For holiday-makers looking for a trip to rival all others, Guatemala offers a vacation that is truly captivating. This spectacular country in Central America offers a diverse array of fascinating destinations and outdoor pursuits to suit all interests. From vibrant cities and colorful markets to rainforests and ancient ruins, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Guatemala.
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Antigua is a beautiful city made up of pastel-coloured palatial buildings and narrow cobbled streets. Only an hour from Guatemala City, Antigua is situated in a valley surrounded by three volcanoes, and the views from the city are simply mesmerising. This quaint little town is a delight to explore, with fountains and garden displays, an ancient church that dates back centuries and a variety of bars and restaurants serving authentic Guatemalan cuisine and delicious tropical fruit cocktails. The Santa Catalina Arch is a structural beauty, and the peaceful ambience here in Antigua makes the trip an experience to remember. As the most affordable city in Central America, you can pick a low-cost airlines and choose one of the many budget hotels in Antigua that will easily stretch your vacation budget farther than you would think.
The most vibrant town in Guatemala is Chichicastenango. This fantastic town is home to one of the most amazing markets you are ever likely to visit, and traders from all over the country travel here to sell their wares. It is almost impossible to leave empty-handed. From clothing and hand-crafted jewelry to pottery and colorful fabrics, Chichicastenango Market is well worth the visit. The streets are often the setting for elaborate festivals and feasts, and a trip to Pascual Abaj, an ancient Mayan shrine overlooking the town, is highly recommended.
Lake Atitlán has often been referred to as the most beautiful lake in the world, and after viewing this natural wonder it is not difficult to understand why. Situated in the Western Guatemalan Highlands, this volcanic lake is a scenic paradise that will leave you speechless. Many towns can be found along the shores of Lake Atitlán, the largest and most popular being Panajachel. Small boats called lanchas will aid you in crossing the lake to many other villages such as San Pedro and San Marcos, and hiking expeditions and watersport activities are found in abundance. The tranquil surroundings and hustle and bustle of village life make Lake Atitlán a fabulous destination that is not to be missed.
No trip to Guatemala is complete without a visit to Tikal National Park. This destination boasts the largest and most impressive collection of ancient Mayan ruins anywhere else on the planet. Believed to have once been the epicenter of Maya civilization, the pyramids and temples are spread over nearly three square kilometers and are truly captivating. For more information on Tikal National Park, visit www.tikalpark.com. Whilst visiting Tikal, the nearby island city of Flores offers a vast selection of budget accommodation, bars and restaurants. The red-roofed buildings and street vendors selling handmade souvenirs make Flores a splendid town to visit.
For the more adventurous traveler, a trek to El Mirador is an unforgettable experience. The remote location of this ancient Mayan city, nestled deep within the jungles of northern Guatemala, makes the journey an arduous one. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The nearest village is a five-day trek away from the site, but camping and traipsing through the rainforests is undeniably astounding. El Mirador itself is an archaeological masterpiece, and a visit here is an adventure unlike any other.