Embark on the ultimate Central America getaway for 11 days of adventures on land and sea. It starts with an exploration of Guatemala's highlights, as you tour historic cities, visit famous lakes, hike volcanoes, and discover the ancient Maya ruins at Tikal. Jet off to Honduras for snorkeling and beach time on the Caribbean island of Roatán, then return to Guatemala for more cultural activities before heading home.
- Visit ancient Maya ruins in Guatemala
- Ride bikes around the countryside of Lake Atitlán
- Hike up the famous Pacaya volcano
- Go snorkeling on the Caribbean island of Roatán
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional Activities
|Fly to Flores, Transfer to Tikal via Yaxhá
|Tikal National Park
|Explore Tikal National Park, Fly to Antigua
|Antigua Countryside Bike Tour
|Hike Pacaya Volcano, Transfer to Panajachel
|Lake Atitlán Village Tour
|Chichicastenango Market, Transfer to Antigua via Iximche Ruins
|Transfer to Guatemala City, Fly to Roatán, Honduras
|Snorkeling in Roatán
|Fly to Guatemala City, Optional Activities
|Depart Guatemala City
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional ActivitiesWelcome to Guatamela! This Central American country is a treasure trove of ancient landmarks, rich culture, and natural wonders. You'll see quite a bit of it while embarking on active adventures, starting right in the capital of Guatemala City. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up for your ride to your hotel.
After settling in, you can 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 2: Fly to Flores, Transfer to Tikal via YaxháIn the morning, transfer to the airport in Guatemala City, where you'll catch a one-hour flight north to the Petén region and the lakeside town of Flores. This will be your base for exploring ancient Maya ruins over the next two days. When you arrive, you can stretch your legs with a guided walk around Flores. This island town sits on Petén Itzá, Guatemala's third-largest lake. It's one of Guatemala's most unique towns, and a walk along the scenic waterfront is a can't-miss experience.
Afterward, a driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour east to Yaxhá. 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, including pyramids, altars, plazas, ball courts, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). On this guided tour, you can hike up Temple 216, the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m). Afterward, you'll transfer north of Flores to Tikal National Park, where you'll stay overnight in a lodge.
Day 3: Explore Tikal National Park, Fly to AntiguaAfter breakfast, join your guide for a tour of Tikal, an archaeological site that covers 222 square miles (576 sq km). Here sit the ruins of an ancient city that was a powerhouse during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE), but it fell into disrepair after it was abandoned around the 10th century. The rainforest engulfed the site and it 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).
The ruins aren't the only highlights you'll see, either, because the rainforest surrounding it is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It's home to exotic animals like monkeys, toucans, parakeets, and other tropical birds, so keep your eyes peeled and your camera close as you explore. Throughout the tour, you'll visit major points of interest including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more.
After a day of hiking up temples and pyramids, you'll transfer to the airport in Flores, where you'll catch a flight back to Guatemala City. Meet another driver for the ride to Antigua. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most well-preserved Spanish-colonial cities in the Americas. It was even the capital of Guatemala from the 16th-18th centuries until a great earthquake forced its relocation. Nevertheless, Antigua boasts one of the most impressive historic centers of any colonial city anywhere. Upon arrival, your driver will take you to your hotel and you'll have the rest of the day free.
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Antigua Countryside Bike TourToday you'll meet up with cyclists for a ride around the nearby villages and ruins outside of Antigua. It's a packed excursion in which you'll visit a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a textiles and handicrafts market in the mountain town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The best part is that throughout the ride, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Guatemala's verdant western highlands. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and snap photos. Afterward, you'll return to Antigua and will have the remainder of the day free.
Day 5: Hike Pacaya Volcano, Transfer to PanajachelAt 8,370 feet (2,551 m), Pacaya is one of the most impressive volcanoes in Central America, and today you'll climb it. In the morning, meet your hiking group and guide at a shop in Antigua, fill up your water bottle, then take a 1.5-hour drive up to the trailhead. As your group hikes along the volcano's winding trails, you'll be treated to impressive views of the Guatemalan countryside. When you reach the base of the caldera, continue with your guide across dried lava fields on the ascent to the top.
Once at the summit, enjoy a relaxing picnic amid stunning views of three nearby volcanoes (Fuego, Agua, and Acatenango). In this area, you'll explore geothermal hot spots and can even roast marshmallows using the volcano's natural heat. Later, hike back down across the lava fields through lush forests and farmland. Back in Antigua, you'll hop in a car for the two-hour ride west to Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country. You'll arrive at the lakeside town of Panajachel, where you'll settle into your hotel and enjoy views of the glassy lake and surrounding volcano peaks.
Day 6: Lake Atitlán Village TourBoard a boat this morning for a tour of the villages around Atitlán. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at villages like Santiago Atitlán and San Juan Laguna, which are far off the tourist trail and offer a truly authentic cultural experience. For example, you'll visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. You'll also visit a shrine to Maximón, an infamous Maya saint known for his depraved behavior. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 7: Chichicastenango Market, Transfer to Antigua via Iximche RuinsYour driver will pick you up this morning for the ride farther into the highlands to reach the traditional Maya town of Chichicastenango. The public market here is one of the largest and most famous in all of Central America. Held every Thursday and Sunday, it draws locals from surrounding villages who come to sell handicrafts, textiles, regional clothing, and fresh produce. Upon arrival, you and your guide will spend time browsing the market and chatting with locals.
After the market visit, you'll return to Antigua by private shuttle. During the drive through the beautiful highlands, you'll stop at the ruins of Iximché for a tour. Back in the 15th century, this archeological site was a great capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom. Its ruins sit in the western highlands of Guatemala and include pyramid temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ball courts. Take a personal guided tour through the site, which was declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s. After the ruins, you'll hit the road back to Antigua and check in to your hotel.
Day 8: Transfer to Guatemala City, Fly to Roatán, HondurasWake up early for the 1.5-hour transfer from Antigua back to Guatemala City. Once there, you'll head to the airport and catch a connecting flight via San Pedro Sula to Roatán, a Caribbean island off the northern coast of Honduras. Your arrival kicks off a couple of days of fun in the sun in this tropical paradise. In fact, after transferring to your hotel upon arrival, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing on Roatán's long beaches fronting warm, turquoise waters.
Day 9: Snorkeling in RoatánRoatán is renowned for its great diving and snorkeling. That's because this island sits near the southern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. After an early breakfast, you'll board a boat for a snorkeling tour to witness Roatán's beautiful corals and exotic marine life.
Throughout this four-hour excursion, the boat will stop at some of the best snorkeling spots around the island. During these stops, you'll strap on your mask and hop in the water where you can marvel at a vast array of colorful reef fish. These include parrotfish, angelfish, lionfish, butterflyfish, and many more. You also might spot sea turtles and eagle rays. At the end of the tour, you'll return to the island and your hotel.