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.
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Guatemala itinerary 7 days
Covid 19 – update January 2022: Guatemala is open for tourists. To enter the country you must show a proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test or Antigen test, no more than 72 hours prior to entering Guatemala. This will be requested during check-in and when you arrive in Guatemala and go through customs. You also have to complete a health statement. In Guatemala it is mandatory to wear facemasks in interior places. 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 and 2
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.
Depending on your arrival time, you could spend an early afternoon navigating the lake, 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 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. 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.
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 the villages of San Juan or San Pedro. Looking for nice places to stay in Guatemala? Check my guide with the best hotels in Guatemala.
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. 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 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.
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 one week Guatemala itinerary.
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’s 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.
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 Guatemala itinerary for 7 days.
Flores – day 5 and 6
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. 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 Yaxha, 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.
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). In that case, you can spend the first night in Flores and the second night near the Yaxha National Park, at el Sombrero. This way you can stay in the jungle vibes after enjoying the sunset moment.
Do you want to know more about beautiful Guatemala. Check out my extensive travel guide with the best things to do in Guatemala, tips for off the beaten track destinations, gastronomic and cultural experiences. Including a special section about hotels, best traveling time and safety.
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. The history makes your visit even more interesting.
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 your 1 week Guatemala itinerary
After your visit to Tikal or Yaxha, 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.
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’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 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
More about Guatemala
Did you enjoy reading this Guatemala one week itinerary? And 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.