#1 Lake Atitlan Tour: San Marcos, San Juan & Santiago
Our best-selling Lake Atitlan tour, this private boat trip allows you to explore the Mayan v...
Written by Macie Laine.
If you're deciding when to visit Guatemala, it's a good idea to consider the weather, high or low seasons, festivals, and public holidays. In this guide, we share expert information to help you time your vacation perfectly to suit your travel preferences.
Guatemala is a colorful country with endless hidden corners to explore. There are abundant opportunities to climb mountains and volcanoes or eat lots of fresh tortillas and traditional Mayan dishes.
You can visit the iconic volcanic caldera that is Lake Atitlán, plus beaches both on the Caribbean sea and the Pacific coast, or Tikal with its ancient Mayan ruins.
But when deciding what time of year to visit Guatemala on vacation, there are several factors to consider. Some travelers wish to avoid the wet season and relax in the Guatemalan heat, whilst others want to experience special events in the Guatemalan calendar, such as Day of the Dead or Independence Day.
In this guide, we go through each season in Guatemala, what the weather is like, and which key events are in the calendar, so you can choose when is best for your vacation.
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.
During public holidays and festivals in Guatemala, the streets are full of joyful people and exploding with color. Experiencing these magical occasions can really elevate your vacation, but can be problematic for last-minute travelers as hotels tend to be fully booked up.
September 15 is Independence Day in all Central American countries including Guatemala. There are parades, concerts, and celebrations throughout the country. Fireworks displays are commonplace on this special day for Guatemalans as they celebrate their country's independence and culture.
One of the most popular Independence Day events in Guatemala is the National Independence Day Parade in Guatemala City which features marching bands, floats, and traditional dancers. The parade is a great way to see the country's rich culture and history.
Also held in Guatemala City is the National Independence Day Concert. Both local and international artists perform, and the concert is a fantastic celebration of the country's independence accompanied by great music.
The various events that take place on Independence Day are a great way to experience the country's rich history and traditions. If you are planning to visit Guatemala during mid-September, be sure to check out the various events that are taking place. You are sure to have a memorable experience.
October 20 is revolution day in Guatemala, commemorating the date of the 1944 uprising of the Guatemalan people against the government of President Jorge Ubico. There are often marches on this day which could affect the flow of traffic in and out of Guatemala City, so this is an important date not to travel to or from the airport.
The Caribbean Coast of Guatemala offers a truly unique experience of discovering Rio Dulce on your way to coastal Livingston, where you're afforded the experience of encountering the culture of the coastal Garifuna people.
You can experience a true, cultural explosion of color in the month of November by visiting Sumpango or Santiago Sacatepéquez on November 1. Thousands of people gather to fly and observe the enormous paper mache kites, each of which are unique works of art that communities gather to put in hours and hours of work creating together.
Spring holidays are full of life and the streets of Guatemala City, Antigua, small towns, and villages all over the country light up with bright colors, music, and many traditional religious processions during these months.
Holy week, or "Semana Santa," is the Guatemalan celebration leading up Saints Day or what most Westerners know as the Easter holidays. Holy Week is full of delightful color, taste, and sound that will dazzle your senses as you walk through the cobblestone streets of Antigua filled with the incredible "carpets" characteristic of Semana Santa lining the streets.
Spring brings new life as it does anywhere in the world. This is the mating season for all wildlife and is the best time to see the Quetzal and other endemic birds of Guatemala.
During the summer months of June, July, and August, visiting Guatemala remains a worthwhile adventure even with a bit of rain. During the rainy season, the days begin with beautiful clear skies and warm temperatures. As the day reaches mid-afternoon to evening, the rains cause limited visibility in the mountains and over Lake Atitlán.
Summer is a great time to visit Guatemala if you are interested in experiencing the turtle nesting season on the country's Pacific Ocean. Turtle release centers are mostly located in the beach town of Monterrico, where the temperatures get hot. As the land gets closer to sea level in Guatemala, the air temperature tends to rise, so the coastal areas and lowland areas are quite a bit warmer than the temperate central highlands.
While light turtle nesting takes place year-round in Guatemala, the nesting season shares its peak with the rainy season, during June, July, August, and into September depending on the species of turtle.
The rainy season also may bring lower prices to your itinerary when you are considering accommodation options around Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Rio Dulce, coastal areas, and more.
In September and October, the rain of the wet season eases off and what remains is green galore. With six months of rain, the foliage has been growing lush and thick, and the highlands are their most beautiful at this time.
September and October historically have the most rain of all, and as a result, are low points for tourism. Those who do travel during these months are rewarded with lush green hillsides and colorful flowers due to the previous month's rain. These are the last months of the corn crops, and the foliage towers above in its glory. For those who prefer solitude and lower prices, fall is the best time to visit Guatemala.
December to February are the driest months in Guatemala, which makes them great months to visit if you are hoping to climb volcanoes on your trip. While you can climb anytime year-round; December, January, and February will guarantee you the clearest skies for the best views from the summit.
Guatemala is a beautiful, festive country where you are sure to pass the winter holidays "feliz" (happy). Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve are celebrated with lots of fireworks and festive cheer. Lively traditions take place all throughout the country, from the lowland areas near the Pacific coast to the mountainous highlands.
Remember that during the winter months, the temperatures drop at night, so a few warm clothes should be on your packing list if you plan to visit during these months.
Generally, it is believed that the best time to visit Guatemala is between November to April during the country's dry season. Saying that our favorite time in Guatemala is mid-December, when the foliage remains nice, lush, and green just after the long wet season but many sunny days are to be had.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Guatemala depends on your personal preferences and must-do activities that populate your itinerary, but it is overall a great place to visit year-round.
Lake Atitlan, or Lago de Atitlán, is undoubtedly the scenic highlight of Guatemala. No trip would be complete without experiencing its rich Mayan culture and phenomenal natural beauty.
Kayak Guatemala is Lake Atitlan’s #1 base camp for exploration and adventure, offering activities like epic volcano hikes, family kayak tours, cooking classes, and village-to-village boat and walking tours.
If you only have time to visit Lake Atitlan in one day, look at Kayak Guatemala's day tours from Antigua, and for help with planning your trip to Lake Atitlan, check out our "Top Tours & Things To Do In Lake Atitlan" guide.
So, when planning your visit to Guatemala, consider your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. If you prefer drier weather and want to explore archaeological sites or hike through the lush countryside, the dry season is the ideal time. However, if you're interested in experiencing vibrant green landscapes and aren't deterred by occasional rainfall, the rainy season can provide a unique and authentic travel experience.
Whether you choose to visit during the dry season or the rainy season, Guatemala's natural beauty, rich culture, and warm hospitality will make your vacation an unforgettable experience.