One of the most underrated countries in Latin America has to be Guatemala. It is often overshadowed by its neighbor to the North, Mexico. Even though they are bordering countries, Guatemala and Mexico differ significantly from one another. For months I had dreamed of visiting the beautiful area of Lake Atitlan and the historic city of Antigua. I spent 6 weeks in Guatemala when I finally got to go there. I will go over a 10-day itinerary to Guatemala for those also interested in visiting this amazing country.
This will be just one possible route you can take and I will also go over a few other things to do here that you may add to your trip. This 10-day itinerary of Guatemala will go over some of the best things to see in the country.
Why Should You Visit Guatemala?
During our year-long trip throughout Latin America, I often described Guatemala as a backpacker’s paradise. It’s a great combination of ruggedness and beauty. When traveling throughout the country, you have many different options for transportation depending on your budget & wanted adventure. I will go over this more later on.
If you want to practice your Spanish, I highly suggest Guatemala. Not only do they speak slower compared to other Latin American countries, but they also have some amazing Spanish schools. I highly suggest taking a class here if you want to expand on your Spanish vocabulary.
Best Time to Visit Guatemala
If you want to visit Guatemala when it rains the least, that will be between the months of November and April. I traveled to Guatemala in February and the weather was fantastic. If you want to see turtles hatch on the beach on a daily basis, the best time to visit for that is during the months of October and November.
The activities listed below will be perfect to add to your 10-day itinerary in Guatemala.
Transportation for a 10-day Itinerary in Guatemala
Getting around Guatemala can be as easy or hard as you’d like. The prices have a large range as well depending on which mode of transportation you choose. The three main forms of transportation are a shuttle/bus, car rental, and chicken busses. I will go over each of these in detail so you can choose the best option when planning your 10-day itinerary in Guatemala.
When going around the popular areas of Lake Atitlan, Antigua, El Paredon, and other locations nearby, you’ll most likely use a shuttle rather than a bus. These are very popular because of their convenience and reliability.
When we traveled more in the East and North Eastern parts of Guatemala, we used a combination of big buses and shuttles. Below I will go over some tips when using these forms of transportation.
- The price from Antigua to Lake Atitlan should be between 100 Q – 120 Q. You should not pay more than $15.
- Walk around to different tour companies and ask about their prices. Popular online companies tend to charge more.
- If you are last minute and forgot to book one during there day, Guatego is a reliable company to book from online.
- If you want to take a night bus from Flores to Antigua, this will cost you around 250Q (~$32)
A popular and budget-friendly option is taking the chicken busses. There are the local’s preferred means of transportation. These are easily noticeable on the streets because they are decked out in an array of colors. They look like a pimped-out school bus.
Choosing this option when planning your 10-day itinerary in Guatemala isn’t recommended, as the travel times are much longer. This is in large part due to the multiple stops and bus changes you will have to do.
This is by far the cheapest option. For example, to get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan will cost only $5 instead of $15.
If you can afford it and don’t mind the crazy roads, renting a car is perfect for this country. Make sure you choose safer routes, especially in non-touristy areas.
Depending on what car you want, you can find a good deal for about $20-$30 a day.
What Does a 10-day Itinerary in Guatemala Look Like?
In this 10-day itinerary guide, I will create a perfect plan for you that goes along with some of our favorite things to do in Guatemala.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
10-Day Itinerary in Guatemala Map
(Day 1): Fly into Guatemala City and Bus to Lanquin
The day has come. Your adventure in Guatemala begins! Ideally, you arrive in Guatemala earlier on so you can get immediately bus to Lanquin. This first day will be shot no matter what, so you might as well make a full travel day.
There are some things to do in Guatemala City but overall, it is a skip for this 10-day itinerary in Guatemala.
This is the perfect scenario where it might seem like a better idea to overpay and prebook online than wait until you land. Try out Guatego if you’re having trouble finding a shuttle.
Best Hostels in Lanquin
- Greengo’s: If you want to be as close to Semuc Champey as possible, then this is your best option.
- Utopia: Another great hostel located near Semuc Champey. The amenities for this hostel are the cherry-on-top
(Day 2): Visit Semuc Champey
Semuc Champey is one of my favorite activities on this 10-day itinerary in Guatemala. Most of the photos you will see are of these emerald pools shown above. These are made out of limestone and a river is flowing underneath these pools. There is an overlook that you can hike up to if you want to get a better view.
Along with seeing these pools, you can also do some other activities in the area. This includes going deep into some caves with only a candle as a light source & tubing down the river.
(Day 3): Bus to Flores
After you spend the day exploring Semuc Champey and everything it has to offer, enjoy some beers around Lanquin and get ready to head to Flores. If you haven’t booked a shuttle yet, then your accommodation will be able to help you with this.
The shuttle should cost no more than 200 Q (~$25) and often times it will be slightly cheaper.
Once you arrive in Flores, you can explore the island a little bit and book your trip to Tikal for the following morning.
Best Hostels in Flores
- Los Amigos: This is by far the most popular hostel. It is known for its nightlife and you will not have trouble meeting fellow backpackers.
- Hostel Casa de Grethel: If you want a good view of the island, then this is your best bet. This hostel technically isn’t on the island but they have boats that will take you across.
(Day 4): Explore Tikal then night bus to Antigua
Tikal is a must when visiting Guatemala. The pyramids are an insane human feat that takes being there in person to appreciate it. We explored the area for hours and even saw some howler monkeys hanging out. The best part is when we went to the famous mirador, we sat overlooking the forest and heard the howling of the monkeys.
This park is often compared to Chichen Itza. There are many similarities and differences. The main difference is there is far more of a crowd in Chichen Itza than in Tikal. Below are the prices for entering the park.
- Roundtrip shuttle to and from Tikal (Q80)
- Roundtrip Shuttle to and from Tikal w/ a Guide (Q120)
- Entry to Tikal (Q150)
- Entry to Tikal for sunrise (Q150 + Q100 as you need a guide)
I would suggest booking a night bus for later that night. This will save you time and money as you will not have to book accommodation for night 4. This is super helpful when planning your 10-day itinerary throughout Guatemala.
You can book the night bus through the same company you bought your trip to Tikal with.
(Day 5): Explore Antigua/Hobbitenango
After arriving in Antigua in the morning, you will want to head to your hostel (or other accommodation). Once you drop off your bags you can explore the town to your liking. If you’re feeling tired then maybe sitting in a coffee shop for a little will suffice. You could also visit Hobbitenango, which is right outside the city. The is a small amusement park that is a replica of the shire in Lord of the Rings.
Best Hostels in Antigua
- Maya Papaya: This is one of the best hostels in ALL of Latin America. Everything about this hostel is perfect and feels like a luxury hotel.
- The Purpose Hostel: With the best views of any hostel in Antigua, this hostel is everything you’d want and more.
- Tropicana: This is the most popular budget backpacker hostel. A dorm is as cheap as $11 USD and has happy hour every day.
(Day 6): Hike Volcan Pacaya
Depending on how you feel, you can decide what you want to do on this day. Personally, I love hiking and exploring. Guatemala is one of the best countries to go to and see as many volcanoes as possible. Volcan Pacaya is cheap and well worth the trip. This is less of a major hike and more of an experience. You can book him at your hostel or any travel agency in town.
If you have more time or what to try and squeeze it in, the most popular activity in town is hiking Volcan Acatenango. This is one of my favorite experiences in my life as you get to sleep next to an erupting volcano.
(Day 7): Shuttle to Lake Atitlan
On day 7 you will want to head your way toward one of the most beautiful areas in the world, Lake Atitlan. This lake is special because it is surrounded by 3 volcanos. There are different towns that you can stay in such as the main hub of Panajachel, San Pedro, and San Marco.
The most popular location to stay at is San Pedro and this is where I stayed for 2 weeks when visiting.
A shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan shouldn’t cost you more than 100 – 120 Q. Finding the best deal can help with creating your 10-day itinerary in Guatemala.
Best Hostels on Lake Atitlan
- Hotel Amigos: We stayed here when visiting San Pedro. It has great views of the lake and an amazing breakfast.
- Free Cerveza: This is one of the most popular hostels on the lake. A truly unique experience as you get to camp along the shores of Lake Atitlan.
- Dreamboat Hostel: A truly amazing party hostel in the main town of Lake Atitlan. The rooftop pool and bar are the icings on top.
(Day 8): Hike San Pedro Volcano
San Pedro Volcano is the best day hike I have done while visiting Guatemala. I will admit, this is not an easy hike, but the views are well worth your effort. It helps to stay in San Pedro when doing this hike as it is only a 5 to 10-minute tuk-tuk ride away.
There will be an entry fee but other than that, the costs are very minimal when doing this hike. Start early so you will have plenty of time to complete this hike before sundown.
(Day 9): Sunrise hike Indian Nose
A more popular hike amongst travelers is the Indian Nose hike. The best way to do this hike is for sunrise. Most tours will be going for sunrise and it is breathtaking. You are able to see Volcan Acatenango and Fuego from here.
The cost should be around 100 Q & you will have to be ready at 4 am.
You will arrive back in town around 8 am and the rest of the day is yours to relax or explore.
This will be your last day before having to head back home. Be sure to stop at a tour company to purchase a shuttle to the airport. Most if not all of these shuttles will be leaving from Panajachel.
(Day 10): Shuttle to Guatemala City Airport
Sadly the day has come. Your 10-day Guatemala adventure is over but the itinerary was fully loaded with activities. If you can, make sure to book your flight to leave later in the day or at night.
If this won’t work for you, then I would suggest shuttling after the Indian Nose hike to Antigua. Here you can wake up early to get to the airport from a closer city.
If you have more than 10 days in Guatemala, then below I will go over another amazing area you can visit.
Bonus Day (If longer than a 10-day Itinerary for Guatemala):
After all of the activities that have been jammed into this itinerary, what better way to end the trip than to relax on the beach? El Paredon is a booming up & coming beach destination in Central America. The waves are pristine and there are some amazing hostels lined up on the beach’s shore.
This is a popular weekend getaway for locals living in Guatemala City and for good reason. Once here you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere but at the same time in paradise.
Best Hostels in El Paredon
- Cocori: This is by far the best hostel in El Paredon in my opinion. You feel like you’re at a resort. The waves are in your footsteps and the food is top-notch.
- Mellow Hostel: I visited this hostel while in El Paredon and have to say it is probably the second-best one. It’s a little farther from the beach but everything else is perfect.
- Driftwood Hostel: This is the OG hostel in El Paredon. Whereas most hostels in this area are considered “party hostels”, this is the biggest.
How Expensive is Guatemala?
I get this question a lot and it’s hard to answer sometimes. Guatemala is a cheap country, especially when compared to the cost of going to places like the United States. It is cheaper than in Costa Rica but more expensive than in places like Mexico or Colombia.
$1 USD currently is equal to 7.80 Quetzales. The thing that will add up the most is paying for shuttles and hostels. That’s why I suggest adding a night bus wherever you can when planning your 10-day or 14-day itinerary in Guatemala.
Final Thoughts on the 10-day Itinerary in Guatemala
Guatemala is a country full of adventure. The people along the way are some of the best you’ll ever meet. This country is growing year after year and soon it will blow up as a place you HAVE to visit in your lifetime. The hospitality is remarkable and I can’t wait to go back. With that being said, I think this 10-day Itinerary for Guatemala is perfectly put together. You can make some adjustments where applicable but you can’t go wrong with any of these activities.
Thank you for reading my example of a 10-day itinerary in Guatemala. I hope this gives you some ideas and tips on how to plan your next trip to this amazing country!