Guatemala has it all! Colonial cities, where you can stroll around for days. Indigenous villages and markets where people walk around in colorful traditional costumes, but also fascinating Maya cities, located deep in the jungle, breathtaking lakes and many active volcanoes! Guatemala is a country that you can explore for weeks. But what if you only have 10 days in Guatemala? What should you include in your Guatemala itinerary? This is my Guatemala itinerary for 10 days, with some amazing highlights, tips and information about traveling time and transportation. Including a special section if you are coming or continuing your journey to Mexico.
Guatemala itinerary 10 days
Covid 19 – update march 2021: Guatemala is open for tourists. To enter the country you must show a negative PCR test or antigen test with a maximum of 96 hours. This will be requested during check-in and when you land and go through customs. You also have to complete a health statement. In Guatemala it is mandatory to wear facemasks everywhere. Your temperature is also measured when you enter a store, hotel or restaurant. But rules and measurements change on a daily base. It is very important to check with your government, embassy and airline before traveling.
Lake Atitlán – day 1, 2, 3 ( 2 days + 1 traveling day)
Start your journey around Lake Atitlan. This mighty lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and many little villages. Every village has its own vibe and characteristics. And in some of the villages, people still live according to ancient Mayan traditions and customs. The light and view of the lake and surrounding volcanoes are breathtaking, from just every single angle. Make sure you spend at least one day navigating the lake, exploring villages such as Santiago de Atitlán, San Marcos, and San Juan la Laguna. You will learn more about indigenous art and meet local hero Maximón. A wooden statue, with a cigar, where people come and do their offerings, while making a wish. You can also hike from the village of Santa Cruz to Jaibalito, overlooking the lake during the entire trail. And explore the Cerro Tzankujil, a natural reserve near San Marcos.
The second day you should go on a hike, to enjoy the most amazing views of the Lake Atitlan. Climb your way up to the Indian Nose viewpoint (try to do a sunrise!) or hike to the top of the San Pedro Volcano.
Where to stay?
Panajachel is the main city. It’s your starting point for all trips around the lake. You can choose to spend the night in this city, but it’s best to find a beautiful hotel around the lake or in one of the villages. Especially if you want to go on a longer hike, as you need to start early morning. Looking for nice places to stay in Guatemala? Check my guide with the best hotels in Guatemala.
As this is a guide for a 10 days in Guatemala itinerary, I’m focusing on some of the highlights. But you could easily spend a week around Lake Atitlán and sleep in a different village every day. Want to know more about Lake Atitlan and all the different things to do? Have a look in my Lake Atitlán travel guide.
Antigua – day 4, 5, 6, 7 (3 days + 1 traveling day)
From Lake Atitlán, travel to the most famous city of Guatemala: Antigua. Make sure you schedule this journey on a Thursday or Sunday, so you can make a stop at the colorful market of Chichicastenango. Not only a shopping paradise but also a great way to observe local life.
Antigua city & volcano hikes
Antigua is the former capital of Guatemala and the most beautiful city in the country. It’s a city where you can easily spend days and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere. Stroll through the colonial streets, visit the ruins of former churches and convents and have a look in the many colonial buildings, where a new world opens behind every door. You will also find plenty of nice boutique stores, fancy restaurants and lunchrooms, with amazing views of the surrounding volcanoes. You often see smoke coming out of the volcano and at times you even see the orange and red lava flowing. Pretty incredible! Also, the surrounding area is worth exploring, with coffee plantations, viewpoints and organic farms.
Curious about what to do in Antigua? Check out my ultimate city guide for Antigua and surroundings with many things to do, cultural activities, restaurants, fancy boutique stores and hotels.
As Antigua is your starting point for one of the most exciting volcano trips, make sure you include one of these hikes in your Guatemala itinerary for 10 days. Therefore, I would recommend to schedule at least three days in Antigua. One or two days to explore the center, and 1 or two days to go on a volcano hike, depending on your interest of hiking.
The Pacaya hike you can do in one morning or afternoon. The hike to the Acatenango volcano takes two days, as you want to spend the night in a tent, listening and looking at the active Fuego Volcano, right in front of you. Yes, these hikes are challenging but so worth it! Just make sure you are used to the altitude before going on this hike.
Want to know more about the Acatenango volcano hike, how to prepare and what to bring? Read everything you want to know about hiking the Acatenango volcano in the next article.
Traveling from Panajachel/Lake Atitlan to Antigua
Travel from Panajachel to Antigua, by uber or shuttle service. It will take around 3 hours. If you travel by private transportation, you are able to visit the market of Chichicastenango and include it in your two weeks in Guatemala itinerary.
Flores – day 8, 9 (1 day + 1 traveling day)
After your time in the Guatemalan highlands, it’s time for a different type of area. The jungle and tropical rainforest in Petén, the northern part of Guatemala. You want to take a plane from Guatemala City to Flores, your starting-point for the mysterious Maya ruins, such as Tikal and Yaxha, located deep in the jungle. Without a doubt, a highlight during your 10 days in Guatemala itinerary. I recommend that you travel straight to Tikal this day, and spend the night in one of the three hotels, located inside the National Park. This way you are able to wake up very early the next day and see the sunrise from temple number 4. After your visit, travel to the town of Flores and spend the night there.
Tikal is arguably one of the most visited destinations in Guatemala. Because of its mysterious atmosphere, and location in the dense jungle, I think it is one of the most impressive archaeological Maya sites. You’ll be able to observe an ancient Maya city, with ruins of pyramids and palaces in a beautiful jungle environment, while being surrounded by countless monkeys, coatis, butterflies and birds. Tikal is best to be explored with a professional guide, making sure you get the maximum out of your trip. Interested in reading more about a day tour to Tikal? Read the full article about Tikal Guatemala here.
If you feel like doing something more off the beaten track, skip Tikal and visit Yaxhá instead. Yaxhá is less visited than Tikal but also a beautiful archaeological Maya site, located at the Laguna Yaxhá, in the jungle. It is recommended to watch the sunset here from the 30 meterhigh temple (structure 216 or temple or the hands). You can spend the first night in Flores and the second night near the Yaxha National Park, at el Sombrero, so you can stay in the jungle vibes after the sunset moment.
Guatemala is one of my favorite countries in Central America. Do you want to know more about this beautiful country? Check out my travel guide with the best things to do in Guatemala, tips for off the beaten track destinations, gastronomic and cultural experiences.
Flores is a small town/island, located at the Petén Itzá lake, connected to the mainland by a bridge. There are so many colorful houses and doors, what makes it a picture heaven! Flores used to be an old maya city called Tayasal. It was one of the last independent cities during the Spanish conquest but was unfortunately destroyed completely afterwards. Nowadays you can discover the colonial town (built by the spanish on the former Maya city) and enjoy the boulevard with many rooftop restaurants and shops.
Traveling from Antigua to Flores
It’s best to take an uber from Antigua center to the airport of Guatemala City. Depending on the time of the day and traffic it will take you between 1 and 2 hours to get there (costs about 15 euros). From here you can fly with Tag airlines to Flores within one hour.
Guatemala city – last day of 10 days in Guatemala itinerary
Guatemala itinerary 10 days | traveling to Mexico
If you are planning to continue your journey to Chiapas in Mexico, after your 10 days in Guatemala itinerary. Then it’s best to finish your trip in Flores and use the border Frontera Corozal. From Flores, it will take you 4 hours to reach the Guatemalan border town Bethel (it’s a bumpy road). Here you’ll cross the Usumacinta river by boat to the town of Corozal in Mexico. Also your gateway to the archaeological site Yaxchilán. Read more about Yaxchilán and how to get there, in the next article.
Planning to travel to Yucatán in Mexico? Then it’s also best to finish your journey in Flores and travel through Belize to Chetumal. It will take you a full day, as you need to cross two borders! Update March 2021: keep in mind that land borders with Belize are still closed until further notice, because of the pandemic.
Coming from Mexico | Guatemala itinerary 10 days
- Arrival Flores
- Visit Tikal or Yaxha
- Flight to Guatemala City – continue to Lake Atitlán
- Lake Atitlán – two days
- Lake Atitlán – Chichicastenango – Antigua
- Antigua– three days, including a one or two day hike
- Travel to Guatemala City – end of two weeks in Guatemala itinerary
Other Guatemala itineraries
Did you enjoy this Guatemala 10 day itinerary? Have a look at the other Guatemala travel itineraries such as:
Or check out things to do in Guatemala | 20 travel tips
More about Guatemala
Do you want to read more about this amazing country? In this article you’ll find the 20 best things to do in Guatemala, including off the beaten path destinations, best time to travel, itineraries and information about safety in Guatemala. Have a look in the Guatemala archive for a cityguide for Antigua and travel guides about Lake Atitlan, Lanquin, the famous market of Chichicastenango, the Acatenango volcano hike, a boat trip on the Rio Dulce to Caribbean Livingston and a Guatemala hotel guide. In this article I’m taking you to the Maya ruins of Tikal and Quiriguá, a smaller and less visited Maya site with beautiful Maya stelae.