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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit This Affordable Central American Country This Winter

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Many travelers may be keen on the idea of visiting Mexico or even Costa Rica this winter but can easily be put off by the crowds or the high prices.

But what if I were to tell you there’s a Central American country offering tastes of both those flagship destinations but at a fraction of the cost and probably with fewer tourists too?

That country is Guatemala – and it’s enjoying a reemergence as a popular tourism destination this year.

man traveler sitting on a pier overlooking lake atitlan in guatemala

It’s a land of beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and more Maya ruins than you can shake a stick at – here’s why Guatemala should be in your travel plans this winter.

Like Mexico But Quieter (And Cheaper)

Guatemala shares a large border with Mexico, and the two countries have many similarities dating back to their ancient Maya pasts.

Of course, no two countries are completely alike, but Guatemala can give you many of the things that Mexico can – winter sun, amazing food, friendly people, Maya ruins – for a lot less money and usually with fewer tourists surrounding you.

colonial architecture in antigua the old capital of guatemala

Spanish is the official language, and the official currency is known as the Guatemala Quetzal, which had a value of about eight to the dollar at the time of writing.

A Solid Choice For Winter Sun

Guatemala is a good choice for those who want to stay warm this winter.

The country averages around 64F from November through to February, which also just so happens to be the dry season too.

Playa Blanca is one of the country’s best-known beach resorts, tucked into a corner of Guatemala’s tiny stretch of Caribbean coastline.

sunset at monterrico beach in guatemala

Many of the other beach destinations are on the country’s southern shores facing the Pacific Ocean – some of the highlights include Monterrico and El Paredon.

Impressive Natural Beauty

Away from the golden sands of the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, Guatemala is an impressively beautiful country within its interior.

One of its most distinct features is the many volcanoes – some of which, such as the Volcan de Fuego, are still active and regularly put on shows of their impressive power.

If you are seeking a truly unique hiking adventure, then consider a trek up one of the other volcanoes in Guatemala such as Volcan Pacaya.

For those less enthusiastic about physical activity, a great place to go and see the stunning landscapes that volcanoes create is Lago de Atitlan – a large lake that is overlooked by Volcan San Pedro.

a quetzal the national bird of guatemala

Much of Guatemala’s interior is made up of lush rainforests that can be a wildlife lover’s dream.

There are many unique animals that frequent these jungles including the national bird, the Quetzal.

Rich In History And Culture

As already mentioned, Guatemala is a great place to immerse yourself in ancient Maya culture.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to ruins of this kind – perhaps the most famous is Tikal, located in a dense rainforest in the Peten province in the north of the country.

Other noteworthy sites include Yaxha, Iximche, and Nakum.

two travelers ascend the steps at tikal maya ruin in guatemala

As well as this fascinating ancient history, you can see many indicators of Guatemala’s colonial past in its towns and cities.

The Spanish capital for a while was the city of Antigua but it was then forced to move to the present site of Guatemala City after a series of devastating earthquakes in the 1700’s.

Guatemala City is a bright, vibrant, and sometimes slightly chaotic place that is a well-trodden stop-off for backpackers and travelers in this part of the world.

cultural center of guatemala with national flag outside

It’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it destinations, but you can’t deny that there’s plenty to do there – try visiting the Maya Museum Museo Ixchel or the Presidential Palace.

Flights Are Cheap And Plentiful

Guatemala City was recently named as one of 10 cheapest international destinations to fly to this winter, averaging at $447 for round-trip flights from the U.S.

One of the main reasons for that could be that many different airlines fly there, meaning competition leads to lower prices.

That competition among airlines is about to increase after Alaska Airlines announced its first-ever daily non-stop flight route to Guatemala City from Los Angeles, beginning this December.

You can also fly to Guatemala on American Airlines, United, Avianca, and KLM.

tikal maya ruins in guatemala

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Jota

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

I have mixed feelings about this article, certainly it brought the author more traffic, and “some”of the things they said hints they may have traveled to Guatemala, but the real issue is the more people come, the more it gets trampled. Again I’m not naming the village I live in and I AM very well versed in this country and would never be called a tourist, but again it’s a double edged sword. Guatemala has no political agenda to drive tourism and even if they did, they are to poor to build serious infrastructure. Mexico literally allowed themselves to be raped by tourism and allowed the president to destroy 1000 of miles of Mayan sites, cenotes, and forest to make his “tourist train”, which is really just a way to move cargo and squeeze china on exports.

I digress , people will come to a place no matter what, but to LIVE HERE and truly understand the culture and the people, you’ll need to take your tourist hat off for that.

The reality is articles like this push the tourists to the villages, and the villages keep building in hopes to keep bringing in tourism, and the cycle repeats until we have Tulum, or Caye Caulker. The Guatemala people have survived hundreds if not thousands of years without stupid tourist running around clicking pictures for their social media.

I recommended to my town that tourists be allowed and encouraged to visit but a few shall be assessed on your accommodation if your just “clicking through”.

Just the other day I met three Mayan children on the corner that spoke perfect English, WHY!!! This is a Spanish country.

My friend told me at breakfast today that in the old days people would spend all Christmas Day with their family and now they shortcut it to be in the streets selling to the tourists.

I really don’t think my village will ever be a “tourist destination” except maybe for a day trip, but I know one day the hotels will come, and the Mayan spirit will have been replaced by the almighty quetzal, but I pray that day is a long way off.

Thanks for the article and btw the “Q” as we locals call it, is worth about 7.5 to the dollar right now. If your smart you CAN live very well here for very little , but I never once said SMART and TOURIST in the same sentence!

If you come here learn the language, the culture and take something from here besides stupid instagram pic!

Travel safe!