Exploring Tourism in Guatemala
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Top 12 Places To Visit In Guatemala City

Guatemala City, Guatemala

As Guatemala‘s capital, Guatemala City can often be overlooked by tourists in favor of colonial Antigua, beautiful Lake Atitlan, or pretty Flores, the gateway to Tikal. However, there’s more to this city than first meets the eye – whether you’re in town for a few days or more.

Here are the Top 12 Places to Visit in Guatemala City, which are worth visiting on a Guatemala City trip:

1. Museo Popol Vuh

Located within the Fransisco Marroquin University, this stylish and modern museum documents the different stages of indigenous Guatemalan culture and history. Named after the ancient Mayan sacred book, Museo Popol Vuh showcases intricate pre-Hispanic figurines and statues, carved wooden masks, burial urns, traditional textiles, and many other Mayan artifacts, and also displays colonial paintings and gilded wood upon its walls.

2. Mapa en Relieve

This enormous open-air topographical map of Guatemala is a great place to begin your adventures in the county. At a staggering 1:10,000 scale, with exaggerated volcanic peaks that appear even more dramatic and precipitous than they are in real life, this quirky map allows you to get a feel for the landscape of Guatemala.

3. Cervecería Centroamericana

Cervecería Centroamericana has brewed the large mainstay of Guatemalan beer since 1886, and most visitors to the country will have tried Gallo, its flagship beer. This brewery manufactures beverages that include Gallo Light, Victoria lager, the dark bock beer Moza, and Malta Gallo malt liquor, and offers fun, informative tours in both Spanish and English. You’ll need to make a reservation (at least a week in advance) but the tour itself is free – and ends with some free samples!

4. La Aurora Zoo

The Guatemala City zoo is well maintained and organized, and if you’re an animal lover it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. The zoo has several exhibit areas, including the African savanna, the Asian subcontinent, the Mesoamerican tropics, and a farm. The zoo’s proximity to the nearby Children’s Museum makes this a convenient day out if you’re traveling with kids.

5. Metropolitan Cathedral

Also called the Cathedral of Guatemala City, the Metropolitan Cathedral sits right at the heart of the city and boasts an interior design that stands as a shining example of colonial art and architecture. The layout mirrors the form of the Latin cross, while in front of the cathedral are 12 pillars – a tribute to the murders and disappearances of thousands of people during the Guatemalan civil war during the 1960s. Inside the cathedral are 14 paintings by revered 17th-century Mexican artist Pedro Ramirez.

6. La Bodeguita del Centro

To discover the bohemian beating heart of Guatemala City, head to La Bodeguita del Centro. This creative hangout has live music from Tuesdays to Saturdays including everything from rock to jazz to classical, and there are plenty of poetry readings, discussions, and forums going on here too. The walls are adorned with prints of Che Guevara, Bob Marley, John Lennon, and Vincent Van Gogh, and entrance is free every night apart from Fridays and Saturdays.

7. National Palace

This stoic structure in the heart of Guatemala’s capital city was built in 1939 entirely by local hands and using only local materials. As a result, the National Palace offers up an homage to Guatemalan heritage and ranks top among the buildings prized by locals. Its green-tinged exterior is a nod to the favorite color of the former dictator’s wife, and the result of concrete and copper are used to cover the exterior to avoid painting. As a result, it’s affectionately known by some locals as 'The Big Guacamole.' An impressive bronze plate at the entrance to the Palace marks a spot known as 'Kilometer 0.'

8. Tikal National Park

Once a powerful seat of the Mayan empire, the Tikal ruins are now the most famous archeological site in Guatemala and one of the most-visited sets of Mayan ruins in all of Latin America. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting of temples, plazas, and pyramids, was first settled around 700 BC, and modern visitors still get swept away by their beauty and powerful aura.

9. Santo Tomas Church

Built during the 1540s upon the ancient foundation of a Maya temple site, Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás) is a Roman Catholic Church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. It remains a venerated holy site for people of both Catholic and Maya faiths and blends of the two. The stone stairs leading to the gleaming white Dominican church are reminiscent of those at ancient temple sites, and the steps have turned black from prayer sessions in which shamans waft copal incense and set purification fires. Inside, the church is adorned with offerings, everything from maize to liquor, and numerous candles, which have colors and patterns that correspond with those they've been lit for.

10. IRTRA Mundo Petapa

IRTRA Mundo Petapa is more than just another theme park; aside from its large size, it also features botanical gardens, Guatemalan history, and a zoo. Exceptionally clean and well maintained, Mundo Petapa even features an Olympic-sized swimming pool for beating the midday heat, and a towering, 175 ft. “skyscraper” with a thrilling vertical drop. Parts of the park are devoted to preserving a slice of Guatemalan history, and quieter parts of the sprawling park are built in an old, 1950s style of small Guatemalan villages. You’ll also find a zoo on site with dozens of species of mammals, as well as 60 species of birds that flit and squawk in the aviary.

11. Jardin Botanico

It may be small, but Guatemala City’s Botanical Garden is very, very pretty. Located at the northern end of Zona 10, the gardens contain an impressively extensive collection of plants that are managed by the Universidad de San Carlos. Your ticket price also includes admission to an adjoining natural-history museum.

12. Mercado Central

Walk through the seemingly endless maze of underground passages to explore the lively Mercado Central. It may not be as pretty as the open-air markets in Antigua or Chichicastenango, but the handicrafts found here are often much cheaper. Browse stalls selling leather goods, wooden masks, and woolen blankets… but keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpockets lurk here.

Besides this, there is much more to explore in Guatemala City!!!

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