Discover the best of Guatemala in 11 days, from climbing a volcano and visiting Mayan villages to soaking in hot springs on this active culture and nature-focused itinerary. Hike, bike, and kayak around the country as you explore the picturesque colonial city of Antigua, the serene beauty of Lake Atitlán, and the ruins of Mayan civilization at Tikal. You'll also cruise along the Río Dulce to Livingston for an afternoon along the Caribbean coast.

Highlights

  • Roam the picturesque streets of colonial Antigua
  • Hike up the still-active Pacaya Volcano
  • Explore the well-preserved Mayan ruins at ancient Tikal 
  • Kayak Lake Atitlán and visit local Maya villages
  • Enjoy a boat ride of Río Dulce to the Guatemalan Caribbean

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Bike & coffee tour Antigua
Day 4 Transfer to Panajachel - Lake Atitlán & Maya village tour Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Kayaking and hiking Lake Atitlán - Return to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Explore Tikal National Park  Tikal National Park
Day 7 Transfer to Las Conchas Las Conchas
Day 8 Transfer to Río Dulce - Visit Finca el Paraíso hot springs Río Dulce
Day 9 Explore Río Dulce Río Dulce
Day 10 Transfer to Guatemala City - City tour Guatemala city
Day 11 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

Discover Spanish colonial architecture like Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch
Discover Spanish colonial architecture like Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch

Welcome to Guatemala! You'll meet your driver at the Guatemala City international airport for a transfer to Antigua, roughly an hour away.

Day 2: Hike Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya, Guatemala
Navigate Pacaya's volcanic terrain 

Get an early morning start for a guided hike up the Pacaya Volcano. Pacaya's slopes and unique terrain are some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya is a storybook volcano with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and a massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera. 

You'll meet your guide and transfer the hour and a half to the Pacaya National Park office and to the trailhead. As you ascend the mountain, your efforts will be rewarded with striking, otherworldly views. Follow your guide through recently re-formed dried lava fields (due to the 2010 eruption), stopping to enjoy a freshly prepared picnic near the peak. From here, you can admire the panoramic vistas of the nearby volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. Return to the trailhead, taking an alternate route to pass through less-visited forests and farmland before transferring back to your hotel in Antigua.

Day 3: Bike & coffee tour

Coffee plantation near Antigua, Guatemala
Gear up for today's bike ride to a coffee co-op

After a fueling breakfast, meet your guide to get outfitted for today's bicycle tour. You'll set out for the De la Gente coffee co-operative, a significantly different coffee growing operation than a large-scale production farm. The community sits on the flank of Volcan de Agua, with local farmers who work together as a co-op to grow, pick and process their coffee for export to markets in Europe and North America.

You'll follow one of the co-op farmers on a private tour through the fields and small-batch coffee-roasting operation before enjoying lunch together, then return to Antigua for the evening.

Day 4: Transfer to Panajachel - Lake Atitlán & Maya village tour

Guatemala - Lake Atitlán - Panajachel harbor with view of Toliman, Atitlán & San Pedro
Explore the surrounding villages from Panajachel on Lake Atitlán

Take a private transfer to Lake Atitlán (about 2.5 hours). Part of the morning will be spent on the Pan-American Highway, a segment of a network of roads stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina. As you get closer to Atitlán, keep an eye out for views from above the lake. 

Once you arrive in Panajachel, the main town on Lake Atitlán, you will start a village tour by boat with your local guide. The lake consists of many smaller Maya villages, and your private boat tour will visit a few to give you a closer look into the local arts, traditions, and stories. Highlights include visiting a local women's weaving co-op and visiting a shrine to the infamous "Maximon" Maya saint, along with the picturesque scenery.

You can choose to stop for lunch during the tour, or you may prefer to wait and eat at your hotel in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax, enjoy a swim in the lake, and take in the views.

Day 5: Kayaking and hiking Lake Atitlán - Return to Antigua

Kayaking on Lake Atitlan
Enjoy a morning kayak on Lake Atitlán

Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's excursion. You'll start in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of Lake Atitlán (roughly 1.5-2 hours). Pass by villages perched on the sides of cliffs rising out of the lake and take advantage of opportunities to hop in the lake or do some cliff jumping. You're heading for a spot between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind in favor of your hiking shoes.

Follow the lake trail that runs between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. You'll hike along the shoreline and through small villages (1.5 hours), eventually returning to your lodging for a well-earned lunch. When it's time, you'll transfer back to Antigua.

Day 6: Explore Tikal National Park

Tikal, Guatemala
Discover the ancient Maya ruins sprawled throughout Tikal National Park

You'll get an early start this morning, for a transfer to Guatemala City to catch a short flight to Flores. From here, you'll meet your driver and local guide to transfer directly to the UNESCO-protected Tikal National Park. The site is known for its impressive pyramids and sprawling ruins. It was the capital of one of the ancient Mayas' most powerful kingdoms and is currently home to the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas.

Follow your expert guide through the temples and pyramids, stopping at all the significant points of interest, including Temples I, II, II, IV, and V, Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, The Window Palace, and more. After a break for lunch, you'll have more time to explore the site on your own and watch for the resident wildlife along your way as well. When it's time, you'll return to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure: lounge by the pool and take in the setting sun as you contemplate the day's events.

Day 7: Transfer to Las Conchas

Las Conchas waterfalls
Join a guided hike to Las Conchas waterfalls

After an early breakfast, meet your driver and venture south to Oasis Chiyú, an eco-lodge on the edge of Las Conchas. Las Conchas is one of Guatemala's hidden gems and consists of rivers, cascading waterfalls, caves and an abundance of beautiful flora and fauna. The owners of the eco-lodge are great hosts and ambassadors of the local area. You can choose to explore the local park on your own or have a resident take you on a guided walk. Enjoy a free evening of swimming and relaxing, taking in the magnificent views.

Day 8: Transfer to Río Dulce - Visit Finca el Paraíso hot springs

Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Overnight along Río Dulce

Enjoy a leisurely morning before transferring further south to your accommodation along the waterfront of Río Dulce, near the Caribbean coast. After settling in, you'll visit Finca el Paraíso on Lago de Izabal (Lake Isabel), a nearby hot spring waterfall for an afternoon of relaxation. Spend the evening as you choose, the river always available for a swim.

Day 9: Explore Río Dulce 

Castillo de San Felipe, Rio Dulce
Enjoy a boat ride to discover Río Dulce's highlights, like Castillo de San Felipe de Lara

After a relaxing waterfront breakfast, you'll board a boat for a tour of Río Dulce from your hotel to Livingston on the Amatique Bay. Along the way, you'll stop to visit the Spanish colonial fort, Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, as well as several natural highlights, like an island of birds, hot springs, and deep ravine canyons. Enjoy lunch in Livingston, before returning to your hotel in the afternoon.

Day 10: Transfer to Guatemala City - City tour

Guatemala - Guatemala City - Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and Cathedral of Guatemala City
Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and Cathedral of Guatemala City

This morning you'll transfer from your hotel to Guatemala City where you'll begin a tour of the capital, accompanied by a local guide. After the tour, you'll have the afternoon free, head to your hotel for a leisurely afternoon, or complete any last minute souvenir and gift shopping before your departing flight tomorrow.

Day 11: Depart

National Palace, Guatemala
Say farewell to Guatemala City

Depending on your flight details, enjoy breakfast at your hotel before saying adiós to Guatemala. At your convenience, you will take the hotel shuttle to the Guatemala City airport for your international flight.

Map

Map of Best of Guatemala - 11 Days
Map of Best of Guatemala - 11 Days