Several side trips from Guatemala City are possible, ranging from day trips and tours to multiday excursions. I highly recommend you take any of these trips as part of an organized tour. All of the major hotels have tour desks that can arrange these for you. Alternatively, you can contact Clark Tours, 7a Av. 14-76, Zona 9, inside Clark Plaza (tel. 502/2412-4848; www.clarktours.com.gt), or Maya Vacations, 11 Av. 7-15, Zona 13 (tel. 502/2426-1400; www.mayavacations.com).
In addition to the tours listed below, day tours by land are available to the Maya sites of Quiriguá and Copán in Honduras. Multiday trips to any of the other regions in Guatemala mentioned below can also be arranged.
Top Tours & Excursions
Antigua -- The fabulous colonial city of Antigua is just 45 minutes away from Guatemala City by car or bus. All of the local tour companies offer half- and full-day tours to Antigua. I definitely recommend you sign up for a full-day tour if possible. Antigua is that beautiful, and there is that much to see. Half-day tours cost Q263 to Q375 ($35-$50/£18-£25), including lunch and entrance fees to all attractions. Full-day tours cost Q375 to Q600 ($50-$80/£25-£40), including lunch.
Chichicastenango on Market Day -- If you're in Guatemala City with a free Thursday or Sunday, you'll want to take a day trip to the fabulous market in Chichicastenango. These tours also hit Panajachel and Lake Atitlán on the way back, so you get to kill two or more birds with one stone. This is a full-day tour, with a fair amount of travel time, but it's worth it. These tours cost between Q340 and Q675 ($45-$90/£23-£45), and include lunch.
Lake Atitlán -- Even if there's no market happening in Chichicastenango, you might consider a day trip to Lake Atitlán, one of the most beautiful spots in all of Guatemala. All of the tour agencies in town can arrange this outing, which takes a full day, and includes visits to Sololá, Panajachel, and one or two of the villages around the shores of the lake. These tours cost between Q375 and Q600 ($50-$80/£25-£40), and include lunch.
Tikal -- Perhaps the most popular day tour out of Guatemala City is to the amazing Maya ruins of Tikal. These tours generally involve a very early morning flight and even earlier hotel pickup. The tours give you a good, full day in Tikal. However, if you've got the time, I seriously recommend you add at least a 1-night extension to the tour. These tours run around Q2,100 to Q2,625 ($280-$350/£140-£175), including round-trip airfare, park entrance fee, and a guide. Budget an additional Q375 to Q1,125 ($50-$150/£25-£75) per person per day for multiday excursions, depending on the level of accommodations chosen.
Mixco Viejo -- This interesting site was an ancient Maya city built during the 12th and 13th centuries. Like many other Maya cities of the era, it was built on a plateau with steep canyon walls to protect it from other Maya groups. It was also one of the last Maya cities to fall against the Spanish conquistadors. The site features several pyramids and a well-preserved ball court. Mixco Viejo is located about 64km (40 miles) from Guatemala City. Tours here usually stop at the large and abundant fruit-and-vegetable market just outside the ruins. Full-day tours cost between Q300 and Q450 ($40-$60/£20-£30), including lunch.
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.