Top 10 Guatemala Day Tours & Trips For An Unforgettable Vacation [2024]

Whatever your vacation style, we have you covered with these top-rated Guatemala day tours & trips.

Welcome to Guatemala—a country abundant with natural beauty, rich culture, and history, plus a ton of amazing day tours and excursions.

In fact, there are so many options for tourists that it can be hard to choose!

So, to make your life easy, we compiled a list of the 10 best excursions on offer. We even added some helpful pointers to help you decide which suits your interests best.

So, in no particular order, here we go…

Top Guatemala Tours

1. The Indian Nose Sunrise Hike

Best For: Gentle Hikers & Postcard Views

Among the mountainous backdrop of Lake Atitlan, the most magical sunrise viewpoint in all of Guatemala can be found. But, be prepared to rise early - pick-up is at 3.30 am!

Beginning in the lush cloud forest, the Indian Nose hike journeys through terraced farms. Once at the summit, you'll watch the morning sun break through a horizon of towering volcanoes. It's a completely postcard-worthy view.

At only 3km (2 miles) long, the Indian Nose is a short hike. That means it's manageable for families, and you don't need to be an experienced mountaineer to enjoy this beautiful excursion. It's recommendable to go with a guide who can navigate the terrain before dawn- the tour with Kayak Guatemala includes transportation and coffee or tea at the summit.

>> Book The Indian Nose Sunrise Hike

2. Chichicastenango Market & Village Tour

Best For: Cultural Immersion

The Chichicastenango Street Market is a vibrant hub where Guatemalan folks come together to buy and sell an eclectic mix of goods. From textiles, pottery, meat, and vegetables to tools and even live animals, this bustling market has it all. Nestled amidst Spanish colonial buildings, Chichicastenango is rich with Maya culture and adorned with vibrant fruits, flowers, and textiles unique to the Guatemalan highlands.

Local vendors fill the air with the fragrance of “copal,” a traditional incense used during meditation, while shamans offer prayers amidst the swirling smoke. Get ready to embark on a treasure hunt as you explore this ancient village, discovering everything from rare mountain-mined stones to live animals. Test your negotiation skills with local merchants and uncover fantastic deals.

During the Chichicastenango market tour, you’ll taste the flavors of traditional cuisine at local eateries. Delve into the world of Mayan clothing and learn about the intricate symbols – the universe, lightning, cardinal points, and the sun – that are hand-sewn into textiles.

Explore the town’s cemetery, where history comes alive, and wander through a sculpture garden dedicated to the Mayan calendar. Visit the indigenous mayor’s office, a traditional mask factory, and a warehouse filled with costumes used for special occasions.

>> Book Chichicastenango Market & Village Tour

3. Mayan Fire Ceremony

Best For: Curious Souls

The Mayan fire ceremony is an ancient tradition still important for indigenous communities today. Inside the sacred caves of Lake Atitlan - an already magical setting - Mayan shamans speak to spirits and ask for help from divinity, mother nature, and ancestors. Candles, flowers, and incense are all burned in the fire as a "gift" to the Gods.

If you wish to experience a Mayan fire ceremony, you have two options. The first and the most authentic format is the Mayan fire ceremony with a shaman. Beforehand they will ask for your general intention, may it be good health, good luck with business, or perhaps to find love. You will be silent, meditate, hold candles, and watch whilst the shaman chants prayers in his indigenous language, the fire burns and smoke fills the caves.

The fire ceremony with a local guide is more conversational. Just like the traditional ceremony, items will be contributed to the fire, but it will be led by an English-speaking guide rather than a Mayan shaman. You will play a more active role in the ceremony and have the opportunity to talk with the group and verbally send messages to your ancestors. Open up as much or as little as you choose, share personal wishes, express gratitude, and let pain and suffering release with the smoke.

>> Book the Mayan fire ceremony with shaman

>> Book the fire ceremony with a local guide

Lady arranging candles in the circle to be used for fire ceremony.

4. Cooking Class In A Mayan Kitchen

Best For: Foodies

Taste the delicious flavors of Guatemalan cuisine and learn to cook a typical dish in a cooking class. Local chefs carry the ancient tradition of Mayan cooking and can show you recipes that have existed for centuries, explaining the significance of each dish, and how they are made using clay ovens and locally grown vegetables and spices. In this Lake Atitlan cooking class, a local chef will show you how to make Pepian de Pollo, a traditional chicken stew made from cinnamon and masa. Plus, revenue helps to support a local NGO.

>> Book the Lake Atitlan cooking class

Group gathered in the kitchen chopping vegetables.

5. Lake Atitlan Rest & Relax Tour

Best For: Chill-Seekers

Los Elementos resort is a beautiful oasis in Lake Atitlan with a private beachfront, shaded cabana, and hammocks.

Located in Santa Cruz la Laguna, undoubtedly the most beautiful village on the lake, it’s the perfect place to relax and appreciate Atitlan’s dramatic mountains with spectacular views in all directions. The property is only accessible by boat, so tranquility, nature, and privacy are unparalleled to none.

Explore the surrounding mountains and volcanoes on foot or from the water, enjoying a morning swim in the lake or with a kayak or paddleboard. Your time is free to spend as you choose: take a walk along the lake shore paths, explore beautiful gardens, and let your mind wander. Add a one-hour massage to relax and enjoy the lake’s tranquility.

>> Book Lake Atitlan Rest & Relax Getaway: Resort Day Pass

5. Lake Atitlan Villages Tour: San Marcos, San Juan & Santiago

Best For: Seeing It All!

The full-day sightseeing tour takes you from one end of Lake Atitlan to the other by boat with an English-speaking guide and walking tours in each village.

Begin in San Marcos la Laguna, renowned for its holistic healing centers with meditation and yoga, plus the best cliff jumping spots in Guatemala. Then to colorful San Juan la Laguna, home to women’s weaving cooperatives and a medicinal plant garden run by midwives where you can learn about the curative powers of Guatemalan nature.

Several famous painters are from San Juan la Laguna and we visit galleries to see them at work, plus the weaving cooperative that started the hand-spun cotton and natural dye movement in San Juan. See how the beautiful fabrics are made; from harvesting the cotton to spinning it into yarn, dyeing the yarn, and then creating one-of-a-kind fabrics with a back strap loom.

Finally, see the bay of Santiago – a photographer’s dream – and the town’s Catholic church. First constructed in 1547, the church has two wooden altarpieces from the original 1500s as well as other ancient artifacts, with a rustic design quite different from the colonial-style churches seen in Antigua.

>> Book #1 Lake Atitlan Tour: San Marcos, San Juan & Santiago

6. Off The Beaten Path Guatemala Excursion

Best For: Groups With Diverse Interests

Ideal for groups who crave adventure, the "off the beaten track" tour offers the best of what Lake Atitlan has to offer in only one day. The flexibility to mix and match activities means each family member can craft their ideal adventure, combining thrilling experiences with cultural immersion.

With this two-part tour, explore a Mayan village in the morning then experience a thrilling adventure activity in the afternoon: choose from Kayaking, Hiking, Cliff jumping, or Rock climbing.

Kayaking across the serene waters provides an invigorating way to take in the stunning surroundings. If you're seeking a bit more excitement, cliff jumping offers an exhilarating plunge into the lake, while rock climbing challenges your strength and agility against the backdrop of breathtaking canyon views. Hiking enthusiasts can explore scenic trails, encountering hidden waterfalls and spectacular vistas along the way.

For the village tour, your local guide will take you on a scenic boat ride across the stunning lake to reach the Mayan village of your choice. Santa Cruz, a small village without roads, offers an exotic atmosphere where you can hike, kayak, or simply marvel at the natural beauty. Jaibalito, the lake's smallest village, is home to the renowned restaurant Han’s Posada Jaibalito, where you can savor local dishes and immerse yourself in the local culture. San Marcos, known as the spiritual and environmental heart of Lake Atitlan, invites you to visit its Nature Reserve and take a refreshing swim in its pristine waters. San Juan, celebrated for its artisanal heritage, offers a chance to explore galleries, view vibrant street art, and experience the lively Mayan markets.

>> Book Off The Beaten Path Guatemala Excursion

7. Quetzal Bird Watching & Hike to Santiago Waterfall

Best For: Nature Lovers

Nature lovers listen up! Hidden among the depths of the Guatemalan jungle is the mystical Santiago waterfall, where you can witness water bursting out of the mountainside and giving life to the region. It's one of the few waterfalls in Lake Atitlan, meaning it's a really unique hiking trail in the area.

To reach this natural phenomenon you must hike for 3 hours through lush cloud forest. It's common to spot monkeys, rare birds, and even snakes on the way, so it's helpful to go with a local guide who can point them out from a safe distance.

>> Book Guatemala Jungle Trek

8. Zipline & Kayak Tour

Best For: Active Families

Visiting the zipline trail at Atitlan Nature Reserve is the perfect activity to get your heart racing. Home to two impressive 1,290m and 2,381m long zipline courses, the beautiful Atitlan Nature Reserve is nestled within the cloud forest. Whilst whizzing through the canopy 60m in the air, you'll have views of the surrounding waterfalls, volcanoes, and the lake itself.

Be prepared for a short but steep hike to reach the starting point, and hold your nerves as you cross suspension bridges. This 2 in 1 kayak & extreme zipline excursion is a great option for anyone looking to get out of the water as well as whizz through the trees.

>> Book 2 in 1 kayak & extreme zipline excursion

9. Tikal Mayan Ruins

Best For: History Lovers

Traveling in Guatemala means stepping back in time to the heart of the Mayan world. The ancient wonders of Tikal ruins, El Mirador, and many other Mayan cities boast awe-inspiring architecture, intricate carvings, and fascinating history. The Maya built cities of stone, and towering pyramid temples to their rulers who were lauded in life and death, and their Mayan culture lives on to this day. On stelae and wooden lintels, they carved in exquisite detail their battle stories, lives, and legends.

Today, all the Mayan ruins are home to jaguars, howler monkeys, and keel-billed toucans. At Tikal National Park, a Unesco world heritage site, there are more and more jaguar sightings. You might be lucky enough to see one yourself!

10. BONUS: Acatenango Volcano Hike Guatemala (2-day tour)

Best For: Adrenaline Junkies

Acatenango is one of the highest non-technical hikes in Central America, with an elevation of 3,976 meters (13,045 feet). The hike takes you through a variety of landscapes. Starting from farmlands and lush vegetation, you’ll gradually enter a cloud forest as you ascend. The scenery changes dramatically as you climb higher, offering panoramic views of the surrounding volcanoes, valleys, and the Guatemalan highlands. You’re in safe hands with our expert tour guide who has 25+ years of experience in volcano hiking and camping.

Reach base camp and witness spectacular displays of smoke, ash, and lava flows from neighboring Mount Fuego, an active volcano known for its frequent eruptions. We spend the night camping in rustic huts where you can rest, relax, and witness Fuego’s eruptions under the starry sky: an incredible and unique camping experience. The summit also offers amazing views of Agua, Pacaya, and the other 33 volcanoes of Guatemala.

>> Book Acatenango Volcano Hike Guatemala

Planning Your Guatemala Vacation with Kayak Guatemala

At Kayak Guatemala, we’re all about creating amazing adventures tailored just for you. We’re here to help you customize your vacation and experience the very best of Guatemala - just email us via to start the conversation.

Check out our full range of tours here.

Guatemala Travel Tips

Important Travel Advice for Guatemala

To enter Guatemala, U.S. and Canadian citizens, EU countries, as well as a few other countries need a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity before expiration. After completing immigration and customs forms on arrival, visitors are permitted to remain in the country for up to 90 days.

Travelers from the US may visit the US State Department website for current information on travel requirements and regulations.

To simplify the entry of travelers into the country, in Guatemala the electronic Regional Traveler Affidavit was presented. This digital form eliminates the physical one, reducing time and speeding up the movement of passengers at the airport. This Affidavit can be made from any electronic device with internet access 24 hours a day, prior to the arrival of each flight. Guatemala is the third country in Central America that applies this automation process, it is an effort that promotes tourism and economic development in the country.

So, if you are going to enter Guatemalan territory soon, click the following link Regional Traveler Affidavit, select the language, confirm your email and nationality, share your passport number, and follow all the steps of the system.

Guatemala Itinerary

Your adventure kicks off the moment you touch down at La Aurora International Airport, the primary gateway to Guatemala in the bustling capital, Guatemala City.

Of course, no visit to Guatemala is complete without exploring its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Antigua Guatemala is the crown jewel among them. As a former colonial Spanish capital in Central America, Antigua is a living museum of preserved architecture and vibrant cultural life.

There’s one more unmissable desination in your Guatemala intinerary: Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlán is a breathtakingly beautiful lake surrounded by towering volcanoes and lush forests. There are many small villages around the lake where you can experience the local Mayan culture and traditions.

For a day-by-day itinerary, check out our Guatemala 7-day itinerary for families.

When is the best time to visit Guatemala?

This vibrant country in Central America has comfortable temperatures all year round which is why we call it "the land of the eternal spring". Like most of Central America, Guatemala has a tropical climate with only two seasons: rainy and dry.

The heaviest rainfall aka the rainy season takes place from May to October, with a whopping average annual precipitation of 97 inches (2464 mm). Since many tourists prefer to avoid the rain, the wet season is a quieter time of year to visit Guatemala.

Guatemala's dry season is from November to April and takes place during the "winter" of the United States and Europe. This is considered the best time of the year to visit due to the season's clear skies, low humidity, and sunny, warm days. The greenery is still quite lush throughout the country after its six months of nourishing rain.

What to pack for a trip to Guatemala?

Before you set off on your adventure with Kayak Guatemala, let’s make sure you’re all set for the fun ahead. Pack some comfy shoes and clothes for exploring, since you’ll be walking through everything from lush jungles to charming colonial towns. Guatemala's weather can be a bit unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers to stay comfortable all day.

Don’t forget to bring the essentials for outdoor activities. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are a must to protect yourself from the sun. And remember to stay hydrated—pack a refillable water bottle so you can keep refreshed as you discover all the amazing sights Guatemala has to offer.

For more guidance read our guide "Guatemala Packing List Items for 2023 & What Clothes To Wear".

How much does accommodation cost in Guatemala?

Guatemala's top tourist destinations offer a diverse array of family-friendly hotels and holiday rentals, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay for all. Whether seeking a cozy vacation rental with ample space for the family or a full-service resort with kid-friendly amenities, Guatemala's tourist destinations cater to a wide range of preferences.

Budget hotels, hostels, and holiday rentals can be found for under $100 per night. Most of the higher-budget hotels and holiday rentals feature a swimming pool and hot tub, and can be around $400 per night.

Do you need Travel Vaccinations For Guatemala?

Whilst there are no required travel vaccinations for entry to Guatemala, some vaccinations are advisable for travelers to protect against various diseases present in the region. Recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and routine influenza vaccines. It's wise to consult with a healthcare professional or travel clinic before your trip to get personalized recommendations.

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