- See the highlights and historical landmarks of Guatemala City
- Hike up volcanoes and kayak on Lake Atitlán
- Tour the colonial streets of Antigua and visit local villages
- Enjoy a spa day at natural hot springs
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, La Aurora Zoo, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 2||Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 3||Almolonga Valley Tour, Transfer to Lake Atitlán||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 4||Lake Atitlán Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 5||Lake Atitlán Activities, Transfer to Guatemala City||Guatemala City|
|Day 6||Guatemala City Tour||Guatemala City|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Comalapa, Santa Teresita Spa Day||Guatemala City|
|Day 8||Depart Guatemala City|
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, La Aurora Zoo, Transfer to Antigua
Welcome to Guatemala! This country in Central America may be small, but it is packed with wonders, both natural and man-made. Between its towering volcanoes, verdant rainforests, colonial cities, and ancient Indigenous ruins, you'll never want for excitement and adventure here. Upon arrival at Guatemala City International Airport, your personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the small Spanish-colonial city of Antigua.
Before starting the road trip, however, you'll stop for a visit at La Aurora Zoo, which is located next to the airport. Built in 1924, The zoo is divided into different themed areas, including Asia, the Americas, Africa, a snake terrarium, and more. Within these areas are over 2,500 animals comprising more than 250 species. The zoo also adheres to strict safety protocols while promoting animal welfare, conservation, and sustainability with an added focus on research.
After visiting the giraffes, monkeys, lions, elephants, tigers, pythons, and more, you'll make the one-hour drive to Antigua and your hotel. Once you've checked in, take some time to relax and unwind. If you like, spend the remainder of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets and treating yourself to local cuisine at cafés. Or head to the food markets for quick eats like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala).
Day 2: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano
Get an early start for a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Volcán Pacaya. These 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 dried 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 and roast marshmallows over the volcano's natural heat. The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forest and farmland on your way back to Antigua.
Day 3: Almolonga Valley Tour, Transfer to Lake Atitlán
After breakfast, you'll venture beyond Antigua for a guided driving tour of the countryside. On this half-day excursion, head just west of the city to the Almolonga Valley and Ciudad Vieja. This historic city was founded as the second capital of Guatemala (the first was on the site of present-day Iximché) but was abandoned after a devastating earthquake in 1541. Today it's a quiet place with a nice plaza, a restored colonial church, and a plaque commemorating the site of the first Catholic mass in the country.
Outside of Ciudad Vieja, you'll head south and explore the various towns and villages in the valley. Your guide will make plenty of stops along the way so you can walk amid colonial ruins and snap photos of historic churches. Other unique highlights include stops at a sustainable macadamia nut farm and visiting textile and weaving co-ops in local villages.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Lake Atitlán Village TourIn the morning, you'll board a boat for a tour of the towns around Atitlán. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at villages 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 and have the rest of the day free.
Day 5: Lake Atitlán Activities, Transfer to Guatemala City
Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's expedition. You'll start out in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of Lake Atitlán for roughly two hours. Pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or go cliff jumping. Your destination is a spot between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots.
Follow the lake trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, and eventually the route will return you to your lodge. You'll then have the remainder of the afternoon free.
Day 6: Guatemala City Tour
In the morning, you'll meet a local guide to learn about the history and culture of the city on a half-day tour. Visit the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"), near the Plaza de la Constitución. Here you can tour the National Palace of Culture, which houses a museum showcasing the history, art, and culture of Guatemala. You'll also visit some of the city's most famous religious landmarks, such as the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the whitewashed Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen.
For lunch, perhaps head to Mercado Central to taste a variety of traditional Guatemalan dishes as well as browse vendors selling clothing, crafts, and souvenirs. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure. You can continue exploring the city's neighborhoods, relax at the hotel, or enjoy more local cuisine at cafés, restaurants, and wine bars.
Day 7: Day Trip to Comalapa, Santa Teresita Spa Day
Your driver will pick you up this morning for the two-hour ride to San Juan Comalapa. This town of around 50,000 people is a hotbed of art in Guatemala, so much so that it's referred to as the "Florence of America." It's filled with painters, musicians, and plenty of galleries. Local artists happily open the doors to their own homes to showcase their folk art, and you'll be visiting a few such residents on today's tour. You'll also visit the former home of Rafael Alvarez Ovalle (1848-1956), the famous musician who composed the national anthem.
Afterward, you'll drive 1.5 hours south to Santa Teresita, home to volcanic hot springs. Here, you'll enjoy treatments at a spa that begin with hot and cold therapy. Next, move on to a combined steam and hydrotherapy bath before finishing with a relaxing 25-minute massage. Afterward, you can dip in the thermal pools and enjoy a snack and fruit smoothie. At the end of the day, you'll return to Guatemala City.