I bought a plane ticket to Guatemala for a week in February to visit my friend, Frannie (first interviewee on TUTR!). She has been living in Guatemala City for the last 6 months, and will be for a total of 2 years as a teacher.

Going with no plans, I happily let her book our accommodations and jump in blindly. My only aspirations were to enjoy the weather and feel like I was on vacation from winter in NYC. Goals accomplished. Here are some photos & recommendations I gathered along the way and from various locals and expats I met along the way!


Antigua is only 45 minutes away from the Guatemala City airport, and in every direction you have views of the volcanoes. The cobble stone streets and colonial architecture make for a picturesque city. There are nice markets, good restaurants (many cuisines), shops, and hiking available. A few recommendations (unfortunately didn't make it to all!):

-Uxibal: boutique shop

-Nim'pot: great for shopping, handmade stuff and tons of textiles

-Farmer's Market: on Saturdays walk to Caoba for good local/organic food and live music

-Cafe No Se: good bar, live music, lots of mezcal.

-Sabe Rico: nice breakfast spot, great garden.

-Cafe Sky: rooftop views, good drink spot

-Roots Juice Bar: best falafels!

-Porque No: dive restaurant, really sweet couple owns in - good shrimp burrito.

-7A: another excellent rooftop - cute string lights overlooking old ruins. Good happy hour.

-Earth Lodge: can walk 2 hours or take a shuttle from Old Town Outfitters shop. They do family style dinners and they are located on an avocado farm.

-El Pilar: natural spring water that fills concrete pools in the mountains - about 45 min/hour from town. Most tuk tuks will know where it is, and there's a treehouse to stay at too.

-Somos Hostal: clean, affordable and great location.

-Bigfoot Hostel: great location, really nice staff.

-Santo Domingo: really nice hotel (maybe best in Guat!) museums inside and great spa.

-Hike Acetenango: can be an overnight trip -- great with views of Fuego erupting in the night. Easily arrange tours with El Hostal and Old Town Outfitters.

Unfortunately, no direct flights from NYC to Guatemala. I wish I could say it was fine to have a connection in Miami, but I got delayed on both legs and a half day of travel turned into a full day of travel. Boo American Airlines.

Flying over Lake Atitlan en route to Guatemala City was incredible.

Breakfast in the beautiful garden at Saberico in Antigua.

The environment in Guatemala is great. It's lush, green, but not humid like Nicaragua or Costa Rica. The best were these awesome purple flower trees.

Antigua is surrounded by volcanoes. The cobble stone town is quaint and full of shops, boutiques, & restaurants.

Fun fact... the sun is STRONG in Guatemala. Wear your sunscreen, friends.


We took a shared shuttle to Lake Atitlan. 'Twas a windy road! But well worth it. The lack of research I did on Guatemala was rewarding by the outstanding nature I got to enjoy during my time there. The volcanoes are visible from many towns/areas, it's so mountainous and the turquoise lake is surrounded by cute towns. A lot of backpacker spots, outfitters to do hikes and water activities, and places to catch up on yoga or relax with a massage. For a private lakeside getaway, splurge on this Airbnb in San Marcos.

Indian Nose is a popular hike, which doesn't take too much time - and good for sunrise or sunset. We hiked Volcan San Pedro, which was a half a day trek (we left at 6am and returned at 1pm - about 10 miles roundtrip). It was stunning at the top, and our calves burned for the rest of our weekend.

We were too sore from our hike to kayak the next day, but there are little shops everywhere to sign up for activities. On our way out, we took a boat to Panajachel so catch a shuttle to Guatemala City. There were tons of markets there, very nice stuff to buy!

Starting the hike up Volcan San Pedro at sunrise...

Beautiful light on the mountains.

9,908' up! Gorgeous.

Don't forget your sunscreen... I did.

Hiking down through coffee plantations and other great flora.

Lake Atitlan - don't miss it.

Sunset over San Pedro.


The city is made up of various zones. I didn't have many days in Guatemala City, but here's a list of recommendations from real life Guatemalans, organized by zone...

Zone 1:

-Proyecto Poporopo: for beers and tapas

-El Shai Wa: play the jukebox

-National Palace: tours every hour

-Central Market: for enchiladas and shopping

-Walk 6th Avenue

-Fundacion Paiz: check for an exhibition

Zone 4: great to walk around and enjoy all the street art!

-El Tintero/Imaginatorio Cooperative/Casa Vida Vida: three-in-one, great store, coworking space, and an Airbnb

-La Erre: art gallery

-Mercado 24: great restaurant, delish ceviche

-Karma: nice bar on the walking street (many on Via 5)

-Fototeca: photography school

Zone 10:

-Museo Ixchel

Zone 13:

-Museum of Contemporary Art

-Ethnology and Archeology

Zone 14:

-Fundacios Rozas Botran Art Gallery

-Nice neighborhood to walk around along Avenida Las Americas

Art galore on Via 5 in Zona 4

Ceviche at Mercardo24

Great street art in Zona 4 -- they change every May during a weekend long festival

More art

I made a dog friend named Mar

El Tintero was super hospital, great store -- let me sit and write some postcards for a bit

Gotta say, Guatemala was a delight. The weather, the people, the comforts - it felt close enough to get to for a short trip, and small enough of a country to feel like I could cover a lot. I met tons of interesting people; people living here long term, people just passing through, and people who are from here and excited to share their work and life.