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We’re lucky enough that our location independent business means that we can travel extra slow. If this is an option to you, we strongly recommend that you take your time, really getting to know and appreciate each country you’re in rather than try to cram as many passport stamps as you can into a few months. We would advise at least one month in each country in Latin America, perhaps with the exception of Belize, Panama and Paraguay which have less going on.
However, that’s not always possible, as we are often asked by people who only have a 2 week holiday from their jobs where we would prioritise in the given time.
After this 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary, you may also want to have a read of:
So behold! Here is our 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary for anyone who is tight on time but still wants to soak up the best that this incredible country has to offer. This collates all the best bits of Guatemala that we loved during our 2 months in the country.
Please note that this 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary is built for quick-fire backpackers; it’s RAPID. It will require some early starts to fit everything in and lots of staying on top of your next move. If you like to travel slower, elect a section to skip (I’d recommend skipping Flores & Tikal) and add a couple more days in other key places.
This is one of the few countries in Latin America where night buses are not common. This means there are quite a few travel days spent on the road, unfortunately. However, minibus shuttles are pretty cheap (and waaaay safer than local ‘chicken buses’), and tend to be fairly comfy.
As this is a 2 week trip, we assume that you are beginning and ending your 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary in Guatemala City. A popular option is also to add on a week in Belize, and spend some time sunning and diving in Caye Caulker. Buses from Flores on the Belize-Guatemala border are easy and plentiful.
2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary:
Here’s a quick run-down of our suggested 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary with recommended places to stay; below I’ll tell you more about what to do in each of these destinations.
Turn your phone to the side if this doesn’t fit your screen! 😉
Fly into Guatemala City, go straight to Antigua via colectivo minibus ($7-10USD) from Arrivals, or Uber if you land after 6pm
What not to miss in your 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary:
Days 1-3: Antigua Guatemala
Antigua is such a fantastic cultural introduction to your 2 weeks in Guatemala! Spend your time here hiking up to Cerro de la Cruz mid-morning when the clouds are clearer, visiting the ruins of Catedral de Santiago, skipping under the Santa Catalina Arch (sunrise is the only time to get it to yourself!), and soaking up the coffee culture in one of Antigua’s best coffee shops.
Brunch at Y Tu Piña También is a must, as is an evening spent crawling through the secret door of Café No Sé, one of Antigua’s most epic bars.
If your hangover allows it, spend the second day either hiking Pacaya Volcano to roast marshmallows on lava, or taking the official Hobbitenango shuttle to transport yourself into a Tolkien-inspired land. You can also hire a car from Alamo (around $15 a day via Priceline) to explore Hobbitenango, San Juan del Obispo and surrounding areas to get a glimpse of real Guatemalan life.
Days 4-6: San Juan, Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlán has many towns along its shores, and San Juan is one of my favourites. Take a look at my guide to the towns of Atitlán to see what else there is around the lake. San Juan is the best place on your 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary for ethical shopping. Make sure to grab souvenirs from cooperatives that help women gain financial independence.
For dinner, definitely pick some street food up on the main road (‘Sol-4’ on Google Maps). Have a coffee on one of the jetty restaurants near the small port. Take a morning out to do the Indian Nose sunrise hike, day trip via water taxi to jump off the trampoline in San Marcos, and tuktuk over to San Pedro for a backpacker party or two.
Days 7-8: Tzununá or Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlán
Either stay in Santa Cruz for a tight backpacker community feel or Maya Moon Lodge for some self-reflective calm. Soak up the tranquility of either by lazing by the shores or kayaking on the lake. Drink a banana & cacao smoothie with volcano views in Cecap social enterprise Café, Santa Cruz. Hike to the town of Jaibalito early in the day for a different angle of the lake.
Days 9-11: Lanquín or Semuc Champey
This will probably be your best stint in your 2 weeks in Guatemala itinerary. Spend a whole day diving into the gorgeous greeny-blue waters of Semuc Champey, either with a tour if you want to see the caves and do tubing, or on your own if you want to go super early (though there are hardly any crowds in low season anyway).
During the rest of your time, do absolutely nada. Check into a hostel with a pool and RELAX. Soak up the lush Guatemalan countryside.
Days 12-13: Flores & Tikal
Flores is a lake island, so on your first day, don’t miss getting a water taxi across the lake to Jorge’s rope-swing if your bus gets in early enough. In the evening, sit on the walls of Flores Island to watch sunset over the lake. On your second day, it’s another very early rise; you’re going to visit the ancient Mayan city of Tikal!
Either hike around yourself or splash out on a private tour guide – the cheap group ones sold from Flores’ ticket offices tend to be a bit uninspiring, so it’s worth spending a little more on a small or private group in advance. Either way, book a flexible return bus ticket with a tour company. Only do the sunrise Tikal tour outside of rainy season.
Day 14: Shuttle to Guatemala City
I’m not advocating that you spend any time in Guatemala City, as the ratio of ‘safety issues : things to do’ is not too favourable. Luckily, shuttles to the capital are easy from most towns in the country, so you can bob on down with enough time to make some bad decisions on the amazing duty-free deals on Guatemala’s Ron Zacapa in the airport – voted the world’s best rum!
From Flores, you will need to put aside the whole day for your shuttle to the capital. If your flight is in the morning, I’d cut one day out of your Lanquín time and spend your last night in Antigua before going to the airport.
Got more time for your Guatemala itinerary?
If you find yourself with more time in Guatemala, extend this 2 weeks Guatemala itinerary by spending a few more days in Antigua, and book yourself onto the Acatenango hike if you’re into physical torture for the sake of astonishing views.
Then after Flores visit Lívingston and Río Dulce for at least 2 days each. The bus back from Río Dulce to Guatemala City or Antigua will take the best part of a full day, so make sure to factor that in. We enjoyed staying at Casa Rosada in Lívingston (don’t miss the Siete Altares!) and Hotel Kangaroo y Las Mexicanas in Río Dulce.
Not sure on 2 weeks in Guatemala?
If you haven’t yet decided where in Latin America to spend your 2 weeks vacation, you might also want to check these out before booking those flights!