Planning a solo trip to Guatemala City? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital of Guatemala and its largest city, with a metro population of over 3 million.
- It is the administrative, economic and cultural capital of the country.
- Nickname: locals refer to the city as Guate.
- Currency: Quatemalan Quetzal (Q).
- Spoken languages: primarily Spanish.
- Best time to visit: from December to April (the dry season).
- Arriving from the airport: La Aurora International Airport is located in the southern part of the city. Taxis are readily available, if somewhat expensive. Shuttle buses are cheaper and take 30 minutes, stopping at various hotels along the way. The last option is to take a public bus, which will get you to the city center in about an hour.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Guatemala: Hostal Guatefriends. Just a 9 minute walk from the airport, this hostel is perfect for transit or a short stay in town. Clean, safe, with welcoming & friendly staff. Daily breakfast included.
- For budget and mid-range hotels, search for accommodations in Zona 1. For western (upscale) hotels, head to Zona 10.
- If you just need a bed in transit, there are a few guesthouses near the airport.
- The common way to get around in Guatemala City is by bus (Q1.00) or taxi (minimum Q25 for metered taxi).
- If you really want respect of the local people, just walk around. Taxis and buses in the center are known to be strictly for the rich!
GUATEMALA CITY NIGHTLIFE
- Drinking age is 18, and last call is officially at 11 PM.
- It depends on what you want. If you like the local atmosphere, stay in the historical center.
- If you prefer more fancy discotheques and bars with western music and atmosphere, head to Zona Viva (Zona 10).
- Great bars to start your night: Shakespeare’s Pub, Bajo Fondo Funk, and The Box Lounge Groove.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Zona 1 is the most visited and historical part of the city center. Check out the Edificio de Correos Central (the cantaloupe-coloured Post Office), Metropolitan Cathedral, Palacio National, and the Plaza Mayor de la Constitucion (which hosts a big market on Sundays).
- Visit the General Cemetery (Zona 3).
- Zona 4 is an interesting area, with Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias (Guatemalas National Theater) and many streets to explore.
- Kaminaljuyu (in Zona 7) is a historic Maya ruin right in the heart of the city.
- Check out the El Torra del Reformador (akin to a Guatemalan Eiffel Tower) in Zona 9.
- Zona 10 (Zona Viva) is the cosmopolitan district. The Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigene (textile museum), Museo Popol Vuh (Natural History Museum), and the Botanical Garden are located here.
- The most interesting zonas are 1 to 4 (Centro Historico) and zona 10 (cosmopolitan). One of the best ways to explore the city is to stroll around these zones.
- Zona 10 is a very busy area during the day, and is great for people watching in the mornings.
- Guatemalan cuisine is based on rice and red beans with meat (chicken or beef). While in town, try some genuine Guatemalan coffee.
- Great restaurants to try: Restaurante The Market, Little India Restaurante, Jakes ($$$), Spartan Grill & Deli, and La Maison Restaurant.
- If you see a bakery, go in and try the banana bread which is very tasty.
- Dangerous areas: watch out for pickpockets and don’t walk outside alone at night. Take official taxis when possible (ask for the number at your hotel or hostel and book ahead).
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days