One week will allow you enough time to visit (and actually enjoy) four of Guatemala's prime destinations. This itinerary takes you to the best of Guatemala, and includes a colonial city, a breathtaking natural wonder, an extensive traditional market, and spectacular ancient Maya ruins. Not bad for 1 week.
Day 1: Antigua
Once you arrive in Guatemala, head straight to Antigua, check into your hotel, and hit the streets. Get familiar with the city by starting out at Plaza Mayor in the center of town. Have a sunset cocktail at the Sky Bar at Café Sky, and end the night with dinner at Hector's.
Day 2: The Colonial Core
Start your morning by visiting the major attractions around the city's colonial core. There are almost too many sights to see, and it may be hard to choose. Your best bet is to sign up for a walking tour with Antigua Tours. Many of their tours are led by longtime resident and well-known author Elizabeth Bell.
Spend the afternoon shopping at Antigua's fabulous shops, galleries, and local markets.
Don't miss the opportunity to have dinner, and perhaps a little jazz, at Mesón Panza Verde. Toast your second night in the city with a lively mix of locals, expats, and tourists at Café No Sé.
Day 3: Lake Atitlán
Since this is a relatively tight itinerary, I recommend you stay in or around Panajachel. Spend the day walking around town, and be sure to visit the Museo Lacustre Atitlán. For a good hike through some beautiful foliage, head to the Reserva Natural Atitlán. Splurge for dinner with a meal at Hotel Atitlán.
Day 4: Around the Lake
Set aside the whole day to visit some of the other cities and towns around Lake Atitlán. Sign up for an organized tour, or head down to the docks and climb aboard one of the public boat taxis. You won't have time to visit the more than half-dozen towns and villages around the lake, but you must visit Santiago de Atitlán. After that, and as time allows, I recommend Santa Catarina Palopó and San Pedro La Laguna.
Day 5: Chichicastenango
Take a day trip to the market in Chichicastenango. Chichicastenango, or Chichi, is a little more than an hour's drive from Panajachel, and all of the local tour agencies and hotel tour desks in Panajachel can arrange a guided tour or simple transfer. Even if you come here just to shop, be sure to take some time to visit the Iglesia de Santo Tomás and the Museo de las Máscaras Ceremoniales.
You'll get back to Panajachel with plenty of time to enjoy the evening. Head to the Sunset Café for a namesake cocktail, and then head over to El Bistro for dinner. End your evening with a drink at the Circus Bar.
Note: Chichicastenango's market is only open on Thursday and Sunday. Feel free to swap this day of the itinerary with any of the other 2 days around Lake Atitlán to match the market day schedule.
Days 6 & 7: Tikal
In my opinion, Tikal is the most impressive ancient Maya city in all of Mesoamerica. You'll probably have to leave Panajachel at an ungodly hour to catch your flight to Tikal, but it'll be worth it. I suggest spending 1 night in the Tikal area, and true Maya buffs will want to stay at one of the hotels right at the archaeological site, which will allow you extra hours to explore. Those with a more passing interest will be better off staying in Flores or at one of the hotels on the lake.
Early international flights from Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City are hard to catch if you're flying from Tikal the same date, so you may have to adjust your itinerary to allow an overnight in either Antigua or Guatemala City before your flight home.
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.