Guatemala City, or Guate to the locals, isn’t what you’d call a pretty city. Nor, for that matter, is it an especially safe one. Your first clue of that will be the guards with pump-action shotguns outside every store, followed closely by the prodigious amounts of razor wire strewn over everything.1 It’s a big, sprawling metropolis where population growth has outpaced the city’s ability to deal with it.
Security is a major problem, and poverty is rampant. The city has an official census population of almost 2.5 million, but the actual population is almost certainly millions more—in recent years, there has been a flood of people that haven’t been counted in official data.
So it doesn’t come as much surprise that Guatemala City has an uphill battle ahead of it to attract tourism. Most tourists use the airport–and it’s a surprisingly modern and efficient one at that–and then head straight for the much more inviting Antigua, about 45 minutes away, or Lake Atitlán.
That said, in the center of Guatemala City, in Zona 1, radiating from the Parque Central (Plaza de la Constitucion), there are some impressive churches, markets, and museums worth seeing.
You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Guatemala (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.
The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information for Guatemala . You can find the British Government's here and the Australian Government's here.
Health & Vaccinations
The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Guatemala here.
by David Coleman
I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »
I take photos and travel. I do it for a living. Seven continents. Dozens of countries. Up mountains. Under water. And a bunch of places in between. Based in Washington DC.