Guatemala, a beautiful country just south of Mexico, is one of the loveliest destinations for a vacation – and one of the most affordable at that. Within the borders of this sunny equatorial country, you’ll never lack for something to do and will leave with colorful memories of a fun-filled trip.
In addition to delicious food, sparkling ocean waters, and beautiful parks and forests, one of Guatemala’s main draws is its array of impressive Mayan ruins.
It boasts some of the best cultural sites in Central America, ready for tourists to ooh and ahh. Like many other places, you should take certain factors into account when traveling to this Spanish-speaking destination.
Paramount among these is safety, which we will discuss in the considerations and FAQs below.
Another is affordability, and we’re here to help with that. This handy guide will break down the costs of your potential trip to show you the averages for every sector.
That way, you can conserve funds for the aspects you really care about – feather beds? fresh-squeezed juice? historical tours? – and save on those you don’t. Grab a cup of Guatemalan coffee, a fair-trade local chocolate bar, and a notepad.
Let’s get started.
Average Trip to Guatemala Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Guatemala for two people will cost around $4,500:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $75 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $1,000 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $100 per person, per day
- Transportation: $250 total
- Total Cost: $4,500
As you can see, a week in Guatemala is a pretty affordable proposition. If you eat nothing but street food and groceries and stay in a hostel, you can shave between $500 and $1,000 off the total cost of your trip.
That’s great news for budget travelers and backpackers, who are often working with a smaller budget.
If you are a backpacker coming from a nearby country, there’s even better news: you won’t have to pay the airfare, making Guatemala one of the cheapest dates you’ll find in the travel world.
Because of the low per-capita GDP in Guatemala and the minimal cost of living, you’ll find plenty of cheap lodging, food, and activities.
Just don’t get too cavalier and assume that every good deal is legit; there are plenty of folks in Guatemala who will take advantage of your tourist status. Let’s take a look now at the best ways to save money, stay smart, and get the most out of your vacation.
Guatemala Trip Cost: Average by Item
Averaging out the costs of a trip is always difficult, of course. The final tally will depend on your tastes, your idea of acceptable lodgings, how many paid activities you want to do, what kind of food you like to eat, how many people are in your group, and how long you plan to be there.
However, the following numbers should help you get an idea of what you might pay for different aspects of the trip. You can adjust up or down as needed.
Lodgings in Guatemala are tourist-friendly in the extreme. You can find a very comfortable, private room for two for only $20 to $40 a night. If you want something more upscale, try a 3-star experience for more like $50 to $75.
A true resort experience starts at only $100, while a boutique hotel with total privacy on Lake Petén Itzá costs about $250 a night.
That includes a private room, soaking tub with a glassed-in roof over which the jungle towers, swimming pool, open-air dining room, walking paths, a firepit, and a wonderful restaurant. You don’t need the 5-star experience to have a great time in Guatemala, though.
If you’re on a budget, stick to$75 a night for two. You’ll still get a private room and bathroom, a pool in many hotels, and proximity to some of Guatemala’s most amazing sights.
Want to avoid the hotels? If you’re a cabin or apartment person, you can easily find such rentals through Airbnb that match the same budget. Cabins range from $50 to $100 a night, often in beautifully remote and safe locations.
Many, if not most, people who come to Guatemala are interested in Tikal. Along with Tulum and Chichén Itzá, it is one of the most stunning examples of Mayan architecture in Central America.
As such, Mundo Maya International Airport (formerly known as Flores International Airport) is a good choice.
You can get a round-trip ticket from New York City for about $700, and from Los Angeles to Flores for about $1,000. Factoring in the average cost of a ticket to jump to a hub, you should budget about $1,000 per person for a flight.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
Guatemala has an amazing fusion cuisine. Mixing elements of First Nations, Spanish, and global cooking, it is rich in produce, seafood, and delicious bread. Drinks and desserts abound, but you won’t have to pay much for any of it.
A nice dinner out will cost you about $25 each, not including drinks. Street food and café stops will run you about $5 per person, and snacks and groceries are quite affordable.
All told, you can eat and drink on $50 a day per person, assuming you don’t eat at a real restaurant for more than one meal a day.
Activities are also affordable. For instance, a tour to Tikal will cost you between $150 to $200, with transportation included to and from your destination, entrance fees paid, lunch and snack, taxes, and a guide.
Most tours take about 10 hours, so plan for an entire day any time you go to visit ruins or on a jungle or rafting tour.
Although most people will tell you Tikal is the “it” place when it comes to Guatemalan ruins, don’t assume it’s the only one. Travel buffs report that there are plenty of other wild places with ruins worth seeing, such as Yaxhá National Park.
Guatemala’s cities also offer a club scene worth visiting if you’re the type.
As it is especially dangerous to be intoxicated late at night in foreign cities, though, you should only engage in such activities if you are close to your accommodations and with a group.
If you assume a couple of tours during your stay, some nighttime drinks and nice dinners, and a goodly amount of free activities – walking, sunbathing, and around-the-town sightseeing – then you can get by on about $100 a day per person. Skip the tours and it’s only $75 per person.
Getting around inside Guatemala is pretty easy. Taxi services are good, although drivers may try to charge you more than you agreed. If you don’t want to go by taxi, you’re pretty much consigned to buses between towns and destinations.
These buses, known as “chicken buses” by tourists for their propensity to carry farm animals as well as people, are slow and ponderous, mostly renovated American school buses.
While you can expect to spend some serious time in transit, they’re certainly great for pictures, though – bright paint jobs and fun motifs are the perfect backdrop. Between cities in Guatemala, the best bet is to hop a flight.
The airports are small and lines move quickly, and puddle-jumpers can take you where you need to go for about $50 a pop. It’s the perfect way to get around and see a bunch of countryside at the same time.
Overall, planning on one flight for two people, a few taxi rides, and public transportation, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $250.
Things to Consider
Now that we’ve discussed basics, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Driving is fine during the day in safe areas. You probably shouldn’t drive yourself, because the roads are unreliable and often confusing, and you can’t always find good maps. However, getting a trusted driver to take you around is totally fine.
- Bring DEET-free bug spray if you care about that. You won’t find any in Guatemala.
- You’ll likely need shots before traveling to Guatemala, so talk to your doctor or check out the CDC website, which recommends malaria, rabies, and typhoid in addition to standard vaccines.
- Stay away from the Mexico-Guatemala border. This border is hairy at the best of times, even when it’s full daylight and you have all your papers in order. The drivers who offer to take tourists across aren’t above robbing, extorting, or threatening them, and children often help them to do it, which makes it easy to get duped. Fly in and out of Guatemala and leave it at that.
- Guatemala’s volcanoes are a popular tourist attraction, but four of them are active. If you’re going to climb a volcano, do so in the company of an experienced guide. Know where the nearest shelter is and only climb during the daytime in the company of others, as volcanoes and hiking trails are common crime spots.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to visit Guatemala?
November through May is the best time to travel through the country. It’s not too hot and the rainy season doesn’t begin until late spring or summer.
The rainy season is hot, humid, and extremely buggy, with a higher chance that you’ll contract a waterborne or mosquito-borne illness. Given that Guatemala is plenty affordable already, it may be worth it to go during the high season and pay a bit more.
However, do note that that’s the same math every other tourist will be doing. If you value simplicity and fewer crowds, the low season is a great way to get it.
Should I combine Guatemala with another country?
As Guatemala is located near so many other popular tourist destinations, many travelers opt to combine it with another country. Mexico and Honduras are popular choices, as is Belize. The borders are risky, however, so it’s best to fly in.
Is Guatemala expensive?
Not at all. You can stay in a lovely guesthouse or at a resort near Tikal, arguably the most popular destination in the country, for around $60.
Meals and transportation are cheap, tours and thrill-seeking adventures are a great value, and flights within the country or to neighboring Central American destinations are well worth the minimal prices.
Is it safe in Guatemala?
The short answer is that it’s not really that safe in many parts of Guatemala. However, the same could be said for many parts of Mexico, Spain, India, Australia, and other popular tourist destinations.
As long as you stay in touristy, well-protected parts of the country and are smart, you should be fine.
The US State Department recommends that you go in with your eyes open, however. Guatemala fluctuates between “Exercise Increased Caution” and “Reconsider Travel” with regularity.
Currently, it advises that you not travel to “Marcos Department (except the city of San Marcos) due to crime; Huehuetenango Department (except the city of Huehuetenango) due to crime; and Zone 18 and the city of Villa Nueva in Guatemala City due to crime.”
Should I plan to drive in Guatemala?
This is up to you, but you should be aware of the risks. Many places in the countryside are dangerous, the cities are dangerous, and the borders are dangerous.
A better bet is to stay in tourist-packed areas, take public transportation where safe, and rely on taxis or private cars from designated services.
So, What Is the Average Cost for a Guatemala Trip?
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$75 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$1,000 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$100 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$250 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$4,500|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Guatemala is around $4,500 for two people. If you want to take a luxury vacation, you can spend about $1,500 more for the five-star experience, but it’s really not necessary in order to enjoy this beautiful Central American country to the fullest.
As long as you stay safe, book your flights and tours ahead of time to ensure a spot, and bring your game face, you’ll have an amazing time. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!