Guatemala has Central America’s biggest population, the largest city –Guatemala City, and the highest peak (Volcan Tajumulco). Tropical rain forests lie to the north of this mountainous country, and there are cool highlands in the center. Guatemala city is famous for its ancient ruins, lively fiestas, and marimba music, which is played on an instrument like a xylophone. About half of the people are descended from the ancient Mayans and are farmers. The other Guatemalans are called ladinos (a mix of Native American and Spanish). The ladinos control the government and the economy today.
Most people live in the southern highlands where the chief crop; coffee is grown. Agriculture is the main source of income and many farms lie in the lowland areas facing the Pacific Ocean. A mild climate, fertile soil, food processing, fruit exportation, and a booming tourism industry of this progressive city contribute greatly to the economy of the entire nation.
When To Go:
The peak season runs from December until March, agreeing with the winter months in most northern nations. All through this season, and particularly around the Christmas and Easter occasions, hotels may get busy so it is much better to book in advance particularly in the more prominent vacation spots.
The ideal time to visit is in the months of December and January, when the vegetation is lush from the light rainfall and the sky is clear. If you want to avoid the crowds, plan your holiday during the so called shoulder months, which commonly occurs during the end or the start of the rainy season. On the coastal sides it can be humid, but in the city it is common to experience rainfall even in the middle of summer. The mountainous or the highland regions have generally cold climate especially in the early morning and at night. A city that is mostly dominated by the Roman Catholic faith, schedule your vacations on church related occasions (Christmas, Easter, and All Saints Day) to have a relaxing, colorful, festive and worry free holiday adventure in the city.
Enumerated below are the top
things to do
and attractions to see in Guatemala City.
Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena
Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena
is an excellent museum for domestic and foreign visitors and it is interesting to know about the artisanal textiles of Guatemala, full of color and meaning. Its gardens and space are in harmony with the museum that offers a selection of the great treasures of traditional Guatemalan clothing. If you want to understand the origin of the colorful costumes, this is the main place to go and learn. The impeccable museum is located in Zone 10 of the city inside the Universidad Francisco Marroquín. It has a complete and well-structured sample of the indigenous dress from pre-Columbian times up to the present.
It can be observed that the building was designed with the express purpose of being a museum to protect the ancient Guatemalan textiles and designs that are heavily influenced by Mayan and Spanish traditions. It presents a scientific script and an excellent layout. The collection of costumes exposed is a cultural wonder and like a journey into Guatemala’s past. You can enjoy your visit to this unique museum. The temporary and permanent exhibitions are also great and you can spend at least three hours to see all of the indigenous and cultural expressions of creativity from the people of Guatemala. The museum is well organized, bright, and with explanations in Spanish and English. It starts from what was the dress of the Mayan tribes, going to the influences brought by the Europeans, and then end with how many natives of Guatemala is wearing today.
Mundo Petapa Irtra
Mundo Petapa Irtra
is an amusement park that is easily accessible from the zone 12 of Guatemala City. It has a small zoo, green areas, amusement park rides, and restaurants. It’s worth having a good day to spend here with your children. This park is well designed and has good rides, for both young and the oldest member of the family. It also features a fairly complete zoo, but be extra careful when you pass underneath the monkey cage because they are quite naughty.
The world of dinosaurs is definitely a different attraction and a good choice for a family afternoon tour. The cafes have lots of dining options and affordable snacks, the zoo, roller coaster rides and the pools are a major plus. The complex is well maintained and very neat.
The World IRTRA Petapa is the most varied attractions in Guatemala City. There are rides and attractions ranging from amusement rides for young children as well as big rides for teens and adults. It also has two pools, one for adults and one for children, plus a small zoo that has a variety of tame animals who are in good health. There is a cooking area with outdoor tables at no cost. Weekends tend to be full, it is best to arrive early to avoid the lo0ng lines at the entrance.
Zoologico Nacional La Aurora
It is a nice little zoo that is well kept and presents a beautiful harmony with its verdant green landscape. The
Zoologico Nacional La Aurora
can be found in the center of the city of Guatemala. In this zoo you will see how the animals are properly cared for, dine in one of the restaurants, find things to eat and drink while sitting along the benches to enjoy or watch the locals wearing authentic costumes. The zoo is not crowded with animals, but even if they are few they are all well accommodated. They look very well fed, and the enclosures are often very spacious.
You can stroll all around while enjoying the greenery around you and while you observe the animals. It’s all very well maintained, there are plenty of seating areas. It is also possible to spend a whole day here and not get bored because of the variety of animals and activities you can do within its premises. Food stalls are plentiful and there are also clean toilets. Sunday is the time when the crowds come in large number. Be sure to arrive early or be prepared for long queues at the checkout area.
Museo Popol Vuh
Do not miss a visit to the
Museo Popol Vuh
especially the room in the basement depicting the conquest of Guatemala as seen by the Indians of Mexico. It is not very big but it has lots of interesting exhibits with good explanations and presentation of the Mayan history and a chronological arrangement of its artifacts collection. With one ticket you will see 3 great museums all located in the same building, they all deserve a visit.
It is beautiful and there are parts that exhibit high historical value. It is allowed to take photographs. The huge collection of jars, vases, urns, sculptures, and all of the archaeological pieces are shown and properly explained by its attached markers and captions, it is truly interesting though a bit monotonous over time. The museum is located almost next door to the Museum Ixchel, a visit of both adjacent attractions is highly recommended.
is one of the most beautiful churches in Guatemala with an amazing history. Try to hear the Holy Mass that is always celebrated at 12:00 pm, it is short and concise. It is a beautiful colonial relic that still stands in good condition. It is common to see its faithful devotees asking and praying for favors from the statue of San Judas Tadeo and light candles of all kinds and colors.
It also has a very good collection of colonial baroque painting artwork collections that are proudly displayed on its walls. The sober neoclassical architecture contrasts sharply with the wooden and Baroque altars, these last items were brought from the original church in Antigua, Guatemala. Its dome is also visible from outside the Centro Historico.
Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias – Teatro Nacional
Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias
Nacional is a majestic theater with great architecture. Worth to visit the center and see the Big hall, theater and the chamber theater outdoors. Every Thursday and Saturday nights there are cultural activities. There is sufficient parking and the theater is preserved and maintained since its creation. This place is beautiful, an icon of the city of Guatemala, but not really a tourist attraction.
There is no entrance fee and no guides can be seen but you will be welcomed by its friendly staff and discuss what rooms are allowed to be visited. If you go and watch a play, you will be allowed to see an exhibition at the art school, otherwise it will be closed and open only for students. It’s a beautiful building to take pictures with, for lovers of architecture, and to learn about the legacy of the great master Efrain Recinos.
Edificio de Correos Central
Edificio de Correos Central
building is very well preserved and has been standing since the 19th century. Inside there is a museum, working offices, and postal service. Exposure is very diverse and provides insight into the development of postal services in Guatemala. They have a collection of mailboxes, safes and stamps that deserves to be seen and appreciated. The exterior view of the building has its broad appeal. It is located in the historic center of the city and has a manicured look. Its most significant element is a beautiful high arch crossing the street side by side.
If you will be in the center of Guatemala City and you are interested in the history of communications, you must visit this building. It’s not only an architectural beauty, but has numerous and very valuable antiques fit for history lovers.
During the Easter or Holy Week season, the Post Office building is the mandatory step for most of the processions. It is an excellent place to observe the passage of the most impressive processions of Holy Week. It is a handy place near the Cathedral and other attractions of the historic center of Guatemala City.
Metropolitan Cathedral (Central Guatemala Cathedral)
Central Guatemala Cathedral
is the central point of the Catholic faith in Guatemala. It is highly recommended to visit this old church on Sundays from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. The cathedral is a neo-classical nineteenth-century monument and has withstood several earthquakes. It has a very well put together museum which reveals the Guatemalan and Spanish religious art in its various branches, painting, jewelry, etc.
The Holy Church Cathedral is a must visit for its history, its artistic treasures and its meaning for the Guatemalan people that has over 200 years of religious history. Architecturally it is really exceptional and spiritually it is a good reference mark for all the people of Guatemala.
The “Relief Map” of Guatemala is a tourist attraction and one of the must see places when in Guatemala City. This is exclusive to the nation of Guatemala only because there is none like this in other countries in the world. It is located in the “Racetrack North” zone 2 of the capital and is easily accessible. Tourists can enjoy a tranquil atmosphere in the surrounding landscape. The capital municipality provides protection and security to make this promenade area safe to walk and explore especially at night. It shows every detail of every Guatemalan corner and city. It shows every river, mountain and exact details of the country. The nicest part is the one showing the mountainous portions of the country. Next to the box office there is an interesting little exhibition on the evolution of the urban layout of the city, complete with photographic support.
Do not let this heritage get crossed out in your itinerary about Guatemala city. Visitors can take a Sunday here to have exercise and at the same time learn some national history. A suggested route could be; walking from Simeon Cañas Avenue and see: – The Relief Map and The Hippodrome North (another historical place of recreation of Guatemalans). Then walk to the South to Sixth Avenue (this as about 200 meters). – Walk around the Sixth Avenue to the historic center – Visit the National Palace – The Metropolitan Cathedral – The Central Park. And from the center one can get almost anywhere in the city by bus or walking.
is an imposing building that stands above the old town square of Guatemala built in historic and eclectic style. A visit here is a must and the interior of this structure is also remarkable. The entrance fee is quite high for a tour of a government building. The building is well maintained and perfectly preserved with its polished floors and despite many centuries of existence is still in very good condition. There are remarkable frescoes to consider like the works of Alfredo Gálvez with indigenous motifs and motif conquest over two steps. Its construction reflects the majesty of Central America in the earlier times. The staff always holds regular tours and they are very knowledgeable, you can visit rooms and stunning gardens, learn a lot about history, and spend some time at the Peace Memorial.
It is an excellent place to visit in Guatemala City, built by one of the most famous dictator of the country and has now completed its 70 years of opening. The building contains mixed architectural styles, large balconies, windows, patios and gardens, is a jewel of architecture and shows the absolute power of its former rulers. It now houses permanent and temporary collections (some very interesting). You can combine a visit here with a tour of the historic center of the city with a tour of the Metropolitan Cathedral which is located across the main square, there is also the Archdiocesan Museum, though small has a nice collection of religious objects, located in the Antiguo Colegio de Infantes the oldest operating museum in Guatemala that was founded in 1781.
Avenida La Reforma
Avenida La Reforma
or the Reforma Avenue as its name suggests, is an avenue that stretches between areas 9, 10, 13 and 14 a sector of the upper middle class in one of the touristy parts of Guatemala. It has a central ridge or flowerbed in which there are several sculptures and well maintained gardens.
One of the interesting highlights of this famous avenue is that every Sunday from 9:00 to 14:00 pm this avenue gets closed to 4 wheeled-vehicles to make way for a weekly physical activity called “steps and Pedals “in which Guatemalans spend their time walking, running, biking, or just taking any healthy physical activity, or exercising their pets by strolling along the 5km long avenue.
This road has many food stalls and shops offering sports apparel that are appropriately placed in every corner. There are items for pets, grooming centers for pets, and other options. It is often used for sporting events such as marathons and races. The end part is attached to the Avenue of the Americas through the landmark Obelisk and if you combine the two together you can make an extension of 10km more of avenues and shops to explore in Guatemala City.