This eight-day trip packs in some of Guatemala's greatest hits, from touring Maya ruins to climbing an active volcano. Hike, bike, and kayak around the country as you explore the picturesque colonial city of Antigua, scale the lava fields of Pacaya, experience the magic of Lake Atitlán, and venture deep into the rainforest to discover the ancient pyramids of Tikal.


  • Explore the vibrant colonial city of Antigua by bike
  • Hike to the top of the active Pacaya volcano
  • Kayak around the gorgeous Lake Atitlán
  • Explore ancient ruins and lush rainforests in Tikal National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights  
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Bike Tour of Surrounding Villages, Farms & Ruins Antigua
Day 3 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 4 Transfer to Jaibalito, Explore Lake Atitlán & Indigenous Villages Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Kayaking & Hiking on Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 6 Fly to Tikal National Park Tikal N.P.
Day 7 Explore Tikal's Maya Ruins, Fly to Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 8 Depart Guatemala  

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua

Antigua Guatemala
A streetscape in colonial Antigua

Welcome to Guatemala! After landing at Guatemala City Airport, you'll be driven to your hotel in the colorful city of Antigua, about 45 minutes away. The one-time capital of Spanish Colonial Guatemala, Antigua was abandoned in the 1700s after a devastating earthquake. Three volcanoes dominate the landscape of this colorful city, where you'll discover ornate Baroque architecture, a bustling food scene, and fascinating church ruins. 

Enjoy the rest of your day walking around the cobbled streets, treating yourself to local snacks at cafés and food vendors, and strolling by a few of the main attractions—like the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and the remains of the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Bike Tour of Surrounding Villages, Farms & Ruins

Head into the countryside around Antigua on today's bike tour

See the picturesque countryside outside Antigua today on two wheels with a guided cycling tour. Hop on your bike and pedal down to the base of the Agua volcano, just south of the city. From there you'll ride around the towns and villages of the lush Almolonga Valley and the rolling Guatemalan highlands, making plenty of stops along the way.

Visit magnificent churches and haunting ruins, take a tour of an experimental macadamia farm, and browse the local textile markets for souvenirs. Return to Antigua in time for lunch (your guide can recommend a great local spot) and spend the rest of the day exploring the charming city streets on your own.

Day 3: Hike Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano
On the way up to the top of Pacaya 

This morning you'll embark on another exciting adventure. Climb two hours to the top of the active Pacaya volcano just outside Antigua, where you'll be able to gaze directly into the crater if conditions allow. Then enjoy a picnic lunch at 8,300 feet (2,530 m) with panoramic views of the valley and city below. Make your way back to Antigua in the late afternoon (crossing lava fields and lush forests), and spend the rest of the day exploring all it has to offer.

Snack on delicious street food like tostadas, grilled corn, and stuffed plantains, and sample locally-grown coffee while you people-watch in the main plaza of Parque Central. If you're not too tired, check out the nightlife, or take a salsa lesson and dance the night away.

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Day 4: Transfer to Jaibalito, Explore Lake Atitlán & Indigenous Villages

Traditional Mayan women Atitlan
Traditional Maya women buying groceries in the Atitlan village of San Marcos

Switching gears today, you'll be driven to the stunning Lake Atitlán, about three hours west of Antigua. There you'll meet your local guide, who will take you on a private boat tour of the lake. Stop at a few of the small Maya villages that dot the shores, and delve into the local arts, history, and customs of Guatemala's Indigenous people. Highlights include visiting a local women's weaving co-op and a shrine of the infamous "Maximon" Maya saint.

In the afternoon, you'll have leisure time at your beautiful lakeside hotel in the village of Jaibalito. Gaze out onto Atitlán's serene blue waters and watch the sun set behind the volcanic mountains from the comfort of your hammock.

Day 5: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán

A boat on the azure waters of Lake Atitlan
A boat on the azure waters of Lake Atitlán

This morning you'll get right on the water with a kayaking excursion around the lake. Lake Atitlán is the deepest in Central America—it's actually a crater formed by a massive volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Paddle along the northern shore in the shadow of the volcanoes for about two hours, passing tiny villages perched on the sides of sheer ridges that rise up from the waters of the lake. If there's time, stop for a dip in the lake and some cliff-jumping.

Once you arrive at your destination between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, trade your kayak for some hiking boots and start making your way up the cliffside trails. You'll wind through local towns and villages, enjoying spectacular views of the lake and mountains before eventually returning to Jaibalito. After a hearty and well-earned lunch at the hotel, you'll have a free afternoon to spend relaxing at the lakeside.

Day 6: Fly to Tikal National Park

Mayan ruins tower above the Guatemalan jungle at Tikal
Maya ruins tower above the Guatemalan jungle at Tikal

Return to Guatemala City in the morning to catch a quick domestic flight to the town of Flores, in northern Guatemala. A driver will bring you to your hotel inside Tikal National Park, where you can spend the rest of the day enjoying your peaceful rainforest surroundings. Home to the country's most famous ancient Maya archeological site, the park covers 222 square miles (576 sq km) and is part of the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve

Day 7: Explore the Maya Ruins of Tikal, Fly to Guatemala City

Mayan ruins Tikal
Maya pyramids at Tikal National Park

Spend most of today touring the ancient Maya temples, palaces, and public squares set deep in the jungle at Tikal. Dating to 400 BCE, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was once a major center of Maya power and influence, featuring evidence of sophisticated urban planning and artistic achievements. There's even a ball court! Highlights include the Grand Plaza and the Temple of the Great Jaguar. If you're feeling adventurous you can hike to the top of the towering 148-foot (45 m) pyramid via a wooden staircase.

Enjoy lunch in the park amid the tropical rainforest, and keep an eye out for some of the fascinating wildlife that calls the national park home. You'll see monkeys, brightly colored birds, and maybe even big cats like jaguars. In the late afternoon, you'll return to Flores and catch a flight back to Guatemala City, where you'll settle in for the night.

Day 8: Depart Guatemala

Twilight over Guatemala City

It's time to say goodbye to Guatemala! After spending a final morning in the capital at your leisure, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Guatemala Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore more ways to spend eight days in Guatemala, and learn about the best time of year to visit Guatemala.


Map of Best of Guatemala: Antigua, Lake Atitlán & Tikal - 8 Days
Map of Best of Guatemala: Antigua, Lake Atitlán & Tikal - 8 Days