Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends


Just thinking about Guatemala puts a smile on our face. Without a doubt, the small, oddly shaped country situated just below Mexico is our favorite country in this part of the world. Guatemala is filled with natural beauty, 1,000-year-old ruins, unique culture and friendly people. If there’s one place you haven’t considered traveling to before that needs to be on your bucket list, it’s Guatemala. Here are nine reasons why.

ALSO: How to spend 3 perfect days in Panama

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-3

They just don’t make cities like this anymore – Antigua, Guatemala – Photo by

1. Antigua

Of all the cities in the country, none are more picturesque than the Spanish colonial city of Antigua. The city is surrounded on all side by mountains and volcanoes towering over cobblestone streets. Every building in Antigua is painted in bright yellows, oranges, reds and blues. For the quintessential picture of the city with the volcano in the background, make sure to find the famous Santa Catalina Arch.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-8

Surrounded on all sides is the stunning Lago Atitlán – Photo by

2. Lago Atitlán

In the Guatemalan highlands, a large lake sits in a valley between several volcanoes. Surrounding the lakeare a handful of small villages, each with local Mayan people and a few hotels and restaurant options for visitors. Outdoor and cultural activities are the most popular around the lake. However, in recent years wellness retreats have been springing up in this beautiful setting. Lago Atitlán should be on every Guatemalan travel itinerary.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-4

Apparently in Guatemala, the brighter the bus the better – Photo by Getting Stamped

3. Chicken buses

To add to Guatemala’s colorful streets, the favorite mode of transportation is brightly painted repurposed school buses. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the old buses you used to ride to school in as a kid, the answer is they end up in places like Guatemala. The only difference is that they are way cooler than you remember. Retired school buses from America are painted in bright reds and yellows and decked out with flashing lights to attract potential customers to take a ride. The thought process seems to be, the brighter the bus the better?

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Flickr-2

Massive stone structures spring out of the dense jungles around the Tikal Mayan ruins – Photo by Steve Hanna cc by

RELATED: Another reason to travel to Gautemala right now? Orbitz Rewards!

4. Mayan ruins

Step back in time with a visit to one of the many Mayan ruins scattered around the country. The Mayans ruled the land for thousands of years and at the peak of their civilization they built huge pyramids for various religious purposes. The structures were built with such preciseness they could tell the exact moment of events like the solstice. If you only have time to visit one Mayan ruin in Guatemala it should be Tikal, regarded by many as the most impressive Mayan site of all.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-7

Into the mist… You’ll never be the same after a walk through the clouds – Photo by

5. Cloud forests

There is just something surreal about walking through the clouds. In the highlands of the country, the mountains protrude into the lower layers of clouds covering everything in a white blanket. A visit to the cloud forest is like walking through the densest fog you’ve ever seen.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Flickr-1

The pristine turquoise pools of Semuc Champey – Photo by Christopher Crouzet cc by

6. Semuc Champey

These aqua green terraced pools and waterfalls look like something from another planet. Semuc Champey is the highlight of a natural monument in the center of the country. Nearly 1,000 feet long, this stretch of pools and waterfalls is a sight to see and among the longest in the world of this type.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Flickr-1-3

Taste some of the finest beans in the world in Guatemala – Photo by

7. Coffee

Guatemala’s fertile volcanic soil and altitude are perfect for growing high-grade coffee. Cities like Antigua are adopting the café culture and you can find some amazing quality coffee in Guatemala. However, most of the beans get exported because the local people can’t afford to drink the coffee they work so hard to produce.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-9

If you’re up for it, Guatemala has some one-of-a-kind hikes. How many people can say they’ve hiked an active volcano? – Photo by

8. Hiking in the Sierra Madres

A trek through the mountains of Guatemala will bring you through a wide range of beautiful and relatively untouched landscapes. You can see dense rain forests turn to clouds forests and even visit Mayan villages high in the mountains, which are home to nearly 30 volcanoes. Some of the volcanoes are still active and usually two are actively erupting. The adventurous can challenge Volcán Tajumulco, the tallest point in Central America.

Orbitz-Guatemala Bucket list-Getting Stamped-12

Sunrises are pure magic in Guatemala – Photo by

9. Sunrises

The start of just about every day in Guatemala is magical. The high mountains and volcanoes hide the sun and the sky lights up with soft colors for hours in the mornings. Sunsets are stunning as well but the peace and tranquillity in the early mornings are hard to top. One of the best places to catch the sunrise in Guatemala is Lago Atitlán. Every morning the local fishermen row out onto the lake before dawn in the shadow of the towering volcanos. With a scene like this, you cannot help but to be transported to another more peaceful time.

When planning a trip to Guatemala look for flights into the main airport in Guatemala City. It is serviced from many cities in the U.S. with the best connection going through Texas and southernstates. However, Guatemala City doesn’t have much to offer tourists. Instead, make your way to Antigua, a 45-minute taxi or shuttle transfer from the airport. Antigua serves as the main hub for tourism and from here you can arrange trips and transfers to the rest of the country’s tourist activities.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Top 10 Lists

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *