Guatemala City Travel Guide
Introduction to Guatemala City
Written off by most travelers as having no attractions at best, and being a crime-infested metropolis at worst, Guatemala City has more to offer than you would imagine.
From the center of government dating back to the beginnings of this nation in Zona 1, to the modern delights of Zona Viva, lingering in this place for longer than one day will yield surprises that you would have never uncovered had you rushed away from it too quickly.
Cultural Attractions in Guatemala City
The first place that you should visit during your time in Guatemala City is the National Palace. Built as a center of government for Guatemala in the 1940’s, it served as home to the president of the country.
These days, it serves as a museum that contains many outstanding murals, and extravagant features such as stained glass windows and gaudy chandeliers.
With this building serving as kilometer zero for all the roads in Guatemala, it is easily the centerpiece of the historical part of the city, so don’t miss it.
Guatemala likes to dub itself as the center of the Mayan World, so it is no surprise that Museo Popol Vuh is home to the largest collection of art from this ancient civilization.
Situated on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Zona 10, there are plenty of artworks here that were created by the Mayans during the Pre-Columbian and the colonial era. The best works here include vases, bowls, sculptures and a variety of ceramic art.
If you are looking to dig deeper into the clothes that the Mayan majority have worn over the years, then the Ixchel Museum of Traditional Costumes will prove to be a place that will capture your attention for several hours. Also found on the campus of Francisco Marroquin University, this interesting institution also has displays that show off how the creators of traditional Mayan clothing weaved and dyed their creations over the years.
Those looking to dig even deeper into this nation’s history will find plenty to learn at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología. Home to over 25,000 artifacts, the labels may only be in Spanish, but the extensive collection here includes Jade masks, stelae recovered from Mayan archaeological sites, as well as numerous costumes and clothing that were traditionally worn by the Mayan people over the years.
Other Attractions in Guatemala City
If you are looking to have a good time to start your trip or end it in Guatemala City, you needn’t look any further than Zona Viva. Located in Zona 10, this place is easily the wealthiest part of town, as it is home to numerous affluent restaurants, clubs, and bars.
While you won’t find the traditionally cheap prices that one would normally associate with a Central American country in this place, the breadth and variety of services found here will be a boon to you if you are dying for some Western comforts.
If you would rather enjoy yourself in surroundings that are a bit more authentic and historical, then heading to Zona 1, or Zona Historico as it is normally called, will put you in touch with some of the oldest streets that can be found in Guatemala City.
While travel guidebooks have traditionally warned against going here due to perceived threats, security has improved markedly over the past decade, making it a perfectly safe place to visit during the day.
In addition to being home to the National Palace, it is also where the Central Market of this city is located. Here you can watch local shop for food, textiles, or a variety of other daily essentials.
If you are traveling with family, Mundo Petapa Irtra is a great place to visit if your kids are craving a day of unadulterated fun. While this park is far from being anything like Disney World, it’s simple but fun rides will amuse your children, while the park’s centerpiece attraction, the 52 foot high Free Fall Tower, will give adrenaline junkies an excuse to admire Guatemala City’s beautiful skyline, before plunging the whole height of the tower in a matter of seconds.