Nowhere in Central America is the mix of Mayan and Spanish cultures more obvious than in Guatemala. This lush country with incredible natural beauty and historic sites that never cease to amaze is one of the most unforgettable destinations in Latin America. People come to Guatemala for the ubiquitous Maya heritage, for the chance to study Spanish in a colonial town, or adventure in the jungles and on rivers. Also, Guatemala is one of the cheapest destinations in Central America, which makes it ideal for backpacking. There are quite a few places in Guatemala that can easily be considered backpacker’s paradises, combining accommodation, good food and amazing things to see and do. Here are some of the best backpacker destinations in Guatemala.
San Pedro la Laguna
The region around Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful parts of Guatemala, with the beautiful volcanic lake surrounded by Maya villages and various small towns. San Pedro la Laguna has a solid reputation among backpackers, thanks to its laid back atmosphere, the cheap and delicious food and the many attractions in the area. San Pedro is the hub for several great hikes and guided tours, but you might also want to try your had at kayaking and paragliding.
Quetzaltenango , also called Xela, is the second largest city in Guatemala, and a place thoroughly steeped in history. Xela exists since pre-Columbian times, but there are few Mayan traces left in the city. However, Xela shines when it comes to colonial architecture and historical sights. Xela is less crowded than Antigua or Guatemala City, and it is a great base for exploring the surrounding area, which has several natural wonders.
Travelers who sailed around the Caribbean probably already know of Rio Dulce, a popular mooring port and quaint small town that combines Maya ruins, colonial heritage and some stunning natural sights. The ruins of Quiriga are just southwest of Rio Dulce, and Castillo de San Felipe, an old pirate fort, is also nearby. If you want to relax, visit Finca Paraiso, a combo of hot springs, a hot waterfall and a green pool where you can splash around.
For many travelers, Flores is just a gateway to the famous ruins at Tikal, but this town is a genuine jewel that merits a lengthy visit. The town is located on an island on Lake Peten Itza, connected to the shores through a causeway. The city covers almost all of the small island is a tangle of red-roofed colonial buildings and mazes of narrow streets. There are several hostels in Flores, interesting nightlife and great dining scene.
Lanquin in wedged into a deep and lush valley, it is rather hard to reach, and can offer all the relaxation you’ve ever needed. The town is full of quiet charm, but there are several exciting sights a short drive from Lanquin. Visit the spectacular Semuc Champey nature reserve and its beautiful limestone pools, or the several waterfalls in the area.