The Instagram Guide to Guatemala

From Antigua to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala is filled with incredible sights and activities.

(Image credit: Alamy)

Editor's note: We encourage our readers to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date information on how to safely travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Move over Costa Rica, Guatemala is Central America’s new must-visit destination. Guatemala is home to ancient Mayan cities, natural wonders, and colorful towns to explore. Once you’re there, you’ll feel completely transported even though it’s only a two-hour flight from Miami to Guatemala City—the country’s main hub. If you have less than a week for your visit, spend a couple of days in Antigua exploring the colonial city and then a few days in Lake Atitlán for the right combination of serenity and adventure. More on what to do and where to stay in these beautiful destinations, below. 

Meander Through Antigua

After landing in Guatemala City, head straight to Antigua, which is about 45 minutes away, and see why UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. The colonial city is the picture of charm with colorful cafes and Spanish-style churches lining cobblestone streets. Three volcanoes surround the area.

Stay in a Hacienda

Set within a six-acre garden, Villa Bokéh is a stunning 11-room hacienda that provides the perfect respite while enjoying Antigua. When you aren’t strolling around the city, discover the hotel’s hidden gardens and plazas with views of the Volcán de Agua. 

Learn the Art of Textiles

After lusting over the vibrant textiles in Antigua, learn how to dye using flowers and natural methods at the Luna Zorro Studio Textile Workshop. Using herbs and leaves from their garden, you can create an original tie dye design to take home with you. 

Take the Winding Road to Lake Atitlán

You may need to take some motion sickness medicine to tackle the three-hour drive from Antigua to Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan Western Highlands, but the sensational draw of the lake is worth it. Another option: Splurge on a helicopter ride to the lake to experience aerial views of the beautiful countryside.

Stay at Casa Palopó

Perched alongside Lake Atitlán, Casa Palopó is a private home-turned-boutique hotel decked out in local artwork and textiles. The tranquil oasis might make you want to stay at the property the entire trip, but you won’t regret venturing out into the neighboring villages, especially nearby Santa Catarina and the brightly colored town square.  

Get Blessed by a Local Shaman

At Casa Palopó, count your blessings with Tomás, a local shaman who practices Mayan spiritual rituals. Chanting over a mandala and dropping prayer candles into a small fire, he summons good fortune. 

Shop the Local Markets

The 12 Mayan villages that surround Lake Atitlán are each known for something different, from ceramics to textiles to yoga to language schools. Schedule a boat tour for the day to explore several towns and learn about their unique offerings. 

If you've fallen in love with Guatemala, book a trip here.

Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is a San Diego-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and relationships. Misuse of the word "literally" drives her figuratively insane.