Combining adventure and nature with leisure and culture, this one-week trip covers Guatemala's main attractions from the Western Highlands to the Pacific Coast. Discover charming Antigua and the surrounding landscape on a bike and walking tour and experience the bustling Chichicastenango market on your way to Panajachel. Explore the indigenous communities around stunning Lake Atitlán with a hike up Rupalaj K’istalin before ending your adventure with a relaxing two days on the black-sand beach of Monterrico.

Highlights

  • Admire baroque architecture and fascinating church ruins in Antigua
  • Experience the lively Maya ancestral market at Chichicastenango
  • Hike to the summit of Rupalaj K’istalin to catch the rising sun over Lake Atitlán
  • Release turtles back into the Pacific Ocean in Monterrico

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Guatemala Antigua
Day 2 Bike tour of surrounding villages - Antigua walking tour Antigua
Day 3 Transfer to Panajachel - Experience Chichicastenango Panajachel
Day 4 Day trip to hike Rupalaj K'istalin Panajachel
Day 5 Transfer to Monterrico Monterrico
Day 6 Free day Monterrico
Day 7 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua Guatemala

Santa Catalina Arch, La Antigua Guatemala.
Discover Antigua's iconic Santa Catalina Arch

Welcome to Antigua! A representative will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel where you will receive your detailed itinerary for the next two weeks. Depending on your arrival time, stretch your legs with a stroll, and explore your surroundings of Central America's favorite colonial town.

The one-time capital of Spanish colonial Guatemala, Antigua was abandoned in the 1700s after a devastating earthquake. Cradled by three volcanoes, this unique city is accented by colorful facades of 16th-century mansions, churches, and convents. 

Day 2: Bike tour of surrounding villages - Antigua walking tour

Guatemala - Antigua - Church of San Francisco el Grande
Admire the Baroque-styled Church of San Francisco in charming Antigua

Begin the day with a bicycle ride to explore the nearby villages, ruins, and stunning scenery around Antigua. Enjoy panoramic views in between visits to a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a famous textiles and handicrafts market in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Pedal back to Antigua for an early afternoon guided walking tour where you'll immerse yourself in the diversity of local Antigua culture and discover magnificent baroque architecture, a bustling food scene, and fascinating church ruins.

As you stroll down charming cobblestone lanes, you'll see beautiful streetscapes of pastel facades against a mountain backdrop, some exquisitely preserved colonial buildings, and lush green parks and plazas. The haunting ruins of the many churches, like the bright yellow La Merced or the San Francisco Church, and La Recoleccion, a former convent, destroyed in the earthquake are part of what gives Antigua its unique character.

Day 3: Transfer to Panajachel - Experience Chichicastenango

Guatemala - Chichicastenango Market
Work your way through the lively Maya ancestral market of Chichicastenango

This morning, you'll set out into the western highlands in the El Quiché department and to Chichicastenango, a K'iche' Maya (Indigenous Mayan peoples) cultural center. Here you will get to visit the vibrant and colorful open-air craft market of Chichicastenango, arriving there by mid-morning. Going on for more than 4,000 years, Chichicastenango is one of the country's largest markets. Stroll amid its stalls and vendors, picking up a locally made handicraft as a gift or souvenir.

Next, you'll visit a mask factory that manufactures masks for traditional Guatemalan dances before being introduced to Guatemala syncretism (a mix of Mayan religious beliefs with Catholicism) at the Church of Santo Tomás. When it's time, you'll make your way south to Panajachel along Lake Atitlán to check into your hotel for the evening.

Day 4: Day trip to hike Rupalaj K'istalin

Lake Atitlán, Panajachel.
Spot Panajachel from Rupalaj K'istalin mountain on your morning hike

Hop aboard a boat for an early morning transfer to the small community of San Juan La Laguna where you'll catch the local chicken bus to Santa Clara La Laguna. Here you'll ready yourself for a popular hike up Rupalaj K’istalin (commonly referred to as Mayan Face) on Lake Atitlán's northwest shore. Take in the sunrise from atop the "Indian Nose" with stunning vistas over Lake Atitlán, Guatemala's volcanic chain, and the communities far below before working your way back down to San Juan La Laguna.

Enjoy a traditional meal amid Tz'utujil natives and K'iche Mayas surrounded by hills: Cerro de Las Cristalinas, Cerro Kyaq Aaba'aj, and Cerro Kajnom.

Day 5: Transfer to Monterrico

Monterrico, Pacific Coast.
Release sea turtle hatchling back into the wild in Monterrico

After breakfast, you'll transfer the four hours south to Monterrico along the Pacific Ocean. Settle into your accommodation before heading to the volcanic black-sand beach for a leisurely afternoon.

Day 6: Free day

Monterrico, Pacific Coast.
Walk along the Pacific Coast on Monterrico's famous black sand beach

Today is yours to spend as you choose. Consider lounging on the expansive black-sand beach and spending a few hours fishing—Guatemala's Pacific Coast is a significant breeding ground for baitfish and sport-fish, including dorado, tuna, grouper, and billfish like the marlin and the sailfish. Depending on the season, you can take advantage of the beach's popularity with four types of sea turtles and release hatchlings into the wild with the help of a local conservatory. Dine on fresh-caught seafood by an ocean fire to the sounds of lapping waves.

Day 7: Depart

Guatemala - Guatemala City - Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and Cathedral of Guatemala City
Transfer to the airport in Guatemala City 

It's time to say adiós to Guatemala. At your convenience, you will meet your driver at your hotel to transfer to the airport in Guatemala City (3 hours) for your international flight.

Map

Map of Guatemala: Summit to Shoreline - 7 Days
Map of Guatemala: Summit to Shoreline - 7 Days