Most international flights land at La Aurora International Airport (tel. 502/2332-6086; airport code GUA). A few international and regional airlines fly directly into Flores Airport (FRS) near Tikal. If you're only interested in visiting the Maya ruins at Tikal and touring the Petén, this is a good option. However, most visitors will want to fly in and out of Guatemala City.
It takes between 3 and 8 hours to fly to Guatemala from most U.S. cities.
The Major Airlines -- From North America -- American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Grupo Taca, Iberia, Mexicana, Spirit, and United all have regular flights from a variety of North American hub cities. Presently, there are no direct flights from Canada to Guatemala, so Canadians will have to take a connecting flight via the United States.
From the U.K. & Europe -- There are no direct flights to Guatemala from the U.K., although Iberia does have a direct flight from Madrid. Otherwise, you will have to fly via a major U.S. hub city and connect with one of the airlines mentioned above.
From Australia & New Zealand -- To get to Guatemala from Australia or New Zealand, you'll first have to fly to Los Angeles or some other U.S. hub city, where you can connect with one of the airlines mentioned above.
Getting into Town from the Airport -- You'll find various shuttle companies offering hotel transfers as you exit either the national or international terminal. These companies charge between Q30 and Q60 ($4-$8/£2-£4) to any hotel in Guatemala City, and between Q75 and Q113 ($10-$15/£5-£7.50) to Antigua. Many of the larger hotels also have regular complimentary airport shuttle buses.
If you don't want to wait for the shuttle to fill or sit through various stops before arriving at your hotel, there are always taxis lined up at the airport terminal exits. A taxi downtown will cost around Q45 to Q75 ($6-$10/£3-£5). A taxi to Antigua should cost between Q188 and Q300 ($25-$40/£13-£20). Expect to pay the higher rate, maybe even a little more, after dark.
Avis, Budget, Hertz, National, Tabarini, and Thrifty all have car-rental desks at the airport.
Guatemala is connected to Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras by regular bus service. If at all possible, it's worth the splurge for a deluxe or express bus. In terms of travel time and convenience, it's always better to get a direct bus rather than one that stops along the way -- and you've got a better chance of getting a working restroom in a direct/express or deluxe bus. Some even have television sets showing video movies.
From Mexico, the principal border crossing is at La Mesilla, north of Huehuetenango. From Honduras, the main border crossing is at El Florido, on the route from Copán. From El Salvador, the main border crossing is at San Cristobal, along the Pan-American Highway. And from Belize, the main border crossing is at Melchor de Mencos, in the Petén district.
There are several bus lines with regular daily departures connecting the major capital cities of Central America. Tica Bus Company (tel. 502/2366-4038; www.ticabus.com) has buses running from Mexico all the way down to Panama, while Pullmantur (tel. 502/2367-4746; www.pullmantur.com) connects Guatemala with daily service to San Salvador, El Salvador, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
It's possible to travel to Guatemala by car, but it can be difficult. The drive from the United States involves crossing the entire country of Mexico from north to south. Driving can be problematic for a variety of reasons, including bad roads, limited services, crime, corrupt border crossings, and visa formalities. If you do decide to undertake this adventure, take the Gulf Coast route from the border crossing at Brownsville, Texas, because it involves traveling the fewest miles through Mexico.
Those planning to travel this route should try to find a copy of Driving the Pan-Am Highway to Mexico and Central America, by Audrey and Raymond Pritchard (Costa Rica Books, 1997), which is out of print, but sometimes available online. There is also a wealth of information online at www.sanbornsinsurance.com and www.drivemeloco.com.
Car Documents -- You will need a current driver's license, as well as your vehicle's registration and the original title (no photocopies), to enter Guatemala.
Central American Auto Insurance -- Contact Sanborn's Insurance Company (tel. 800/222-0158 or 956/686-0711; www.sanbornsinsurance.com), which has agents at various border towns in the U.S. These folks have been servicing this niche for more than 50 years. They can supply you with trip insurance for Mexico and Guatemala (you won't be able to buy insurance after you've left the U.S.), driving tips, and an itinerary.
Car Safety -- Be sure your car is in excellent working order. It's advisable not to drive at night because of the danger of being robbed by bandits.
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.