Cultural Experiences of Guatemala

The Cultural experiences of Guatemala can be vast and enjoyable, allowing you to explore every inch of the country. Most of these experiences will take you outside of the Guatemala City limits, requiring that you have properly planned and outlined your travel plans. Depending on your liking there are opportunities to be in touch with a variety of cultural experiences, including a myriad of foods, music, dance and ceremonies that will take your breath away. Language primarily spoke throughout Guatemala is Spanish, however, within the many Mayan villages there are different Mayan dialects spoken.  In fact there are 31 ethno linguistic Mayan groups who have kept their ancestral languages alive. Garífuna and Xinca are also spoken. These languages also have their own phonetic, grammatical and structural base. English is spoken in all main tourist centers.

There are many possible outings from Guatemala City. These sights can be reached by driving your own car, a prearranged shuttle from most of the large hotels in Zone 10 of Guatemala City, or via shuttle from Antigua Guatemala. 

You may look at this website:  It is sponsored by INGUAT (the tourism organization in Guatemala)

  • Guatemala CityCheck out the link below about a city tour of Guatemala City that leaves Cayala each Saturday and Sunday!

    It is completely free.  Participants must be an hour earlier so you can get the bracelet on and register.  Times for the start of the tour are 10:00,11, 2pm an 4pm.

    Each week you go to a different place.  There is a tour guide on the trip, but there is not a guarantee that they are bilingual. 
  • Antigua- only a 45 minute drive from Guatemala City. There are many hotels and accommodations available in Antigua, all a varied range of prices. Yellow taxis are available to Antigua for a flat rate of Q250 each way.

          Day trips from Antigua:Finca Filadelfia Coffee Estate – located close to Antigua. Accessible by car, shuttle or Tuk-tuk. At an altitude of 1500 to 1800 meters. 200 acres of "arabica" coffee has been grown here for several generations under environmentally and bird friendly conditions. On this interesting tour we will show our guests how coffee is grown from seed in the nursery and take them through the many phases of processing. The trip by mule or jeep will take you through tree plantings of white pine, cedar, cypress and even redwood and Douglas fir brought in from California a few years ago.  There is also a ziplining course if you are interested. 

  • Pacaya Volcano-  including transport, local Spanish speaking guide and entrance fee. If you can’t hike all the way up, there is a mule service at Pacaya volcano. It is suggested that you always go with a group and guide, being cautious especially if you are planning on doing the night hike. To reach the top it is estimated to be about 2 hours

           ***Importantly, if you are taking Spanish classes in Antigua, your Spanish school will have many excursions and options to see explore parts of Guatemala.

  • Lago Atitlan- a 3 hour drive from Guatemala City. Atitrans is a great agency for shuttles.  There are many towns and villages around the lake including Panajachel, Santiago, San Pedro, and San Marcos. This crater lake is a must see for all visitors to Guatemala.  There are many opportunities to experience the Mayan culture and languages throughout the various regions and towns. You can spend a weekend pueblo hopping from town to town or a longer time truly getting to know each individual pueblo. Most towns are accessible most conveniently by boat, where as some you can drive directly to.


  • Iximche- Mayan Ruins: Small ruins on the way to Lago Atitlan, near Tecpan.  It is not as large as Tikal, but it is close to Guatemala City and always a site to see. Differences between the kingdoms weakened the Mayan population during the conquest and provided his own defeat. Allies in the past both kingdoms occupied what is now Chichicastenango during the rule of the king Quicab ("The Great"). A rebellion in 1470 split the kingdom and the Kaqchikel migrated to what is now Iximché. The city was founded in 1463, according to Mayan tradition at a site flanked by natural defenses (ravines in this case), this facilitated defend the city in case of invasion, but did not imagine the magnitude of his new enemy during the Spanish conquest. What we see today peacefully Iximché was full of people, members of a clan with well-organized military forces. The architectural remains we see in this are remains of palaces, plazas and ball courts at the time Maya was colorfully decorated and galas were the kingdom. Much of the structure was destroyed during the conquest and stone buildings dismantled for its stones used in construction in Tecpán Spanish.

  • Tikal/Flores- the Mayan ruins are a half hour plane ride from Guatemala City or a 12 hour ride by bus. Within the park there are a few hotels, however, you must book in advance to get reservations.  Flores is located next to the airport that you will use when visiting Tikal. It is a small island town. There are restaurants and some accommodations.

  • Rio Dulce/ Livingston-  These two cities are found on the Caribbean/East side of Guatemala.  It is about a 4-5 hour car ride to reach Rio Dulce and another 45 minute boat ride to reach Livingston.  You will find fresh seafood and water activities as the main tourist attractions.  Livingston is also know for the mix of African Caribbean culture and Mayan traditions.

  • Coban/Semuc Champey-  Alta Verapaz is known for its outdoor activities and beautiful country sides.  Coban is the largest city and easiest access point to this Department.  Semuc Champey is a well known tourist attraction and is about 2 1/2 hours from Coban.  Shuttles run to and from Coban on a daily basis.  Semuc Champey is a series of limestone pools where you can swim and spend an afternoon relaxing.  Nearby rivers and caves can also be a perfect way to complete a day or weekend in this Northern region.

  • Monterrico- Monterrico is the most popular beach for a weekend away near Guatemala City.  It is about 2 1/2 hours from the city and offers black sand beaches and year round hot weather.  There are a variety of hotels that range from very cheap to fairly expensive.  Because of the black sand and rough surf, many visitors opt for a hotel with a pool.

  • El Salvador- The country of El Salvador is just about 3 to 4 hours from Guatemala City.  There you may find more beaches to surf, an all inclusive resort, and many more lakes and volcanoes to explore.


       For many of the above locations, Vacation Rental By Owner (www.vrbo)  or Air B and B ( may be a more affordable rental option for a larger group.

       Various teachers have taken many excursions and are a great additional resource for information about Guatemala.