Ruins, volcanoes, colonial cities—you'll experience all that and more on this eight-day Guatemalan adventure. It's an active itinerary that starts in Antigua, one of the most well-preserved colonial towns in the Americas. Besides taking cooking classes and cycling the countryside, you'll hike the active volcano of Pacaya, take a boat tour of Lake Atitlán, visit the Iximché ruins, and more.


  • Explore Antigua's cobbled streets and cycle around the countryside
  • Join a group for a hike up the volcanic slopes of Pacaya
  • Take a boat tour of Lago Atitlán and visit lakeside villages
  • Visit a coffee plantation, Maya ruins, and take a cooking class

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Self-Guided Tour Antigua
Day 2 Antigua Countryside Bike Tour Antigua
Day 3 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 4 Scenic Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Boat Tour of Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Iximché Ruins & Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Coffee Plantation Tour, Guatemalan Cooking Class Antigua
Day 7 Transfer to Guatemala City, Guided Tour Guatemala City
Day 8 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Self-Guided Tour

Antigua's Santa Catalina Arch, with Volcán Pacaya behind it

Welcome to Guatemala! This jewel of Central America has it all, from beaches and jungles to colonial cities and ancient Maya ruins. During this trip, you'll experience the highlights as you travel through the stunning central highlands region.

At the airport in Guatemala City, a driver will pick you up and transfer you about an hour west to the colonial city of Antigua. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by three towering volcanoes and is the most well-preserved Spanish colonial city in the country. It was the capital of Guatemala from 1543 to 1743 until a major earthquake forced the relocation of the capital to Guatemala City.

After checking in to your hotel, spend the remainder of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets and treating yourself to local street food like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). Be sure to stop by historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Antigua Countryside Bike Tour

Cycle around Antigua
In the morning, you'll meet up with cyclists for a ride around the nearby villages and ruins outside of Antigua. It's a packed excursion in which you'll visit a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a textiles and handicrafts market in the mountain town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The best part is that throughout the ride, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Guatemala's verdant western highlands. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and snap photos. Afterward, you'll return to Antigua and will have the remainder of the day free.

Day 3: Hike Pacaya Volcano

Volcan de Pacaya
Group hike up Pacaya Volcano

Get an early start and meet your group for a guided half-day hike up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Volcán Pacaya, whose slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. 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 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 down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way back to Antigua. 

Day 4: Scenic Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Boat Tour of Atitlán

Volcano Views from Panajachel
The view over Lake Atitlán
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Your driver will pick you up this morning for the 2.5-hour ride west from Antigua to Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country, which is sacred to the Maya people. A section of this drive is on the Pan-American Highway, part of a network of roads stretching from one end of the Americas to the other, from Alaska to Argentina. As you get closer to Atitlán and round the mountain bends, keep an eye out for stunning views above the lake.

Once you've settled into your hotel on the lakeshore, you'll board a boat for a tour of the villages around Atitlán. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at villages like Santiago Atitlán and San Juan Laguna, which are far off the tourist trail and offer a truly authentic cultural experience. For example, you'll visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. You'll also visit a shrine to Maximón, an infamous Maya saint known for his depraved behavior. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 5: Iximché Ruins & Transfer to Antigua

Visit the ancient ruins of Iximché 
In the morning, you'll board a boat for a ride to the eastern shore of Lake Atitlán. Then, take a private shuttle through the beautiful highlands to the ruins of Iximché. Back in the 15th century, this archeological site was a great capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom. Its ruins sit in the western highlands of Guatemala and include pyramid temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ball courts. Take a personal guided tour through the site, which was declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s. After the ruins, you'll hit the road back to Antigua and check in to your hotel.

Day 6: Coffee Plantation Tour, Guatemalan Cooking Class

Local coffee harvest
Local coffee harvest

No trip to Guatemala would be complete without a visit to a coffee plantation. This crop is one of the country's chief exports, and today you'll learn about its cultivation, from the bean to the cup. As you walk the fields, your guide will share info about the production process on the farm, which has been growing coffee since 1870. You'll visit the nursery and plantation, then continue to the wet milling and drying patio, where the beans are processed and sorted. After stopping at the roasting and packing area, you'll finish the tour in the cupping lab, where you'll taste some of the best coffee in the world.

Later, you'll participate in a local cooking class where you'll learn to prepare traditional Guatemalan cuisine. This food is an exotic mixture of colonial Spanish and Indigenous Maya cooking that is both delicious and fun to make. Even better, the four-hour workshop is taught by local chefs who belong to the Sacatepéquez Indigenous community. Besides the main dishes, you'll also prepare handmade tortillas and a dessert. At the end of the class, you'll sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy your delicious creations.

Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City, Guided Tour

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala in Guatemala City
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala in Guatemala City

Bid Antigua farewell this morning as your driver picks you up for the ride back to Guatemala City. After checking in to your hotel, you'll embark on a tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center") led by a local expert. Head to the Plaza de la Constitución and visit the National Palace, a historic Spanish Renaissance building that was once the headquarters of the president, but today it's a museum. Nearby are famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built in 1871.

Day 8: Depart Guatemala City

Goodbye, Guatemala
Wake up for one last leisurely breakfast at your hotel. Then, at the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up for the ride to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. ¡Buen Viaje!

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Map of Guatemala Culture & Adventure Tour - 8 Days
Map of Guatemala Culture & Adventure Tour - 8 Days