March 28, 2024

3 Weeks in Guatemala Itinerary

3 weeks in Guatemala as a Solo Female Traveler

I had a blast at Jorge’s rope swing in Flores! A great place to meet people, have fun and relax.

I spent an absolutely incredible 3 weeks in Guatemala from the end of February until mid-March. The weather was nearly perfect the entire time, except for hot temperatures in Flores (around 100 degrees F or 37 C during the day). It didn’t rain at all and was sunny nearly every single day, except for some overcast weather that would roll in some afternoons at Lake Atitlan. The days were warm and the nights pleasantly cool.

Guatemala has been the most affordable country I’ve traveled to so far (I hear SE Asia is even cheaper!). If you eat at local spots and stay in modest accommodations, your money can really go far. I spent around $1,000-$1,500 for about 3 weeks including everything – food, transportation, lodging and sightseeing. This does not include airfare however since I used avios to fly with British Airways on an American Airlines flight from Miami to Guatemala city, and I used points on the Chase travel website to book my flight from Flores to Guatemala city. (You can sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn points and then transfer it 1:1 to British Airways avios. The card has lots of benefits such as no foreign transaction fees, travel insurance, purchase protection and 25% bonus points when booking through their awards travel site).

If you have the time, 3 weeks is the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of Guatemala. I loved the variety of landscapes, meeting locals from Indigenous Mayan communities, practicing Spanish (the locals speak slowly and clearly and are very friendly!), and meeting fellow travelers along the way. I started in Guatemala city, then went to Antigua, Lake Atitlan (based myself in San Pedro La Laguna), Lanquin, and Flores. My original plan was to possibly go to Quetzaltenango (aka Xela) after Lake Atitlan, but I got sick at the lake so I stayed longer in San Pedro. I was quite happy with that decision since I really fell in love with San Pedro and the towns around Lake Atitlan.

Other popular spots that travelers go to are El Paredon for surfing, and Rio Dulce + Livingstone. Since I live near the beach and I also prefer not to rush and get to know to places better, I decided on those 5 spots and felt like each place I had a good amount of time to see and do a lot.

3 Weeks Guatemala Itinerary:

Guatemala City – Day 1

If you can, try to spend a day a Sunday in Guatemala city. Some streets are closed off to cars and the streets around Plaza de la Constitución / Parque Central are full of families and live performers. Also, include a visit to Mercado Central which I missed! Online it says on Sundays they’re open from 6am-2pm but the rest of the week from 6am-6pm.

I stayed at Tequila Sunrise Hostel and walked easily the 40 minutes to the plaza. The first 10 minutes of the walk was quiet, but then it was exciting and lively and a fantastic welcome to Guatemala!

Antigua – Day 2-7

I spent 6 days in Antigua which is a lot, but if you plan on doing the Acatenango hike, you will need at least 1 full day to recover. I spent the day after the hike nearly entirely in bed (this is really common lol), and the following day I walked around Antigua still in pain but found chill things to do around the city.

Day 1: My shuttle, booked through the hostel, arrived in Antigua around lunch time. I spent the afternoon climbing Cerro de la Cruz for an overview of the city, then joined a free walking tour (tip based) to learn about the history and the best places to eat and drink. I ate street food for dinner in front of the church La Merced. They made me a vegetarian tostada which was bursting with flavor (marinated beets with avocado, fresh veg) and a sweet corn soup, perfect for a chilly evening.

Day 2: Hobbitenango. This was a really chill but fun day. I went to the Hobbitenango office in Antigua to buy my ticket which includes the shuttle to get there and back plus the entrance fee. I chilled in their hammocks, went on the crazy swing with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains, tried axe throwing, archery and ate a great lunch at the restaurant there (can recommend the eggplant parmesan).

Day 3: I spent the morning at Convento Capuchinas, had lunch at Samsara, and then went to MUNAG in the afternoon, a great free museum in the center just off Parque central. I spent the evening preparing my backpack for the hike the next day.

Day 4 and 5: An early wake up for the Acatenango hike. I highly recommend booking your hike at least 2 weeks in advance with Tropicana Hostel (it fills up quickly!). I am so glad I went with them. Everything was very well organized from start to finish. You can rent all your warm gear (and headlamp if you do Fuego) from them in the morning. The local guides who run it are amazing, and you get to meet other travelers since the groups are fairly large. Our group of 32 had really great camaraderie. Tropicana Hostel does not recommend you do Fuego, but 19 people opted to continue on to do Fuego including myself (it was an extra 200 quetzales).

I am happy I did Fuego, but I wouldn’t do it again. It was one of the hardest, if not the hardest thing, I’ve done physically so far. But, I’m proud of myself for doing it since it was so challenging (plus they gave out Fuego necklaces at the end for everyone who completed it so I have a daily reminder now of this :). If I would do the hike over again, I would stay at base camp chilling and enjoying the view of the erupting volcano at night. If you really want a better view, you can bring binoculars. If you’re in great shape and do well at high altitude, then by all means go for it if you’re feeling up to it. It’s really a personal decision and you can decide once you’re at base camp if you want to continue on or not.

Day 6: I went to Convento Santa Clara to see the ruins. I was still really sore from the hike, so it was more of a chill day walking around the town. I got to see one of the processions which take place on the weekends leading up to Semana Santa.

Flore Boutique hostel – was really happy staying here. It’s not a social hostel, but it’s super clean, has bunk beds with privacy curtains, free breakfast, super nice and helpful staff. It does have triple bunk beds though so I requested the bottom bunk bed before the trip. I would not have been happy if I was placed on the third one! They also have a café. I only tried the mozzarella/caprese panini but it was insanely delicious.

Lake Atitlan – Day 7-15

This is also a long time to spend at Lake Atitlan, but I got sick so I stayed longer. A lot of people I met who were going to San Pedro La Laguna were spending 1-2 weeks at a Spanish School staying with a family to learn or improve their Spanish. So this is a great option, too. You could easily spend a week at the lake exploring the towns around it. The lake is massive and each town affords you a completely different perspective of the lake.

Because I spent so much time here, and I really fell in love with San Pedro, this place felt like home out of all the cities and towns I visited. I would definitely come back to San Pedro again and hit up some of the spots I missed (Tzutzuna, Jaibalito, Santa Cruz).

I stayed at Hotel Amigos for 2 days and then switched to Hotel Adulam for the next 7 days. Amigos had a great view of the lake with hammocks in front of each room and a delicious breakfast included. I paid $40 a night for a private room and bathroom. But on weekends it is very loud because of the nearby bar Sublime, however the music does shut off around midnight.

Hotel Adulam is across from the lake so you have a little bit of a view of the lake but definitely not as nice as Amigos. However, it had a really pleasant courtyard/garden view and I loved waking up to the sounds of birds, roosters crowing and dogs barking. It had a rocking chair and small table in front of each room. It doesn’t include breakfast nor have a communal kitchen, but I booked directly through them and it was only $18 a night for a private room and bathroom.

There are other places to stay by the lake for ridiculously cheap prices like Hotel Villa del Lago Gladys and Las Cristalinas. My two favorite restaurants to eat and chill at right next to the hotels were Sababa and Pita Sabij. Jakuu was also a great local spot to eat at.

Lanquin – Day 15-18

It takes 1 full day to get to Lanquin so you need a minimum of 2 nights there. I personally was very happy to have 3 nights there so I was able to see and do more and not cram everything into 1 day.

Casa Mary – I really enjoyed my stay here. The woman who runs it, Maria, is super sweet and kind. I found it very convenient that they also have a restaurant open from 7am-9pm with delicious vegetarian options and very affordable prices. I liked staying in the town of Lanquin but there are also other great options to stay in Semuc Champey. I heard great things about Greengo’s hostel.

My first full day in Lanquin I went to Semuc Champey and spent the whole day there. I first did the hike to the Mirador and then spent the rest of the day relaxing in the pools. Bring A LOT of sunscreen. I didn’t bring enough and got badly sunburned. If you stay at Casa Mary, I heard great things about David who leads tours there. I wanted to do it on my own and I’m glad I did, but I did miss out on seeing one of the waterfalls at Semuc Champey (didn’t know about it) and doing the crazy cave tour a lot of people do.

On my second day in Lanquin, I went to Grutas de Lanquin which was this very impressive cave and actually a national park. Almost no one goes there, so initially I had it all to myself. On the way out of the cave, I did see two locals. It does get slippery at some points, so do use the handrails and be extremely cautious. I found it creepy (especially being alone lol) but loved it so much. Afterward I tubed down the river with a local guide who hangs out there. I believe I paid 70 quetzales for river tubing which included the guide and 30 quetzales for the entrance fee of the cave. In the afternoon 2 hours before sunset, I did a walk/hike near Casa Mary to the top of the mountain where the church is. It was a fun and strenuous walk but enjoyable seeing the houses in the area, how people live. I met some local kids, tons of chickens and ducks, dogs barking at me, and saw lots of drying cacao beans in yards (plus cacao trees throughout the area).

Flores – Day 18-21

Flores also takes 1 full day to get there so another minimum of 2 nights is needed. I stayed 3 nights which is perfect. Flores is a really charming and colorful little island with a relaxed island vibe. A great way to end your trip! It was a very short 1 hour plane ride back to Guatemala city.

If you take a tourist shuttle from Lanquin to Flores, we had someone hop on our shuttle as we approached Flores. He told us about booking a tour to Tikal with his agency for 100 quetzales and it would be the cheapest option. I believe the agency was Getaway Travels. Since I tend to do a lot of research before trips, once I got to my hostel, I saw their reviews were good but not great so I booked through another travel agency for 130 quetzales. Well, turns out, everyone in Tikal ends up on the same tour, regardless of which agency you book with (unless you book a private tour which is upwards of $100 USD). So my recommendation is to just book with Getaway Travels for 100 quetzales. It truly is the best price in town.

My first day in Flores I did the Tikal tour. The place they take you to for breakfast is overpriced and does not have great food (I paid something like 40 or 50 quetzales for a very lame cheese sandwich and bad coffee). Macarena hostel did pack for me an egg sandwich but I was really hesitant to eat it since I already had stomach issues on this trip and since it was unrefrigerated for several hours I opted not to eat it. You may want to consider bringing your own breakfast. You have an option to join a tour with either a Spanish or English speaking guide. We had a fantastic guide for the English tour.

In the evening, I went to Jorge’s Rope Swing. Macarena hostel called them for me and for 100 quetzales, they will pick up up from Macarena, take you there on a boat, entrance is included, and then bring you back whenever you want. It is 75 quetzales if you go with other people. I was a bit nervous trying the rope swings but I met such friendly, kind people there who quite literally “showed me the ropes” haha. I ended up having SO much fun here, it was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Flores. The water temperature was perfect – not too cold or hot.

On Day 2 in Flores, I went to San Miguel to the mirador. Then stopped to watch a soccer game in town (it was a Sunday), and then to Museo Maya which is free. The museum was cool with lots of artifacts and info but had no AC so I was too exhausted to spend much time there.

On Day 3 in Flores, I stopped at a the local tourist office and discovered a place called Arcas which is a wildlife rescue and educational center. This was an unexpected find and I really enjoyed my time there. First there is a small museum (air conditioned!) with a lot of information. Then you walk through a mostly shaded trail and see and learn about the different animals in captivity (some cannot be released back into the wild, but their goal with most of the animals that you actually don’t see is to rescue and then release them back into the wild). I recommend taking a lancha near Maple and Tocino since the prices there were WAY more affordable than the other lanchas near the main dock. The lanchas can drop you off and pick you up. I recommend spending about 1-2 hours at Arcas.

Macarena Hostel – Not a social hostel but really enjoyed my stay here. The bunk beds have privacy curtains, good showers, cold AC at night (you can ask them to turn on the AC during the day for an hour), and a delicious breakfast included.

In Flores, my stomach was finally completely better so I ate at a bunch of places:
Tacos Los Peces – best spot for local food like tacos, tostadas, burritos at very cheap prices. 10/10
Casa Amelia 8/10, Cool Beans 7/10, Terrazo (pretty good food) 8/10, Maple and Tocino 8/10 (delicious salad), Sky Bar (food was just ok) 7/10.
Casa Blanca – the only place with AC plus a view of the water. Had a great frappucino here and a good tropical smoothie.
BO Cafe – delicious frappuchino’s
Yogulato – good ice cream and sorbet with optional toppings

Guatemala city – Day 22

I flew out of the capital at noon so I only had time to visit one museum, but if you fly back in the evening you could have one more full day to explore the city. I wish I had time to go see the huge Mercado Central and Paseo Cayala, a modern shopping center with colonial style architecture that people rave about.

I’m already dreaming of going back for a short getaway! I would spend another 1-2 days in the capital, head to Antigua to do the Pacaya hike which I didn’t get to do, and go back to Lake Atitlan to chill and explore the other towns I missed. La Iguana Perdida and Free Cerveza at Santa Cruz are known to be two great hostels by the lake.

I spent my last night at Casa Quetzal. It is run by a super sweet family and they will pick you up and drop you off at the airport at no additional cost. It is also conveniently located 2 minutes from La Aurora airport, and a 20 minute walk to the museums (they even offered to drive me to the museums in the morning but I opted to walk). There was some construction noise in the morning but everywhere I stayed in Guatemala there was no sound proofing so you just get used to wearing ear plugs.

Safety as a Solo Female Traveler in Guatemala:

I generally felt very safe travelling all over Guatemala. However, I did have one incident of being groped in San Antonio Palopo by Lake Atitlan while wandering in a remote area by a waterfall I discovered there. I had slipped on a rock and fell in a puddle of water. I was bruised and bleeding on my left leg but it was minor and nothing serious. A local man helped me up and I thought he was being kind. He ended up groping me and I left feeling so disgusted. I was thankful though that nothing worse happened and it was a lesson to really take personal safety as a solo female traveler seriously. An hour before the incident, I shared my location with my sister since I was in a remote area and no one knew where I was.

Let someone you trust know where you are – share your itinerary with them, and also share your location with them. You can always say – if you don’t hear back from me by this time, then call for help. I also think its important to carry an external battery pack with you to make sure you keep your phone charged in case you need to contact someone if there’s an emergency. I either kept a battery pack on me, or made sure to keep my phone in airplane and battery saving mode to conserve battery until I got back to where I was staying. I also like to download an offline map so I can always see where I am in case I need help navigating, without using up too much battery. I use but you can also download Google maps offline.

I had a few other creepy incidents with guys on this trip… one was tubing down the river in Lanquin just me and a guide. He was definitely getting too touchy by massaging my feet and asking about my personal life. If you don’t trust someone, tell them you’re married. I learned quickly that being too honest with guys about traveling alone and being single invited unwanted attention and creepiness that I didn’t appreciate.

All this being said, I had a TON of wonderful interactions with local Guatemalans. Of all the places I travelled to so far, I found that they were extremely friendly, kind, and helpful. Please don’t let these stories deter you from going. It’s just a reminder to keep your wits about you, don’t be too friendly and trusting with people you don’t know and do share your itinerary with a close friend/family member.