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The Best Time to Visit Guatemala in 2023

The Best Time to Visit Guatemala in 2023

Some of the world’s most diversified landscapes may be found in Guatemala. Volcanoes, warm beaches, and lush jungles are but a few exciting things to experience in this amazing country.

We’ve got you covered if you plan to visit Guatemala soon. Knowing the best time to visit Guatemala before making travel plans is essential. Weather, seasonal changes, and other factors must be considered.

Why You Should Visit Guatemala

Temple of the Great Jaguar at Tikal pictured during the best time to go to Guatemala, with semi-cloudy skies and gorgeous grass around the temple and ruins

Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

Whether you’re seeking a cultural experience or outdoor adventure, Guatemala is the place to go. You will surely appreciate a visit to this incredible nation, which is renowned as the Mayan hub of Central America because of its abundance of adventure, historical monuments, culture, natural wonders, beautiful architecture, and ancient ruins.

Beautiful jungles with wildlife like iguanas, toucans, and spider monkeys may be found here, often taking refuge under the mahogany trees that dot the area.

Active volcanoes surround the historic city of Antigua. Chichicastenango is home to a well-known market where locals and visitors alike may buy and trade anything from handmade goods to medicinal herbs.

Visitors to Lake Atitlan can experience the culture, volcanoes, and laid-back atmosphere for which Guatemala is renowned. Tourists may find a variety of activities and attractions in each of Lake Atitlan’s unique communities.

Its wide range of wonderful pubs and restaurants makes San Pedro a popular destination for budget travelers. Hippies call San Marcos home, and the city has become a health mecca.

Guatemala’s climate is relatively consistent throughout the year, but there are still periods when you’ll want to avoid going there. Most activities in Guatemala will take place in the great outdoors, and it would be unfortunate for periods of heavy rain to keep you from having the best time possible.

Overall Best Time to Visit Guatemala

Sunrise as seen from a hut's walkway between support poles on Lake Atitlan during the best time to visit Guatemala

Mesa Studios/Shutterstock

The overall best time to visit Guatemala is during the dry season between November and March. Festivals and dry weather are both at their peak during this period.

Unlike other countries, Guatemala does not have a distinct peak, shoulder, and off seasons. Instead, the four-year cycle alternates between two dry and two wet periods.

The first peak season is also the dry season. As a result, you can count on plenty of bright, warm days. Beginning in early November, as the hurricane season winds down, the dry weather sets in, just in time for the festivities around the Day of the Dead.

This first peak season winds down in late March or early April, generally following Holy Week (Semana Santa) in the lead-up to Easter, another of Guatemala’s greatest celebrations.

As city inhabitants in Guatemala take time off between Christmas and New Year’s, many popular tourist destinations see a steep influx of visitors. Still, Holy Week remains the busiest period of the year. Most Guatemalans take their yearly vacation at this time.

Areas with water access, including Lake Atitlán, become crowded with people during Holy Week. Quetzaltenango, located in the highlands, may see temperatures that dip to the low 30s at night between November and March.

But a bulky winter coat is unnecessary unless you want to go trekking. However, bringing a jacket and socks is vital as temperatures can make these pieces of clothing appreciated.

Cheapest Time to Visit Guatemala

Woman depicted carrying a basket on her head during the cheapest time to visit Guatemala and looking out over the ocean with a volcano in the background

Panajachel, Guatemala -April, 25, 2018: Outdoor view of unidentifed indigenous woman, wearing typical clothes and walking in lakeshore with small boats in Atitlan Lake and volcano in the background/Fotos593/Shutterstock

March through May is a fantastic time to visit Guatemala if you are on a tight budget. The wet season won’t be an issue, and if you can schedule your trip outside of the Easter break, you may be able to save money on your trip.

During March and April, the path to the famous Maya monument El Mirador is in its best condition. The journey there is arduous, requiring either a two-day jungle trek from Carmelita or a three-to-four-day excursion from Uaxactún.

The effort is well worth it. You may also avoid the muddy forest trek by taking a helicopter flight. However, your view of the ruins from above will be much more limited as the canopy can make parts difficult to see.

You’re in luck if you’re a nature lover and plan to visit Guatemala in the spring. Nesting season for the elusive quetzal begins in March and continues through June.

If you want to see one, go to Cobán or Verapaces to check out the Biotopo del Quetzal. If you go at dawn during the beginning of the nesting season, you’ll have a better chance to see this rare bird.

Even if you don’t see a quetzal, it’s still worth your time to check out the forest in the spring. You will see a gorgeous array of plants and flowers spread out under a canopy of trees several stories high.

Least Busy Time to Visit Guatemala

Empty streets in the middle of the city at sunrise with nobody walking and no cars during the COVID crisis during the least busy time to visit Guatemala

Salmonnegro-stock/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Guatemala is during its two low seasons. After Holy Week through the end of May and again from September through the end of October are Guatemala’s two low seasons.

These correspond with the beginning and conclusion of the rainy season. The hostel’s common areas will become deserted, and you may find yourself with the whole place to yourself.

Guatemala features some periods of unpredictable weather. In May and September, you might expect some bright days interspersed with midday or evening rains, or you can have days of continuous rainfall.

A waterproof backpack cover, rain gear, and quick-drying garments are all must-haves. It would be best if you also stock up on insect repellant since storms increase the likelihood of mosquito-borne illnesses.

Prepare suitable hiking shoes if you want to hike or climb volcanoes since the lava flows and ash may make the ground quite slippery.

It’s also crucial to have shoes with good tread since the cobblestone streets of Antigua may be quite hazardous when wet. If you must cross a roadway converted into a river, wear sturdy, waterproof footwear that dry fast rather than flip-flops.

During the wetter months, power outages and intermittent connectivity are more common. If you don’t have a rigid schedule, being stranded somewhere for longer than expected shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Worst Time to Visit Guatemala

Sunrise in the Guatemalan jungle during the rainy and wet season, which the worst time to visit

PeterBatarseh/Shutterstock

The rainy season isn’t the best time to visit Guatemala, as the area has the most rainfall in September and October. If you want to save money on airfare, you should consider taking a trip during this season, even if it means braving the afternoon showers.

When September 15 rolls around, Guatemalans all around the country take a day off work to commemorate the country’s independence with parades, fireworks, and massive street parties, with the biggest and best being in Guatemala City.

The Day of the Dead, or All Saints’ Day, is celebrated in Guatemala on November 1. The actual day is a holiday, and the celebrations may go on for many days. It’s a nationwide holiday.

However, the observances may differ from place to place. However, its hallmark features are the inexpensive prices of its coffee (often $1–$3) and the substantial portions of its meals (about $5–$10).

Even so, the coffee is excellent. If you are in the Caribbean Sea region on November 26, plan to visit Lívingston for the annual Garífuna day celebration.

It’s the best time to experience the town’s unique music and customs, which set it apart from the rest of Guatemala. In the presence of Garífuna punta’s mesmerizing percussion beats, you’ll see some of the most incredible dancing you’ve ever seen.

Things to Consider

Faceless Guatemalan woman preparing fresh tortillas on a big black cast iron stove

Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

So, if you’re debating whether or not Guatemala belongs on your trip itinerary, here are some things to consider first:

  • UNESCO recognizes three of Guatemala’s cultural landmarks as World Heritage Sites. Antigua, a lovely town in Guatemala, the Quirigua Maya ruins, and Tikal National Park in the country’s north are all worth a visit.
  • Some people believe that Guatemala is where chocolate first originated. As early as the sixth century A.D., it was already used in Mayan society.
  • Dining out isn’t only fantastic but also quite affordable. The Mayan and Spanish civilizations have left their mark on the cuisine and beverages of Guatemala. Because of the environment, they can also cultivate a large number of tropical fruits.
  • Daytime and nighttime fireworks displays, known as bombas, are relatively frequent. In fact, Guatemalans love bombas at just about any time of year.
  • If you find yourself in Guatemala, you must stop at Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is the largest and deepest lake in Central America and is renowned for its stunning scenery.
  • The Guatemalans have a deep appreciation for coffee. For this reason, if you are a serious coffee connoisseur and happen to be traveling to Guatemala, you are in for a treat.
  • Your meals will always include tortillas.
  • Among all possible locations, learning Spanish in Guatemala is your best bet. They talk slowly, and it’s inexpensive. It’s also simpler to pick up because of their very neutral accent.
  • Skip Guatemala if you don’t like greeting strangers with “Buenos Dias” as you walk along the street. The people of Guatemala are kind and welcoming, often stopping to exchange pleasantries with those they encounter.
  • There is always a salsa lesson near Guatemala, regardless of where you are. There is a school conveniently located on every street corner in Antigua.
  • Travel to the local markets. There are 23 public markets in Guatemala City where you can buy fresh goods from around the nation. You may take in the sights of the mountainous heaps of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other things and buy some trinkets as souvenirs.
  • Guatemala City has the worst traffic. When traveling in the city, it is recommended that you allow for additional time if you have an appointment to make.
  • Always be on guard and aware of your surroundings. Even while it’s safer now than it was in the past, there are still areas you shouldn’t go to or times of day you shouldn’t go out exploring on your own.
  • Unfortunately, getting to and from the airport through public transportation is not an option. Although haggling with a taxi driver is an option, booking a trip in advance is usually your best option.
  • Great museums and art galleries may be found here. Go to the Museum of Indigenous Textiles and Clothing (Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena) to see traditional Mayan clothing and the Museum of the Popol Vuh to learn about the Mayan religion. Check out Proyectos Ultravioleta and 9.99, two excellent galleries, and the National Museum of Modern Art.
  • If adrenaline-fueled activity isn’t your style, Guatemala has several spots recognized for being considerably more spiritual and tranquil. San Marcos la Laguna is well-known among yogis. Several workshops, courses, and retreats are offered, and the community is revered and holy to the Maya.
  • Please be kind and ask individuals if they mind having their photos taken. You should avoid contacting or photographing Guatemalan youngsters unless you have consent from their parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hermano Pedro church in Antigua, Guatemala pictured during the best time to visit with blue skies in the background and vibrant locals scurrying about

Lucy.Brown/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Guatemala:

What language is spoken in Guatemala?

In Guatemala, locals communicate with one another in one of 25 languages. Most people speak Spanish since it is the official language. In addition to the 22 Mayan dialects, two more Indigenous languages, Garífuna and Xinca, are spoken here.

What currency is used in Guatemala?

The currency symbol for the Guatemalan quetzal in international transactions is GTQ. A quetzal may be split into 100 centavos, which is Guatemala’s national currency. In November of 2022, 1 GTQ is equivalent to USD 0.127.

Can I travel to Guatemala without a visa?

Visas are not needed for visitors staying up to 90 days in this country. Even if a visa is not often necessary, you should bear in mind the following: Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your intended date of departure from the nation.

Is tap water in Guatemala safe to drink?

It is not safe to drink water from the faucet in Guatemala. Any water consumed, used for tooth brushing, or made into ice should be boiled or otherwise sterilized beforehand. It is advised that you drink bottled water.

Can you swim in Lake Atitlan?

One may swim without worry at Lake Atitlan. Many of the hotels and resorts on the lake feature swimming pools and docks. Some of the cities on the lake have public beaches. The natural reserve and large diving platform make San Marcos a favorite among swimmers.

Is there a dress code in Guatemala?

While there is no hard and fast rule on what women may or must not wear in Guatemala, it’s probably best to avoid wearing anything too revealing. Women in indigenous communities often wear skirts that extend at the knee, although visitors are welcome to wear whatever they choose.

Do you tip in Guatemala?

While tipping is not widely practiced in Guatemala, it is always appreciated. If service is not included in the price of a meal, a 10 percent tip is customary at a restaurant.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Guatemala

November through April is considered high season, making those months the best time to visit Guatemala. During this time of year, known as the dry season, there will be a lot of sunlight, the temperature will be high, and there will be a lesser possibility of rain.

However, regardless of the time you choose to visit, you’ll be greeted by friendly locals, amazing food, and more activities than you’ll be able to pack into one trip. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Guatemala today!