10 Good Reasons To Visit Guatemala

1.  Perfect destination for outdoor lovers

Guatemala has a diverse range of activities for all to enjoy.  You can relax on a beach, go on a food tour, hike up one of the many active volcanos, take part in an ecological tour of walking the hanging bridges and horseback riding, and for thrill-seekers you can embark on an adrenaline-induced adventure of flying through the jungle by a zip lining.

Woke up at 3am to hike up Indian Nose
Woke up at 3am to hike up Indian Nose at Lake Atitlan

2.  Full of friendly locals

Guatemalans are one of the friendliest and warmest people.  While walking around Antigua city, I was often greeted with a smile and a “welcome to my country” nod.  They were always ready to help when I ask for directions.  Staffs in restaurants would talk to you like a friend and give you great food recommendations.  Shopkeepers don’t pressure you to buy, welcome you to freely browse around, and even if you walk out emptied-handed they still wish you a wonderful day.

The owners of this tiny restaurant which I loved going to for its lunch.
The owners of this tiny restaurant I loved going to for lunch.

Delicious homestyle cooking
Delicious homestyle cooking
Set lunch with tortilla and horchata
Set lunch with tortilla and horchata.  I asked for a smaller portion because it was my second lunch…

3.  Mouth-watering food

Antigua boasts some of Central America’s best cuisines.  I just couldn’t get enough of the warm tortillas, tasty guacamole, and frijoles con arroz (rice and beans) – I wouldn’t mind eating these Guatemalan staple food everyday.  You would never go hungry.  There are plenty of vendors selling cerviche, enchiladas, chuchitos, cold refreshing drinks, and exotic tropical fruits.  There are many great local restaurants and cafes, as well as many international cuisines that are popping up in Antigua, to choose from.

fruit vendors
fruit vendors

empanadas
empanadas
favorite snack
favorite snack

fresh fruit juice stands
fresh fruit juice to quench your thirst on a hot sunny day

lunch buffet
lunch buffet

4.  Perfect place to study Spanish

Guatemala is one of the best Latin American countries to study Spanish. Not only because you get the best bang for your buck, there are many reputable schools to choose from.

Many Spanish school in San Pedro La Laguna
Many Spanish schools in San Pedro La Laguna
Spanish Academy Antiguena's outdoor classroom.
Spanish Academy Antiguena’s outdoor classroom.

5.  Pleasantly affordable

In Antigua, you can get a standard meal eating at local restaurants for $3 to $5, nice dinners for $5-$10.  Fine dining at one of the many restaurants for as little as $20.  A bed in a hostel dorm is less than $10 (less than that outside of Antigua), a private room at a decent guesthouse for around $20, and stay at a nice hotel from $35 a night.

 

6.  Many budget-friendly health and wellness offerings

People go to enjoy the many affordable yoga retreats they have around the country.  San Marcos La Laguna, a quiet town on Lake Atitlan is a mecca for all things spiritual and holistic – with yoga, meditation, reiki and massage centers.

7.  Great coffee

Some of the world’s high quality and most distinctive coffees are produced in the highlands of Guatemala.  Even as a tea drinker, I drank a cup a day when I was there.  Join a coffee tour to learn about all the efforts that go into one cup of coffee.

Best coffee in town at Fernando's.
Best coffee in town at Fernando’s.
Inside Fernando's
Inside Fernando’s
Another one of my favorite cafes - Café Barrista
Another one of my favorite cafes – Café Barrista

8.  One of the most beautiful lakes in the world

The beauty of Lake Atitlan and the colorful Mayan villages that surround it drew my curiosity to this country.  Hop on a boat and explore the seven lake villages.  You will enjoy the charm of each community.  No matter where you go, green mountains and San Pedro Volcano are right before your eyes.

View of Atitlan Lake from San Pedro village
View of Atitlan Lake from San Pedro village
View of the lake from San Marcos
View of the lake from San Marcos
Lake Atitlan - the deepest lake in Central America
Lake Atitlan – the deepest lake in Central America
boat ride to other lake villages
boat ride to other lake villages
San Pedro village
San Pedro village
San Pedro market
San Pedro market

Lake Atitlan is a must on your itinerary.

9.  Colonial Antigua

Get ready to be intrigued by the beauty and the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site – the many historic buildings, the Santiago Cathedral, the old ruins of colonial churches, the Spanish architectural houses, the outdoor markets and the street venders.  Enjoy a nice stroll in the charming cobblestone streets.

5a Avenida Norte - my favorite street
5a Avenida Norte – my favorite street
On the weekend, a few blocks on 5a Avenida becomes a passenger-only area. Great to stroll around at night.
On the weekend, a few blocks on 5a Avenida becomes a passenger-only area. Great to stroll around at night.
Night view of the volcano
Night view with a backdrop of Volcano Agua
The Old Capital Building in Antigua
Antigua Cathedral
One of the colonial buildings affected by earthquake
Plenty of souvenirs
Plenty of souvenirs

colorful buildings

chicken bus
chicken bus

marathon in Antigua city
marathon in Antigua city

10.  It is safer than you think

I was surprised by the reaction from some people when I told them I was going to Guatemala.  Yes, I have read about the high crime rate in Guatemala City and the highway kidnaps and robberies, but no one should let that stop them from going.  There are crazy things happening in metropolis like NYC and Chicago everyday.

Obviously, I always kept my guard up and practiced general safe travel behavior, but I never felt menaced by anyone during my 4 weeks there.

Go see Guatemala! You won’t run out of things to do in this gorgeous and culturally-rich country.  I won’t think twice about going back again in the near future.

Wherever you go, the volcano follows you....
Wherever you go, the volcano follows you….
view of Antigua city from Cerro de la Cruz
view of Antigua city from Cerro de la Cruz
Where the locals go to wash their clothes
Where the locals go to wash their clothes
Trying to sell to customers inside a restaurant

Author: Pearl

I have always loved traveling but did not venture out on my own until I was in my mid-20s. After my first solo adventure to Vietnam, I have fallen in love with the freedom and exhilaration of traveling alone.

I would like to use this blog to document my travels and record memorable stories I do not want to forget. It will be a platform to share useful information and hear about others’ experiences and thoughts, not necessarily about travels but also on life in general.

Live a simple and meaningful life, enjoy learning along the way, travel the world and explore the unknown!

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