Spring in Guatemala is usually hot and humid across the whole country, with temperatures averaging at around 85°F (a bit cooler in the mountainous highlands). It can still get quite cold at altitude, especially at night, but with less visibility than the winter months and hot, sweaty days, it isn't the best time of year to go trekking through the mountains or climb volcanoes. If you do decide to hike, make sure you go early to try and catch the best vistas before the midday heat and afternoon clouds roll in.
Crowds and Costs
While the beginning of March can be quite quiet, with cheaper shoulder-season prices, towards the end of the month, or just before Holy Week—depending on when Easter falls each year—prices creep up, and the crowds roll in, especially around Antigua. Taking place in the week before Easter, Semana Santa is one of Guatemala's most popular tourist events, when the whole country marks the occasion with solemn street parades and carpets made of colored sawdust and fresh fruit and flowers.
Accommodation starts getting booked up for the weeks around Semana Santa months—if not years—in advance, so it's worth planning ahead as soon as possible if you plan on being there to witness the spectacle unfold, especially on Easter Sunday itself. Alternatively, you can head to other destinations during Semana Santa, like Tikal or Rio Dulce. Quetzaltenango (known locally as Xela) also has amazing cultural celebrations without the crowds.
Where to Go
Although the oppressive temperatures might put people off visiting Guatemala in spring, there are still plenty of places to visit—and with the promise of a refreshing reward like jumping into a cold pool or standing under a waterfall, it's easy to motivate to explore despite the heat. If you visit Tikal, you might want to stay in one of the lodges in the national park. You can take the morning tour, then head back to your hotel to relax in the pool in the jungle before heading back out in the afternoon once it has cooled off a bit.
You can also head to Monterrico and the Pacific coast to soak up some sun on the beach, or swim in the tiered limestone pools of Semuc Champey. If you're feeling especially adventurous, hike to the viewpoint to get an incredible vista of the turquoise water in the jungle from above.
If your visit corresponds with Ash Wednesday, any weekends during Lent, or Holy Week, we highly recommend visiting Antigua or Xela to witness the spectacle. Although Holy Week is the big event, there are processions on Ash Wednesday and every weekend during Lent. If you time it right, you can even go to Antigua and then leave to visit somewhere like Lake Atitlan and come back in time for Easter Weekend, where the celebrations are unlike anything you'll have ever seen before, topped off with plenty of fireworks.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
March is a great time to go to Guatemala's beaches. If you prefer to be a bit more adventurous, head to Alta Verapaz and Huehuetenango to check out the waterfalls, cenotes, and natural swimming pools in the jungle. It's also a good time to go to Rio Dulce, where you can visit a hot spring waterfall and relax in a bungalow on the river, or even take a boat up to Livingston on the Caribbean coast.
If heat isn't your thing, then head to the mountains, and check out Xela, or explore the hills surrounding Antigua, where there are plenty of eco-lodges that offer incredible views over the city and its volcanoes. Just make sure you book in advance, as they can be quite popular.
Events in March
Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter Sunday). Marking the beginning of the 40-day period of Lent, Ash Wednesday is celebrated across Guatemala. The biggest celebrations take place in Antigua, where all the churches have vigils and processions to mark this momentous occasion.
Lent. The 40-day period leading up to Semana Santa—Holy Week—and Easter is celebrated with vigils, parades, and worship, starting off every Sunday and then increasing in size and frequency in the lead-up to one of the biggest celebrations in the Catholic calendar, especially in Antigua. While the ceremonies in the church can be quite solemn and traditional, the streets hold a more jovial atmosphere, with market stalls, food, and festivities.
Semana Santa (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday). Holy Week is one of the biggest celebrations in Guatemala every year, with processions and parades all across the country. The biggest festivities are found in Antigua and Quetzaltenango, with colorful carpets laid across the streets and traditional parades every day of the week. It's also a great time to go to Santiago Atitlán to pay homage to Saint Maximón, who is paraded around the streets on his way to his new home where he will spend the next year.
Traveling to Guatemala in March? Check out this great itinerary.
Incredible Guatemala - 10 Days. This whirlwind tour around Guatemala includes the temples of Tikal, Antigua, Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango, and Lake Atitlán. Explore one of Central America's largest cave systems, swim in the turquoise waters of Semuc Champey, and explore the hidden gems that are the magical Cenotes de Candelaría & Hoyo el Cimarrón in Huehuetenango.
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