala: Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán - 9 Days
Map of Best of Guatemala: Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán - 9 Days