This 5-day trip to Guatemala starts in the old capital of Antigua, with guided walking tours and a cooking class where you'll learn to make traditional dishes with the help of regional chefs. Escape into nature and conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano, hiking through its dried lava fields and dense forests. You'll end the trip exploring the shores of Lake Atitlán and peruse the Mayan villages with their traditional crafts, then discover the ruins at Iximché.

Highlights

  • Explore the streets of colonial Antigua
  • Take a cooking class and learn how to make traditional dishes, tortillas, and desserts
  • Hike the Pacaya Volcano and traverse its lava fields
  • Explore the Mayan villages along Lake Atitlán
  • Discover the ancient Mayan ruins of Iximché

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua - Explore Antigua
Day 2 Discover Antigua with a walking tour and a cooking class Antigua
Day 3 Conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 4 Day trip to Lake Atitlán and Iximché Mayan ruins in Tecpán Antigua
Day 5 Depart Guatemala  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua - Explore

San José Cathedral
San José Cathedral

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at the Guatemala City International Airport, you'll transfer to the colonial city of Antigua. After settling into your accommodation, you'll have free time to explore the city at your leisure. 

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is filled with a colorful Old Town surrounding its central plaza, Central Park. The city is also surrounded by several volcanoes. The contrast between these imposing mountains and the colorful architecture of the city makes it one of the prettiest places in the country.

Enjoy the rest of your day walking around the cobblestone streets, treating yourself to local snacks at cafes and food vendors. Tomorrow you'll explore the city with a guided tour, so for now, simply stroll by a few of the main attractions, like the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and the remains of the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Discover Antigua with a walking tour and a cooking class

Arches on City Hall Terrace, Antigua
Arches on City Hall Terrace, Antigua

In the morning, you'll meet your local guide (who's also an expert historian) to explore the beautiful city of Antigua. This former capital boasts an impressive catalog of colonial relics, with streetscapes of pastel facades unfolding beneath three volcanoes. Many old religious and civic structures are beautifully renovated, while others retain tumbledown charm with fragments strewn about park-like grounds.

On this tour, you'll visit the City Hall Palace, the Palace of the Captain’s General, the Paseo de los Museos, and the Cathedral with its majestic ruins. You'll also learn about Mayan archaeology and the spiritual jade stone.

After the tour, you'll have time to enjoy lunch, relax, and wander around Antigua on your own. 

In the afternoon, a traditional cooking class awaits you. You'll immerse yourself in the rich culture of Guatemala and learn how to prepare a local meal. Guatemalan cuisine is a curious mixture of colonial Spanish and Indigenous Mayan flavors. Native Guatemalan chefs from the local region of Sacatepequez will lead the class, teaching you to create a main dish, prepare Guatemalan tortillas, and craft a traditional dessert.  

At the end of the class, you'll enjoy the meal with your chefs.

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 3: Conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano

Landscape Near Pacaya Volcano
Landscape Near Pacaya Volcano

Views of Antigua often include the city's dramatic backdrop of the 8,370-ft ( 2,552-m) mountain, Volcán Pacaya. It may not be Guatemala’s highest peak, but its slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya is a fascinating volcano with its continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit, plus a massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera.

As your group moves up the mountain trails, vistas appear with each step. Upon reaching the base of the caldera, your guide will direct the group through the rugged dried lava fields, recently reformed by a massive eruption in 2010. No matter the conditions you encounter on the route, you'll traverse unique volcanic-rock landscapes as you ascend towards the peak. At the summit, you'll stop for a freshly-prepared picnic to enjoy along with views of nearby volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango

The hike down brings you across the remaining dried lava fields before beginning the descent through Pacaya’s dense, lesser-known forests and farmland. Upon returning to the trailhead, you'll head back to Antigua.

Hike Details:

  • Est. hiking time: 3-4 hours
  • Distance: 3.8 miles (6 km)
  • Ascent: 1,300 feet (400 m)
  • High point: 7,500 feet (2,288 m)

Day 4: Day trip to Lake Atitlán and Iximché Mayan ruins in Tecpán

Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Today's early start is worth it as you begin your drive toward Lake Atitlán, arriving in the town of Panajachel 2-2.5 hours later. Here you'll start your boat tour of the lake's surrounding Mayan villages, which feature local markets, arts, traditions, and stories.

Your first stop is the town of Santiago, which hosts an array of local artisan crafts as well as the infamous Mayan saint of Maximon. Nearby is San Juan, famous for its textiles and the women's weaving co-op, where you can learn about the natural dying process, weaving techniques, and more.  

After lunch on the lake, you'll begin your return to Antigua. Along the way, you'll stop at the Iximché Mayan ruins. Iximché is an archaeological site in the western highlands of Guatemala. The ancient architecture included a number of pyramid-temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ballcourts. The ruins of Iximché were declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s. 

Enjoy a guided tour of the Iximché site, discovering its incredible history. Afterward, you'll continue to Antigua.

Day 5: Depart Guatemala

Central Plaza in Antigua
Central Plaza in Antigua

It's time to say goodbye to Guatemala. Enjoy your final breakfast in Antigua before transferring back to Guatemala City for your departure flight.