I recently spent about six weeks in Guatemala, so I was able to slow travel through the country learning its customs and traditions. I wasn't sure what to expect when visiting, but I quickly found that it was beautiful and rich in culture and history. While there are more, here are five sites you MUST see in Guatemala when you're there.
1. Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is perhaps one of the most gorgeous bodies of water I've ever seen. It was truly breathtaking. When visiting the Lake, you should also tour the surrounding villages to see how locals truly live.
About 45 minutes from Guatemala City (depending on traffic), Antigua is one of Guatemala's brightest shining stars. Tourists flock to Antigua because its quaint small-town feel, its selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and its historic value. It was once the capital of Guatemala, so there are historic churches and ruins on every corner.
Many visitors to Guatemala don't put Tikal on their to-do list and this is a big mistake. Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Maya. It's a city full of beautiful ruins and definitely worth a visit. The quickest way there would be to take an hour-long flight from Guatemala City, so it's definitely possible to do it in a day. Want to spend more time there? You can stay on nearby 'island', Flores.
4. Pacaya Volcano
About an hour outside of Guatemala City is one of Guatemala's most active volcanoes. Despite its very steep hills, its worth the climb to the top to see. If you aren't able to climb, locals are there with horses to rent and trust me, it's worth the 100 Quetzales (about $13).
5. Semuc Champey
I didn't get a chance to visit Semuc Champey, but I wish I did! It's a collection of tiered pools in Guatemala's jungles. It's about a 5-hour drive from Guatemala City or 4-hour drive from Antigua. Looks beautiful, doesn't it?
As you can see, Guatemala is full of culture, history and gorgeous landscapes. It's worth a visit!