Why: Guatemala is a really cheap country with a culture totally different to the U.S. I was traveling through Central America and wanted to hike volcanoes, visit typical towns, visit traditional markets and get a flavor for each Central American country.
Flight: I went by land from Mexico, however flights are easily found on skyscanner.com to fly into Guatemala City.
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City and stay in Hostal Hermano Pedro. Although Central American capitals are known for not being the “most beautiful cities in the world” you need to check out the capital to get a feel for the pulse of a country. Go visit Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, Iglesia La Merced, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Museo Nacional de Arquelogia to learn about the Mayan history of Guatemala.
Day 2: Head over to Antigua. This is one of the coolest town’s in Central American. If you want to study Spanish, this is the spot. Stay at Somos Hostel. In Antigua walk the cobblestone streets and be sure to visit the central market. Go over and check out Cerro de la Cruz and San Francisco Church and try some of the street food.
Day 3: Head out early to hike Volcan Pacaya. This will be a morning outing and your hostel can help set you up with transport. If you are wanting a bigger hike try Volcan Acatenango.
Day 5: Hike up Volcan San Pedro which provides great views over the lake. Later in the day visit San Marcos and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the lake.
Day 6: Go out to see traditional artwork in Panajachel. Then make your way either to Quetzaltenango or Chichicastenango based on what day it is. You will want to be in Chichicastenango for the huge market days which are on Thursdays and Sundays. I went to Chichi, as it is called. Stay in Hotel Mashito.
Day 7: Check out the incredible Mayan market. This will be one of your highlights in Guatemala for sure. Take in the sites and smells of this cool mountain Mayan town. In the afternoon head over to Quetzaltenango.
Day 8: Check out the central market and talk to Entremundos about volunteering. Volunteer in a local school for the day and see the joy which the local children have. Stay in Kasa Kiwi Hostel. Visit the colorful graveyard which is a great place to explore.
Day 9: Hike up Volcan Santa Maria on your own and check out the cool views from atop Quetzaltenango (known as Xela). More info on the hike can be found here.
Day 10: You can head up to Flores to visit Tikal by overnight bus, or you can fly from Guatemala city on a 1 hour direct flight. I would recommend the flight unless you have more time and don’t mind long bus rides. Head back to Guatemala City.
Day 11: Fly up to Flores and stay at Hostel Casa de Grethel. Relax near the lake and take a boat to San Miguel and back in the afternoon.
Day 12: Check out the legendary ruins of Tikal. Head up early on the bus, or ask your hostel about private transport if desired. Spend the whole day visiting Central America’s second biggest ruins.
Day 13: Relax in the main square trying local food before flying back to Guatemala City. I love markets, so you got to go check out Mercado Central for local food and handicrafts when you are back in the capital. Walk through Parque Minerva to check out Mapa en Relieve to see Guatemala’s topography laid out.
Day 14: Get your things ready for a bus on to Honduras, El Salvador, or a flight back home.