Our spring break plans changed last minute to accommodate a more laid-back approach, compared to our normal backpacking from one country to another. My husband, Mike snagged a Jet Blue deal for round trip tickets under $400 per person, from JFK to Guatemala City (we used our travel points to pay for it). Due to so much going on with work, school, and extra-curricular activities, we neglected to plan the details of the trip. A week before our departure date, we tried booking hotels, and most of our desired and alternative options were sold out. We definitely dropped the ball this time. The only availabilities were in Guatemala City, thanks to Easter and Spring break visitors. After doing more research and reaching out to a few travel content creators, we scrapped the idea of spending the entire trip in Guatemala City and instead expanded our lodging to include Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Here are the details.
Guatemala City - Grand Tikal Futura. We paid $165 per night for an executive suite with breakfast included.
Lake Atitlan - Villa Santa Catarina. We paid $132 USD per night for a Jr. Suite with breakfast included.
Antigua - The Camino Real. We paid $120 per night for a deluxe double room.
While at the Grand Tikal Futura, in Guatemala City, we tried catching an Uber to Lake Atitlan (approximately 3 hours away) and was unsuccessful in our attempts. The front desk assistant at Grand Tikal was extremely helpful and connected us with their on-site tour operator, Cesar of Jaguar Tours. Within an hour, he was able to secure a ride for us in a minivan that securely stored our luggage in the trunk and allowed us to comfortably stretch out for the 3-hour ride. We even stopped at a restaurant for dinner.
Lake Atitlan is a volcanic lake and home to over a dozen towns. The rich, vibrant Mayan cultures of Guatemala is alive and thriving in these Atitlan towns.
While at Lake Atitlan, Cesar from Jaguar Travels also helped us plan a boat tour to explore local towns surrounding the lake. The boat picked us up at the dock near our hotel. The tour included stops to...
SAN JUAN LA LAGUNA, known as the artistic village, was colorful with murals everywhere. Here is a list of things we did
-Purchased art from a local art gallery.
-Watched and participated in a weaving and natural dying of thread/cotton at a women's weaving Coop. We also purchased clothes at the coop for the entire family. Many of the locals make a living doing this.
-Visited the main church of San Juan La Laguna
-Purchased chocolate and other cocoa butter items from the Lake Atitlan Chocolate Factory.
SANTIAGO ATITLAN, is the largest town on the lake. We ate lunch at Resturante Cafe Arte, a restaurant located a 2 minute walk from the river bank. After lunch, we took a short tuktuk ride to visit Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apóstol (church), shoped in the local market then worked our way back to the boat where we were taxi’d back to where we started in Santa Catarina Polopo.
The following day, the driver shuttled us two hours away to Antigua where we spent our final days. Antigua is a small town, surrounded by mountains and volcanos with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings.
Here's what we did in Antigua.
-Walked the cobblestone streets and explored local restaurants and businesses.
-Visited, Santa Catalina Arch (most iconic landmark in Antigua), The Plaza Central Park, a town square surrounded by colonial buildings and tree lined streets, and Tanque de la Union square (Mayan women use to gather to do their laundry here).
-Hired a local photographer for a photo shoot.
-Explored Hobbitenango Park, home of one of the famous stone troll hands. Hobbiteenango is also a hotel and has two restaurants there. The views are amazing!
-We dined at Hector’s Bistro, Patio De La Primera, and Sabe Rico.
We had a great experience in Guatemala and felt safe in the areas we explored. It is a country rich in culture, laid back, with great food, and the American dollar goes a long way.
THINGS TO KNOW
- $1 us dollar = 7.66 Guatemalan Quetzales. The American dollar is accepted.
- If you are not a Spanish speaker, Google translate is going to be your best friend! Most people speak Spanish and most menus are in Spanish too.
- Entry requirements (things change often, so be sure to check these details before you travel). For travelers 12 and older, evidence of being fully vaccinated or a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test from a certified lab no more than 3 days before check-in. A valid passport is required, but no visa requirement.
- The weather during the time we traveled varied from 58 degrees in the morning and evening to 80 degrees during the day. Walk with a jacket or sweater for the cooler times.
- Bring a pair of comfortable shoes for hikes and excursions. Also, for the ladies, you may want to wear flats for the cobble stone streets in Antigua.
- Walk with small bills (singles & fives) for tips.
- The cards we use to travel for FREE and rack up on travel points are Chase Sapphire https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6/QVEPVXT4H1 and Jet Blue.
- Jaguar Tours
Be sure to check out our trip highlights @remytakesflight.