things to do in guatemala city

11 Best Things To Do in Guatemala City

So you’ve found yourself in Guatemala City, and you’re wondering what to do – we’ve got you.

Guatemala City is the bustling capital of Guatemala and has a long historical significance and deep culture just waiting to be explored. The city is often overlooked by tourists, who favor nearby hubs Antigua and Lake Atilan. However, Guatemala City has a variety of awesome things to do, from exploring ancient ruins to shopping in local markets.

So whether you’re ready to explore Guatemala on a deeper level or are just passing through, here are the best things to do in the Guatemalan capital. 

Facts about Guatemala City

  • Guatemala City is the largest city in Central America, with a population of more than 3 million people.
  • The city was founded in 1776 after a massive earthquake destroyed the former capital, Antigua, Guatemala.
  • Guatemala City is located in a valley surrounded by three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango.
  • The city is home to several museums, including the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, which houses one of the world’s largest collections of Mayan artifacts.
  • Guatemala City has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries and art museums showcasing both traditional and contemporary works.
  • The city is known for its vibrant street markets, where you can find everything from handmade textiles to fresh produce.
  • Guatemala City is also home to several universities, including the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, which is the oldest university in Central America.
  • The city has a tropical climate, with temperatures averaging around 80°F (27°C) year-round.
  • The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, but there are also over 20 Mayan languages spoken in the country.
  • Guatemala City is a hub for transportation in Central America, with an international airport and several major highways connecting it to other countries in the region.

Getting around Guatemala City

Getting around Guatemala City can be daunting for first-time visitors, but with a few tips and tricks, it can be a breeze – it’s also very cheap! Here are the best ways to get around Guatemala City:

  • Public transportation: Guatemala City has an extensive public transportation system, which includes buses and microbuses. The buses are typically larger and follow a set route, while microbuses are smaller and more flexible. Both options are affordable and convenient, but they can be crowded during peak hours.
  • Taxis: Taxis are a popular way to get around Guatemala City, especially for tourists. They are readily available and can be hailed on the street or through an app. However, it’s important to negotiate the fare beforehand and ensure that the taxi is licensed and registered.
  • Uber: Uber is also available in Guatemala City and can be a safer and more reliable option than traditional taxis. The fares are generally lower than taxis, and you can track the driver and route on the app.
  • Walking: If you’re staying in a central location, walking can be a great way to explore Guatemala City. It’s free, healthy, and allows you to see the city up close. However, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take necessary safety precautions. We do not recommend walking around the city after dark.
  • Private car: If you prefer the comfort and convenience of a private car, you can hire a driver or rent a car. This option is more expensive, but it allows you to travel at your own pace and explore the city on your own terms.

1. Visit the National Palace

Palacio Nacional de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional de Guatemala

The National Palace, or Palacio Nacional de Guatemala, is a must-see attraction in Guatemala City. Built in the 1930s, the palace houses the offices of the President of Guatemala and is open to the public for guided tours. The building is impressive, with beautiful architecture and intricate details that showcase the country’s history and culture.

During your visit, you’ll learn about Guatemala’s government and see impressive murals depicting the country’s history. The tour is offered in both English and Spanish, and it’s a great way to learn about the country’s past and present.

2. Explore the Historic Center

The Historic Center, or Centro Histórico, is the heart of Guatemala City. This area is home to many of the city’s most important landmarks, including the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.

Take a stroll around the Historic Center and take in the sights and sounds of the city. You’ll find street vendors selling food and souvenirs, colorful buildings with beautiful architecture, and plenty of opportunities for photos.

3. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral

Guatamela Metropolitan Cathedral
Guatamela Metropolitan Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral, or Catedral Metropolitana, is a beautiful church located in the Historic Center. The cathedral was built in the 18th century and is a stunning example of Spanish Baroque architecture.

During your visit, take a moment to appreciate the intricate details and beautiful artwork inside the church. Climbing to the top of the bell tower is allowed. It has one of the most stunning views of the city.

4. Shop at the Central Market

Guatamela Shopping
Guatamela Shopping

The Central Market, or Mercado Central, is a bustling marketplace located in the heart of Guatemala City. Here, you’ll find a variety of goods for sale, including food, clothing, souvenirs, and more.

Take your time browsing the stalls and haggling with vendors. You’ll find plenty of unique items here that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

5. Visit the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

The National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, or Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, is a fascinating museum located in Guatemala City. The museum showcases the country’s history and culture, with exhibits on ancient Mayan civilization, traditional dress, and more.

During your visit, you’ll learn about the country’s past and gain a deeper appreciation for its culture. The museum is well-curated and offers both English and Spanish exhibits.

6. Explore the Kaminaljuyu Ruins

The Kaminaljuyu Ruins are an ancient Mayan site located in the heart of Guatemala City. These ruins date back to the Preclassic period and are thought to have been an important trading center.

During your visit, you can explore the ruins and see the remains of temples, pyramids, and other structures. The site is well-maintained and offers a glimpse into Guatemala’s ancient past.

7. Visit the Relief Map

The Relief Map, or Mapa en Relieve, is a unique attraction located in Guatemala City. This massive map of Guatemala is built on a 1:10,000 scale and offers a detailed view of the country’s terrain and topography.

During your visit, you can walk around the map and appreciate its size and detail. It’s a great way to learn about the country’s geography and topography in a fun and interactive way.

8. Take a Coffee Tour

Guatemala Coffee
Guatemala Coffee

Guatemala is known for its coffee and taking a coffee tour is a great way to learn about the country’s coffee industry. There are several coffee farms and plantations located just outside of Guatemala City that offer tours.

During your tour, you’ll learn about the coffee-growing process, from planting to harvesting and roasting. You’ll also get to taste different types of coffee and learn about the different flavors and aromas.

9. Hike the Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya Volcano

For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking the Pacaya Volcano is a must-do activity. The volcano is located just outside of Guatemala City and is one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

During your hike, you’ll climb to the top of the volcano and see stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You’ll also get to see the volcano’s crater and lava flows.

It’s important to note that hiking the Pacaya Volcano can be challenging, and it’s recommended to go with a guide. You’ll also need to wear appropriate hiking shoes and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

10. Enjoy Guatemalan Cuisine

Guatemala is known for its delicious cuisine, and there are plenty of restaurants and street vendors in Guatemala City where you can try local dishes.

Some popular Guatemalan dishes include pepián, a stew made with chicken, vegetables, and spices, and chiles rellenos, stuffed peppers filled with meat and vegetables. You should also try the country’s famous coffee, which is known for its rich, bold flavor.

11. Take a Day Trip to Antigua

Antigua, Guatemala
Antigua, Guatemala

While Antigua is not technically in Guatemala City, it’s only a short drive away and is a popular day trip destination for visitors.

Antigua is a charming colonial town with cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a lively market. The town is also home to several historic landmarks, including the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the San Francisco Church.

During your visit to Antigua, take your time exploring the town and soaking up its charm. You can also visit one of the town’s many coffee shops and sample some of the country’s famous coffee.


Guatemala City is a vibrant and exciting destination with plenty to see and do. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor activities, or food, there’s something for everyone in this bustling metropolis.

From visiting ancient ruins and museums to hiking a volcano and trying local cuisine, Guatemala City has plenty of activities to keep you busy. So the next time you’re planning a trip to Central America, be sure to add Guatemala City to your itinerary.

Author Bio

Jase is a tireless traveler who has explored the world through a vegan lens. With a deep appreciation for animal rights and ethical travel, his adventures have taken him to far-flung destinations where he has immersed himself in local cultures and cuisines. He scribes about his travels via his blog, Roaming Vegans.

We try our best to keep travel guides updated as often and accurately possible. However, there's no guarantee that what you find on our site will be 100% correct or current at any given time - so please make sure to cross-check the information with credible sources.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top