Explore Guatemala's mystical, mountainous, and volcanic landscapes on this tour, including hiking, biking, and boating. Follow your guide through Antigua's main square to learn about its colonial architecture and sleep under the shadow of Pacaya Volcano in its national park of the same name. Relax on the beach in El Paredon, cruise serene Lake Atitlán, and visit one of Central America's largest markets in Chichicastenango.


  • Bike through farms and artists' villages in Antigua's countryside
  • Hike and sleep under the stars at Pacaya Volcano
  • Take surfing lessons and relax on El Paredon's black sand beaches
  • Suspend over Lake Atitlán in a paraglider

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Antigua Walking Tour Antigua
Day 2 Antigua Countryside Bike Tour Antigua
Day 3 Camp at Pacaya Volcano Pacaya Volcano
Day 4 Hike Pacaya Volcano & Transfer to El Paredon El Paredon
Day 5 Free Day in El Paredon El Paredon
Day 6 Sipacate Ferry, Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 7 Hiking, Ziplining & Paragliding on Lake Atitlán  Lake Atitlán
Day 8 Visit Chichicastenango Market Lake Atitlán
Day 9 Lake Atitlán Villages & Antigua Sawdust Carpet Workshop Antigua
Day 10 Antigua Villages, Coffee Tour & Textile Museum Antigua
Day 11 Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Antigua Walking Tour

Learn about Antigua's colonial roots as you follow your local guide

Today, your adventure in Guatemala begins. From the airport in Guatemala City, meet your driver for a ride to your Antigua hotel, traveling about one hour west. The city of about 45,000 people is rich in Spanish colonial architecture and is in the shadows of three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. Follow your local guide and historian, who will reveal the stories of Antigua's most notable spots, including how much of the city was rebuilt after a series of earthquakes in 1717, 1751, and 1773 and its population declined after Guatemala's independence from Spain in 1821.

At City Hall Palace, recognized by its stone archways, learn how the building was once a Spanish government seat. In Central Square, see the Captain General Palace, an administrative building created as a residence for Spanish rulers in 1755. Then go on the Paseo de Los Museos ("Museum Walk"), a tour through six museums and three art galleries in a former convent. At the end of your tour, ask your guide for a recommendation for dinner to try jocon (chicken and tomatillo stew), tamales, and pepian (chicken and pumpkin seed stew). 

Day 2: Antigua Countryside Bike Tour

Navigate a bike in Antigua countryside to visit farms and artists' workshops

Leave Antigua for its surrounding lush highlands—which you'll explore with your guide by bike. As you cycle through villages, macadamia nut farms, coffee plantations, and textile markets, there will be time to stop at a few places to learn about exports from the area and meet people who live and work here. Rest for lunch and to visit a market in San Antonio Aguas Calientes and see a demonstration of a back strap weaving loom and the intricate patterns it produces. 

Bike back to Antigua in the afternoon, where you can spend the evening relaxing or going out for dinner. Then prepare your luggage for a camping adventure tomorrow.

Day 3: Pacaya Volcano Camping

Set up camp for the night in Pacaya National Park

Guatemala has more than 37 volcanoes, including active Pacaya, and today you'll see this volcanic side of the country in Pacaya National Park. First, travel one hour south from Antigua by car to the park, with the option to continue exploring by hiking or horseback. Carrying everything you need to camp in the park, navigate lava fields around six volcanic peaks: Pacaya, Cerro Grande, Cerro Chiquito, Cerro Chino, Cerro Hoja de Queso, and Montaña Las Granadillas. During your hike, pause at fumaroles to see evidence of volcanic activity under the earth's surface. 

As the light begins to dim, help your guide set up camp and watch the sunset as dinner cooks on a fire. Share stories of the day with your group and go to sleep under the stars.

Day 4: Hike Pacaya Volcano, Transfer to El Paredon

Relax on the beach in El Paredon

Wake up at dawn with highland and volcano views in Pacaya, and pack your bags to get ready for a hike through the park. Your morning walk includes lava fields, forests, and farmlands—with time to take pictures. At the trail's end, meet your driver to go to your next destination: El Paredon

The road trip is in the direction of Guatemala's Pacific coast, traveling about 2.5 hours south from Pacaya National Park. In El Paredon—one of the country's top surfing destinations—spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach until the sun sets. You'll have the day free tomorrow, and your guide can assist you with booking a surfing lesson or other water sports excursions. For dinner, try fresh-caught fish at a restaurant or street food such as pupusas (stuffed tortillas) or tostadas.

Day 5: Free Day in El Paredon

Spend a day in El Paredon and experience some of Guatemala's best surfing

Today is open to enjoy El Paredon. You can recharge on El Paredon's black-sand beaches, set off for an adventure, or mix up the day however you'd like. Meet your instructor for a surfing lesson, read a book in a hammock, swim and snorkel, or taste more fresh seafood for lunch. 

Guatemala's Pacific Coast is known for more than surfing—its beaches are also nesting spots for sea turtles. Learn about the turtles and how conservationists are protecting them in Monterrico, about two hours east of El Paredon. See how volunteers and staff rescue sick or injured turtles and rehabilitate them, and keep turtle eggs safe to prepare for their return journey to the ocean. You may even see hatchlings sent off for their first swim from September to February. Return to El Paredon for dinner and get ready to travel to Lake Atitlán tomorrow.

Day 6: Sipacate Ferry, Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Unwind as you soak up Lake Atitlán's highland landscape 

After breakfast and a morning walk on El Paredon Beach, it's time to depart for your next destination—Lake Atitlán. As you get ready for your trip inland, traveling about 3.5 hours north to reach the lake, stop in Sipacate for a ferry ride through mangrove forests. The relaxing tour is a chance to see more of the Pacific Coast before you get back in the car to continue your journey to Guatemala's southwestern highlands.

Lake Atitlán formed from a volcanic eruption about 84,000 years ago and is now one of the deepest lakes in Central America, plunging 1,118 feet (341 m). Its location at 4,921 feet (1,500 m) above sea level includes a landscape of hills, villages, and nature reserves. On your way to the lake, stop for lunch and then reach Panajachel on the north shore. There, take a transfer by car or boat to your hotel (depending on its location), both with views of San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes as you travel along the water. After a full day, settle into your hotel with plenty of time to explore tomorrow.

Day 7: Hiking, Ziplining & Paragliding on Lake Atitlán 

For a unique perspective, have fun ziplining around Lake Atitlán

To better experience Lake Atitlán, set off for one of its nature reserves in the morning. Take your pick of how you'd like to spend the day to discover the area's trails, waterfalls, and wildlife. For an extra dose of adventure, meet a paragliding guide to take a flight above the lake with volcanic views. You can also go ziplining through forest canopies, over streams, and above coffee groves. For a more low-key day, walk through a butterfly reserve for a dose of fresh mountain air. 

Go back to your Lake Atitlán hotel in the afternoon and then eat dinner with a view of the lake as you watch the sun set. 

Day 8: Visit Chichicastenango Market

Feel the energy at one of Central America's largest public markets in Chichicastenango

Today, travel about two hours north of the lake to Chichicastenango, or "Chichi," as locals call it. Join people from surrounding villages on a Thursday or Sunday as you browse one of Central America's most prominent public markets, brimming with textiles, painted pottery, produce, and street food. Walk through the aisles with your guide to search for woven hats and scarves, figurines, and other one-of-a-kind items to take home with you. Try sweet pan de muerto or savory pache (potato tamale) to fuel your shopping trip.

From the busy market, enter the calm of Iglesia de Santa Tomás, where your guide will explain the history of this 16th-century church as a former Maya temple. Learn about Guatemalan syncretism—how the church is used for chants and offerings to mark significant Maya calendar dates along with major Catholic holidays. At the end of your tour through Chichi, go back to your Lake Atitlán hotel. 

Day 9: Lake Atitlán Villages & Antigua Sawdust Carpet Workshop

Learn the technique to create colorful outdoor carpets which decorate Antigua during Easter
Learn the technique to create colorful outdoor carpets which decorate Antigua during Easter

In the morning, board a boat to visit villages along the lake known for their artists' workshops. Stop in Santiago to see the creations of Maximon, a saint who represents light and dark. In San Juan, visit a women-led weaving co-op and watch how raw materials are woven into intricate textiles. End your boat tour in Panajachel, and from there, travel back to Antigua, about 3.5 hours south.

In Antigua, learn about the alfombras (carpets) that are woven for Easter's Semana Santa ("Holy Week"). See how a local family creates these "rugs" from flowers, colored sawdust, pine needles, fruits, and vegetables. After the demonstration, check in to your Antigua hotel.

Day 10: Antigua Villages, Coffee Tour & Textile Museum

Photo taken by Daniel B
Browse Antigua's markets to find crafts to take home with you

It's your last full day in Guatemala, and the morning is free to browse an outdoor market to buy souvenirs or see where your instincts take you. Then, meet your guide to visit villages around Antigua.

At a coffee cooperative and macadamia nut farm near Agua volcano, see how crops are grown, picked, and processed. Make a stop in San Antonio Aguas Calientes and at a textile museum to learn more about local crafts and take some home with you. Return to your hotel at the end of the tour to get ready for a transfer to Guatemala City.

Day 11: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart

End your tour in Guatemala with a walk in Antigua or a nearby village
In the morning, meet your driver for a one-hour transfer to Guatemala City. Catch your flight home or on to your next destination in Guatemala. 

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Map of Guatemala Culture & Nature: Antigua to Lake  Atitlán - 11 Days
Map of Guatemala Culture & Nature: Antigua to Lake Atitlán - 11 Days