A Tourist’s Guide to Traveling to Guatemala

When I told our friends and family that we were planning a destination wedding in Guatemala, we received a lot of questions. We understood the hesitancy and I gathered as much practical information as I could. If you’ve ever considered a vacation to Guatemala, but was feeling a bit overwhelmed, here’s an easy guide filled with all that you’ll need to know before traveling!

When searching for airfare, you’re going to want to fly into Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora in Guatemala City. Regardless of where your destination is after you land, make sure you pre-plan your transportation. There are airport taxis once you grab your bags and exit the airport. Guatemala City has two kinds of taxis: white and yellow. Both are perfectly safe, but the yellow ones are safer.

Public transportation is not recommended for foreign travelers. It’s also recommended that you do not take taxis off the street. Ask your hotel or the restaurant you are visiting to call you a taxi. One of the most trusted taxi companies by locals is Taxi Amarillo Express. Uber is also available and fairly safe to take. In addition, if you’re in Guatemala City, don’t just walk out of your hotel. Guatemala City is divided into zones and some are safer than others. It’s very easy to accidentally roam into an unsafe zone. It’s recommended to take a taxi or an Uber if you have to go somewhere. Within Antigua, it’s much safer to walk around outside your hotel.

If your final destination is Antigua, there are tons of options. A lot of hotels will run shuttles, but you can also book shared or private shuttles through travel agencies. And as mentioned above, there’s always Uber! The distance from Guatemala City to Antigua is about 40 km and takes about 60 minutes when there’s no traffic. If you arrive during rush hour, it can take up to 3 hours, as traffic in Guatemala City is quite bad. So be prepared!

Guatemala uses the Quetzal (Q). The conversion rate is roughly $1 USD to 7.5 Quetzales. Cash is king in Guatemala, although carrying too much of it is not recommended. Almost all hotels, restaurants, and stores inside malls will accept credit cards.

The best souvenir shopping can be found in Antigua, where the cobblestone streets are teeming with stores selling local textiles and handicrafts. The table-runners and tablecloths are some of the most colorful works of art that I’ve ever seen.

While the weather in Guatemala is beautiful all year around, it can get a bit warm during the days and cool down at night. Guatemala City is more temperate, as it is surrounded by mountains. The further north you go, the hotter it gets. March and April are the hottest months, with the rainy season running from May to October. November through March offer some of the best weather.

Roaming is expensive and places with free WiFi are sparse in Guatemala. For most travelers, it’s recommended to buy a local SIM card or a local prepaid phone. Verizon users can use daily TravelPasses and TMobile users can also purchase International Passes daily.

And lastly, if you’re looking for someone else to do all the planning for you, below are some trusted travel agencies in Guatemala:

Antigua Tours
Antigua Tours offers shuttles to/from Antigua as well as tours to popular destinations like Lake Atitlán, Tikal, and Pacaya.

Guatemalan Adventure
Guatemalan Adventure offers private shuttles from Guatemala City or Antigua to a host of attractions like Lake Atitlán, Tikal, Chichicastenango, Huehuetenango, and Quetzaltenango

Adventure Life
Adventure Life offers tours to popular destinations like Lake Atitlán and Tikal as well as multi-day itineraries for wider Guatemala.

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