Belize is a bucket-list traveler destination, if only because it's home to the Western Hemisphere's second-largest barrier reef. Over seven days, you'll explore this reef and Belize's white-sand coral cayes (islands) on snorkeling tours while enjoying relaxing beach time. Afterward, hop the border into Guatemala for tours of the ancient Maya ruins at Tikal before winding down on the cobbled streets of Spanish colonial Antigua.


  • Swim alongside harmless nurse sharks at Belize's coral reef
  • Go horseback riding and hiking at Maya ruins in Tikal and Xunantunich
  • Tour the cobbled streets of Antigua and hit the countryside in a "chicken bus"
  • Summit Guatemala's Pacaya volcano on an adventurous hike

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to Caye Caulker Caye Caulker
Day 2 Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef Caye Caulker
Day 3 Transfer to San Ignacio, Horseback Tour, Transfer to Tikal Tikal National Park
Day 4 Explore Tikal National Park, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 5 Antigua Walking Tour, Countryside "Chicken Bus" Tour Antigua
Day 6 Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 7 Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Belize City, Transfer to Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is one of many coral islands and prime dive centers in Belize

Welcome to Belize! Few places are better for a weeklong getaway than this small Caribbean country with outsized attractions. Many of Belize's highlights are natural, such as its tropical forests, coral islands, and vast barrier reef. Another great reason to visit is the rich culture, which derives from the Garifuna heritage of its people. Garifunas are descendants of mixed free African and Indigenous people exiled to Central America from the Caribbean in the 18th century. The result is an English-speaking Afro-Caribbean culture with great music and food to go along with the beautiful scenery.

Upon arrival at the airport in Belize City, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the port, where you'll hop aboard a water taxi for the 45-minute ride north to Caye Caulker. This tiny, car-free coral island (it measures just 5 mi/ 8 km long) draws snorkelers and divers from all over to its unspoiled marine reserve, which is part of the Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest barrier reef system in the world). After checking in to your hotel, you can spend the remainder of the afternoon lazing in a hammock, sunbathing on the beach, or browsing the souvenir shops in Caye Caulker Village.

Day 2: Snorkeling the Belize Barrier Reef

Snorkeling in the Belize Barrier Reef
Swim alongside tropical fish and harmless nurse sharks in the Belize Barrier Reef
Rise and shine! This morning, you're off to spend a day exploring Belize's famous reef system on a snorkeling tour. At the harbor, you'll board a boat for a one-hour trip to the 61-square-mile (157 sq km) Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. During the ride, you'll spot nurse sharks swimming in the shallows. Eventually, you'll arrive at a secluded beach surrounded by coral reefs. Take to the water and snorkel among exotic fish, including rays, parrotfish, turtles, eels, and more. Also included on this full-day tour are snacks and drinks on the beach. At the end of the day, you'll return to Caye Caulker.

Day 3: Transfer to San Ignacio, Horseback Tour, Transfer to Tikal

Ride to Xunantunich on horseback, then explore the ruins on foot

In the morning, you'll transfer back to Belize City by water taxi. Here, a driver will pick you up for the two-hour ride inland to the town of San Ignacio, near the Guatemalan border. There's a stop here for a half-day tour of the nearby archaeological site of Xunantunich, but rather than taking a car to the ruins of this ancient Maya city, you'll be riding there on horseback.

The tour begins at a local stable, where you'll meet your guide, mount your horse, and depart. Trot along a well-maintained trail through farms and along the Mopan River up to Xunantunich. When you arrive, you'll dismount and tour the site on foot. The ruins here comprise a city that reached its height of power during the seventh century CE but was abandoned around 750 CE. It covers 1 square mile (2.6 sq km), and you'll explore the main area's six plazas and 26 temples and palaces.

After the tour, ride to a nearby restaurant for a traditional Belizean lunch before returning to San Ignacio. Meet your driver and cross the border into Guatemala to the legendary archaeological site in Tikal National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers 222 square miles (576 sq km) and was once a great capital of the Maya Kingdom during the Classic period (250-900 CE). Among its many impressive temples and pyramids, Tikal features Temple IV, the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas, which stands at 230 feet (70 m). Once here, you'll check into your hotel.

Day 4: Explore Tikal National Park, Transfer to Antigua

The Great Jaguar Temple in Tikal
Temple I, in Tikal, is also known as the Great Jaguar Temple
Plan your trip to Belize
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

You're in for a treat, as you'll get to spend the first half of the day exploring Tikal. Meet your guide in the morning and venture into the park, where upon arrival in the park. During the walking tour, you'll see all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, III, and IV, the last of which is the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas (230 feet/70 m).

You'll also visit other famous structures, like the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more. The ruins aren't the only highlights because the rainforest surrounding it is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It's home to exotic animals like monkeys, toucans, and other tropical birds, so be sure to keep your camera close.

After the tour, it's an hour's drive to the airport in the lakeside town of Flores. There, you'll board an hour-long flight to Antigua. Located in Guatemala's southern highlands and founded in 1542, this UNESCO-listed city is known for the Spanish colonial Old Town around its main plaza. Three volcanoes surround the city, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and Antigua's colorful architecture creates one of the best skylines in the country. After checking into your hotel, feel free to spend the rest of the day strolling the cobbled streets and browsing handicrafts and hand-woven textiles. 

Day 5: Antigua Walking Tour, Countryside "Chicken Bus" Tour

Antigua is one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in the Americas

In the morning, you'll head out and meet a local historian/guide for a history-themed walking tour of Antigua. During this excursion, you'll visit landmarks like the Palacio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Palace); Casa Santo Domingo, a former convent that is now a hotel and museum; the Palace of the Captain's General; and La Merced Church, whose canary-yellow Baroque facade is a hallmark of the city. You'll also stroll around the Paseo de Los Museos complex, which features six museums and three art galleries. When the tour is over, you'll return to your hotel.

Later, around midday, leave the city on a camioneta (also known as a "chicken bus") for a tour of countryside villages. In one town, San Juan de Obispo, you'll stop at a chocolate shop to meet a local family who has worked in the cacao (cocoa) trade for five generations. You'll even participate in a workshop to make your own chocolates. Other stops include the charming colonial town of San Pedro Las Huertas, a macadamia nut farm, and Ciudad Vieja, the original capital of Guatemala until 1541. You'll return to Antigua at the end of the day.

Day 6: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano

Panoramic views from Pacaya Volcano
Enjoy views of surrounding volcano peaks when you hike up Pacaya

Lace up your hiking boots because it's time for a volcano hike. Depart early for a guided trek up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya volcano, whose slopes are home to some of Central America's most impressive volcanic landscapes. Set in its own national park, Pacaya cuts an imposing figure with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive lava field at the base of its caldera.

The 3.7-mile (6 km) trip up and back takes about six hours, but horses are an option for those who'd prefer a more relaxed ascent. Upon arrival at the summit, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch amid panoramic views (you can even roast marshmallows over volcanic vents). The hike back down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way to Antigua.

Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart

Farewell, Guatemala and Belize
In a mere week, you've experienced a packed itinerary of Islands, ruins, volcanoes, and historic cities. Now, it's time to pack up and move on to the next great adventure. Enjoy one more leisurely breakfast at your hotel in Antigua for the hour's drive to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Best of Belize & Guatemala - 7 Days
Map of Best of Belize & Guatemala - 7 Days