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Best 11 Days Guatemala Itinerary In Winter (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

Initially, what I loved about our trip to Guatemala was just how easy it was. Easy to organize and arrange; effortless to reach; straightforward in managing the time change (two hours); and upon arrival, uncomplicated and exciting travel in a beautiful country. Of course, once there, I loved so much more.

In this article, I am going to highlight our 11 days Guatemala itinerary that we took in January with our 3 teenagers. We walked in old colonial towns, hiked up active and dormant volcanoes, and explored the countryside on ATVs and small boats. On other days, we discovered remote Maya villages and ancient ruins. Along the way, we stayed at some beautiful hotels, ate delicious food and met some truly wonderful people.

This is a country that has it all. If you are looking for a winter destination with breathtaking scenery, gorgeous weather, adventure, beautiful artisan traditions, and fascinating history and culture, then look no further. This is the place for you.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
A view from our hike around Lake Attitlan.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Best 11 Days Guatemala Itinerary For A Winter Vacation With Teens

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 bit of history and culture to truly understand where we are.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
San Fransisco Church in Antigua, Guatemala

I worked with Sin Fronteras when I created this itinerary. Sin fronteras is a local travel company, located in Antigua, Guatemala. They were amazing. Together, we discussed different options, and, ultimately, we settled on this 11 days Guatemala Itinerary.

For ease of reference, I broke down our 11 days trip into mini itineraries 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 and interests.

Travel Tip – When visiting a country that is challenging to plan travel or may have areas that are unsafe, you may wish to work with a local travel agent to help you organize transportation, recommend places to stay, and book tours and activities. You should continue to research to determine whether the travel agent’s recommendations are suitable for you and your family, and also, to confirm that you are getting a good price. However, overall, it is good strategy and one that I followed for Guatemala and other destinations with excellent results.

If you are interested in more travel tips, sign up HERE for my weekly newsletter and learn how to Travel Cheaper, Smarter and Easier!

Weather in Guatemala

We arrived in Guatemala on New Year’s Eve. The winter months of November, December, January and February offer the best weather. Temperatures are consistently warm throughout the year. However, the rainy season is from May to October.

Flores and its surrounding area sees lots of humidity throughout the year, whereas there is practically no humidity in Antigua and around Lake Atitlan.

Antigua: Days 1-4 Of Our 11 Days Guatemala Vacation

Our first destination on our 11 days Guatemala itinerary was Antigua, Guatemala.

Antigua is 21-23 miles (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.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Cathedral across from Parque Central
10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
An example of traditional architecture in Antigua – brightly painted plain facade with an elaborate door.

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 11 days Guatemala getaway.

Tours and Excursions in Antigua in January

Day 1 – Two Hour Private Walking Tour of Antigua

There is so much to see 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 give yourself time to step into the shops and beautiful colonial buildings and churches whether you take a tour or not. Rest assured, it felt safe with lots of cafes, restaurants and bars with beautiful patios for people watching.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Beautiful arches that surround a traditional washing centre.

For more information about our time in Antigua, please refer to Antigua Guatemala In January With Teens: 8 Reasons Why They Will Love It!

Day 2 – Private Full Day ATV Tour

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 were authentic and untouched by tourism.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Having fun on our ATV tour.

Day 3 – Hiked Up Pacayo Volcano With Guide

Pacaya Volcano is an active volcano approximately 1 1/2 hours drive 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.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Exploring the summit of Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya volcano
The smoking crater of Pacaya Volcano and the lava fields below.

For more information and tips related to hiking up Pacaya Volcano, please refer to Pacaya Volcano Guide: Tips For An Unforgettable Day.

Lake Atitlan: Days 4-7 of Our 11 Days Guatemala Holiday

After Antigua, we went to Lake Atitlan by private car and driver. Lake Atitlan is only 50 miles (81 km) from Antigua. However, it took us 2 1/2 hours to navigate the roads and 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 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.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
The dock at San Juan, one of the small Maya towns on Lake Atitlan.

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 a stunning Airbnb a 40 minute drive along the lake from Panajachel. If possible, I would recommend staying in one of the small Maya villages instead. 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 and dangerous in the dark.

Accordingly, although our Airbnb was very beautiful, we felt isolated in the evenings. Most villages had small hotels, or homes to rent, and lots of small restaurants offering delicious authentic food within a short walk.

For more information about how to access Lake Atitlan, where to stay and tips about travelling around, please refer to Lake Atitlan Guatemala: A Guide To How To Plan Your Stay.

Things To Do Around Lake Atitlan In January

Day 1 – Hired Private Boat To Explore Maya Villages With Guide

In Lake Atitlan, each Maya village had its own character, main square, church, and geography. Several had unique artisan traditions that were hundreds of years old. We attended a weaving class offered by a Women’s Cooperative which allowed my kids to learn how to dye and weave yarn in a traditional way.

Regardless of which village you go to, try and join one of these classes and try your hand at a traditional craft.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
The ladies from the Women’s Cooperative showing us how to weave, a tradition passed on for hundreds of years.

Day 2 – Hiked in the Mountains Around Lake Atitlan With Guide

One of my absolutely favourite things that we did in Lake Atitlan on our Guatemala holiday was a 2 hour hike in the mountains. The views were absolutely STUNNING.

It was not the safest trail you will ever walk. I often wished there had been fencing or guardrails in certain places. A couple of times, we had to scramble up rocks with our hands with a sheer drop below. But, I loved it and 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 mountains and tiny villages surrounding us.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
One of the unprotected drops to the lake on our hike.

For more information about the things to do on Lake Atitlan in January, please refer to Lake Attitlan In January With Teens: 10 Best Things To Do.

Day 3 – Explore Chichicastenango Market With Guide

Chichicastenango is a town in the Guatemalan highlands. It was 23 miles (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 the 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 such as fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, live animals and clothing. There were some vendors who sold handicrafts and souvenirs targeted to tourists, but not many when we were there.

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 any 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?

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
There is a lot to see and eat at Chichicastenango market.

Lake Peten: Days 8-10 Of Our 11 Days Guatemala Trip

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 Maya 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, a beautiful hotel walking distance to the ruins. For our other 2 nights, we stayed closer to Flores, at Las Lagunas Hotel, a luxury hotel.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
The pool at Las Lagunas Hotel

Things To Do With Teens Around Lake Peten In January

Day 8 – Explored Tikal National Park With Guide

In the middle of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, you find Tikal National park, a UNESCO World Heritage since 1979. Tikal was a major Maya civilization, inhabited from 6 B.C. to the 10 A.D. It contains superb intact temples and palaces, and public squares. Remains of dwellings are scattered throughout the surrounding countryside.

We spent four hours climbing up ancient temples, and exploring royal palaces, houses, and stone monuments. Our guide brought to life the history of the Maya people and their life at Tikal. It was extraordinary.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
One of the many temples you can explore at Tikal.

Many people fly from Guatemala City to Tikal for the day, returning in the evening, rather than spend a few days in the region. For more information about our time in Tikal, including whether I think it would be a good idea to do Tikal National Park as a day trip, 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 

We started our day with a hike in the jungle at Cerro Cahui Protected Biotope in the hope of seeing wildlife (which unfortunately didn’t happen). However, it was an easy hike through a very beautiful and dense jungle.

Then, we went and toured Flores, the capital of the Lake Peten region, 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.

When we were there, there were several panthers, jaguars and other big cats in enclosures that allowed you to get frighteningly close to these animals.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Hiking in Cerro Cahui

Day 10 – Boated, Swam and Snorkelled at Crater Azul.

On our final full day of our Guatemala trip, we drove around 1 1/2 hours from Flores and then boated another 1 1/2 hours along a local river to get to Crater Azul where we swam and snorkelled in the untouched crystalline waters of this area.

Before we reached Crater Azul, we passed lots of wildlife in or around the water, including caimans, lizards, and dozens of incredible birds. It was thrilling to then swim in waters nearby at Crater Azul.

For more information about our activities in and around Lake Peten, please refer to Lake Peten Guatemala: An Exciting Three Day Itinerary.

10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
Crater Azul with our captain finding a quiet spot for lunch
10 Day Guatemala Itinerary
The crystal clear waters of Crater Azul.

Day 11 – Flew Home

We flew from Flores to Guatemala City to make our connecting flight home.

Conclusion

We had the best time on our 11 days Guatemala trip in January. We had a wonderful blend of activities that saw us hiking, boating, exploring ancient ruins, and learning about Maya traditions 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.

If you would like to save this article for future use, please click on the “Save” button on the photo below. 

A 10 Day Guatemala Itinerary that has you exploring Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango market, Tikal and Lake Peten. It will thrill teenagers and adults alike with exciting adventures in breathtaking scenery. Delicious food and beautiful accommodation also awaits.#travel #familytravel #adventure #Guatemala|ARCAS, ATV, Cerro Cahui, Crater Azul, hike, Pacaya Volcano, Panajachel, Posada del Angel, San Marcas, Santa Cruz, Sin Fronteras,

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12 Comments

  1. The setting of many places in Guatemala looks absolutely fabulous. I love the summit of Pacaya Volcano and a trekking there must be breath taking. But I am also surprised to notice how many similarities there are between Thailand and Guatemala (jungle, the form of temples, terrain).

    1. I think that there are many themes that are similar between Guatemala and Thailand – the authentic and thriving indigenous culture; the ancient ruins/temples, and jungle. But, they are very different countries and histories. However, I love to see how countries remind me of other places so your comment has definitely made me think of how these two countries relate to one another.

  2. What a fantastic and detailed itinerary for Guatemala. I’ve to say that it’s so encouraging to read so many positive things about the country, amid all the downsides we see in the news. I love the look of Antigua, Lake Atilan and the buzzing markets too. It’s a dream destination for me, and I hope I get to visit one day soon.

    1. It is always interesting to put one’s actual experience in visiting a country next to the warnings that always seem to fill the news. I think there are still dangerous elements to Guatemala but not if you travel smart – like every country. This is a very interesting and gentle country that is eager to welcome visitors.

  3. Antigua seems like a real charmer, going by your words and pics 🙂 Pacaya volcano sounds like a must-visit when you’re here. And Crater Azul looks like such a great way to spend an entire day! Gives me a lot of ideas for a trip to Antigua, thank you!

  4. You definitely make me want to go to Guatemala! I love places where I can do a variety of things, like adventure activities, exploring remote villages, and learning about the culture of the place I am visiting. I often don’t like other people’s itineraries, but yours seems perfect with lot of different activities, but not too rushed either. Your teens are so lucky to have travel experiences like this 🙂

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I think the itinerary allows you to get a good feel of the culture and landscape of each area before moving on. It is designed to keep teenagers engaged, but I now find that it is the perfect balance to keep me engaged as well! Lol.

  5. This is a completely amazing itinerary for family with kids in Guatemala. I am sure the kids have loved the boat ride and explore the Mayan villages. Also the snorkeling part has been so so fun. I am glad to have found this itinerary to share with my cousin who can use this up while planning her travel with her kids.

  6. very impressive article! I must say you are doing a nice job here, Great…!! This is an excellent and inspiring piece of content. It’s awesome, this is my first visit on this website and I really found some amazing information here.

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