Backpacking Guatemala in 2 weeks? Sure why not! Guatemala is an amazing country and it is so underrated. If you have the time I would recommend spending at least 4 weeks here (I stayed for 9!). But if you are on a tight timeline and only have 2 weeks I’ve put together this guide to help you see as much of Guatemala in 2 weeks as you can.
A Little Bit About Guatemala Travel
Guatemala isn’t a huge country the roads aren’t great and the best (fastest and cheapest) way to get around is by minibus, otherwise known as a tourist shuttle. If you are on a real budget you can take a chicken bus (or 10) across the country but if you only have a week I really wouldn’t recommend that as you would likely spend most of your time on a bus!
These tourist shuttle rides are long and uncomfortable, most don’t have AC and the ride can be pretty bumpy. But they get you to where you want to go and they are pretty cheap. During peak season your backpack will be strapped to the roof, in rainy season as they have fewer people generally, you might get lucky and have your backpack in the bus with you. So make sure you travel with a good waterproof cover! Take a read of my guide to surviving bus rides in Central America here. Trust me Backpacking Guatemala in 2 weeks you are going to need to be prepared for the buses!
For all of your transport needs in Guatemala, the only website that you can book shuttles, buses, tours and Spanish classes is GuateGo.
The starting point for backpacking Guatemala in 2 weeks
Depending on where you are coming from you can either start in Flores or Guatemala City. If coming from Belize or East Mexico you will start in Flores anywhere else start in Guatemala City and head straight to Lake Atitlan.
Day 1 Tikal
Spend your first day exploring Tikal. I have written a whole post on it here where you can find out everything you need to know. If you want to do a sunset or sunrise tour you will need to book and pay in advance. I would recommend taking the evening tour as you have a better chance of seeing the sunset. It is often very misty in the mornings plus you will need to book the day before for the morning tour and you can only book in the banks. So this could be an issue if you arrive late.
Day 2 Flores
I didn’t have much time in Flores, but there is plenty to do
Day 3 – Travel to Semuc Champey
I’m not going to lie to you, this is one of the worst bus rides I’ve ever done. It’s hot, humid and long. There is no easy or nice, way to get to Semuc Champey. The only thing you can do is be prepared. Take a read of my guide to getting there here, and my guide to surviving long bus rides here, and you will be fine.
I personally recommend staying in El Retiro and pay the extra for AC, you will need it.
Day 4 Semuc Champey Tour
Getting to Semuc Champey isn’t easy. But it is so worth it! I don’t always advocate for taking organized tours but this one is one I would always advocate for. If you don’t take the tour you won’t be able to access a lot of the places there like the caves. So spend your day in Semuc doing the tour. You can read all about my experience and advice for booking here.
Day 5 – Travel to Antigua
I’m afraid traveling to Antigua is no better leaving Semuc Champey as it is arriving! You can book a shuttle at the place where you are staying, they are all pretty much the same price and normally leave at 8 am. Read more about it here.
Accommodation in Antigua
There are 3 places I recommend Wiltcho and Charlies or Lemon Tree if you are looking for a hostel. Alternatively, if you want a B&B I can’t recommend Donde Rita enough. She is a good friend and has opened up the most stunning Moroccan style B&B. If you go be sure to say hi from me!
Day 6 -9 Antigua
Once you arrive in Antigua you will be shattered so take a shower, go in search of food and then get an early night. I love Antigua and I’m sure you will too! I’ve written a guide to seeing Antigua in 4 days which you can read here. There is plenty to do it will just depend if you want to relax and enjoy some downtime or go on a volcano hiking adventure!
Day 10-13 Lake Atitlan
Book yourself on the first shuttle to Panajachel for the morning of day 10. From Pana, you have a few choices. You could spend the day exploring Pana, they have a great market so if you want to buy any gifts do it here. But it isn’t the nicest place on the lake so my advice would be to take a walk down the main street, have brunch and then take a launch (boat taxi) to San Pedro and use there as your base for the next few days.
I have written a lot on Lake Atitlan which you can read to decide what you want to do while you are there.
Need accommodation in Lake Atitlan? Stay here with my friends Julia and Joel in there amazing AirBnB!
Day 14 Take a Shuttle to your next country
Word of caution – don’t be tempted to get a shuttle direct to or from San Pedro or any of the other villages around the lake. Always go to Pana and then take the launch. The roads aren’t great and it will put hours on your journey. The road down to San Pedro is pretty crazy, I’ve taken it twice and that’s enough for me!
Do you have more time? Then check out my 3 weeks or 4-week itineraries. Less time? Check out my 1 week itinerary here.
Looking for things to do in Guatemala? I have a who load of ideas for you here.
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