3 Weeks In Guatemala Itinerary: Epic Route From North To South

Planning a trip to the incredible country of Guatemala, but not sure where to go? Then come check out my 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary where we will explore the whole country from North to South.

Let’s talk about the best route, things to do, transportation, accommodation, and more during your time in Guatemala!


If you are looking for a destination that combines natural beauty, cultural diversity, and historical legacy, look no further than Guatemala. This Central American country is a treasure trove of attractions and experiences that will captivate you from the moment you arrive.

No doubt you will have an epic time exploring the 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary!

Guatemala is the heart of the Maya civilization, and you can witness its ancient glory in the numerous archaeological sites that dot the country. You can also learn about the contemporary Maya culture and traditions in the colorful villages and markets.

Enjoy the varied landscapes with volcanoes, lakes, rainforests, and beaches, where you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and scenery. Guatemala is also a place of contrasts, where modern cities coexist with colonial towns and indigenous communities.

In this itinerary, you will discover the best of Guatemala in 3 weeks on the main tourist trail. You will visit some of the most popular and iconic destinations, such as Antigua and Flores, as well as some beautiful spots surrounded by nature like Semuc Champey and Lake Atitlan.

Oh, and we can’t forget to finish off this 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary with some beach time in El Paredon. You will have a balance of guided tours and free time, so you can explore at your own pace, as well as have the opportunity to interact with the local people and learn about their culture and way of life.

If you are looking at getting off the beaten track and away from other travelers, then I will say it now; this is not the itinerary for you. This is assuming you are visiting Guatemala for the first time and want to see some of the best places it has to offer.

We will keep you on the well-trodden backpacking Guatemala route. Though with a few extra tips and tricks are thrown in to take your adventure to the next level.

This itinerary is designed for first-time visitors who want to experience the essence of Guatemala in a comprehensive and enjoyable way. You will be amazed by the diversity and richness of this country, and you will leave with unforgettable memories and stories to tell.

Now, let’s get into this 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary with all the information you need to know to have the ultimate adventure.


3 Weeks In Guatemala: The Perfect Guatemala Itinerary For First Timers


🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Guatemala: GuateGo


Flores (Day 1 – 3)

Flores is a small town in northern Guatemala that occupies a tiny island on Lake Petén Itzá. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway that leads to the city of Santa Elena. Flores is known as the gateway to Tikal, one of the most impressive ancient Maya cities in the world.

But Flores is more than just a base for exploring Tikal. It is also a charming place to visit on its own, with colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and stunning views of the lake. No doubt this is a great way to ease into your 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary.

Flores has a rich history that dates back to the 15th century when it was founded by the Maya Itzá people who had returned from Chichen Itza in Mexico. They built temples, pyramids, and works of art on the island, and resisted the Spanish conquest for more than 150 years.

The island was finally captured by the Spaniards in 1697 and renamed Flores after the Spanish governor. The original Maya structures were destroyed and replaced by colonial buildings.

Today, Flores is a popular tourist destination that offers a variety of activities and attractions. Some of the things to do in Flores include:

Tikal: No doubt the top thing to do in Flores is to visit the famous Tikal Temple Complex. It is a bit of a drive away from the city center so unless you have your own transport, the majority of travelers visit on a tour.

I decided to do the morning tour, which allowed us slightly more sleep than the sunrise tour, but it was still too early for me. Honestly if you aren’t a morning person, screw it and book the later tour so you can have the most enjoyable experience.

Jorge’s Rope Swing: This is the perfect place for backpackers and adventurous travelers to relax and get to know one another. With music playing, affordable drinks on offer, the hot Guatemalan sun beating down, and the inviting waters, you can’t really say no.

Swim: There are lots of cool spots around the lake to go for a swim. You can either stick somewhere local, like at the dock on Flores which is a lovely spot to relax. Alternatively, if you are looking for something different and away from the crowds head to one of the nearby beaches.

Talk to any boat driver and they will be able to take you there.

Wander The Streets: Seriously this place is freaking beautiful and the perfect showcase of the gorgeous buildings in Guatemala. Cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, incredibly painted murals, and delicious eateries seem to be around every corner.

Go for a walk and simply get lost, this isn’t a large town, so you can never go far.Why start in Flores? I chose to start the 3 weeks in Guatemala tour in Flores because it has a domestic airport, so if you arrive in Guatemala City you can take another flight there. Also, you will be able to do this itinerary back to front, starting in Antigua and finishing in Flores.

in flores you must do a tour to the nearby tikal temple complex, this is no doubt one of the highlights of spending 3 weeks in guatemala
in flores you must do a tour to the nearby tikal temple complex, this is no doubt one of the highlights of spending 3 weeks in guatemala
taking a sunset boat ride with the island of flores in the distance
taking a sunset boat ride with the island of flores in the distance

Where To Stay In Flores

Honestly, Flores is a super small island, and as long as you are staying on the island itself you will be fine in terms of a good location. There is a bridge that connects it to the mainland, but basically, the tourist area is on the island of Flores itself.

I did end up on the other side a couple of times though, the first was arriving there at the bus station, and having to take a taxi the rest of the way, and the second was to visit the supermarket and buy some food for dinner since my hostel had a kitchen.

However, if you want to stay close to Tikal there are four hotels located right outside the entrance to the National Park. Here you will be surrounded by nature, right in the middle of the jungle, and it will be quite a different experience to staying in Flores.

These hotels offer comfortable rooms, restaurants, pools, and tours of the ruins. You can also watch the sunrise or sunset from the top of the pyramids and see wildlife such as monkeys and toucans.

I had an excellent time staying at Los Amigos, though it did kind of lack a social atmosphere if you aren’t into the party scene. There is a cute little hangout area with hammocks, but most people just seemed to sit there listening to music rather than talking to others.

Luckily for me, they had a few bunny rabbits hopping around and they became my friends. Personally, I found that booking my Tikal Tour through them allowed me to meet some friends who were staying there.

I stayed in the air-conditioned dorm, and this was freakin amazing, but the air conditioning is only turned on at night. They have an excellent onsite restaurant which was perfect for me since as a solo female traveler I don’t go out after dark by myself.

los amigos

Los Amigos

The perfect stay for backpackers. Dorm rooms start from $25.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
hotel peten express

Hotel Peten Express

Enjoy this modern hostel with incredible pool views. Dorms start from $20.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
hotel isla de flores

Hotel Isla de Flores

A beautiful hotel with incredible rooftop views. Rooms start from $79.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
hotel casazul

Hotel Casazul

Clean and modern blue-themed hotel. Rooms start from $70.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

How To Get To Flores

As I said you can either start or end your itinerary in Flores, depending on which way you decide to do this itinerary.

If you are traveling from your home country straight to Guatemala one of your best options will likely be to catch a flight from either Guatemala City or Cancun in Mexico since both these locations have direct flights into Flores.

These airports are international hubs connecting to many regions around the world.

You could also have just finished your Belize itinerary and be making your way to Guatemala. The border town of San Ignacio in Belize, and Flores in Guatemala are only a couple of hours apart.

This makes it a super easy journey to travel from Belize to Guatemala and a great way to start off your 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary.

Doing this is exactly the route I took and it was straightforward to get a taxi from San Ignacio to the border, exchange any USD I was using in Belize, cross over, and watch a collective to the town of Flores.


Semuc Champey (Day 3 – 6)

Semuc Champey is a natural wonder in Guatemala that attracts many travelers who want to experience the beauty and adventure of the country’s nature. It is located in the department of Alta Verapaz, about 11 kilometers from the town of Lanquín, which is inhabited by the Q’eqchi’ Maya people.

Semuc Champey consists of a natural limestone bridge that spans 300 meters over the Cahabón River, creating a series of turquoise pools on top of it. The name Semuc Champey means “where the river hides under the earth” in the Q’eqchi’ language because the river disappears under the bridge and reappears several meters later.

Semuc Champey offers a variety of activities and attractions for every traveler’s taste and preference. Some of the most popular things to do at Semuc Champey are:

Hiking to El Mirador: This is the viewpoint that offers a breathtaking view of the limestone bridge and the pools. The hike takes about 45 minutes and goes through the jungle, where you can see different plants and animals.

The trail is steep and slippery in some parts, so you need to wear good shoes and bring water. Once you reach El Mirador, you can enjoy the stunning scenery and take photos of the natural wonders.

Swimming: At Semuc Champey you can go swimming and sliding in the pools, which have different depths and temperatures. The water is clear and refreshing, and you can see fish and plants in it.

Some of the pools have natural slides that you can use to go from one to another, or you can jump from rocks into deeper ones. The pools are also connected by small waterfalls that create a relaxing sound.

You can spend hours swimming and sliding in the pools or just relaxing on the rocks or in the shade.

Caving: Exploring the water cave, which is a dark and wet cave that you can enter with a candle and a guide. You need to wear a helmet, a life jacket, and shoes. You also need to be prepared to get wet, as you will walk, swim, and crawl through the cave. Inside the cave, you can see stalactites, stalagmites, bats, and waterfalls.

You can also jump into a deep pool at the end of the cave, or climb up a rope ladder to exit. The water cave is an adventurous and thrilling experience that you will never forget.

Tubing: Tubing on the Cahabón River, is a relaxing and fun way to enjoy the river and the surrounding nature. You can rent a tube and float down the river for about one kilometer, passing by rapids, rocks, and trees.

You can also see local people fishing or washing clothes on the river banks. The tubing is safe and easy, as you will be accompanied by guides who will help you if needed. You can also stop at some places along the river to swim or rest.

the impressive semuc champey mirador // relaxing after going for a swim
the impressive semuc champey mirador // relaxing after going for a swim
hanging out with fellow travelers in semuc champey
hanging out with fellow travelers in semuc champey

Where To Stay In Semuc Champey

You will be spoilt for choice here in Semuc Champey in terms of accommodation. Though the first decision you need to make is whether you want to stay in the town of Lanquin or close to Semuc Champey.

In Semuc Champey a lot of the accommodations are set up like resorts, even hostels. Basically, there is minimal reason to leave the grounds except for tours, which you no doubt booked through your accommodation.

I know this can sound a bit daunting, especially if you are a chill backpacker who likes to explore and plan things last minute. Though I loved staying closer to Semuc Champey as you were right in nature and it honestly felt so peaceful.

Though air conditioning was nonexistent, and we only had power and wifi for certain times of the day.

If you want to experience more of the local side of life 100% it is recommended you stay in Lanquin. Here you will be able to try an assortment of restaurants and have a bit more freedom. You are more likely to be able to find rooms with air conditioning, 24/7 power, and wifi.

Personally, I stayed at Greengos Hostel and had an incredible stay. It is an excellent choice for budget travelers with an included transfer from the shuttle drop off, two pools, onsite restaurant, tours, and in the most beautiful location just a 10-minute walk from the entry of Semuc Champey.

shark hostel

Greengos Hostel

A short walk from the entry of Semuc Champey and the perfect backpacker resort. Prices start from $20.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

Zephyr River Lodge

A party hostel perfect for those wanting to let loose and make friends. Prices start from $25.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

El Retiro Lanquin

Walking distance from town and set right on the river, the best of both worlds. Prices start from $9.00 per night in a dorm or $36.00 for a private.

BOOK NOW
334952593

Guayaha

Enjoy resort-style living with a glamping stay in one of the beautiful tipi tents. The super affordable tents start at just $25.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

How To Get To Semuc Champey From Flores

Now once you are done exploring the highlights in the North it is time to make your way from Flores to Semuc Champey. Though honestly, this journey is not for the faint-hearted. Luckily it is worth it thanks to the beauty to be found around every corner at Semuc Champey.

Now prepare to spend an entire day traveling from Flores to Semuc Champey. Keep things simple and don’t make any morning or afternoon plans, things always seem to take a little bit longer than expected here in Guatemala, so just enjoy the journey.

Be aware there is no option here to fly between these two destinations. Therefore you will need to take the road and there is no shortcut. The overall journey is basically split into three sections.

The first is from Flores to Coban, and second from Coban to Lanquin, and lastly from Lanquin to Semuc Champey which is usually organized directly with your accommodation.

TimeCostHighlight
Tourist Shuttle9 hoursfrom $20Comfortable journey
Chicken Bus12+ hoursfrom $12.60Adventurous and fun
Taxi7.5 hoursfrom $300+Easy and stress-free

Tourist Shuttle: Using a tourist shuttle all the hard work is done for you. There is no need to worry about transfers in different cities, and instead, you can just enjoy the pretty damn good views and sleep as much as you would like.

These tourist shuttles are super easy to book! You can either do so in advance online or instead wait until you are in Flores. If you have a set itinerary in Guatemala and know your dates it is best to book these tickets in advance online with GuateGo.

Chicken Bus: Starting from Flores you will need to head to the bus station on the mainland. This is located on the same road as the bridge if you continue following it, otherwise, any tuk-tuk driver will be able to take you there.

Once here you will need to board a bus going to the town of Coban. This will be the longest part of the journey so get comfortable as you will be here for a while. When you have arrived in Coban you will need to go from the long-distance bus station to the local bus station.

From here you will easily be able to get a bus to Lanquin. Though once arriving in Lanquin you will need to get a taxi to take you the remaining distance to Semuc Champey if you are staying close to the waterfalls.

Taxi: This is no doubt your quickest way to travel from Flores to Semuc Champey, though be aware it is pricey. If you can afford this I want to be your friend! If you want to just do a taxi, make sure you go through a reliable company.


Antigua (Day 6 – 12)

Antigua Guatemala is a city that captivates visitors with its charm, beauty, and heritage. Located in the central highlands of Guatemala, Antigua was once the capital of the Spanish colony of Guatemala, which spanned most of Central America and parts of Mexico.

Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves the legacy of its colonial past.

There are many things to do in Antigua Guatemala, a city that combines history, culture, and nature. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Learn Spanish: There are so many places in Guatemala you can learn Spanish, though I chose Antigua and found it was perfect. You can choose from different types of courses such as intensive, regular, private, or group classes, and customize your schedule according to your needs and preferences.

Acatenango Volcano Hike: One of the most popular and rewarding activities in Antigua is hiking the Acatenango volcano, which is the third-highest peak in Central America at 3976 meters above sea level.

The hike is challenging but rewarding, as it offers stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes, especially the active Fuego volcano that erupts frequently and creates an amazing spectacle of lava and smoke.

Pacaya Volcano Hike: Another option for volcano lovers is hiking the Pacaya volcano. The hike is easier than Acatenango but still exciting, as you will feel the heat and smell of sulfur. Though this volcano is nowhere as active so don’t expect rushing lava rivers.

Though you can eat a pizza cooked on the hot rocks or even roast marshmallows.

Shopping: Antigua is a great place to shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, and local products that reflect the culture and diversity of Guatemala. You can find many shops, markets, and stalls that sell items such as textiles, jewelry, ceramics, wooden carvings, leather goods, coffee, chocolate, spices, and more.

Hobbitenango: Hobbitenango is a unique and fun attraction in Antigua that will make you feel like you are in Middle Earth. It is a hobbit-themed eco-park that features hobbit houses, gardens, trails, views, and activities such as archery, horseback riding, ziplining, and more.

Being from New Zealand I thought the idea of Hobbitenango was kind of strange, and it is, but still, it’s worth a visit

Explore The Ruins: Antigua is a charming town that boasts some of the most impressive ruins in Central America. The city was once the capital of the Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala until a series of devastating earthquakes in 1773 left many of its churches and convents in ruins.

Today, these monuments offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture and a stunning contrast with the surrounding volcanoes. My personal favorites are Convento la Recoleccion and Convento Capuchinas.

climbing pacaya volcanno was a fun day trip from antigua
climbing pacaya volcanno was a fun day trip from antigua
beautiful views over the colonial city of antigua in the distance is volcan de agua
beautiful views over the colonial city of antigua in the distance is volcan de agua

Where To Stay In Antigua

I absolutely love Antigua, no doubt it was one of my favorite spots in Guatemala, and I would happily move here to live among the Volcanos. You commonly will find hotels and restaurants with the most incredible views of the valley, where you can even see the Acatenago Volcano erupting on a clear night.

There is an excellent hostel scene here in Antigua, and they are also very high-quality hostels. You will be able to find pod-style dorm rooms, cool common rooms playing Netflix, onsite bars, kitchens to cook in, and some even have pools.

Personally, I stayed at Maya Papaya hostel in Antigua, I even loved it so much that I booked 4 separate stays there over my month in the country. The staff are lovely, the beds are comfortable, and there’s a super clean fully equipped kitchen, awesome location, and chill hangout areas.

Be aware that the nicer hostels here can be on the pricey side where you will easily be paying upwards of $20.00 per night. My partner actually joined me partway through my adventures in Guatemala and we often found it was cheaper to book a nice guesthouse, rather than two hostel beds.

shark hostel

Maya Papaya

My favorite choice for a hostel. Clean and comfortable dorm rooms start from $22 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

Ojala

A relaxing and beautifully decorated hostel. Prices start from $28.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

Hotel Maya Ik

A lovely hotel located in the perfect location. Rooms start from $40.00 per night and they have awesome last-minute deals.

BOOK NOW
245191643

Selina

Whether you are wanting a dorm or a private room Selina has both. Prices start from $42 per night for a dorm and privates from $95.00.

BOOK NOW

How To Get To Antigua From Semuc Champey

Once you have finished exploring the incredibly beautiful Semuc Champey, it’s time to continue with your adventures to Antigua. Though before you get too excited about the journey you should know it is a full travel day.

Therefore best to keep things simple and not make any morning or afternoon plans, things always seem to take a little bit longer than expected here in Guatemala, so just enjoy the journey.

Now there is no option here to fly between these two destinations. Therefore you will need to take the road and there is no shortcut.

The overall journey is basically split into three sections. The first is from Semuc Champey to Lanquin (1 hour), the second from Lanquin to Coban (1 – 2 hours), and lastly from Coban to Antigua (9+ hours).

TimeCostHighlight
Tourist Shuttle9 hoursfrom $20Comfortable journey
Chicken Bus12+ hoursfrom $12.60Adventurous and fun
Taxi7 hoursfrom $400+Easy and stress-free

Tourist Shuttle: Now the easiest and most straightforward way, though still on a budget, then definitely look at booking a shuttle. Using a tourist shuttle all the hard work is done for you. One thing to be aware of is that your driver may only speak a little bit of English, or literally nothing at all.

However, don’t worry as generally at least one person onboard will know enough Spanish to translate for everyone else.

Taxi: This is no doubt your quickest way to travel from Semuc Champey To Antigua, though be aware it is pricey. It is a good option if you are traveling as part of a larger group where splitting the price would work out to be similar to the price for a tourist shuttle.

Alternatively, if you are traveling at an awkward time of day when the shuttles aren’t running this also makes for a good choice.

Chicken Bus: The price will come out around Q100 / $12.60 but be aware this can change depending on how long it takes to fill the bus as it doesn’t leave until someone is in each seat. The total journey will be somewhere around 14+ hours.

This basically depends on how long you need to wait for the bus to depart. Starting from Semuc Champey you will need to head to the main town called Lanquin and make your way to the crossroads in the town center. Once here you will need to board a bus going to the town of Coban.

This will cost Q30 / $3.85 and take around 3 hours. When you have arrived in Coban you will need to go from the local bus station to the long-distance bus station. Once here you will easily be able to get a bus to Guatemala City.

It’s a pretty common route and buses typically leave on the hour throughout the day. Once in Guatemala City, it is time for your final bus to Antigua. These typically take just over an hour and can be found at the bus terminal.


🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Guatemala: GuateGo


Lake Atitlan (Day 12 – 17)

Lake Atitlan is a lake in the Guatemalan Highlands of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It is one of the most beautiful and popular destinations in Guatemala, attracting visitors with its stunning scenery, diverse culture, and adventurous activities.

Lake Atitlan was formed by a volcanic eruption about 84,000 years ago, creating a huge caldera that filled with water over time. The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes: Atitlan, Toliman, and San Pedro, which add to its dramatic beauty.

The lake is also the deepest in Central America, reaching a depth of about 340 meters which attracts many scuba divers wanting to dive at altitude.

Seeing as Lake Atitlan is such a popular spot to visit in Guatemala you can be sure there is plenty of things to do here. Though many people simply enjoy relaxing here and exploring the different villages by boat.

I recommend picking three different locations around the lake and staying a night or two in each one.

the beautiful sights from my hostel in lake atitlan, a highlight on my guatemala itinerary
the beautiful sights from my hostel in lake atitlan, a highlight on my guatemala itinerary
the impressive volcano views in lake atitlan
the impressive volcano views in lake atitlan

Where To Stay In Lake Atitlan

There are plenty of lovely villages around Lake Atitlan where you can stay. I recommend choosing a couple you would like to visit and then checking out accommodation options.

Panajachel: Let’s start with the main city around Lake Atitlan called Panajachel. There always seems to be a constant stream of shuttles arriving and departing, with travelers walking on down to the docks.

I would say it is worth spending a couple of days here. It is an easy place to book tours and organize transport. There is some awesome shopping to be done down the main street called Calla Santander.

San Marcos la Laguna: Now if you are more of a free-spirited type of person or quite into the yoga scene you may want to think about basing yourself in San Marcos. There are so many accommodation options here, and truly some are incredibly beautiful with amazing views out to the volcanos.

This is also an excellent spot for some delicious vegan and vegetarian food.

San Pedro La Laguna: This is another popular town worth checking out. It is no doubt quite a backpacker hub with plenty of hostels and affordable cafes and restaurants.

This is the perfect town to position yourself in if you are planning to hike the San Pedro volcano or if you are perhaps looking for an easier hike you will also find plenty of tour agencies offering the popular Indian Nose Hike.

San Juan La Laguna: Undoubtedly this is the place to experience the arts of the area and is also a great place to do some shopping and buy some authentic souvenirs.

There are definitely fewer tourists here than in other villages around the lake, so it can be nice to get away from all the crazy and come here for a breather.

Santa Cruz la Laguna: Another popular spot is Santa Cruz la Laguna. This has grown quickly in popularity with backpackers over the last couple of years thanks to the affordable hostels on offer. You can find the popular Free Cerveza which gives summer camp vibes, and it is pretty cool you get to sleep in a teepee.

Secondly, there is La Iguana Perdida which was the first hostel in the area and has a really homely feel. One thing Santa Cruz is known for is its incredible views, from the lake, the volcanos, and the picturesque village, it is a feast for your eyes.

shark hostel

Selina Atitlan

The perfect stay for backpackers and digital nomads. Dorm rooms start from $22.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

Mr. Mullets

A party hostel perfect for those wanting to let loose and make friends. Prices start from $12.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
shark hostel

La Iguana Perdida

A lovely homely hostel right by the pier. Dorm rooms start from $11.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

Free Cerveza

Enjoy summer camp vibes and tipi dorm rooms. Prices start from $16.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

How To Get To Lake Atitlan From Antigua

Once you are done exploring one of my favorite cities in Central America of Antigua, it is time to head to the next spot on your Guatemala itinerary which is Lake Atitlan. Here you will find a beautiful lake, surrounded by 3 incredible volcanos, plenty of culture, and an excellent backpacker scene.

Luckily enough there are also plenty of transport options when it comes to traveling from Antigua to Lake Atitlan.

TimeCostHighlight
Tourist Shuttle2 1/2 hoursfrom $20Comfortable journey
Chicken Bus2.5 – 3.5 hoursfrom $6Adventurous and fun
Taxi2 hoursfrom $100Easy and stress-free

Tourist Shuttle: You have the choice here to book your tourist shuttle from Antigua to either Panajachel or San Pedro la Laguna. These both have multiple departures each day, and these are separate services, you won’t all be in one van and need to stop at the other town along the way.

Your journey will take between 2 to 2 and a half hours depending on how long the driver decides to stop for.

Chicken Bus: The price will come out around Q50 / $6.00 but be aware this can change depending on how many transfers you need to take. The total journey will be somewhere between two and a half to three and a half hours. Starting from Antigua you will need to make your way to the Antigua bus stop.

You can find this just behind the market and is pretty hard to miss thanks to the constant stream of buses entering and exiting. Take a chicken bus heading to Chimaltenango. This is a relatively short journey and should take around 35 minutes, though you may need to wait for the bus to leave.

Next up you will need to get another chicken bus from Chimaltenango to Los Encuentros. This is the longest part of the journey taking around 1 hour to travel this distance. Once you have arrived in Los Encuentros you will need to take another chicken bus 25 minutes to Solalà.

Finally, once in Solalà, you will take your last chicken bus to Panajachel which typically is a 25-minute or so drive.

Taxi: You can either choose to book a typical taxi or simply an Uber. If you want to just do a taxi, make sure you go through a reliable company such as Mariscal Taxis or Amarillo Taxis. Nevertheless, rates should be around $100.00 to $125.00, and you must remember to negotiate a price beforehand.

GuateGo offers private taxis that can be booked online, so you don’t need to stress about getting a decent price.

taking the shuttle to el paredon
taking the shuttle to el paredon

El Paredon (Day 17 – 20)

El Paredon is a small fishing village that has become one of the most popular surf destinations in Guatemala.

Located about two hours from Antigua and three and a half hours from the capital, El Paredon offers a laidback and off-the-beaten-path experience for travelers who want to enjoy the beach, the waves and the local culture.

Some of the best things to do in El Paredon, worth checking out are:

Surfing Lessons: You do need to be aware that this isn’t really the best learning beach for trying to surf, especially so if you are just planning to go out by yourself and wing it.

Though this is where a lesson or hiring an instructor comes in. You can expect to pay around Q200 / $25.00 per hour for a lesson. If you are an experienced surfer you will find many places along the beach hiring out boards.

La Choza Chula: Now if you want a bit more of a unique experience in El Paredon and are wanting to support the local community then booking a tour through la Choza Chula is the perfect option.

They are a nonprofit that works on improving the education and environment in and around El Paredon Guatemala. They offer a wide range of tours which will make you feel good to know your money is going back to uplifting the local community.

Check Out The Turtle Hatchery: Now unfortunately this activity isn’t available year-round, though that is mother nature. If you happen to be in El Paredon from September to December it is definitely worth checking out the turtle hatchery and watching a release.

This is run by the Driftwood Conservation Project and the 3 owners of the hostel are extremely passionate about the conservation of turtles here in Playa El Paredon.

Day Pass To Hostels & Hotels: Now if you are choosing to travel El Paredon on a budget you may find yourself staying in more basic accommodation. Luckily a lot of hotels, and hostels, offer day passes to use their facilities.

The hostel I stayed at Mellow Hostel, offers day passes to people who would like to come in and use their facilities. The price is Q150 / $19.12 which includes a Q100 / $12.75 bar tab that you can spend on drinks and food.

Sunset At The Beach: Now there is no better way to finish off your day in El Paredon than watching the sunset at the beach. Because the sand is black venturing onto the beach during the day is a risky venture, though once the temperature cools and the sun begins to drop the sand becomes a whole lot more bearable.

enjoying our pool at mellow hostel in el paredon guatemala on the 3 weeks in guatemala itinerary
enjoying our pool at mellow hostel in el paredon guatemala on the 3 weeks in guatemala itinerary
watching sunset on the beach in el paredon, the perfect way to end the day
watching sunset on the beach in el paredon, the perfect way to end the day

Where To Stay In El Paredon

El Paredon definitely surprised me with the large assortments of accommodation on offer. You can easily find gorgeous hostels, luxe hotels, and small bungalows.

Everything is actually really cute here, it reminds me of a mixture of old-school Sihanoukville in Cambodia, mixed with the aesthetic of Bali thanks to the bamboo used in the majority of buildings. Super aesthetic.

I stayed in Mellow Hostel which is located at the very start of El Paredon. It was an excellent place to stay, set slightly off the beach, and was the only accommodation that I could find at the time that offered air-conditioned dorm rooms (though seems like Cocori Lodge now have female air-conditioned dorms).

They have a huge pool with a nice shaded area so you don’t get too burnt while hanging out. They also accept credit cards which is great as there is no ATM in El Paredon, so if you overspend you will be in a pretty awkward position.

Cocori Lodge

Cocori Lodge

Enjoy the beautiful beachside hostel and all its great amenities. Prices start at $15.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
Mellow Hostel

Mellow Hostel

Set a little bit back from the beach, this is more of a relaxed hostel starting at $15.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
Calypso Cabanas

Calypso Cabanas

Enjoy these cute thatch bungalows from just $35.00 per night.

BOOK NOW
Ka'ana Surf

Ka’ana Surf

Enjoy a bit of luxury between surf sessions. Rooms here start at $100.00 per night.

BOOK NOW

How To Get To El Paredon From Antigua

After you are done exploring the incredible colonial buildings of Antigua it is time to hit the road to your next destination in Guatemala. If you were like me and looking to get back to the sun and find a nice beach to enjoy, there is no better place than El Paredon.

This is a quaint coastal town that has very quickly popped up on the backpacking Guatemala trail.

TimeCostHighlight
Tourist Shuttle2 1/2 hoursfrom $28Comfortable journey
Chicken Bus6 hoursfrom $12Adventurous and fun
Taxi2 hoursfrom $80Easy and stress-free

Tourist Shuttle: This is the easiest option and the most popular is simply to take the tourist shuttle from Antigua to El Paredon. Your journey will take between 2 to 2 and a half hours depending on how long the driver decides to stop for.

You can check out the travel route Antigua to El Paredon on GuateGo, buy your tickets through them, and then they will email you a copy! Super easy!

Chicken Bus: Starting from Antigua you will need to make your way to the Antigua bus stop. You can find this just behind the market and is pretty hard to miss thanks to the constant stream of buses entering and exiting. Take a chicken bus heading to Escuintla.

This is a relatively short journey of just 36 kilometers. Next up you will need to get another chicken bus from Escuintla to Sipacate. This is a 90-kilometer journey though sometimes there are no direct buses so you may find yourself needing to transfer again to get to Sipacate.

Though once there you simply need to head to the tuk-tuk stand opposite the petrol station. From here you can easily catch a ride to El Paredon which should cost you Q20 / $2.55.

Taxi: You can either choose to book a typical taxi or simply an Uber. If you want to just do a taxi, make sure you go through a reliable company such as Mariscal Taxis or Amarillo Taxis. Nevertheless, rates should be around $80.00 to $100.00, and you must remember to negotiate a price beforehand.


Antigua (Day 20 – 21)

I know, I know, you already went to Antigua so what gives! Well, since this is your last night on your 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary you are best off to head to a central location where there are plenty of international connections.

I will explain exactly where you can go after the Guatemala itinerary, though this will be your best option whether heading home by plane or catching a tourist shuttle to another country.


How To Travel To Antigua From El Paredon

Luckily enough it is super easy to travel from El Paredon to Antigua. The journey is relatively straightforward taking approximately 3 hours.

The best way to get to Antigua from El Paredon is by tourist shuttles. There are numerous departure times daily so you should have no issues finding one to suit your plans.

I can recommend booking this journey with GuateGo. On their site, you will see all the companies available and be able to check out other travelers’ reviews so you know exactly what to expect.


🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Guatemala: GuateGo


Extend Your 3 Weeks In Guatemala Itinerary

Why not stay a little longer while you are here in the country? Make the most out of that CA-4 agreement where you have 90 days in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and do some more exploring!

Domestic Options:

Xela: This is the second-largest city in Guatemala and a cultural and historical hub in the western highlands. It is one of the best places in Guatemala to learn Spanish thanks to its affordability.

You will find many language schools that offer affordable and quality courses. Also, Xela is close to several volcanoes that offer amazing hiking opportunities, including the highest peak in Central America, and a must-do for those interested in hiking.

Rio Dulce: Rio Dulce is a river and a national park in eastern Guatemala, connecting Lake Izabal with the Caribbean Sea. It is a place of natural beauty, wildlife, and culture, where you can enjoy the scenery, the adventure, and the history of this region.

The best way to explore Rio Dulce is by boat, as you can see the impressive canyon, the mangroves, the islands, and the villages along the river. You can also see many animals, such as manatees, crocodiles, monkeys, turtles, and birds.

International Options Include:

Nicaragua: Now this is a long journey so I would actually recommend stopping in Honduras or El Salvador to break up the trip. Nevertheless, some travelers decide to completely skip these and head straight to Nicaragua due to safety concerns.

If you are interested in exploring this incredible country find out more by reading these interesting facts about Nicaragua.

El Salvador: If this is your choice then it’s easy enough to continue your adventures on the Pacific from El Paredon where you can get a transfer straight to El Salvador without having to go back to Antigua. Enjoy some more time at the beach and check out some more volcanos in this underrated gem.

Belize: Doing this itinerary backward will be your best bet if you are wanting to do 3 weeks in Guatemala and Belize where you will end in Flores. This is a couple of hours from the border and you can easily grab a collective heading that way.

Enjoy pristine jungles, Mayan ruins, and more beach time, though this time in the Caribbean as you backpack Belize.

Honduras: This is actually where I went after my backpacking Guatemala journey had come to an end. I booked a bus to Copan Ruinas which is a popular tourist town near the border of Guatemala and Honduras.

In the country, you can experience wild nature, the best ruins I have seen, magical macaws, and the pristine waters of the Caribbean.

Mexico: Lastly we have Mexico, though be prepared for a pretty long journey, but this is a popular travel route. San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas state is your best bet if you want to travel overland is a 12-hour shuttle journey.

If you want to head to the Maya Rivera in Mexico then it will be best to fly to Cancun from Guatemala City.


Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!


LIKE IT? PIN IT!

Planning a trip to the incredible country of Guatemala, but not sure where to go? Then come check out my 3 weeks in Guatemala itinerary where we will explore the whole country from North to South. Let’s talk about the best route, things to do, transportation, accommodation, and more during your time in Guatemala!

Want more Guatemala Inspiration? Check out….


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

Related Posts

Best Hostels In Lake Atitlan: For Solo Travelers, Females & More

Let’s check out the absolute best hostels in Lake Atitlan for the perfect lakeside stay. [...]

Is Flores Guatemala Worth Visiting? All You Need To Know

Let’s find out is Flores Guatemala worth visiting. Depending on where you start your travels [...]

How To Travel From Lanquin To Semuc Champey: All Options Explained

Come find out how to travel from Lanquin to Semuc Champey in Guatemala. These two [...]

Leave a Reply

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