Get to know the real Guatemala on this seven-day guided tour. Starting in the capital, Guatemala City, you'll set off on an adventure that reveals Indigenous Maya ways of life. Meet the traditional communities around sacred Lake Atitlán, see artisans at work, and relax in a herb-infused Maya sauna. Then, move on to Quetzaltenango to learn about the area's evolution, go horseback riding in the highlands, and take part in a spiritual fire ceremony.


  • Discover the majesty of Lake Atitlán and its traditional communities
  • Go horseback riding on the lakeshore and take part in a Maya fire ceremony
  • Get to know Guatemala's 20th-century political history in Chajul
  • Relax in the western highlands' hot springs of Las Fuentes Georginas 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Walking Tour Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Flor de Ixcaco Weaving Excursion Lake Atitlán
Day 3 Hike to Indian Nose Viewpoint, Maya Sauna Experience Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Visit Chichicastenango Market, Totonicapán Handicraft Workshops Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Transfer to Quetzaltenango, Horseback Riding & Spiritual Maya Ceremony Quetzaltenango
Day 6 Tour of Chajul, Relax at Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs Quetzaltenango
Day 7 Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Walking Tour

Guatemala City's grand Metropolitan Cathedral

Welcome to Guatemala, "The Land of Eternal Spring," where the climate stays pleasant year-round and flowers never stop blooming. Few countries in Central America boast such a diversity of unspoiled ecosystems and ancient Indigenous and Spanish-colonial cultures. You'll touch down in the capital, Guatemala City, where a private driver will take you to your hotel.

Today, 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, near the Plaza de la Constitución. Here you can tour the National Palace of Culture, a former presidential palace that houses paintings and sculptures by famous Guatemalan artists. You'll also visit some of the city's most famous religious landmarks, such as the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, and the whitewashed Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen. If you're up to going out later, drop by the popular bohemian enclave of La Bodeguita del Centro for live music any night of the week.

Day 2: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Flor de Ixcaco Weaving Excursion

Flor de Ixcaco
See traditional weaving techniques on a visit to the San Juan La Laguna region

Today your driver will pick you up for the transfer to Lake Atitlán, one of the world's most beautiful lakes and considered sacred by the Maya. You'll check into your hotel on the north shore, in the San Juan La Laguna region, known for its traditional crafts and community projects.

Later on, your guide will take you to visit Casa Flor Ixcaco, a cooperative of 34 women who work together making handmade fabrics. See their cotton in native colors (white, kakhy, ixcaco and green), dyed with botanicals such as leaves, flowers, and tree bark, and woven on a traditional waist loom. It's one of many cooperative projects in San Juan La Laguna—a reflection of the community's efforts, especially Indigenous women, to preserve their traditions through the teaching, manufacturing, and selling of Guatemalan textiles.
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Day 3: Hike to Indian Nose Viewpoint, Maya Sauna Experience

Hike Rostro Maya or Indian Nose
Hike to Indian Nose for breathtaking views across Lake Atitlán
This morning you'll set off from Santa Cruz La Laguna, along footpaths used by the Kaqchikel Maya people for centuries. Take the zig-zag trail up to one of the country's most spectacular viewpoints, Indian Nose, named for the hill's resemblance to a horizontal face in profile. Your efforts to get up the hill will be rewarded with an unforgettable panorama of the lake 951 feet ( 290 m) below, and Toliman, San Pedro, and Atitlán volcanoes.
Next, your guide will show you the nonprofit projects set up to help improve local life. Tour the school and training center of Amigos de Santa Cruz, and visit two medical clinics: Mayan Medical Aid and the Castillo Foundation, the latter of which is in the remote village of Tzununa. After, walk down to the lakeshore to meet the boat for the return trip. For an even more active day, you could choose to cycle on the Maya Trail and take a kayak instead of a boat back to Panajachel.

To end the day, relax as the Mayans do in a traditional sauna. Also known as a temazcal, it's a stone igloo-like structure where chanting and the fragrance of medicinal herbs will transport you to another realm. The water here is heated with firewood and aromatized with lemon and eucalyptus tea. Benefits include releasing stress, boosting circulation, filtering the respiratory system, and eliminating toxins. 

Day 4: Visit Chichicastenango Market, Totonicapán Handicraft Workshops

Chichicastenango Market
Locals come from far and wide to buy and sell at the Chichicastenango Market

Start today with a visit to Chichicastenango, which locals call "Chichi." This Indigenous town in the Guatemalan highlands is home to one of the largest markets in Central America, which was established long before the Spanish arrived. Its primary purpose is to service locals who come far and wide to buy and sell products. On a visit, you'll browse vendors who sell everything from handicrafts and textiles to fresh produce and street food. 

Next, it's on to Totonicapan Handicraft Workshops. Besides its Spanish colonial history, Totonicapan is famous for the artisanal items and handicrafts produced by its residents. Here, you can find everything from hand-woven cotton textiles to intricately crafted masks—a tradition passed down through the generations. During this stop, you'll visit family homes and workshops where locals make these items with foot looms, ceramics, and wood. If you're visiting during a holiday, you might even get to see locals perform traditional dances. Afterward, you'll return to Atitlán.

Day 5: Transfer to Quetzaltenango, Horseback Riding & Spiritual Maya Ceremony

See the countryside of rural Guatemala on horseback

Onward (and literally, upwards!) to the department of Quetzaltenango. Located at 7,644 feet (2,330 m) in the western highlands, this is Guatemala's second-largest city (pop. around 225,000). You'll have time to discover this dynamic, un-touristy metropolis before heading out to the sensational surrounding hills. Your guide will take you to a horseback riding center, where you'll meet your steed and embark on an hour-long ride on the trails of San Pedro. Along the way, you'll meet a native Tzutuhil community, view the coffee fields and vegetable farms, and take in amazing views across the lake.

This afternoon, you'll experience Guatemala's spiritual side, in a "fire cleansing" ritual with a local shaman. You'll each hold a candle, into which you'll put your thoughts, prayers, and intentions. When you place the candles into the fire, the energy is released to the heavens to be received by the gods. The shaman will also teach you about Maya mysticism and how ancient rituals permeate the Indigenous culture today.

Day 6: Tour of Chajul, Relax at Fuentes Georginas Hot Springs

Unwine in the natural hot springs and waterfalls of Fuentes Georginas

Today you'll take a day trip to a region known as Triangulo Ixil, where the preserved architecture, traditions, and even clothing give you a feel for old Guatemala. Despite the beautiful setting, the region was scarred by the 36-year civil war, from 1960 to 1996—so to visit this region is to understand Guatemalans on a deeper level. In the town of Chajul, your guide will explain the lasting effects of the war. You'll also see how it's a place on the change, with far higher numbers of youths attending school and the charity Limitless Horizons Ixil improving prospects. 

In the afternoon, you'll have the chance to unwind at Fuentes Georginas, a natural paradise of hot springs formed by the Zunil volcano. The mist-shrouded spa offers guests a surreal experience as steaming water cascades down a wall of rock, filling the first, wide pool. From there, the water flows into another pool, and then another—each a little cooler than the previous. Locals come here for therapeutic relief as well as relaxation. 

Day 7: Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart

Adiós Guatemala!

It's time to say a bittersweet goodbye to Guatemala. In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the drive back to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!

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Map of Insider's Guatemala:  Guatemala City, Lake Atitlán & Quetzaltenango - 7 Days
Map of Insider's Guatemala: Guatemala City, Lake Atitlán & Quetzaltenango - 7 Days