If you want to soak in Guatemala's spectacular scenery while exploring its Maya heritage, you'll love this 10-day itinerary. Hike up Pacaya Volcano, then explore the historic city of Antigua. Transfer to Lake Atitlán for kayaking and hiking, then fly to the island town of Flores, where you'll explore the Maya ruins of Yaxhá and Tikal National Park. Afterward, head to Río Dulce for a boating excursion followed by a dip in the Finca Paraíso Hot Springs.


  • Hike up the mighty Pacaya Volcano
  • Paddle Lake Atitlán in a kayak, taking in a new perspective
  • See how the Maya lived at the historic site of Yaxhá and Tikal
  • Unwind in the hot springs at Finca Paraíso

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 3 Antigua Walking Tour, Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Kayaking & Hiking by Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua Antigua
Day 5 Fly to Flores, Tour Yaxhá Maya Ruins Flores
Day 6 Explore Tikal National Park Flores
Day 7 Transfer to Río Dulce, Visit Finca Paraíso Hot Springs Río Dulce
Day 8 Boat Tour of Río Dulce Río Dulce
Day 9 Quiriguá Ruins Guided Tour, Transfer to Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 10 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua

Antigua's famous Arch Street
Snap pics of Antigua's iconic Spanish colonial Santa Catalina Arch

Welcome to Guatemala City! Upon arrival at the international airport, a driver will pick you up for the one-hour transfer west to the colonial city of Antigua. Settle into your accommodation, then head out to explore or simply relax.

Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for its Spanish colonial Old Town, which surrounds its main plaza, Central Park. Three volcanoes also border it, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and the city's colorful architecture is part of why Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. If you have time today, walk along Antigua's cobbled streets and treat yourself to local street food like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). Be sure to visit historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 2: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano

Panoramic views from Pacaya Volcano
Panoramic views from the ever-smoldering Pacaya Volcano

Get an early start for a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya Volcano. These volcanic slopes are some of the most impressive in Central America. Set in its 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 and covers a distance of 4 miles (6 km). You'll eat a picnic lunch at the summit as you enjoy the panoramic views and maybe even toast marshmallows over the volcano's natural heat. The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way back to Antigua. 

Day 3: Antigua Walking Tour, Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Antigua, Guatemala Central Park
Join a walking tour with a local historian of Antigua's historic Old Town
Today, get to know Antigua better on a guided walking tour. You'll be led by an expert local historian, who'll take you to Antigua's top landmarks, such as the City Hall Palace, the Captain General Palace, and the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. Along the way, you'll learn about the Spanish conquest and the region's rich history, including the Maya way of life. When the tour is finished, meet your driver for a private transfer to Lake Atitlán, a drive of approximately 2.5 hours.

Day 4: Kayak & Hike at Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua

Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlán
Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlán

Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's expedition. You'll start 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 even 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 (or enjoy a shorter hike, which is suitable for all age ranges and fitness levels.) Eventually, the route will return you to your lodge. You'll then have the remainder of the afternoon free. Later, meet your driver in the lakeside town of Panajachel and transfer back to Antigua for the night. 

Day 5: Fly to Flores, Tour Yaxhá Maya Ruins

Flores, Guatemala
Overnight in the island town of Flores on Lake Petén Itzá

Head to Guatemala City's airport and catch a domestic flight to Flores. At the airport, meet your driver and transfer to your accommodation in this charming town, which is located on an island in Lake Petén Itzá. Once settled in, embark on a four-hour tour of 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), the third-largest city in the region. There are over 500 structures here, and your guide will lead you to various pyramids, altars, plazas, ball courts, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). One major highlight is a hike up Temple 216, the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m).

Day 6: Explore Tikal National Park

The Great Jaguar Temple in Tikal
See the Temple of the Great Jaguar in famous Tikal National Park

Today you'll visit the famous Tikal National Park, known worldwide for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. The UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya civilization. It features the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV (The Great Jaguar), which stands 270 feet (70 m) tall.

Spend the day with an expert guide exploring this vast complex of temples and pyramids. See all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, and The Window Palace. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way while enjoying the sights and sounds of the jungle. Once you're done exploring the park, return to your accommodation in Flores. 

Day 7: Transfer to Río Dulce, Visit Finca Paraíso Hot Springs

Finca Paraiso Hot Springs waterfall
Relaxing at Finca Paraíso, stand under its geothermally heated waterfall

Hop in a car for the 130-mile (210 km) drive from Flores to Río Dulce. The ride there will take you over Central America's longest bridge. Continue to Finca Paraíso, located on the shores of Lake Izabal, Guatemala's largest freshwater lake, where you'll find a beautiful river and waterfall fed by natural hot springs.

Take the entire afternoon to relax at Finca Paraíso. One of the most enjoyable ways to spend your time here is to take a dip in the cool river and then stand under the thermally-heated waterfall to warm up. After lunch on the banks, hike up to a river cave and go for a swim in the cavern. At the end of the adventure, return to your hotel for dinner. 

Day 8: Boat Tour of Río Dulce

Boat floating on Livingston Beach
Learn about Livingston's Garifuna culture after boating its shores
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

After a leisurely breakfast overlooking the water, meet your guide for a boat tour on the Río Dulce. As you travel north along the tranquil jade waters, keep your camera ready, as the banks are lined with stunning rainforest scenery and quaint villages. Waterbirds, like herons, are constantly flitting overhead or resting on the lily pads, and you're sure to see blooming flowers like orchids and white water lilies. The ride will take you to Livingston, a small town on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala.

Along the way, stop at the famous 17th-century Castle of San Felipe. You'll also visit a protected island home to exotic birds and a natural hot spring. Once in Livingston, you'll experience a different side of Guatemala. This Afro-Guatemalan community is defined by its distinctive Garifuna culture, which has its language, cuisine, and customs. You can take a dip in the warm waters of the Caribbean, do some bird-watching, and try tapado, a seafood stew that's the community's most popular dish. Or learn to dance punta, a traditional Garifuna dance. 

Day 9: Quiriguá Ruins Guided Tour, Transfer to Guatemala City

Motagua River
The scenic Motagua River, where the Quiriguá ruins are found
Spend today exploring the Quiriguá ruins, an ancient Maya archaeological site in southeastern Guatemala. The site covers about 2 square miles (3 sq km) along the Motagua River. During its heyday around 800 CE, it was an administrative center at the junction of several important trade routes. Today, it's famous for its 17 impressive sandstone stelae (monuments), which you'll see up close. Once you've finished exploring the ruins, it's time to load up the van, wave goodbye to the coconut trees and river otters, and head back to Guatemala City.

Day 10: Depart Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Guatemala City skyline
Say goodbye to Guatemala! Depending on your departure schedule, your driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby and transfer you to the Guatemala City airport today. Have a safe journey home or to your next destination, and hope to see you again soon!

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Map of Nature & Culture in Guatemala: Antigua to Río Dulce - 10 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Guatemala: Antigua to Río Dulce - 10 Days