General information about Guatemala
Guatemala is a relatively small country packed with culture and nature. The country is very colorful, from the indigenous dress of the local people, the blue skies, the great amount of green lush trees, to the colorful houses in Antigua. You will see color everywhere you go. The people of Guatemala are also very friendly and welcoming to tourists. The main language is Spanish but since Guatemala is home to various indigenous populations that each speak their own language, there are 23 official languages in total. For such a relative small country Guatemala has great biodiversity, with 14 different Eco-regions ranging from mangroves to tropical and sub-tropical forest and desserts.
To visit the main sights in Guatemala you would need only about 10 days to two weeks, but if you have more time there is still lots to see off the beaten track or stay longer in one place and really get to know the place and its people.
Or if you have the chance, learn Spanish in Guatemala. Antigua has become one of the main places to learn Spanish in Latin-America. The relative quality of the Spanish schools combined with the low cost makes it a great place to learn Spanish.
Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala but although it has some interesting museums and colonial architecture, most people will avoid it, and upon arrival at Guatemala City Airport go straight to Antigua Guatemala. Antigua Guatemala is only a short one hour drive from the airport. You can easily arrange a shuttle that picks you up from the airport even if you arrive late at night. Apart from Antigua Guatemala, the main places to visit in Guatemala are Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champey, Monterrico, Rio Dulce (Lake Izabal) and Tikal.
Flying in to Guatemala and Visa information
When entering the country you need a passport that is still valid for at least 3 months. Nationals of most countries do not need a pre approved visa before entering the country and will get a 90 days tourist visa (stamp in your passport) upon entering the country.For a detailed list of countries that do not need a visa, please check:
For a list of recommended vaccines please check the following website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/guatemala
The local currency in Guatemala is the Quetzal. The current exchange rate is about 1 USD = 8 QTZ. ATM’s can be found in most tourist destinations. When exchanging dollars to Quetzal it is better to do so in a local bank in Antigua and not at the airport where the rate is lower.
You can also pay in us$ in most hotels and higher end restaurants. If you go to smaller shops or markets it is better to pay with the local currency.
There are two seasons in Guatemala, the rainy season and the dry season. Roughly the rainy season runs from May to October and the dry season from November through April. We recommend visiting in dry season. However rainy season isn’t as bad as it sounds because most of the time there are only a couple of showers in the afternoon so it is not like you will not be able to enjoy your day. Plus there are fewer tourists in rainy season.