Solo travel in Guatemala: your ultimate guide

Are you looking for an adventurous solo trip that’s off the beaten path? Look no further than Guatemala, a country known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality.

In this ultimate guide to solo travel in Guatemala, we’ll cover everything from safety concerns to the best places to visit and tips to find travel buddies.

Whether you’re a seasoned solo traveler or embarking on your first adventure alone, this guide will help you make the most of your journey to Guatemala.

Last updated on: 10-01-2024

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    Is Guatemala safe for solo travelers?

    Guatemala is generally safe for solo travel, but it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Destinations like Antigua and Lake Atitlan are popular amongst solo travelers and are generally considered safe.

    Here are some tips and advice for solo travel in Guatemala:

    • To ensure your safety, it is recommended to avoid traveling at night, walking alone in the early morning or evening, and traveling between villages on the lake by road.
    • It is also important to take care when getting a Tuk Tuk alone and to keep your belongings locked away.
    • When using transportation, it is recommended to use a local transportation company recommended by someone who has used them, or to use Uber.
    • Other safety tips include sharing your itinerary and lodging information with someone who loves you, staying aware of your surroundings, and trusting your gut.
    • It is also recommended to check the Guatemala Travel Advisory before going and to avoid areas that are deemed unsafe for travelers.

    What is the best time to visit Guatemala for solo travelers?

    Source: Wikipedia

    The best time to visit Guatemala for solo travelers is during the dry season, which runs from October to April. During this time, the weather is more favorable, and there are fewer crowds compared to the rainy season. Here are some tips for solo travelers in Guatemala:

    Guatemala has two main seasons: the dry season and the rainy season:

    Dry Season (November to April):

    • The weather is generally sunny and warm during this period.
    • This is the peak tourist season, so expect more crowds at popular attractions.
    • It’s an ideal time for outdoor activities, such as hiking and visiting archaeological sites.

    Rainy Season (May to October):

    • The rainy season begins with increasing rainfall in May and reaches its peak in September and October.
    • Mornings are usually clear, with daily showers occurring in the afternoon.
    • The rainy season is characterized by higher humidity and cooler temperatures, especially in highland destinations like Antigua, Guatemala City, Chichicastenango, and Atitlán.
    • The natural landscape is more vibrant during the wet season, but some roads may become inaccessible due to heavy rains.

    What are the most important holidays and festivals in Guatemala?

    Guatemala is known for its vibrant and colorful festivals and holidays, which showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage. Some of the most important holidays and festivals in Guatemala include:

    1. Holy Week (Semana Santa): This religious event takes place in March or April and commemorates the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most famous celebrations in Guatemala, with processions, church services, and other activities.
    2. Day of the Cross (Día de la Cruz): Celebrated on May 3rd, this holiday is marked by the construction and decoration of crosses in towns and villages throughout Guatemala.
    3. Ascension Day (Jueves de Ascensión): This religious holiday represents the 40th day of Easter and is celebrated in May.
    4. Día de los Muertos Kite Festival: Taking place on November 1st, this festival is one of the biggest celebrations in Guatemala. It involves the creation and flying of large, colorful kites to honor deceased loved ones.
    5. Independence Day (Día de la Independencia): Celebrated on September 15th, this holiday commemorates Guatemala’s independence from Spain in 1821. It is marked by parades, music, dancing, and fireworks.
    6. All Saints Day (Día de Todos los Santos): Celebrated on November 1st, this day is dedicated to honoring all saints. The town of Todos Santos Cuchumatán hosts one of the best festivals, where local men perform traditional dances.
    7. Fiesta de Santo Tomás: Taking place in Chichicastenango from December 14-21, this colorful festival revolves around the town’s church and features dancing, fireworks, and drinking.
    8. National Folklore Festival of El Paab’anc: Held in Cobán in July, this traditional Q’eqchi festival is a religious celebration of the indigenous inhabitants of Alta Verapaz. It involves candle lighting, offerings, and traditional dances.
    9. Dance of the Giants: Celebrated in June, this festival features a traditional dance performance in the streets of Guatemala City.

    Source: Wikipedia

    Watch this video about Día de los Muertos Kite Festival; one of the biggest festivities in Guatemala.

    How to meet fellow solo travelers in Guatemala

    Guatemala is predominantly traveled by backpackers, making it relatively easy for solo travelers to meet others and explore the country.

    To find travel buddies in Guatemala, consider staying at hostels or guesthouses renowned for their social atmosphere. You can also join organized tours or activities to connect with like-minded travelers.

    You can also consider downloading a travel buddy app. With an app like Likeplan, travelers can easily meet like-minded people traveling to the same destination. You can create your own trips and activities, or join plans from others.

    Find travel buddies and plan activities with other solo travelers

    Is Guatemala expensive for solo travelers?

    Guatemala can be an affordable destination for solo travelers, depending on your travel style and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the costs you can expect during your trip:

    1. Accommodation: Budget hotels or hostels start at around $10 per night, while luxury hotels can cost up to $200 per night.
    2. Transportation: Public transportation is affordable, with one-way subway or train tickets ranging from $0.25 to $1.50.
    3. Food: The cost of food can vary, but you can find budget meals for around $5 to $10.
    4. Tours and excursions: Prices for tours and excursions can vary, but you can expect to spend around $10 to $20 for popular attractions like Lake Atitlan or Antigua’s colonial architecture.

    An ideal 7-day solo itinerary in Guatemala

    An ideal 7-day solo itinerary in Guatemala offers a perfect blend of adventure and cultural exploration.

    Day 1: immersing in the charm of Antigua

    As you begin your solo journey in Guatemala, immerse yourself in the charming city of Antigua. Explore the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture as you soak up the rich cultural heritage.

    Sample the local cuisine at bustling street markets and indulge in traditional dishes.

    Don’t miss the opportunity to visit iconic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the Baroque-style La Merced Church. Experience the vibrant atmosphere and friendly locals as you navigate through the colorful city.

    Day 2: exploring the volcanoes

    On day two of your solo travel adventure in Guatemala, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the majestic volcanoes that dot the landscape. Take in the breathtaking views as you hike to the summit and witness the raw power of nature.

    Sample talking points include the unique flora and fauna you’ll encounter along the way, the geological significance of these towering formations, and the awe-inspiring sight of lava flows.

    Day 3: marveling at the Tikal Ruins

    On the third day of your solo trip in Guatemala, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal. Explore the impressive pyramids and temples that reflect the rich history and culture of the Mayan civilization.

    Tip: teach yourself a few useful Spanish phrases to make it easier to navigate through the country.

    Day 4: venturing into the Flores Island

    Embark on Day 4 of your solo journey in Guatemala by discovering the enchanting island town of Flores. Relax and bask in the sun on the picturesque shores of Flores Island, surrounded by the beauty of Lake Petén Itzá.

    Take a boat tour and marvel at the stunning scenery. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as you explore the colorful streets and lively markets of Flores.

    Day 5: delving deeper into the Guatemalan culture

    Immerse yourself in the vibrant Guatemalan culture as you delve deeper into the traditions and rituals of the local people. Take the opportunity to visit indigenous communities and experience their unique way of life.

    Witness the cultural richness by attending traditional Mayan ceremonies or festivals. Engage with local artisans to learn about their traditional crafts and gain a deeper appreciation for their skills.

    Day 6: Spanish classes in a local school

    Enhance your travel experience in Guatemala by enrolling in Spanish classes. Immerse yourself in the language to improve communication skills and learn practical phrases for everyday interactions.

    Interact with native Spanish speakers to practice conversational skills and gain a deeper understanding of Guatemalan culture. Language learning is a valuable way to enhance your solo trip, allowing you to connect with locals and navigate the country with ease.

    Day 7: winding down and reflections

    As your solo travel journey in Guatemala comes to a close, take some time to unwind and reflect on your incredible experiences. Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful streets of your final destination, basking in the ambiance of this enchanting country.

    Capture your memories and insights by writing in your travel journal, preserving the magic of your adventure.

    Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa day or indulge in a local wellness activity, nurturing both your body and soul. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with fellow travelers and share stories, forging lasting friendships along the way.

    What are the best ways to get around in Guatemala?

    Chicken buses in Guatemala. Source: Wikipedia

    There are several ways to get around Guatemala, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the best options:

    1. Chicken Buses (Las Camionetas): These are the most inexpensive and widely used mode of public transportation in Guatemala. They are decommissioned American school buses repurposed for public transport. Chicken buses are widely used by locals and are a great way to experience the country on a budget.
    2. Private Shuttle Vans: Private shuttle vans offer a more comfortable and convenient way to travel around Guatemala. They can be booked in advance online or through your hostel or hotel.
    3. Taxis and Tuk-Tuks: Taxis and tuk-tuks are available in most towns and cities. They are a convenient way to travel short distances and can often be negotiated for longer excursions.
    4. Bicycles and Motorcycles: Renting a bicycle or motorcycle can be a fun way to explore certain areas, such as Antigua and around Lago de Atitlán.
    5. Ferries and Boats: Guatemala has several beautiful lakes and rivers, and taking a boat or ferry can be an enjoyable way to experience the country’s natural beauty. For example, you can take a public boat (lancha) to explore the main villages around Lago de Atitlán.

    When planning your trip to Guatemala, consider your budget, travel preferences, and the specific destinations you want to visit. A combination of these transportation options may be the best way to make the most of your time in the country.