Best Things to do in Guatemala City

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Guatemala city you have come to the right place. As someone who grew up there and still visits at least twice a year since moving to the US 15 years ago, I can confidently say that Guatemala City is a hidden gem. The capital city of Guatemala is often overlooked by tourists in favor of more popular destinations such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Tikal. However, visiting Guatemala City is one of the best things to do in Guatemala. I believe that Guatemala City is underrated and deserves more attention from travelers and needs to be on your Guatemala itinerary!

Best things to do in Guatemala City
Best things to do in Guatemala City

Why Guatemala City is Worth Visiting

Guatemala City is the cultural and economic capital of Guatemala, and it has a rich history and culture that is worth exploring. The city has a fascinating mix of old and new, with ancient Mayan ruins and colonial-era buildings alongside modern shopping malls and trendy neighborhoods. From the stunning National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to the vibrant street art in the Cuatro Grados Norte neighborhood, there is no shortage of cultural attractions to explore in Guatemala City.

Centro Historico
Centro Historico

Visiting Guatemala City also offers a more authentic and immersive travel experience than some of the more touristy destinations in Guatemala. While places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan are undeniably beautiful, they are also heavily populated by tourists, which can make it difficult to truly experience the local culture. In contrast, Guatemala City offers a more authentic glimpse into the everyday lives of Guatemalans, from the bustling Central Market to the vibrant Zona Viva nightlife district. And if you’re wondering is Guatemala City safe? I’ve got good news for you! Although Guatemala City often gets a bad rap the truth is that as long as you use your common sense and follow some basic travel safety precautions Guatemala City is relatively safe destination. 

Brief History of Guatemala City

Guatemala City, also known as Ciudad de Guatemala, is the capital and largest city of Guatemala. The city is located in the southern part of the country and is situated in a valley surrounded by volcanoes.

The history of Guatemala City dates back to the pre-Columbian era when the area was inhabited by the Maya civilization. The city was founded by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado in 1524, following the defeat of the Maya city of K’iche’. Alvarado established the city on the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Kaminaljuyu, which had been abandoned for several centuries.

During the colonial period, Guatemala City became an important center of trade and commerce. The city was also the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Capitanía General de Guatemala include present day Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and the Mexican State of Chiapas. In the 18th century, the city suffered from several earthquakes, including a major earthquake in 1773 that destroyed much of the city.

After Guatemala gained independence from Spain in 1821, Guatemala City became the capital of the newly independent country. The city experienced significant growth during the 19th and 20th centuries, and many of its historic buildings and landmarks were built during this time.

Today, Guatemala City is a bustling metropolis with a population of over 2 million people. The city is home to many museums, historic sites, and cultural attractions, including the National Palace, the Cathedral of Guatemala City, and the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Despite its troubled past, Guatemala City is a vibrant and dynamic city that continues to grow and evolve.

Best Things to do in Guatemala City

Guatemala City, also known as “Guate” by the locals, is a vibrant and dynamic city with a rich cultural heritage. Located in the heart of Central America, this beautiful city is a treasure trove of history, art, and culture. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, there is something for everyone in Guatemala City. In this article, I will share with you some of the best things to do in Guatemala City.

Best things to do in Guatemala City
The National Palace, Guatemala City

Exploring the Iconic Landmarks of Guatemala City’s Historic Center

The Historical Center (Centro Historic) or downtown Guatemala City is a must-visit destination for history buffs. It is home to many historical landmarks, museums, and colonial-era. You can walk around on your own or you can take a walking tour of Guatemala City which mainly cover the historic Downton area. Here are some of the most important historical buildings worth visiting:

  • Plaza de la Constitución: Take a walk around the beautiful Parque Central or Plaza de la Constitución, which is the main square of the city. One of the most popular activities in the plaza is feeding the pigeons. It is a tradition for locals and visitors alike to buy corn kernels from street vendors and feed the hundreds of pigeons that gather in the plaza. Another attraction is the fountain in the center of the plaza, which was built in 1940 and is surrounded by benches where you can sit and relax while admiring the water display. The plaza is a bustling hub of activity with street vendors selling souvenirs and snacks, as well as musicians and performers providing entertainment.
    • Address: 6 calle between 6 avenida and 7 avenida zona 1.
    • Hours: outdoor plaza open 24hrs every day.
Traveling to Guatemala in shoulder season.
Guatemala City’s Plaza de la Constitucion with the Metropolitan Cathedral in the background.
  • La Catedral Metropolitana. An iconic landmark in the Historical Center is the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is one of the oldest and largest cathedrals in Central America. The construction of the Cathedral of Santiago de Guatemala began on the day of Saint James the Apostle, July 25, 1782, and it inaugurated the neoclassical architectural style in the Ermita Valley. It was finally completed and founded on March 16, 1815. The cathedral is one of the most valuable historical and artistic buildings in modern Guatemala because it houses much of the religious art history of the country, some of it dating back to 1524.
    • Address: 7 Avenida between 6 calle and 7 calle, zona 1
    • Hours of operation: Monday to Sunday: 7am to 6pm.
  • El Palacio Nacional de la Cultura. The Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, which was once the Presidential Palace and now serves as a cultural center and museum. The Palace is a beautiful colonial-era building that was built in the 1930s. The neoclassical-style building houses the offices of the President of Guatemala and other important government officials. The impressive architecture and grandeur of the building make it a popular tourist attraction, with guided tours available to the public. Visitors can explore the ornate interiors adorned with murals and artwork depicting Guatemala’s history and culture. The Palace also boasts beautiful gardens and courtyards, which offer a peaceful escape from the bustling city streets.
    • Address: 6ta calle between 6 Avenida and 7 Avenida zona 1.
    • Hours of operation for the museum: Monday to Friday: 8am to 2pm. Temporarily out of service on Saturdays and Sundays Tours are subject to ceremonial activities.
    • Entrance: Nationals: free, foreigners: Q. 40.00 (approx. $5.5 USD)
The best things to do in Guatemala City
The National Palace in Guatemala City
  • The Mercado Central or Central Market. The Mercado Central is a vibrant and bustling market located in the heart of Guatemala City. The market is known for its fresh produce, meat, and seafood, as well as its handmade textiles and artisanal goods. The Mercado de Aresanias (Craft Market) is located in the first floor with over 200 craft stalls. It is a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Guatemala City.
    • Address: 9 avenida and 8 calle zona 1.
    • Hours of operation: Every day from 8am to 6pm
    • Entrance to the market is free.
  • El Pasaje Aycinena. This is one of the oldest buildings in Guatemala city. Designed in a  neoclassical style, it was built for commercial purposes in the late 19th century. El Pasaje Aycinena housed prestigious shops and was an extension of the Portal del Comercio. It was designed by Luis Monzón and it is one of the oldest buildings in the historic center of Guatemala City. 
    • Address: the entrance is on 9a calle between 5 avenida and 7 avenida zone 1.

El Pasaje Aycinena in Guatemala City's Historic CenterEl Pasaje Aycinena in Guatemala City’s Historic Center

Learn All About the Mayan Civilization at the Popol Vuh Museum

The Popol Vuh Museum is a must-see attraction if you are interested in the ancient Mayan civilization. The museum houses one of the largest collections of Mayan artifacts in the world, with over 7,000 objects on display. The exhibits are organized thematically, providing a comprehensive overview of the Mayan culture, including their religious beliefs, political structures, and daily life. Visitors can explore the impressive collection of pottery, textiles, and jewelry, and see a replica of a Mayan temple, which gives a glimpse into the architectural marvels of this ancient civilization.

Museo Popol Vuh
Simon Burchell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re interested in delving deeper into the history and culture of Guatemala, the Popol Vuh Museum is definitely a must. The museum is located on the beautiful campus of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin, and admission is very affordable. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events, such as lectures and workshops, which offer visitors an opportunity to engage with the culture more deeply. 

Important information

  • Address: Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Calle Manuel F. Ayau (6 Calle final), zona 10
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, from 9am. to 5pm. Saturdays, from 9am. to 1pm. Sundays, closed.
  • Entrance price: Adults Q45 ($6 US), Students with ID Q25  (approx. $3.5 US), Children aged 2 to 12 Q 5 (approx. $2 US), combo Museo Ixchel-Popol Vuh Q70.00 (approx. $9 USD)

Explore the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing

Located right next to the Popol Vuh museum in the campus of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing is a real hidden gem. I studied at this University and have gone to this museum countless times and I still love taking friends whenever they visit Guatemala City. The museum  celebrates the art and traditions of the Mayan culture through a stunning collection of textiles and clothing made using various techniques. Guatemalan textiles are considered some of the most beautiful in the world and are handcrafted by skilled artisans using traditional techniques that have been passed down for generations. 

Wearing traditional, hand ­woven Mayan garments at the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena.
Wearing traditional, hand ­woven Mayan garments at the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt-­Diaz, all rights reserved.

A guided tour is highly recommended so you can learn about the history, symbolism and cultural significance of the textiles. The vibrant colors and intricate designs are often symbolic, representing different aspects of Mayan cosmology, mythology, and the natural world.

The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events, such as traditional Mayan textile workshops, offering visitors an opportunity to engage more deeply with the culture. It is a true gem of the city and a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

Important information

  • Address: Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Calle Manuel F. Ayau (6 Calle final), zona 10
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Saturday 9am to 1pm. Closed on Sundays.
  • Entrance price: Adults Q45.00 (approx. $6 USD), children under 12 Q15.00 (approx. $2 USD), combo Museo Ixchel-Popol Vuh Q70.00 (approx. $9 USD)
  • Guided tour: in English is Q125 (approx. $16 USD) per person (*minimum of 4 people). Schedule your guided visit here > [email protected]

Uncover the Ancient Treasures of Guatemala’s National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

The National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is an incredible place to explore the history and culture of Guatemala. As soon as you step inside the museum, you are transported back in time, and the exhibits offer a glimpse into the lives of the ancient Mayan people. The collection of artifacts is extensive and includes everything from intricate pottery and beautiful textiles to stunning sculptures and intricate jewelry.

Museo de Arqueologia y Etnologia, Guatemala City
BBCLCD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Mayan civilization was known for its impressive architectural achievements, complex writing system, and advanced understanding of mathematics and astronomy. At the museum, you will be able to see some of the evidence of these achievements firsthand. The exhibits are informative and well-curated, making it easy to understand the significance of each artifact. Visiting the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is an unforgettable experience, and you will leave with a newfound appreciation for the rich history and culture of Guatemala.

Important information

  • Address: 7 Avenida and 6 Calle Salón No. 5 Finca La Aurora, zona 13
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday to Frida from 9am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to12pm and from 1:30pm to 4pm. 
  • Entrance price: Nationals Q5, foreigners: Q60 (approx. $8 USD)

Step Back in Time: Visiting the Kaminaljuyu Archaeological Site

If you’re interested in history and ancient cultures, you won’t want to miss the Kaminaljuyu Archaeological Site in Guatemala City. This site was home to a thriving Mayan city for over 2,000 years. If you’re visiting any other archeological sites like Tikal, or Iximché or Quirigua this site will not seem anywhere as impressive. Yet these Mayan ruins are the only ones in Guatemala City. Kaminaljuyu is an interesting destination if you have the time, although I would not make it a top priority.

Kaminaljuyu Mayan ruins
Kaminaljuyu Mayan ruins, Photo by xiroro on Flickr. Creative Commons License.

The site is located in the Zona 7 neighborhood of Guatemala City, near Museo Miraflores. The  Kaminaljuyu Archaeological Site is an interesting destination that can give you a glimpse into the Mayan culture and Guatemala City’s ancient history. If you want to make the most out of your visit you can book a tour of Kaminaljuyu which includes pick up at your hotel, a private guide who will share information about this important archaeological site and also includes a visit to the Mercado Central. 

Important information

  • Address: Calzada San Juan and 30 avenida zona 7
  • Hours of operation: Monday through Sunday from 8am to 4pm.
  • Entrance price: nationals Q5, foreigners Q50 (approx. $6.50 USD)

Discover the Secrets of the Maya Civilization at the Miraflores Museum

The Miraflores Museum is the first site museum in Guatemala City and is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Kaminaljuyu, the most successful and prosperous Mayan metropolis in the Guatemala Valley. Its collection includes original archaeological pieces that are over 3,000 years old, showcasing the history of the first inhabitants of what is now Guatemala City. The museum has undergone a renovation that has allowed for the display of more artifacts and the incorporation of interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. It’s a unique and exciting way to learn about the ancient Mayan civilization and about the history of Guatemala city and the Kaminaljuyú archeological site. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Museo Miraflores (@museomiraflores)

Important information

  • Address: 7 calle 21-55 zona 11, Paseo Miraflores
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 7pm. Closed on Mondays.
  • Entrance price: adults $5 USD, children and studies $3 USD, seniors and people with special needs $2. 
  • Guided tours: Tuesday to Sunday at 3pm, price Q30 or $5 USD

A Bird’s Eye View of Guatemala: Visiting the Relief Map

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Guatemala, the Relief Map is a must-visit attraction. Located in the heart of Guatemala City, this scale model of the country is incredibly detailed and accurate. It’s a great way to get a sense of the country’s geography, and you can see everything from the highest peaks to the lowest valleys.

Relief map Guatemala
Relief map Guatemala

The Relief Map of Guatemala, located in Hipodromo del Norte, is a unique modern engineering design in the world. It highlights the varied topography, geographical features, and political division of the country’s 22 departments, which cover 108,889 square kilometers of land. It was built at ascale within a 52-meter square by engineer Francisco Vela in 1905. It also shows the main infrastructure of the time, such as roads, bridges, seaports on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the railway that interconnected them.

The Parque Minerva around it is a nice park to spend some time in. It’s a popular spot for locals to relax and enjoy some fresh air, and there are plenty of benches and shaded areas to sit and take in the scenery. So if you want to see Guatemala from a different perspective, be sure to check out the Relief Map.

Important information

  • Address: Hipódromo del Norte, final Avenida Simeón Cañas zona 2
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Closed on Mondays. 
  • Entrance price: Nationals Q5, foreigners Q25 (approx. $3.50 USD)

Nightlife and Entertainment in Zona Viva

Zona Viva is a vibrant and bustling area in Guatemala City that is popular among locals and tourists alike. It is the perfect place to spend a night out with friends or to celebrate a special occasion. The area is packed with bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that cater to all tastes and budgets as well as some of my favorite shopping malls like Plaza Fontabella and Oakland Mall. Whether you are in the mood for a casual night out or a more upscale experience, you are sure to find something that suits your preferences.

Dining at Oakland Mall
Dining at Oakland Mall

The atmosphere in Zona Viva is electric, and the energy of the crowds is contagious. From live music to DJ sets, the entertainment options are endless. You can dance the night away, enjoy a delicious meal, or simply people-watch from one of the many outdoor terraces. It is a great place to unwind and have fun, and the memories you make here will last a lifetime.

Important information

  • Address: located in zona 10 of Guatemala City
  • Hours of operation: different restaurants and shopping malls have different hours of operation.

Luxury Shopping and Dining in Guatemala City’s Paseo Cayalá

Paseo Cayala is an exciting addition to Guatemala City. If you’re looking for a modern shopping and entertainment district, this is the perfect place for you. The open-air mall is a great place to shop, dine, and catch a movie. The district’s stunning architecture is also worth admiring, with a mix of modern and colonial styles that make it a beautiful place to walk around.

Paseo Cayalá Guatemala City
Paseo Cayalá Guatemala City

Whether you want to go on a shopping spree or relax with a cup of coffee, Paseo Cayala has something for everyone. The district has quickly become a popular destination in Guatemala City and is definitely worth checking out during your visit.

Paseo Cayalá, Guatemala City
Paseo Cayalá, Guatemala City

Important information

  • Address: Boulevard Rafael Landívar 10-05 zona 16
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Sunday 8am to 8pm. Restaurants and bars and stores have their schedule with some bars closing.
  • Parking: 0 to 4 hours Q15 (approx. $2)

A Hidden Gem in Guatemala City: Discover the Plaza España (Plazuela España)

The Plaza España is located at the intersection of Montúfar Street and 7th Avenue in Guatemala City. This square contains elements that revolve around the central theme of the discovery of America and historic moments of Guatemala. That’s why you’ll find monuments dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, King Carlos V, and Bernal Díaz del Castillo in the landscaped areas. This is also why the square was named Plaza España. The famous Carlos III Fountain was placed in this square, which originally stood in the Plaza de la Constitución in the Historic Center.

Best things to do in Guatemala City
Plaza España, Gautemala City

To celebrate the opening of the square in 1933, the Spanish government donated four benches. These benches have intricate details depicting the discovery of America and are covered with talavera tiles from the Reina de Toledo in Spain. They are placed in the intermediate gardens of the fountain. It’s one of my favorite spots in Guatemala city filled with flowers and around the beautiful fountain surrounded by the intricately detailed tiled benches. Strolling through the small plaza and taking a few pictures takes just a few minutes so be sure to include it in your plans when visiting Guatemala City.

Plaza de España in Guatemala City
Plaza de España in Guatemala City

Important information

  • Address: Calle Montúfar y 7 Avenida zona 9
  • Hours: Open 24 hrs

A Journey Through Guatemala’s Railroad History: Exploring the Railway Museum

The Railway Museum is a must-visit attraction in Guatemala City for anyone interested in the history of trains and railways. You can see antique trains and locomotives and learn about the important role they played in the development of Guatemala’s transportation system. The museum is housed in a former railway station, adding to the historical ambiance of the exhibits. A tour of the museum is an excellent opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the railway system in Guatemala and the impact it had on the country’s economy and infrastructure.

Railway Museum, Guatemala City
Nils Öberg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Important information

  • Address: 9 Avenida 18-03 zona 1 
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm. Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm.
  • Entrance price: Children up to 12 years old: Q1 (approx. $0.15 USD), adults: Q2(approx. $0.30 USD) , seniors (65 years old) and persons with disabilities: free of charge.

Hip and Happening: Explore the Cuatro Grados Norte Neighborhood

Cuatro Grados Norte is a hip and lively neighborhood in Guatemala City that is worth a visit. The area is known for its artistic vibes, trendy cafes, and boutique shops. Taking a stroll around the neighborhood is a fun activity, as you can enjoy the colorful street art and unique architecture. It is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon, sipping coffee in a charming cafe, or browsing through the trendy shops.

You can also take a graffiti walking tour which is a great way to check out the best street art, you will also learn about the graffiti language and even get to use spray paint to create your own graffiti art to take home.

Cuatro Grados Norte in Guatemala City

Cuatro Grados Norte in Guatemala CityYou can also enjoy the street art and have lunch or dinner in one of the many restaurants. If you do happen to visit stop by Gourmelt, a small trendy restaurant with the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Guatemala. While you’re there say hi to my brother, who happens to be the owner. Yeah, maybe I’m a little biased. But if grilled cheese is not your thing there are lots of other fantastic restaurants there. Get the best artisanal pizza in the city at L’Apero or try some traditional Guatemala dishes at Mercado 24, where ingredients are fresh and sourced from the local market. 

Best things to do in Guatemala City
Cuatro Grados Norte in Guatemala City

Important information

  • Address: Zone 4, Guatemala City
  • Hours: always open but each restaurant their own schedule.

A Cultural Landmark in Guatemala City: Visiting the Miguel Angel Asturias National Theater

The Miguel Angel Asturias National Theater is a cultural gem in Guatemala City. Also known as the Miguel Ángel Asturias Cultural Center, was designed by the famous Guatemalan architect and artist Efraín Recinos. When it opened in 1978, the theater stood out as a symbol of Guatemalan architecture at a time when most architects in the country were following European or American models. Recinos, who was born in Guatemala, believed in creating a distinct architectural identity for his country by drawing inspiration from its rich history as a center of Maya civilization.

Teatro Nacional at the Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias in Guatemala City.
Teatro Nacional at the Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias in Guatemala City. Photo: Paula Bendfeldt­-Diaz, all rights reserved.

The theater’s main building is an intricate geometric structure with a unique sloping facade adorned with mosaic tiles in multicolored bands. The concrete surfaces are designed to resemble walkways, mezzanine spaces, and portals inspired by Maya architecture and naval designs. The building’s shape is meant to look like an abstract jaguar sitting regally with its paws stretched out in front.

Important information

  • Address: 24 calle 3-81 zona 1, Ciudad de Guatemala
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Closed on Saturday and Sunday. 
  • Entrance to the parking lot gardens, outdoor amphitheater and lobby is free. Entrance to the theater only possible when attending events there.

Traditional Crafts and Souvenirs: Shop at the Mercado de Artesanias

If you’re looking for an authentic shopping experience in Guatemala City, the Mercado de Artesanias is the perfect destination. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, with a wide range of local handicrafts and artisanal goods. From intricately woven textiles to handmade pottery, the market has something for everyone. You can wander through the maze of stalls and browse the colorful displays of goods, soaking up the lively atmosphere and admiring the skill and artistry of the local artisans.

Traditional Guatemalan crafts
Traditional Guatemalan crafts. (Depositphotos)

I have found that the prices here are even better than at the Mercado Central located in the Historic Center. And the Mercado de Artesanias, located near the airport, is cleaner, safer, and nicer to walk around in. You will also find more high quality crafts here, so if you are only visiting one market I would recommend this one!

Important information

  • Address: 6ta calle 10-95 z.13, Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Sunday 9am to 6pm
  • Entrance price: free to enter the market.

A Wild Adventure in the Heart of the City: Visiting Zoo La Aurora

The Zoo La Aurora is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers in Guatemala City. You will get the chance to see a wide range of exotic animals from around the world, including some of the most iconic species of Central America. The zoo is located in the Parque Aurora, which is a beautiful park where you can also enjoy a picnic or take a walk.

Zoo La Aurora feeding the lemurs, Guatemala City
VIP experience at Zoo La Aurora in Guatemala City

Visiting the Zoo La Aurora is a great activity to do with family or friends. You can spend hours exploring the different exhibits and learning about the animals’ habitats and behaviors. It’s also a great way to support conservation efforts and to educate yourself and others about the importance of protecting wildlife.

Important information

  • Address: 5ta calle Interior Finca La Aurora Z 13 Ciudad de Guatemala, 
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 4pm. Closed on Mondays. 
  • Entrance price: entrance fee for adults is Q 45(around $6 USD) and Q25 (around $3.5 USD) for children under 12 and Q23 (around $3 US) for seniors 60 and over . Get your tickets online here.
  • Guided VIP tour with animal interactions: Q125 to Q200 ($16-26 USD) per person depending on the type of animal interaction.

Try delicious Guatemalan food at a gourmet restaurant

Whether you are in the mood to try traditional Guatemalan food or a classic Italian diner, Guatemala City has hundreds of incredible places to eat. Of course, most restaurants are in the more popular tourist areas, like Zona Viva, Cayala, or malls like Plaza Fontabella. But everywhere you go, I guarantee you will feel the warm hospitality of the Guatemalan people. 

Flor de Lis Restaurant in Guatemala City
Flor de Lis Restaurant in Guatemala City

I recommend that when in Rome… indulge in local cuisine. But finding the best restaurants in town can be a bit of a hunt. So let me help you out with some of my favorite Guatemalan restaurants! From traditional Guatemalan food to a delicious fusion of Mayan cuisine and modern gastronomy, here is the best foodie guide to where to eat in Guatemala City.

Note of advice for first-time visitors to Guatemala City:

While there’s no way you’ll cover all the must-see tourist attractions in a day (or two), sticking to one neighborhood keeps things simple and manageable. If it is your first time visiting Guatemala City, the most convenient (and safest) way to see it is by hiring a private car or booking a tour. The city also has Uber available, so you can always call up a driver to take you to a specific area. It’s also a great place to visit with kids. If you’re visiting with family be sure to check out my article on the best things to do in Guatemala City with kids for our favorite kid friendly activities.

Best things to do in Guatemala City
The Parque Central with the Metropolitan Cathedral, Guatemala City

Best Guatemala City Tours

Like I mentioned before the best way to get a feel for Guatemala City and see what it has to offer if you’re only there for a short time is to book a tour of Guatemala City. When it comes to tours you will see there are so many options and it’s sometimes hard to choose the right one. That is why I am including the best Guatemala City tours, from short tours that are ideas if you only have a day in Guatemala to tours that target specific interests and areas there’s a Guatemala City tour for everyone here. I’ve included my personal recommendations (my favorite tours) in this list as well.

Half Day Tour, Guatemala City highlights:

Join a half-day guided tour and discover the treasures of Guatemala City. As you visit historical spots like colonial houses and churches, your expert guide will share captivating stories, making each site come alive. It’s an ideal way to get to know the city, especially for first-time visitors, and the best part? All your transportation is taken care of, so you can relax and soak in the sights without any stress.

Historic and Panoramic View of Guatemala City:

Explore the historic and scenic sides of Guatemala City with a tour that highlights the city’s top museums and the vibrant Mercado de Artesanías. Enjoy a refreshing shopping experience at open-air stalls set amidst beautiful gardens, offering a diverse array of superior crafts and textiles. While this tour doesn’t include Kaminal Juyu, it’s perfect for those visiting other archaeological sites like Tikal. For archaeology enthusiasts, consider pairing this tour with a  day trip to the Mayan site of Iximche, just an hour away. You can read all about the Iximche ruins here.

Guatemala City Quick Afternoon Tour: 

This is the perfect tour for a quick but thorough introduction to Central America’s biggest city. In just three hours, it showcases the historic district’s charm and history as well as a quick overview of other imporant areas like Avenida de Las Americas and La Reforma, Guatemala City’s most important boulevards lined with greenery and monuments. 

Best tours of Guatemala City
The Edificio de Correos in Guatemala City’s Centro Historico.

Guatemala City Personalized Private Tour – My top pick for seeing the best of Guatemala City!

Experience Guatemala City your way with a Personalized Private Tour. Work with a local guide to craft an itinerary that suits your interests, whether it’s a city walk, food exploration, or a shopping spree. This adaptable tour offers both half and full-day options and even day trips to nearby spots like Atitlan or Antigua. With El Adobe as a recommended lunch spot, and convenient pickup from the airport or Antigua, it’s the ideal way to discover the city’s highlights based on your preferences.

Pacaya Volcano at Night and Guatemala City Private Tour – My top pick for thrill seekers!

Embark on an unforgettable day-long adventure with the Pacaya Volcano and Guatemala City Private Tour. Start with a cultural journey through Guatemala City’s historic district, soaking in its rich heritage. Then, gear up for an exhilarating hike up Pacaya Volcano to catch a stunning sunset and glowing lava flows. Offering a moderate challenge, the tour also provides a horseback riding option for a gentler ascent. This tour is an ideal blend of urban exploration and natural wonder, perfect for the adventurous at heart.



Where to Stay in Guatemala City

When it comes to hotels in Guatemala City there are so many different options, but here are some of my favorite Guatemala City hotels:

  • Best luxury hotel: Westin Camino Real – The Westin Camino Real, located in a prestigious area of Guatemala near restaurants and shopping. This elegant hotel has everything you would expect from a Westin hotel from fitness facilities and modern gym to a large heated pool. 
  • Best all suites hotel: Adriatika – Located in one of Guatemala’s most exclusives zones, Zona 14 and only 10 minutes from the airport this hotel has kitchenette in every room from their small junior suite to their family suites that include two separate bedrooms, kitchenette and living room dining area.
  • Best hip hotel: The Good Hotel – This modern and artsy hotel is located in 4 Grados Norte, Guatemala’s hip neighborhood. It’s close to many of restaurants and cafés and the best part is that best part is that every night stay helps a disadvantage child go to school for a week. 
  • Best hotel near the airport: Hostal Villa Toscana – Small and affordable this hotel is located just a short walk away from the airport. The rooms are a bit on the small side but this small hotel makes up for it with a great breakfast and friendly staff. All rooms are private and they have free Wifi and shuttles to the airport.
  • Best hostel: RIO – This Art Deco-themed hostel is located in the lively Cuatro Grados Norte area of Guatemala City. With a nice outdoor terrace, ideal for sunbathing, reading, or socializing, and a covered patio with tables and outlets, perfect for enjoying breakfast or coffee while working on a laptop this hostel is a great affordable option. I like that the shared rooms have large beds with a privacy curtain and that it’s located in the hippest neighborhood in Guatemala near lots of restaurants, coffee shops.


Guatemala City is a fascinating destination that offers something for everyone. From its rich history and culture to its vibrant nightlife and modern shopping districts, this beautiful city has it all. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, you will find plenty of things to do and see in Guatemala City. So pack your bags and get ready to explore this vibrant and dynamic city!

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a vacation planner app on iOS and Android


Other Guatemala Travel Articles

  • The Best Time to visit Guatemala: A Seasonal Guide. In this guide you will not only find when is the best time to visit Guatemala but also recommendations for traveling to Guatemala during any season. Having grown up there and still visiting regularly, I can confidently say that this country is a great destination no matter the time of the year. So even though there are months that have better weather than others Guatemala has a mild weather year around so it’s never a bad time to travel there. 
The Best Time to Visit Guatemala: A Seasonal Guide
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
  • The Best Mayan Ruins to Visit in Guatemala. If you’re planning to visit Guatemala, checking out the Mayan ruins in the region is surely included in your Guatemala itinerary!!  The remains of the once-dominant Mayan cities offer a glimpse into one of the greatest early civilizations, whose technological advancements are still quite impressive to this day. While Tikal is a must-visit, and on everyone’s list of best things to do in Guatemala there are lots of other Mayan sites in Guatemala worth visiting. Most of these Mayan sites are not as well-known and some of them require a bit of an adventure to reach. In some cases you will have these sites all to yourself. 
What is the best time to visit Guatemala?
Tikal, Guatemala
  • The Best Colonial Ruins in Antigua Guatemala. Exploring the colonial ruins of Antigua Guatemala should definitely be at the top of your list of things to do in Antigua. From convents with gorgeous courtyards and crumbled cathedrals to stunning baroque churches this list of the best colonial ruins in Antigua has it all!
Best ruins in Antigua Guatemala, El Carmen Church ruins
El Carmen Church ruins, Antigua Guatemala

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.