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Guatemala City is a hectic, somewhat dangerous, congested urban center, and not a particularly inviting place to pursue most outdoor activities. If you want to exercise or get out into nature, you're best off leaving the city.

Biking -- Though you can forget about riding a bicycle in Guatemala City, several tour companies organize mountain biking trips in the hills, mountains, and volcanoes just outside the city. Your best bet is to contact Old Town Outfitters ★★ (tel. 502/5399-0440; www.bikeguatemala.com), which is based in Antigua and can arrange transportation for you to join any of their daily mountain bike rides.

Golf -- Guatemala is not known for its golf, but there are actually several good golf courses close to the city. All of the courses are private or country clubs, but most will usually let outside guests play with advance notice. If you plan on going to Guatemala to play golf, contact the courses below in advance to arrange some playing time. Alternatively, many of the higher-end business hotels in Guatemala City have relationships with one or more of the courses, and can usually arrange tee-times. Greens fees are relatively inexpensive, running between Q335 and Q750 ($45-$100/£23-£50).

The Mayan Golf Club (tel. 502/6685-5800; www.mayangolfclub.com) is located 10km (6 miles) from the airport. This 18-hole course plays fairly easy, and offers excellent views of the Pacaya and Agua volcanoes, as well as Lake Amatitlán. Another good option is the Hacienda Nueva Country Club (tel. 502/6628-1000; www.haciendanueva.com), a modern facility located about 20km (12 miles) outside of downtown at Km 25 of Ruta Nacional 18 on the road to Mataquescuintla. The Alta Vista Golf & Tennis Club (tel. 502/6641-5057; altagolf@terra.com.gt) has the most challenging course in the country. This place is located just beyond the Hacienda Nueva Country Club at Km 26.5 of Ruta Nacional 18 on the road to Mataquescuintla.

Jogging -- As is the case with biking, Guatemala City is not very amenable to jogging. There are no public parks or outdoor spaces I can recommend as safe and secure for a foreigner to go jogging, and the busy streets of the secure Zona 10 district are not suitable. If you want to run, try the Grand Tikal Futura (tel. 502/2410-0800; www.grandtikalfutura.com.gt), which has a small outdoor jogging track.

Spas & Gyms -- You can certainly burn some calories or get a nice pampering massage while in Guatemala City. Most of the high-end business hotels in town have some sort of spa or exercise room, which vary widely in terms of quantity and quality. The best-equipped hotel spas I've found include those at the Real InterContinental (tel. 502/2413-4444; www.interconti.com), the Westin Camino Real (tel. 502/2333-3000; www.westin.com), and the Grand Tikal Futura (tel. 502/2410-0800; www.grandtikalfutura.com.gt).

Swimming -- The tropical daytime heat makes a cooling dip quite inviting. Several of the higher-end hotels in Guatemala City have pools, but none of them will let outside guests use their facilities, even for a fee. If you really want to have access to a swimming pool, check the listing information under "Where to Stay," earlier in this chapter, and make sure you choose a hotel with a swimming pool.

Tennis -- The Westin Camino Real (tel. 502/2333-3000; www.westin.com) and the Grand Tikal Futura (tel. 502/2410-0800; www.grandtikalfutura.com.gt) are the only downtown hotels with tennis courts. If you're a die-hard tennis player and must play while in town, you should stay at one of these hotels. There are no other public facilities open to tourists downtown. Alternatively, you can contact any of the golf and country clubs listed above; all of these have multiple tennis courts, and will allow outside guests to play with advance reservations.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.