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, you can explore for weeks. But what if you only have one week in Guatemala? What should you include in this Guatemala one week itinerary? This is my Guatemala itinerary for 7 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 7 days
Lake Atitlán – day 1 and 2
Start your journey around Lake Atitlán. 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.
Depending on your arrival time, you could spend an early afternoon navigating the lake and exploring villages such as Santiago de Atitlán 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 their wishes.
The second day you could go on an early morning hike, to enjoy the most amazing views of the Lake Atitlán. Climb your way up to the Indian Nose viewpoint (try to do a sunrise!) or hike to the top of the San Pedro Volcano. You will have the afternoon free to explore some of the other villages such as San Marcos and the nearby Cerro Tzankujil, a natural reserve. You can also hike by yourself from the village of Santa Cruz to Jaibalito, overlooking the lake during the entire trail.
As this is a guide for a 1 week Guatemala itinerary, I’m focusing only on the highlights. You could easily spend a week around Lake Atitlán and sleep in a different village every day. Do you want to know more about Lake Atitlán and all the different things to do? Have a look in my Lake Atitlán travel guide.
Where to stay?
Panajachel is the main city, located at the lake. It’s your starting point for all trips around the lake. You can choose to spend the night in this city and go on a day trip the next day. But if you are planning to go an early morning hike, it’s best to find a beautiful hotel around the lake or in one of the villages.
Hotel tips for Lake Atitlán
Do you want to visit Lake Atitlán from Antigua? You can book your tour here.
Antigua – day 3, 4 and 5
From Lake Atitlán, travel to the most famous city of Guatemala: Antigua. Now you have to make decisions. If you want to go on a volcano hike around Antigua the next day, I would suggest to leave early morning and spend the afternoon in Antigua. If you are not planning to go hiking, you will have the entire next day to explore the city. In that case, I would recommend to schedule your journey from Panajachel to Antigua 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. You can also visit Chichicastenango for the day from Antigua. You can book your tour here.
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 city guide for Antigua and surroundings with many things to do, cultural activities, restaurants, fancy boutique stores and hotels.
Hotels in Antigua
As Antigua is your starting point for one of the most exciting volcano trips such as the Pacaya and the Acatenango volcano. Make sure you include one of these hikes in your one week Guatemala itinerary.
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.
The Pacaya hike you can do in one morning or afternoon. The hike to the Acatenango volcano is possible to do in one day, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It is challenging and you’ll miss the night in the tent, listening and looking at the active Fuego Volcano, right in front of you. In case you are little interested in the city and dying to go on the two-day Acatenango hike. Go for it! You’ll be back around noon the next day and still have time to travel to Flores in the evening. For any hike, just make sure you are used to the altitude before going on this hike.
Traveling from Panajachel, Lake Atitlán 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 Guatemala itinerary for 7 days.
Flores – day 5 and 6
After your time in the Guatemalan highlands, it’s time for a different region. The jungle and tropical rainforest in Petén, the northern part of Guatemala. Spend the morning and afternoon in Antigua and try to book a plane from Guatemala City to Flores in the evening.
Flores is your starting point for the mysterious Maya ruins, such as Tikal and Yaxhá, located deep in the jungle. Without a doubt, a highlight during your one week in Guatemala itinerary. I recommend that you travel straight to Tikal this evening, 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.
Hotel tips for Tikal national park
Tikal is 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.
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). In that case, you can spend the first night in Flores and the second night near the Yaxhá national park.
Flores is a small town, 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. The history makes your visit even more interesting.
Hotel tips Flores and surroundings
Traveling from Antigua to Flores
It is best to take an uber or shuttle service 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. From here you can fly with Tag airlines to Flores within one hour.
Guatemala City – last day of your 1 week Guatemala itinerary
After your visit to Tikal or Yaxhá, fly back to Guatemala city with Tag airlines. If you have a morning flight, spend the afternoon in the Museo the Antropologia – Munae and have a stroll through zona 4. A nice neighborhood, with many great restaurants. If you are up for a gastronomic experience, make a reservation at restaurant Flor de Lis, by a former Noma alumni. A 6- or 8-course tasting menu takes you on a journey through Guatemala, with local ingredients and corresponding stories. It’s not cheap but believe me, it’s so worth it and a great way to finish your 1 week Guatemala itinerary.
Hotel tips for Guatemala City
Interested in taking a tour in Guatemala City? You can book a city tour here.
Guatemala itinerary 7 days | traveling to Mexico
If you are planning to continue your journey to Chiapas in Mexico, after your 1 week in Guatemala itinerary. Then it is 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 Frontera 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 is 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!
Coming from Mexico | Guatemala itinerary 7 days
If you are traveling from Mexico to Guatemala, it is best to start your Guatemala one week itinerary in Flores. Fly to Guatemala City after your visit to Tikal and continue your journey to Lake Atitlán and Antigua.
- Arrival Flores
- Visit Tikal or Yaxha
- Early flight to Guatemala City – continue to Lake Atitlán
- Lake Atitlán – one days
- Lake Atitlán – Chichicastenango – Antigua
- Antigua – one day
- Morning in Antigua and travel to Guatemala City – end of one week in Guatemala itinerary
Other Guatemala itineraries
Did you enjoy this Guatemala 1 week itinerary? Have a look at the other Guatemala travel itineraries such as:
Or check out things to do in Guatemala | 20 travel tips
Hotels in Guatemala
Where to stay in Guatemala? Like any other country, Guatemala has a large amount of beautiful hotels. For both work and personal trips, I visited Guatemala dozens of times. When I travel by myself, I always look out smaller scale hotels with beautiful interiors, a nice atmosphere and a convenient location. In addition, I like to support the locals and love a sustainable approach around a hotel. I always spend a lot of time researching, before I book my stay. In this article I will tell you more about my favorite places to stay in Guatemala : The best hotels, sorted by city and region in Guatemala.
- Acatenango volcano hike
- Pacaya volcano hike
- City tour Antigua
- Yaxha private sunset tour
- Visit Chichicastenango
- Lake Atitlan villages and boat tour
- Chemuc Champey and the caves
- Guatemala city tour
- Tikal day tour
How to get around in Guatemala
Guatemala is a big country and distances are long. Moreover not all roads are accessible. For some distances during your 1 week Guatemala itinerary, it is best to take a plane. But other routes can be easily traveled by bus or shuttle service. Guatego is a reliable and affordable shuttle service offering services throughout the country. You can book your shutle service here.
More about Guatemala
Did you enjoy reading this Guatemala one week itinerary? Do you want to discover more? With Passport the World I am taking you on a journey to discover this beautiful country. Make sure to check out my other travel guides about Guatemala such as:
- Things to do in Guatemala
- Things to do in Antigua Guatemala
- Guatemala travel itineraries
- Lake Atitlan travel guide
- Lanquin & Semuc Champey – everything you want to know.
- Chichicastenango market
- Acatenango volcano hike – everything you want to know
- Boat tour from Río Dulce to Caribbean Livingston
- Guatemala hotel guide
- Maya ruins of Tikal
- Yaxha maya ruins
- El Mirador Guatemala – everything you want to know about the trek and the tour
- Safety in Guatemala