This whirlwind itinerary introduces you to the highlights of Guatemala's dry season—from archaeological sites to iconic volcanoes and black-sand beaches in just under a week. First, head to Tikal National Park and walk amid ancient Maya pyramids dating to the eighth century. Then, head to the well-preserved colonial city of Antigua for a tour and scenic hike up nearby Pacaya Volcano before finishing the trip on the stunning Pacific Coast just in time for sea turtle hatching season.


  • See the highlights of Guatemala City on a walking tour
  • Visit the ancient Maya ruins and pyramids of Tikal
  • Stroll the colonial streets of Antigua and summit nearby Pacaya Volcano
  • Relax on the black-sand beaches of Monterrico

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Walking Tour Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Tikal National Park Tikal National Park
Day 3 Transfer to Antigua, Walking Tour Antigua
Day 4 Pacaya Volcano Hike & Picnic, Transfer to Monterrico Monterrico
Day 5 Free Morning in Monterrico, Transfer to Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 6 Depart Guatemala  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Walking Tour

The Plaza de la Constitución in Guatemala City

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel in the capital. After checking in, you'll join a guide for a tour of the city. Depending on your arrival time, you can visit one or more museums, such as the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology and the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing. These are a great primer for the archeology, Indigenous history, and culture you'll experience over the next few days.

You also won't want to miss the Centro Histórico (Historic Center) around the Plaza de la Constitución. Here, you can visit the National Palace of Culture, which houses a museum showcasing Guatemala's history, art, and culture. There are also famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

For a deep dive into Guatemalan cuisine, visit Mercado Central. Here, you can taste many traditional street foods like pepián (a type of chicken stew), tostadas, tamales, ceviche, and shucos (a Guatemalan hot dog). 

Day 2: Transfer to Tikal National Park

Hike up a Maya pyramid

This morning, you'll transfer to the airport for the one-hour flight to Guatemala's Petén region and the lakeside town of Flores. From there, it's another two hours north to Tikal National Park. This ancient Maya archeological site covers 222 square miles (576 sq km) and is part of the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve. Animal inhabitants of the rainforest ecosystem here include jaguars, pumas, spider and howler monkeys, toucans, and parakeets.

After checking in to your hotel, you'll have the afternoon to explore the UNESCO World Heritage archeological site on a guided tour. Dating to around 400 BCE, Tikal was a major economic, political, and military center that reached its heyday during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE). Highlight landmarks you'll see include the Grand Plaza and the Temple of the Great Jaguar (Temple II). If you're feeling adventurous, you can even hike to the top of this 148-foot (45 m) pyramid via a wooden staircase. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 3: Transfer to Antigua, Walking Tour

The Arch of Santa Catalina, in Antigua
In the morning, you'll transfer back to the airport in Flores for the return flight to Guatemala City. Upon arrival, hop in another vehicle for the one-hour ride to Antigua, the most well-preserved colonial city in the country. It was the capital of Guatemala from its founding in 1542 to 1773, when it was abandoned after a devastating earthquake. Some buildings remain in ruins, but others have been restored to their colorful glory.

After checking in to your hotel, embark on an afternoon walking tour of Antigua's cobbled streets. With the backdrop of three looming volcanoes, you'll walk amid the pastel-colored facades of colonial mansions, churches, and convents. Specific highlights include the Main Square, the 16th-century Iglesia de San Francisco, and the 17th-century Arch of Santa Catalina. During the walk, you'll also stop to sample locally produced coffee, ancestral Maya chocolate, and artisanal beer.  
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Pacaya Volcano Hike & Picnic, Transfer to Monterrico

On the way up Pacaya Volcano
This morning a driver will pick you up for the 2.5-hour ride from Antigua to the beach town of Monterrico, on the Pacific Coast. On the way, you'll stop for a scenic hike at the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya Volcano. Out of Guatemala's dozens of volcanoes, this active peak is one of the most famous because it's possible to hike it safely.
From the base of the caldera, your guide will lead you across rugged lava fields that formed after an eruption in 2010. Once at the summit, you'll celebrate with a picnic lunch washed down with fresh juice (or perhaps a Guatemalan beer) as you enjoy panoramic views that include three nearby volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango
After the hike, continue to the fishing village of Monterrico. Known for its volcanic black sand beaches that are a haven for nesting sea turtles, the city is a popular weekend getaway for residents of Guatemala City. 

Day 5: Free Day in Monterrico, Transfer to Guatemala City

Enjoy the volcanic beaches of Monterrico
Today is yours to soak in the sun on the black sands of Monterrico. You can laze in a hammock, lie on the beach, swim—whatever your heart desires. Between September and January, you can visit a sea turtle conservation center and participate in the unforgettable activity of releasing hatchlings into the surf. Be sure to try the area's incredible seafood, including ceviche and fresh fish grilled over fiery coals. At the end of the day, you'll make the 3.5-hour drive back to Guatemala City, where you'll check in to your hotel for your final night in the city.

Day 6: Depart Guatemala

Musicians on the beach in Monterrico
Enjoy one last morning in Guatemala before transferring to the airport for your flight home. Until next time!

More Great Guatemala Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries and learn about the best time of year to visit Guatemala.


Map of Winter in Guatemala: Maya Ruins, Volcanoes & Beaches  - 6 Days
Map of Winter in Guatemala: Maya Ruins, Volcanoes & Beaches - 6 Days