Temperatures in April can get up to well over 90°F across the country, with high humidity levels before the rainy season starts in May. It very rarely rains in April, so expect gloriously hot sunny days all month-long. It gets a little cooler up in the mountains around Quetzaltenango (known locally as Xela), with daytime temperatures averaging out at around 75°F in Quetzaltenango and 82°F in Guatemala City and Antigua in the Central Highlands.
Crowds and Costs
April is one of the busiest months of the year, with crowds flocking to Antigua and towns and villages around the country to witness the colorful spectacle that is Semana Santa (Holy Week)—when the streets come to life with parades and processions, food stalls, and colorful markets. On the rare years that Easter happens in March, April is a little quieter, with fewer visitors and cheaper prices.
The most popular place to spend Semana Santa is in Antigua, but all the accommodation and activities will start filling up months—if not years—in advance, so if you plan on being there then, try and plan ahead as much as possible. If it's all full, then consider heading to Quetzaltenango instead, where there are fewer tourists but the spectacle is equally as enthralling, with the festivities blending ancient Mayan traditions with the newer Catholic celebrations.
Where to Go
Aside from visiting Antigua and Quetzaltenango for Holy Week, April is a great time to head to Lake Atitlán and the tropical lowlands. Enjoy relaxing on the black sand beaches on the Pacific coast, or head to Rio Dulce and spend a few days staying in a bungalow on the river and exploring beautiful Lake Izabal. You can even take a boat from here to Livingston on the Caribbean coast, perhaps even continuing across the border to Belize.
Alternatively, it's a great time to escape the heat and humidity and head to the mountainous highlands. Although April doesn't have the clearest visibility, it's still beautiful up in the highland towns, where you can avoid the crowds and learn about the traditional Mayan villages. Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, are great, and Alta Verapaz—although a little warmer—is a must-visit for the limestone caves and lagoons of Semuc Champey.
What to Do
Join the celebrations for Semana Santa. Watch the processions and the parades, and marvel at the alfrombras—colorful carpets with intricate designs made on the cobbled streets of Antigua using dyed sawdust, fresh flowers, pine needles, and fruit. Wander through the markets, sample the local food and watch the fireworks. If Antigua is too busy or too hot, head to Quetzaltenango for cooler weather and traditional celebrations.
If you spend Semana Santa in Guatemala, it's also worth trying to get to Lake Atitlán during the week, to see Maximón—the patron saint of Santiago Atitlán—on his annual parade around the town before spending the next year in one of the homes in the community. This smoking, drinking, womanizing saint has been worshipped since the time of the Spanish conquest of the Maya. If you go to visit him, be sure to bring a gift of tobacco, moonshine, or money for the wooden deity and his attendants.
After Easter, escape the heat and head to the mountains, or embrace it and go to the beaches. Peten is hot and humid, so it isn't the best time of year to visit Tikal, but if it's a now or never thing then it's still worth it. Just try to do a sunrise tour of the ruins so you can get there before the heat of the day. We also recommend trying to stay in one of the jungle lodges in Tikal National Park itself, so you can dip out of the ruins and enjoy a lazy afternoon swimming in the pool before exploring in the afternoon once it has cooled down a little.
Events in April
Lent (40 days before Easter Sunday). There are processions every weekend during Lent, in the lead-up to one of the biggest events in the Catholic calendar, Holy Week.
Semana Santa (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday). Semana Santa is one of the biggest celebrations in Guatemala, with religious parades and processions taking place across the country. Most people go to Antigua and Quetzaltenango for the biggest celebrations. This is also a good time to go to Santiago Atitlán to pay homage to Saint Maximón.
Traveling to Guatemala in April? Check out this great itinerary.
Guatemalan Highlands - 7 Days. This week-long tour includes Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Chichicastenango, and Tikal National Park. If time allows and the dates line up, we highly recommend adding on a few days on at the beginning to experience the magic of Semana Santa in Antigua.
You could also head back to Antigua at the end of the tour and add on a few days then instead—speak to our Guatemala Specialists to put together your perfect trip and get their personal recommendations for Semana Santa.