After getting her fill of Mexico’s colourful Day of the Dead celebrations, traveller Stephanie Hower continues her Central America explorations by crossing the border into Guatemala.

It might not be the first country that springs to mind when you think of Central America, but the diverse landscapes of Guatemala will certainly leave a lasting impression.

Whilst not as well-trodden as Mexico or Costa Rica, a pleasant surprise lies around each corner. From active volcanoes to stunning waterfalls, magnificent lakes, cute colonial towns and some of the best coffee in the world, the tough decision is where to begin!

Here are five reasons everyone needs to add Guatemala to their travel plans in 2019:

 

1. THE CULTURE-BUFF: ANTIGUA

karryon-guatemala-antigua-stephanie-hower

From its colourful buildings and cobblestone streets to gourmet, rustic (and cheap!) food, thriving nightlife and regular festivals around the city, Antigua is a culture-buff’s dream.

Beware though, this place is as addictive as it is delicious coffee and it will leave you wishing you could stay longer.

 

2. THE DREAMER: FLORES

karryon-guatemala-flores

This colonial town will steal your heart from the moment you arrive.

Take a walk along the lakeside and admire the colourful buildings that lie alongside it, or immerse yourself in the scenery from a boat ride on the country’s second largest lake.

Be sure to make a stop at Jorge’s Rope Swing to release your inner adventurer.

 

3. THE HISTORIAN: TIKAL

karryon-guatemala-tikal-stephanie-hower.jpg

These ancient ruins are only a short drive from Flores and date back as far as 900 B.C.

Set amongst the Guatemalan jungle, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the remains of large stone monuments and temples that once played an important commercial and cultural role in Mayan civilisation.

 

4. THE CHILLER: LAKE ATITLÁN

karryon-guatemala-Lake-Atitlan-stephanie-hower

It could almost feel like you’re in the surroundings of Lake Como, but the two volcanoes staring back at you are a giveaway that this lakeside town is no European city.

Lake Atitlán is the largest of its kind in Guatemala and recognised as being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The towns lining the lake provide the perfect place to relax in a hammock and read a book, or jump on in and take in the views from the water.

 

5. THE ADRENALINE JUNKIE: VOLCANO NATIONAL PARKS

karryon-guatemala-volcano-pacaya-stephanie-hower.jpg

Guatemala is home to many impressive volcanoes, including three which are currently active.

It’s possible to climb some of them, including Pacaya and Acatenango, with each hike being nothing short of a challenge. If you’re in search of the ultimate endurance test, Volcán de Agua also holds an annual ultramarathon.

 

Have you travelled to Guatemala?