Normalmente paso el verano viajando, pero eso no es realmente posible este año (I usually spend my summer traveling, but that’s not really possible this year). I never stop dreaming about travel, though, and neither should you! That’s why I’m going to continue my “virtual tours” here on the Spanish blog. Hoy viajamos a uno de mis países favoritos: Guatemala (Today we’re traveling to one of my favorite countries: Guatemala).
La Ciudad de Guatemala es la zona urbana más poblada de Centroamérica (Guatemala City is the most populous urban area in Central America). The urban area is home to nearly 3 million people in total. That means that about 1/6th of the country’s population lives in the capital.
El nombre oficial de la ciudad es Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción (The official name of the city is New Guatemala of the Assumption). To many locals, though, it’s simply known as Guate. The motto of the city is “Todos somos la ciudad” (We are all the city).
La ciudad de Guatemala es el centro político, económico y cultural del país (Guatemala City is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country). This sprawling metropolis in a valley is divided into 22 different zones.
You can head to the Centro Histórico (Historic Center) to see some of the most important landmarks in the country, such as el Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (the National Palace of Culture). Due to its greenish color, it’s also humorously known as El Guacamolón (the Big Guacamole).
Dentro de los confines de la moderna ciudad está la antigua ciudad maya de Kaminaljuyú (Within the confines of the modern city is the ancient Mayan city of Kaminaljuyú). The name means”Hill of the Dead” as it was home to some very richly adorned tombs. It’s definitely an interesting place to visit if you’re in the city.
Desafortunadamente, solo he estado en el aeropuerto de Guate (Unfortunately, I have only been to the airport in Guate). It doesn’t have the best reputation as a tourist destination and isn’t the safest place to visit. I’d like to check it out one of these days, though, probably on a day tour from our next destination…
Before the capital was in Guate, it was here in the city now known as Antigua. After all, la antigua really means “the old one.” Gran parte de la ciudad fue destruida en un terremoto (Much of the city was destroyed in an earthquake). After this happened, the capital was moved to a safer region.
Hay muchas ruinas para visitar aquí (There are many ruins to visit here). Seeing the beautiful ruins of these ancient churches is definitely a highlight of visiting Antigua. It was even declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Antigua es una ciudad muy tranquila (Antigua is a very tranquil city). The best place to soak up the atmosphere of the city is its Parque Central (Central Park). Both locals and tourists love gathering here all throughout the day, and the place really comes alive at night.
La ciudad está rodeada de tres volcanes – el Volcán de Agua, Fuego, y Acatenango (The city is surrounded by three volcanoes – the Volcano of Water, Fire, and Acatenango). While this makes for some stunning scenery and some epic hiking, the danger of having active volcanoes around is very real. Fuego just erupted a few years ago causing great damage and hundreds of deaths.
Para obtener una vista hermosa de la ciudad, camine hasta la cima del Cerro de la Cruz (To get a beautiful view of the city, walk to the top of the Cross on the Hill). It’s just a few blocks north of the Central Park and is the perfect place to go on a clear day.
Antigua es uno de los mejores lugares para aprender español (Antigua is one of the best places to learn Spanish). There are several excellent Spanish schools here. Classes are very affordable and Guatemalans generally speak quite clearly and not too quickly.
El momento más emocionante para visitar Antigua es durante la Semana Santa (The most exciting time to visit Antigua is during Holy Week). The city hosts some of the biggest processions in the entire world and it’s an amazing sight to behold. Read more about it in this post and check out some video highlights below:
El Lago de Atitlán es uno de los atractivos turísticos de Guatemala más visitados (Lake Atitlan is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Guatemala). It’s also one of my absolute favorite places on Earth.
Hay muchos pueblos diferentes ubicados alrededor del lago (There are many different villages located around the lake). Panajachel (or Pana for short) is the main town and the easiest to visit. If you’re short on time, you can just come here and take a boat trip around the lake.
Personally, I prefer to spend more time in the more interesting pueblos on the other side of the lake. Me gusta mucho el pueblo de San Pedro (I really like the town of San Pedro). It has a reputation as being a bit of a “party spot,” but there’s only about one block of bars and the rest of the town is a beautiful, quiet place.
Si te encanta hacer yoga, puedes visitar San Marcos (If you love doing yoga, you can visit San Marcos). It’s got a very spiritual, earthy vibe and is most certainly an interesting place to check out. There are also many smaller towns and villages all around the lake, each unique in its own right.
Una de las mejores experiencias que puedes tener en Guatemala es caminar hasta el lago (One of the best experiences you can have in Guatemala is trekking to the lake). Quetzal Trekkers is an amazing non-profit organization that runs multi-day hiking trips to the lake from the city of Xela. Read all about it here and be sure to watch the video highlights:
Tikal es uno de los mayores yacimientos arqueológicos de la civilización maya (Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites of the Mayan civilization). It dates back to the 6th century BC but reached its peak between 200 and 900 CE.
El nombre puede ser derivación de las palabras “ti ak’al,” en el idioma maya yucateco, que significa “en el pozo de agua” (The name may be derived from the words “ti ak’al,” in the Yucatec Mayan language, which means “at the water hole”). This is not the ancient name of the site, but rather one that was given to it by travelers who discovered the reservoirs here.
Tikal es un lugar increíble para explorar (Tikal is an incredible place to explore). There’s a lot to see here, including la Gran Plaza (the Great Plaza) with two awe-inspiring pyramids and el Mundo Perdido (the Lost World) – a large ceremonial complex.
Tienes muchas opciones para visitar las ruinas (You have many options for visiting the ruins). Most travelers stay in the town of Flores, which is actually a small island. It’s just a little over an hour from there by bus to reach the ruins. If you don’t mind splurging a bit, there are some hotels really close to the ruins as well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of Guatemala. It truly is an amazing country to visit and one I plan to keep returning to over and over. Now I just have a few questions for you…
¿Has estado en Guatemala?
Si es así, ¿a dónde fuiste?
Si no, ¿te gustaría visitar?
Have you been to Guatemala?
If yes, where did you go?
If no, would you like to visit?