Antigua was once the capital of entire Central America in colonial period. The Spanish colonial-styled buildings can be seen everywhere in the city, including typical checkerboard streets, baroque churches, market halls, and noble mansions. All these elements make Antigua a UNESCO world heritage site. In 1776, the capital city of Guatemala was moved to Guatemala City, which is also the largest city in Central America nowadays. Built 1500 meters above sea level in the highlands, Guatemala City is surrounded by clusters of volcanoes. Its diverse architectural style integrates those in colonial, republic and modern era. It gathers numerous iconic spots such as City Hall, Central Park, and Constitution Square. Central Market, one of the most popular tourist attractions, offers a wide variety of handicrafts for tourists to explore.
Chichicastenango is a highland city full of religious mystique at an elevation of 2,030 meters. Nowadays, it has been more like a town with well-equipped facilities for accommodation and transportation for mass tourism. The church of St. Thomas in the tribe holds not only Catholic rituals but also inherits the ritual culture of the Mayan civilization. Surrounded by volcanoes, Lake Atitlán is a spectacular natural wonder that was formed thousands of years ago after violent volcanic movements. San Antonio, near the lake, has a natural hot spring that attracts many people who love to take a bath.
Petén, a former Mayan plain, is now home to the best of Mayan culture. There are the UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park and El Mirador, the largest pyramid area in the world. A world-known site, Tikal Pyramid, is located in the heart of the Petén Plain. It used to be the religious, commercial, and administrative center of the Maya Civilization and still preserves the central plaza for rituals. In its heyday, the square was home to more than 3,000 pyramidal shrines, with palaces and noble residences between each of them.
The Caribbean Sea has a green natural landscape. Lago Izabal, the largest lake in the country, meets the Río Dulce and flows into the Caribbean Sea. Here you can experience the enthusiasm of Garífuna culture. If you are on the beach with blue sea and blue sky, you can enjoy exotic music and food. In addition, the magnificent archaeological site, Quiriguá, has also been listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage of humanity and must not be missed.
In Verapaces, you get to admire the national bird of Guatemala, Quetzal, or visit the naturally formed caves, coffee estates, and greenhouses where orchids grow. This place is the cradle to the most valuable kind of orchid. This kind of orchid is considered the national flower, and it is called White Nun.
The Pacific region consists of Escuintla, Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez, and Santa Rosa provinces. There are spectacular volcanos, beautiful natural conservation areas, peculiar volcanic beaches, mangrove areas, and it is also very suitable for boat fishing, bird watching, volcanic climbing, surfing, and other activities.
The Atlantic region is the south-east part of Guatemala, which features religious center and richful natural sites. The waterfalls of Urlanta are one of the beauties that can be found in Jalapa. Ipala Lagoon is one of the first options for people who start hiking or climbing volcanoes, since it is considered one of the easiest summits to conquer. The Basilica of the Holy Black Christ of Esquipulas is the religious center of Central America, where hundreds of pilgrims arrive to visit the Black Christ of Esquipulas throughout the year and especially on January 15.