48 Hours in Guatemala City

by Jack Guy

Sep 7, 2018

Guatemala City © Diego Grandi | Dreamstime

Tips / Destination

For years, the Guatemalan capital was considered too boring or dangerous for most tourists to make it part of their itinerary. With an improving security situation and something of a cultural renaissance underway, that reputation is slowly changing.

If you do want to see the city, start off in Zone 1, also known as the historic center. Here you will find the main pedestrianized shopping street, Sexta Avenida, as well as official buildings such as the Presidential Palace and the National Palace of Culture. You can take a guided tour of the latter.

Just across the huge Parque Central lies the Metropolitan Cathedral, worth a look inside, as well as the chaotic central market. Here, you can shop for everyday items as well as souvenirs, or just people watch. There are some great food stalls for lunch.

Also worth seeing is the rapidly gentrifying Zone 4, transformed in the past 10 years. Little remains of its crime-ridden past and, in the place of brothels and cantinas, there are now trendy restaurants, cafés and art spaces. Grab a coffee at Rojo Cerezo, look at some exhibitions in La Erre and eat at Mercado 24.

To learn about the culture and history of the country, spend a few hours in museums such as the Museo Popol Vuh. If you’re interested in the spectacular traditional dress worn by Maya communities across Guatemala, go to the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena.

Art fans will enjoy Galeria 9.99, Proyectos Ultravioleta and Proyecto Poporopo, which also doubles as a restaurant and bar. For music, Trova Rock and The Box are the best options for rock and electronic music, respectively.

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