Initially, what I loved about our trip to Guatemala was just how easy it was. Easy to organize and arrange; effortless to travel to from Canada; straightforward in managing the time change (two hours); and upon arrival, uncomplicated travel within this beautiful country. Of course, once there, I loved so much more. In this article, I am going to highlight our 10 day Guatemala itinerary. We walked in old colonial towns and hiked up active and dormant volcanoes. On other days, we explored remote Maya villages and ancient ruins. Along the way, we stayed at some beautiful hotels and ate some delicious food.
This is a country that has it all. If you are looking for breathtaking scenery, adventure, beautiful artisan traditions, and fascinating history and culture, then look no further. This is the place fo you.
10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
My kids were 14, 15 and 17 years old on our trip. I love travelling with these guys. Guatemala was something like their 40th country (we take travel pretty seriously around here) and creating itineraries that satisfy everyone’s interests is no small task! We need exciting activities, active days, slow days, and of course, a fair dose of history and culture because, well, I think that’s important when visiting another country.
I worked with Caroll at Sin Fronteras when I created this itinerary. Sin fronteras is a local travel company, located in Antigua, Guatemala. She was amazing. Together, we discussed different options and, ultimately, we settled on this 10 day Guatemala Itinerary.
For ease of reference, I broke down our 10 day Guatemala itinerary trip into mini adventures based upon location. This way, you can pick and choose what may or may not work for you depending on the length of time that you have to travel in Guatemala. With this structure, you can personalize your own itinerary and make it work for your schedule.
Day 1-4 of our 10 day Guatemala Itinerary
Our first destination on our 10 day Guatemala itinerary was Antigua Guatemala.
Antigua is 35-40 km from Guatemala City and the international airport. It is a beautiful colonial city which is surrounded by lush dormant volcanoes.
Antigua was founded in 1543 by the Spanish. Initially, it was the capital of Guatemala until 1773, when a devastating earthquake struck. Thereafter, Guatemala City became the capital and everyone left Antigua behind. Accordingly, Antigua is jammed pack with beautifully preserved and refurbished Spanish architecture from the 16th and 17th century, in particular colonial churches, monuments, and fountains.
We stayed three nights at a charming and luxurious boutique hotel called Posada del Angel. We ate at some fantastic restaurants with sophisticated food and excellent service. Two of note were Bistro Cinq and Las Antorchas. Our days were full, busy and exciting. It was a great start to our 10 day Guatemala itinerary.
Tours and Excursions
Day 1 – A 2 hour private walking tour of Antigua with a guide provided by Sin Fronteras.
There is so much to see and learn about in this pretty colonial town that a 2 hour walking tour really isn’t enough. However, I liked that it gave us an overview of the layout and history of town. Thereafter, we were able to explore further on our own. Make sure that you do give yourself time to delve into the shops and beautiful colonial buildings and churches whether you take a tour or not. Rest assured, it felt safe with lots of beautiful patios for people watching.
For more information about our time in Antigua, please refer to Antigua Guatemala: 8 Reasons Why It Is Worth The Fuss.
Day 2 – A private full day ATV tour of the surrounding mountains and villages with Simmon Tours.
This was a lot of fun and very interesting. First of all, the scenery around Antigua is breathtaking. In addition, we visited small villages, and toured local markets and churches that seemed authentic and untouched by tourism.
Day 3 – Hiked up Pacaya Volcano, an active volcano with a guide provided by Sin Fronteras.
What an amazing experience. Pacaya Volcano is approximately 1 1/2 hours drive away from Antigua. The hike took a couple of hours at a steady climb. At the top, we had unbelievable panoramic views of Guatemala, including the smoking summit of Pacaya Volcano and the lava fields below.
For more information and tips related to hiking up Pacaya Volcano, please refer to Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala: Hiking Up An Active Volcano.
Day 4-7 of our 10 day Guatemala itinerary
After Antigua, we went to Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is only 81 km from Antigua. However, it took us 2 1/2 hours by private car to reach Panajachel, the largest town on the lake. The drive was exceptionally beautiful. We spent most of our the drive climbing up or cruising down mountains, with scenic outlooks into stunning valleys.
Lake Atitlan Guatemala is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is enormous in size – the largest in Central America – and is totally surrounded by dormant volcanos. Everywhere we looked, we saw lush green mountains plunging dramatically into the lake. Tucked in between these mountains were tiny Maya villages cut off from one another by the sheer mass of the mountains between them.
Apart from Panajachel, most towns on Lake Atitlan were inaccessible by car. Instead, the main form of transportation around Lake Atitlan was by boat. We loved this. It was a very fun and unique way to explore all that Lake Atitlan had to offer.
We stayed at an Airbnb a 40 minute drive along the lake from Panajachel. If possible, I would recommend choosing one of the small Maya villages around the lake and finding accommodation there. It was dangerous to travel at night by boat or by car – the lake becomes rough and the roads around Panajachel were not well maintained. Most villages have small hotels, or homes to rent, and lots of small restaurants offering delicious authentic food.
For more information about how to access Lake Atitlan, where to stay and tips about travelling around there, please refer to Lake Atitlan Guatemala: Unravelling Its Mysteries.
Tours and Excursions
Day 1 – Hired a private boat with a guide from Sin Fronteras and explored 2-3 Maya villages.
Each village has its own character, main square, church, and geography. Several have unique artisan traditions that are hundreds of years old. You should allow time to either attend a workshop to learn how they create their crafts or to shop at these unique shops.
Day 2 – Hiked from Santa Cruz La Laguna through the mountains to the village of Tzununa with our private guide.
One of my absolutely favourite Lake Atitlan activities that we did on our 10 Day Guatemala itinerary was this 2 hour hike. The views were absolutely STUNNING. It is not the safest trail you will ever walk. I often wished there was fencing or guardrails in place, and a couple of times, we had to scramble up rocks with our hands. But, I loved it, the views are priceless and I would definitely recommend it.
We also rented kayaks in San Marcos la Laguna and spent some time exploring coves. We faced some unique challenges but I did enjoy spending time on the lake looking at the beautiful scenery.
For more information about the activities that we did on Lake Atitlan, please refer to Lake Attitlan Activities in Guatemala: 10 of My Favourites.
Day 3 – Go to Chichicastenango and explore the town and the market with our private car and guide.
Chichicastenango is a town in the Guatemalan highlands. It was 38 km from Panajachel, about a 1h 20 min drive. Originally, Chichicastenango was a holy Maya site until the 17th century, when the Spanish destroyed Maya buildings and used the stones to build churches.
Chichicastenango market is the largest market in Central America and hundreds of years old. It runs every Thursday and Sunday. Its primary purpose is to service the locals who come far and wide to buy and sell products, although there are some vendors who sell handicrafts and souvenirs targeted to tourists.
We really enjoyed exploring the market and seeing how the locals live on a day to day basis. It is very worthwhile to include this on a 10 day Guatemala Itinerary. Even if you don’t like to shop, walking around Chichicastenango, its market, and cemetery allows you to learn a lot about Maya traditions and artistry.
For further information about our time in Chichicastenango, please refer to Chichicastenango Market; Was It Worth It?.
Day 8-10 of our 10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Lake Peten Guatemala is in northern Guatemala and one of the largest lakes in Guatemala. Originally, we headed up to the area to visit Tikal National Park which contains one of the largest Mayan ruins in the world. However, over three days, we toured many parts of the region.
For the night before we explored Tikal, we stayed at the Jungle Lodge Hotel and Hostel, a beautiful hotel walking distance to the ruins. For our other nights, we stayed closer to Flores, at Las Lagunas Hotel.
Tours and Excursions
Day 8 – Explored Tikal National Park and its Maya ruins with our private guide from Sin Fronteras.
Tikal National park was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. We spent four hours climbing up ancient temples, and exploring royal palaces, houses, and stone monuments. Our guide was fantastic. She brought to life the history of the Maya people and their life at Tikal.
For more information about our time in Tikal, including whether I think it would be too much to do Tikal National Park as a day trip from Guatemala City, please refer to Tikal Guatemala Day Trip: The Best or Worst Idea?
Day 9 -Hiked in Cerro Cahui Protected Biotope, explored Flores, and visited ARCAS with our private guide.
We hiked in the jungle at Cerro Cahui Protected Biotope in the hope of seeing wildlife (which unfortunately didn’t happen). It was an easy hike through a very beautiful and dense jungle. Then, we went to Flores and explored its colonial past. Lastly, we booked a private boat and toured Lake Peten which included a visit to ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Center. We really loved visiting here. ARCAS takes care of wild animals that need help and either provide medical care and release them back into the jungle, or keep them safe if they are incapable of returning.
Day 10 – Boated, swam and snorkelled at Crater Azul with our private guide.
On our final day of our 10 Day Guatemala Itinerary, we drove around 1 1/2 hours away and then boated another 1 1/2 hours along a river to get to Crater Azul. We swam and snorkelled in the untouched crystalline waters of this area. Along the way, we saw lots of wildlife, like caimans, lizards, and dozens of incredible birds.
For more information about our activities while around Lake Peten, please refer to Lake Peten Guatemala: An Easy Going Three Day Itinerary.
Our 10 day Guatemala Itinerary was perfect for our family. We had a wonderful blend of activities that saw us hiking, boating, exploring ancient ruins, and learning about Maya tradition and culture. The Guatemalan people were kind and happy to share their country with us. We had many amazing meals and stayed in some beautiful places with wonderful amenities. We always felt safe and loved exploring the many undiscovered gems found all over Guatemala.
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