Guatemala is one of the most popular destinations in Central America, probably second only to Mexico (technically part of North America) and Costa Rica which have been popular destinations for years now. It is a country rich in culture, colonial architecture, volcanoes, lakes, dense forests and some of the most impressive Mayan sites in the region, Tikal above all. It can easily be visited in a single trip or even combined with neighboring Mexico and Belize.
Guatemala City became the country’s capital after neighboring Antigua was almost completely destroyed by the 1773 earthquake. With a population of around three million, it is now the largest city in Central America.
The city has no particular points of interest so that many travelers, once landed, get on the first bus to nearby Antigua. We had to spend a couple of days there trying to fix a problem with my debit card and I must say that in fact the city is not particularly interesting.
When to visit Guatemala
Guatemala largely has an excellent climate. It is in fact often referred to as “the country of eternal spring”, much of the territory in the center and east enjoys pleasant temperatures during the day and cool at night, especially thanks to the altitude between 1300 and 1600 meters in many cities and regions including Guatemala City, Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Choosing the Hotels in Guatemala is the best choice there.
A different story must be made for the north and north east area of the country, where it is hot and humid practically all year round.
As for rainfall, there are two distinct seasons:
- The rainy season, which runs from May to October, however, where the rains are often concentrated in a few hours in the afternoon.
- The dry season which runs from November to April are instead characterized by sunny days and blue skies.
Having said that, many visited the country between August and September, therefore close to the peak of the rainy season (September-October) and we must say that despite some afternoon showers the situation has always been extremely livable.
Documents and vaccinations to enter Guatemala
Italian passport holders receive a 90-day tourist visa when they enter the country. Guatemala together with Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador is part of the CA-4, an agreement between these four countries that provides for a maximum stay of 90 days. So, for example, if you spend 40 days in Nicaragua then go to Honduras for another 20 days and to El Salvador for another 20 before entering Guatemala, you will only be given 10 visa days when you enter Guatemala.
It is possible to renew the visa for another 90 days for the whole region simply by crossing the border to Mexico or Belize in the north and Costa Rica in the south by land or any other country by plane even during the day doing the so-called “visa run”.
Alternatively, it is possible to renew the visa for another 90 days in an immigration office of one of the four countries; this process can only be done once, the cost varies by country.Guatemala officially requires yellow fever vaccination if you have recently been to an at-risk country (much of South America and Central Africa) in the past 11 days.