This nine-day adventure will give you a taste of Guatemala's nature, culture, and food. Start off with some fascinating workshops in Guatemala City, then head to Flores to visit the Tikal Maya ruins. Your next stop will be the picturesque Lake Atitlán, where you'll tour local villages by boat. Afterward, get to know historic Antigua as you explore the town on foot, then hike the Pacaya volcano (and even roast marshmallows on its petrified lava). Cap off your adventure with a relaxing hot springs visit.


  • Test-drive one of Guatemala's famous "chicken buses"
  • Go horseback riding by scenic Lake Atitlán
  • Shop at Chichicastenango's traditional Maya market
  • Hike the Pacaya volcano and enjoy a picnic of local foods at the top

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Chicken Bus Workshop & Maya Culinary Class Guatemala City
Day 2 Fly to Flores, Visit Tikal Maya Ruins & Uaxactún Flores
Day 3 Fly to Guatemala City & Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Tour the Villages Around Lake Atitlán by Boat Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Horseback Riding at Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 6 Transfer to Antigua & Visit Chichicastenango Maya Market Antigua
Day 7 Antigua Walking Tour & Street Food Tour Antigua
Day 8 Pacaya Volcano Hike & Picnic, Visit Santa Teresita Hot Springs & Spa Antigua
Day 9 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Chicken Bus Workshop & Maya Culinary Class

Guatemala City
Guatemala City's central Plaza de la Constitución and its cathedral

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at Guatemala City's airport, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel. Take some time to settle in, then head out for some fun activities. First, participate in a 2.5-hour workshop where you'll learn about the history of traditional "chicken buses" in Guatemala, and enjoy an exciting test drive. These repurposed US school buses arrive in the country painted the standard yellow. Then locals deck them out, painting them in bright colors and personalizing them according to their culture. They're even souped up to travel at high speeds on mountain roads. 

In the evening, prepare dinner with a renowned chef specializing in Maya culinary fusion. During the class, the cooking expert will reveal Guatemala's ancient Maya roots, sharing ancestral knowledge about the ingredients' benefits for the mind, body, and soul. For the Maya, food was a source of nourishment and a way to prevent illnesses and treat psychological problems. 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 2: Fly to Flores, Visit Tikal Maya Ruins & Uaxactún

Tikal National Park
See the soaring Maya pyramids of Tikal National Park

Take a short domestic flight to Flores in northern Guatemala this morning. When you arrive, transfer to UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park, a protected area of about 222 square miles (576 sq km). Dating back to around 400 BCE, Tikal was a powerhouse during the Maya Classic Period, then gradually succumbed to a ruined state until it was unearthed and excavated in the 20th century. Rising out of the dense jungle, the looming temples demonstrate the might of the ancient Maya civilization. Many animal species can be found here, including howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, and parakeets.

Your tour guide will accompany you as you explore the park, filling you in on the area's history and biodiversity, and answering any questions you may have. Afterward, prepare to visit the archaeological site of Uaxactún, located 14 miles (23 km) north of Tikal. Beyond the archaeological site, you'll find a fascinating traditional community where you can learn about a special local craft: dolls made from cornhusks decorated with beads and dried flowers. The primary source of income here is the sale of Xaté palm leaves, which are used in flower arrangements, decorating, and Easter celebrations.

Day 3: Fly to Guatemala City & Transfer to Lake Atitlán

View of Lake Atitlan
Volcano views across central Guatemala's Lake Atitlán

Pack your things and transfer to Flores' airport, then catch your flight back to Guatemala City. Once you arrive, prepare for a 4.5-hour overland journey to Lake Atitlán. This stunning lake is located in a large volcanic crater, and is known for its scenic views of the surrounding volcanoes. The region is also home to many interesting traditional villages, where handicrafts and textiles are produced. Spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying some peace at your hotel or head down to the water's edge to catch a brilliant sunset.

Day 4: Tour the Villages Around Lake Atitlán by Boat

Lake Atitlan
Tour scenic Lake Atitlán by boat and on foot
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

A boat will pick you up from your hotel's dock today as you kick off your guided tour of the villages around Lake Atitlán. Start in San Juan La Laguna, a tiny village (pueblito) which is home to cooperatives that produce traditional textiles, paintings, and weavings. San Juan La Laguna also produces cotton, and artisans here use the artisanal Maya process of yarn dyeing with natural ingredients. In addition, you'll visit an apiary and a painting workshop, and will hike to the viewpoint of El Mirador de San Juan, a place decorated with colorful paintings made by local artists.

Next, visit the town of Santiago Atitlán, which is known for its association with the syncretic deity Maximón, and is also home to the Cojolya Weaving Center and Museum. This museum shows the history, tradition, and process of backstrap-loom weaving and the evolution of the traditional costume of the Tz'utujil, the town's Indigenous people. When the tour is finished, return to your hotel and relax. 

Day 5: Horseback Riding at Lake Atitlán

A horse grazing on the shores of Lake Atitlán

Today, you'll head off on an exciting hour-long horseback riding excursion on the shores of Lake Atitlán. You'll have the chance to ride along the nature trails near San Pedro La Laguna, experience the native Tz'utujil community, and see the surrounding coffee fields and vegetable farms while enjoying an amazing view overlooking the lake. After a pleasant morning out, spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring on your own. 

Day 6: Transfer to Antigua & Visit Chichicastenango Maya Market

Chichicastenango Market
Meet the locals and bargain for souvenirs at the Chichicastenango Market

Make your way to Antigua today, a journey of about three hours, stopping on the way to visit Chichicastenango. Chichicastenango (local refers to it as "Chichi") is an Indigenous town in the Guatemalan highlands and is home to one of the largest markets in Central America, which was established before the Spanish arrival. Its primary purpose is to serve locals who come from far and wide to buy and sell products. Browse through the market, where vendors sell everything from handicrafts and textiles to fresh produce and street food, and visit an artisanal mask factory.

You also won't want to miss the nearby Iglesia de Santo Tomás. This 16th-century Roman Catholic church is built on the site of a former Maya temple, and is a striking example of Guatemalan syncretism (a mix of ancient Maya religious beliefs and traditional Catholicism). Besides sightseeing and sampling typical foods, like Guatemalan bananas and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), you'll also visit a local textile factory to see the process of making the traditional outfits of the region. Following this, you'll attend a traditional dance performance, and then continue to your hotel in Antigua.

Day 7: Antigua Walking Tour & Street Food Tour

Antigua, Guatemala
Take a stroll through Antigua's famous Santa Catalina Arch
Start your day with a four-hour walking tour of the historic city of Antigua. Your expert guide will take you on a journey through time as you enjoy magnificent views of this nearly 500-year-old town. Antigua is cradled by three volcanoes, and its streets are lined with colorful 16th-century mansions. Wander along the cobblestones as you visit the churches of San Francisco, Santo Domingo, and La Merced, the famous Santa Catalina Arch, and notable buildings around the main square (including the City Hall, Royal Palace of the Captains General, and Antigua Guatemala Cathedral).

Later on, meet a local expert guide who will introduce you to Guatemala's rich culture through its gastronomy. On an afternoon food tour, 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 also learn about Antigua's history, visit 16th-century ruins, and enjoy views of the nearby volcanoes. At the end of the tour, you'll receive a list of some of the best restaurants and bars to visit during your stay.

Day 8: Pacaya Volcano Hike & Picnic, Visit Santa Teresita Hot Springs & Spa

Pacaya Volcano
 Climb to the summit of Pacaya, where delicious local lunch awaits
Guatemala is home to more than 37 volcanoes, three of which are currently active. Pacaya is one of the most popular active volcanoes and is an ideal spot for hikers who want an easy ascent and epic views (you'll get to see three other volcanoes from the top). Once you reach the summit, enjoy sipping on beer, traditional quetzalteca (a common rum drink), and natural juice, and savor some snacks like chicken and vegetable sticks, guacamole, tortilla chips, and elote loco (grilled corn with condiments and spices). You will also roast marshmallows on the hot pockets of petrified lava.

After your descent, unwind with a trip to an exclusive hot springs spa, which offers a therapeutic thermal circuit and steam sauna from natural thermal pools. You can enjoy the thermal circuit along with massages, or head to the family pool and slide for some fun. With 13 thermal pools that are maintained at varying temperatures, you are sure to find the perfect relaxation experience here.

Day 9: Depart Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Twilight over Guatemala City
Say goodbye to Guatemala today! At the appropriate time, meet your driver and head to Guatemala City's international airport, depending on your departure flight schedule. Antigua is only 25 miles (40 km) away, and the journey will take approximately one hour. Have a safe and comfortable trip home!

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


Map of Glimpse of Guatemala: Flores, Lake Atitlán & Antigua - 9 Days
Map of Glimpse of Guatemala: Flores, Lake Atitlán & Antigua - 9 Days