Combine the best of Guatemala with the most exciting adventures in Belize on this unforgettable 15-day escape. In Guatemala, you'll mix tours of historic cities with excursions to lakes, mountain retreats, and hikes up volcanoes. After visiting ancient Maya ruins, you'll cross the border into Belize for rides down jungle rivers, snorkeling in pristine marine reserves, and relaxing on white-sand beaches.


  • Walk the historic streets of Antigua and visit nature parks
  • Hike Pacaya volcano and explore Lake Atitlán
  • Explore the ancient Maya ruins at Tikal and Yaxhá
  • Go cave tubing in Belize and snorkel with sharks

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Day Trip to Hobbitenango Antigua
Day 3 Hike Pacaya Volcano, Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Lake Atitlán Free Day Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Morning Lake Hike, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 6 Transfer to Flores, Optional Activities Flores
Day 7 Transfer to Tikal National Park, Explore Tikal Tikal National Park
Day 8 Tour Yaxhá Ruins, Transfer to San Ignacio San Ignacio
Day 9 Cave Tubing, Transfer to Caye Caulker San Ignacio
Day 10 Transfer to Ambergris Caye San Pedro Town
Day 11 Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour San Pedro Town
Days 12-13 Free Days in Ambergris Caye San Pedro Town
Day 14 Transfer to Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 15 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua

Antigua's elegant Parque Central

Welcome to Guatemala! This small Central American nation offers something for every type of traveler, whether you're interested in culture, nature, history, or adventure. There's no need to choose, either, because, during this packed itinerary, you'll experience all of the above.

It starts right away with your arrival in Guatemala City. A driver will pick you up and transfer you about one hour west to the colonial city of Antigua. The cobbled streets and cathedrals of this former national capital sit in the shadow of three active volcanoes. Within the city, many of its 16th, 17th, and 18th-century structures have been beautifully renovated, while others have fallen to ruins yet retain a tumbledown charm.

After checking in to your hotel, spend the rest of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets. Be sure to stop by historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara. Also, be sure to try the delicious street food here, which includes local specialties like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala).

Day 2: Day Trip to Hobbitenango

Step into a fantasy world in Guatemala

In the morning, you'll embark on a uniquely beautiful hike around the eco-village of Hobbitenango. Located 20 minutes outside of Antigua, this nature park was inspired by the fantasy world of J.R.R. Tolkien. Here, you'll find attractions like a giant swing, stone hand, and mountainside lookout points offering stunning views of the Panchoy Valley and surrounding volcanoes. There are also restaurants and a couple of hobbit-style guesthouses. Once here, you'll have three to four hours to enjoy the highlights.

Then, you'll head into the nearby woods and embark on a 6 to 7-mile (10-12 km) nature hike. These farm trails will take you through lovely old-growth forests and through local villages to a waiting shuttle that will transfer you down to the foot of Cerro de la Cruz. Here, you can continue another 15 minutes on foot right into downtown Antigua.

Day 3: Hike Pacaya Volcano, Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Volcan de Pacaya
Join a group hike up the active volcano of Pacaya

Get an early start for a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya volcano. 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 even 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. Later, you'll meet your driver for the three-hour drive to Lago Atitlán, Guatemala's most famous lake. This body of water is part of a volcanic crater in the southwestern highlands and is surrounded by volcanoes, creating incredible scenery. Once here, you'll check in to your lakeside hotel.

Day 4: Lake Atitlán Free Day

Boats and volcanoes on Lake Atitlán
Spend the day among the natural splendor of Lake Atitlán

The day is yours to enjoy Lake Atitlán however you like. Perhaps start with a leisurely breakfast amid the tranquil waterfront scenery. Then hop on a boat for a tour of lakeside villages far off the tourist trail and offer authentic cultural experiences. For example, in these villages, you can visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. Other options include hiking along the lakeshore or riding mountain bikes in the countryside.

If you wish to spend the day on the water, you can rent kayaks, go swimming, or enjoy some water sports. For something more adventurous, try a zipline ride over forests and waterfalls. There's also a coffee tour that will take you to a cooperative overseen by 150 families dedicated to producing 100% organic coffee. Toward the end of the day, you can relax in a hammock and watch as the sun sets over the glassy waters of Atitlán.

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Morning Lake Hike, Transfer to Antigua

HIke to lookout points above Lake Atitlán

After breakfast, you'll board a boat for the ride across the lake to the village of San Juan La Laguna on Atilán's western shore. Here you'll catch a "chicken bus" a little way north to the village of Santa Clara La Laguna. This will be your starting point for a hike up Rupalaj K'istalin, commonly referred to as El Rostro Maya ("Maya Face Hill"). When you reach the summit atop "Indian Nose," you'll be treated to views over the lake and the surrounding volcanoes: Toliman, San Pedro, and Atitlán. Afterward, you'll transfer about three hours back to Antigua via the lakeside village of Panajachel

Day 6: Transfer to Flores, Optional Activities

This island town of Flores on Lake Petén Itzá 

Wake up early for one last breakfast in Antigua. Then perhaps browse the markets to pick up souvenirs like handicrafts and hand-woven textiles. At the appropriate time, your driver will take you back to Guatemala City, where you'll catch the one-hour flight north to the Petén region and the town of Flores.

This colorful island town on Lake Petén Itzá is the gateway to the ancient Maya ruins of northern Guatemala, such as Tikal. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and can spend the remainder of the day strolling the waterfront, stopping in at quaint cafés and restaurants, and otherwise relaxing.

Day 7: Transfer to Tikal National Park, Explore Tikal

Tikal's Temple of the Great Jaguar
Tikal's Temple I (Temple of the Great Jaguar)

A driver will pick you up early for the 1.5-hour ride north to Tikal National Park. This archaeological site covers 222 square miles (576 sq km) and comprises the ruins of an ancient city that was a powerhouse during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE) but fell into disrepair after it was abandoned around the 10th century. It was engulfed by the rainforest and remained hidden until it was discovered and excavated in the 20th century. Tikal boasts the tallest pre-Colombian structure in the Americas, Temple IV, which stands 270 feet (70 m).

Once at the site, you'll meet your guide and embark on a half-day guided tour of Tikal's pyramids and ruins. You'll see many highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace. At the end of the tour, you'll transfer to your overnight accommodation, which is located right in the park.

Day 8: Tour Yaxhá Ruins, Transfer to San Ignacio

More ancient wonders at Yaxhá National Park

In the morning, a driver will transfer you 1.5 hours to Yaxhá National Park. This archaeological site comprises the ruins of an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center that reached its height of power during the Classic Period (200-900 CE) when it was the third-largest city in the region. There are over 500 structures here, and during a half-day tour, your guide will lead you to various pyramids, altars, plazas, ball courts, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). One of many highlights is a hike up Temple 216, the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m).

After the tour, you'll transfer by vehicle one hour east, crossing the border into Belize and arriving in San Ignacio. This town sits on the Río Macal and is surrounded by jungle, which allows for some great nature tours and visits to archeological sites. Once here, you'll check in to your hotel and have the rest of the day free.

Day 9: Cave Tubing, Transfer to Caye Caulker

Get ready for a day of cave tubing in Belize

Get ready for some caving! After breakfast, you'll hop in a car for a 1.5-hour ride east to an archeological reserve in the Belizean forest. Here, along the Caves Branch River, are a network of limestone caverns to explore. Upon arrival, you'll gear up with helmets, waterproof headlamps, and of course, the inner tube. After a safety briefing, you'll go to the river, hop in your tube, and let the current carry you into the first two cave passages. As you float downstream through the caverns, you'll see hanging stalactites and towering stalagmites and even some ancient Maya artifacts like pottery.

During the ride, there will be opportunities to stop for snacks and swim in natural swimming holes. Eventually, you'll arrive in the last of the continuing through the last of the passages, which is home to great colonies of bats. After emerging from the exit, there will be a 20-minute float amid the verdant rainforest leading back to the parking area. There, you'll enjoy a homemade picnic lunch.

Afterward, a driver will transfer you another hour or so east to Belize City. You'll board a water taxi for the 45-minute ride north to Caye Caulker, a small coral island measuring just 5 miles (8 km) long and less than 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. There's only one small village here, with the majority of the island's area comprised of mangrove forests and sand bars. Right off the beaches are sections of the Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest barrier reef in the world), home to whale sharks, dolphins, rays, hammerhead sharks, and more. Here, you'll check in to the hotel where you'll overnight.

Day 10: Transfer to Ambergris Caye

Welcome to Ambergris Caye

In the morning, you'll hop in a ferry for the 30-minute ride north to the adjacent island of Ambergris Caye. This idyllic coral isle has been inhabited over the centuries by the Indigenous Maya, Mexicans fleeing the Caste War of Yucatán and even European pirates. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel in San Pedro Town, the only town on the island. The rest of the day is yours to spend relaxing on the beach or exploring the town.

Day 11: Marine Reserve Snorkeling Tour

Swim with nurse sharks at Shark Ray Alley

Take a boat just off the southern coast of Ambergris to Hol Chan, Belize's first-ever marine reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site protects 7 square miles (18 sq km) of coral reefs and mangrove lagoons, home to an incredibly biodiverse marine ecosystem. It's a top site for snorkelers/divers (one of the best in Belize), and you'll spend about 2.5 hours here swimming with schools of exotic fish and marine life. Smaller specimens you'll likely see include angelfish, trumpetfish, and seahorses, plus larger animals like turtles, moray eels, and the gorgeous spotted eagle ray.

Most tours of Hol Chan are combined with a stop at nearby Shark Ray Alley, which is exactly where you'll be going too. It's a fitting name, as here in this 30-foot (9 m) deep channel, you can swim with stingrays and harmless nurse sharks. During the stop, you'll have another few hours to swim with these animals; or, if that prospect is a little too hair-raising, feel free to hang out on the boat and watch as the sharks lazily circle the boat. Afterward, you'll return to Ambergris Caye.

Days 12-13: Free Days in Ambergris Caye

Relax in paradise at San Pedro

Clear your schedule because the next couple of days are yours to relax on white-sand beaches and enjoy island activities. If you like, while away the hours relaxing in a hammock, sunbathing on the beach, or browsing the art galleries and souvenir shops in San Pedro Town. For something active, rent a kayak from the hotel and go paddling right offshore along turquoise waters.

There are day trips to enjoy here as well. Perhaps take a full-day catamaran cruise around some of the best snorkeling/drive sites near Ambergris. Or opt for an excursion to the Blue Hole, famous for its near-perfect circular shape. This iconic dive spot measures 1,043 (318 m) across, 407 feet (124 m) deep, and offers great visibility. In the evenings, hop around the different bars and restaurants around San Pedro Town to mingle with locals, hear some live music, and immerse yourself in the island culture. 

Day 14: Transfer to Guatemala City

Plaza de la Constitución in Guatemala City

In the morning, you'll board a water taxi for the 1.5-hour ride south from Ambergris to Belize City. There, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a 1.5-hour flight to Guatemala City. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel.

After checking in, feel free to embark on a self-guided tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"). Head to the Plaza de la Constitución, where you can visit the National Palace. Guatemala's most iconic building was once the headquarters of the president, but today it's a museum. Nearby are famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

Day 15: Depart Guatemala City

Goodbye, Guatemala

Enjoy one last leisurely breakfast in Guatemala City. Afterward, a driver will transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!

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Map of Highlights of Guatemala & Belize: Adventure & Culture - 15 Days
Map of Highlights of Guatemala & Belize: Adventure & Culture - 15 Days