23 Uniquely Fun Things to Do In Guatemala City (Local’s Guide)

A plaza in Guatemala City

Guatemala’s capital is the biggest city in Central America, yet it remains overlooked by most travelers who only pass through it on their way to more popular Guatemalan destinations. But Guatemala City offers unique hidden city gems and cultural insights that can further contextualize your Guatemalan travels! From gastronomical experiences to historical attractions, here are some of the best things to do in Guatemala City.

Best Things to Do in Guatemala City

1. Guatemala City Walking Tour

This Guatemala City guided walking tour is a great way to explore the city’s top attractions in a convenient and informative way. With a knowledgeable local guide leading the way, you’ll visit iconic landmarks like the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history and culture of Guatemala, as well as the significance of each location. The tour is a great option for those who want to make the most of their time in Guatemala City and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s past and present.

If you’re looking for a custom tailored private tour, consider booking this personalized guided experience.

2. Museum of Natural History (Museo de Historia Natural UAC)

If you’re into natural history, you’ve gotta check out Museo de Historia Natural in Guatemala City. This museum features exhibits showcasing the country’s ecosystems, plants and animals, and geology. Personally, I also love spending an afternoon here to brush up on my Spanish reading skills!

The coolest part of the museum is its collection of fossils and skeletons of creatures that lived millions of years ago. Plus, they’ve got exhibits on Guatemala’s volcanoes and earthquakes, which have shaped the landscape, people, and tourism.

  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Cost: 50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 4

3. National Plaza of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura)

The National Palace of Culture (AKA el Palacio Nacional de la Cultura) is an absolute must-see! This stunning building served as the presidential palace in the 1940s but has since been transformed into a beautiful museum and cultural center. Once inside, you can explore fascinating Guatemalan history and cultural exhibits, including pre-Columbian artifacts and traditional Mayan clothing. Plus, you can take a guided tour to enhance your all understanding of the exhibits.

Don’t forget to head outside to enjoy the view of the square itself! Surrounded by beautiful buildings and statues, it’s a great place for people-watching and soaking up the lively atmosphere of Guatemala City.

  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm 
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood: Zona 1                         

4. National Library (Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala)

Luis Alfredo Alegria

If you’re interested in books and history, you should check out the National Library of Guatemala. It’s in a fascinating building in the middle of Guatemala City, nearby a few more attractions on this list! 

Inside are various books, manuscripts, maps and other things that tell the history of Guatemala and its people. The library is known for its rare and ancient manuscripts – some of which are centuries old! Whether you’re a die-hard researcher or just curious about Guatemalan culture, you’ll find plenty of interesting things to do here.

  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 9 am – 5 pm     
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood: Zona 1                     

5. Guatemala City’s Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanico)

If you’re a nature enthusiast, you should definitely visit the Botanical Garden in Guatemala City. Situated in the heart of the city, this garden boasts an impressive collection of plants from all corners of the country. As you explore the different sections of the garden, you’ll come across a diverse range of ecosystems and habitats. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife, such as various species of birds and butterflies.

  • Hours: Wednesday to Monday (8:00 AM – 1:00 PM)
  • Cost:  50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 4 

6. Cayala

Ciudad Cayala is a trendy and modern shopping and dining destination in Guatemala City that attracts both locals and tourists. The sleek and contemporary architecture of the area is adorned with fashionable shops, restaurants, and cafes.

One of the most appealing attractions of Cayala City is its diverse range of shops and boutiques, offering high-quality fashion and accessories, unique gifts, and crafts. For dining, there are options to suit all tastes, from casual cafes to upscale fine-dining restaurants.

The city of Cayala is a joy to explore, with its beautifully designed and landscaped area, public art, and green spaces. On a sunny afternoon, it’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll, or to sit with a coffee and observe people passing by. Whether you’re a shopaholic, foodie, or just looking for a nice place to spend an afternoon, Cayala City is a must-visit destination!

You could also take a shopping tour to Cayala City, where you’ll get picked up from your hotel and get to visit different malls such as Oakland Mall and Paseo Cayalá.

  • Hours: Sunday to Saturday (10:00 AM to 8:00 PM)
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Zona 16

7. Popol Vuh Museum (Museo Popol Vuh)

The Popol Vuh Museum houses many artifacts and exhibits showing Mayan history and traditions. One of the museum’s main attractions is the Popol Vuh manuscript, an ancient Mayan text that tells the story of the creation of the Quiche. It is one of the few surviving examples of pre-Columbian Maya literature, giving us a glimpse into the beliefs and practices of the ancient civilization.

You could take this private tour of Guatemala’s museums where you’ll get to visit Popol Vuh, Miraflores, Ixchel and the Railway Museum. Check availability here.

  • Hours: Monday to Saturday (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
  • Cost: 50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 10

8. Central American Brewery (Cerveceria Centroamericana)

For beer lovers, a visit to the Central American Brewery in Guatemala City is a must. Established in 1886, this brewery is one of Central America’s oldest and most renowned. Go on a guided tour of the facilities to discover the beer brewing process and the brewery’s rich history.

Throughout the tour, you’ll observe the various stages of beer production and gain insights into the ingredients used to produce each distinct flavor. Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to sample some of the beers straight from the source! The brewery offers an array of beers, ranging from pale ales to darker, full-bodied varieties.

  • Hours: Monday – Friday (7:00 AM to 12:00 PM & 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM)
  • Cost: Varies
  • Neighborhood: Zona 18

9. Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Work (Museo Ixchel de Traje Indigena)

If you’re interested in learning about the cultural heritage of Guatemala’s indigenous people, a visit to the Ixchel Museum is a must. The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Mayan clothing and textile arts. The building itself is a stunning blend of modern and traditional architecture, and the museum is easily accessible from various parts of Guatemala City.

You could consider taking a private tour of the museum, such as this guided tour. On this tour you’ll visit four of Guatemala’s museums; Ixchel Museum, Museo Popol Vuh, Museo Miraflores and the Railway Museum.

  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
  • Cost: 50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 10

10. Go Shopping for Artisan Crafts

Guatemala is known for its rich cultural heritage and gorgeous artisan crafts. Travelers to Guatemala City can find a variety of unique handicrafts to shop for; from colorful textiles and ceramics to hand-carved wooden figures and intricate jewelry. Artisan markets are also one of the best free things to do in Guatemala City!

  • Mercado Central : Explore the diverse stalls and browse for unique goods such as vibrant textiles, traditional pottery, artisanal products, and handcrafted jewelry. Don’t forget to sample some of the authentic Guatemalan cuisine available at the many food stands
  • Mercado de Artesanías: This lively and colorful market sells traditional handicrafts such as textiles, pottery, wood carvings and jewelry. Not only can you buy beautiful souvenirs, but you can also watch skilled artisans make masterpieces while they sit at their stands! 
  • Jade Artesanías: 14 Calle 2-51: Guatemala is renowned for its high-quality jade, and the artisans at Jade Artesanias are true experts in crafting exquisite pieces that showcase the natural beauty of this gemstone. This is a good spot to look for high-quality jade! 
  • Colectivo Shop: The ‘Collective’ Shop offers a curated collection by local designers and artisans, allowing visitors to discover one-of-a-kind items while supporting the local economy. 

11. Constitution Plaza (Plaza de la Constitución)

Constitution Plaza, also known as Central Park, is a vibrant square located in the heart of Guatemala City. With iconic buildings like the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral surrounding it, this historic square is a favorite meeting spot for both locals and visitors.

Aside from its cultural and scenic beauty, Constitution Square also holds significant political and social importance. It has been a central location for public demonstrations and rallies, and has played a significant role in shaping many of the country’s significant historical events.

You can also visit the Constitution Plaza as part of a guided tour around the city, such as this 3 hour afternoon tour. On the tour, you’ll learn about the city’s history, and heritage as well as visiting many of its famous sights.

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood:  Zona 1

12. Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago (Catedral Metropolitana)

The Cathedral of Santiago, also known as the Guatemala City Cathedral, is an architectural gem located in the heart of the city. Its striking towers are a sight to behold, visible from afar. The cathedral has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century and has undergone several renovations over time.

Inside, visitors are greeted with a remarkable interior featuring religious paintings and sculptures that decorate the walls and altars. The ambiance of the cathedral may offer you an opportunity to reflect and meditate. Alternatively, taking a guided tour is a great way to learn about the cathedral’s historical significance and its cultural importance to the people of Guatemala. As the majority of Guatemalans are Catholic, exploring these cathedrals can provide a fascinating insight into the country’s culture.

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood:  Zona 1

13. National Palace of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura)

The National Palace of Culture (Palacio Nacional de la Cultura) is one of the most popular things to do in Guatemala City. Built in the 1940s, this impressive building is a fusion of different architectural styles and is a symbol of the country’s cultural heritage.

Visitors can take a guided tour of the palace and learn about its rich history and significance. Inside, you’ll find beautifully decorated rooms, stunning artwork, and murals that depict the country’s history. The palace also houses a museum that showcases the country’s cultural heritage and hosts various cultural events throughout the year. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or culture, the National Palace of Culture is definitely worth a visit.

You could book this 3-hour guided walking tour, on which you’ll visit many of Guatemala’s sights including the National Palace of Culture. You’ll also get to see the Metropolitan Cathedral, go shopping at  the Central Market and drive along Avenue of the Americas. Check availability here.

  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 8 am – 5 pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood:  Zona 1

14. Enjoy the lively night scene at Majadas Once

Majadas Once is a bustling shopping center in Guatemala City known for its exciting nightlife scene. Visitors can enjoy an array of lively bars, clubs, and restaurants that stay open until late into the night. The area offers a variety of entertainment options for visitors to enjoy, such as trendy rooftop bars and intimate jazz clubs. Also, the area is full of great food options ranging from street vendors to fine dining restaurants, making it an ideal place to grab a bite before heading out for a night on the town.

  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood:  Zona 11

15. Guatemala National Theater (Teatro Nacional)

The Guatemala National Theater is a must-see for art or architecture enthusiasts. This impressive building was built in the late 19th century and has been well-preserved. As you approach the theater, you’ll immediately notice its ornate facade, with columns and intricate carvings. Once you step inside you will be greeted by the equally stunning interior, with high ceilings and elegant chandeliers. The theater hosts a variety of performances, including plays, concerts and dance performances. 

  • Cost: Varies
  • Neighborhood: Zona 1

16. Oakland Mall

The Oakland Mall in Guatemala City is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. This is a large indoor mall with a variety of stores, from international brands to local boutiques, offering everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and homeware.

As well as shopping, Oakland Mall has several restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite or a coffee. For those looking for entertainment, the mall has a movie theater and a bowling alley! Locals love to hang out in malls in Guatemala!

You could also visit the Oakland Mall as part of a shopping tour, which includes hotel pick up. On this tour you’ll also visit other shopping area such as Paseo Cayalá and the Centrel Market. Book the tour here.

  • Hours: Sunday – Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Zona 10

17. Zona 4

Zona 4, also known as “Cuatro Grados Norte,” is a trendy and vibrant neighborhood in Guatemala City that has been revitalized in recent years. It’s a popular destination for locals and tourists looking for unique shopping and dining experiences, with a great night scene it is also one of the best nightlife places to visit in Guatemala City.

One of the highlights of Zona 4 is the multitude of restaurants and bars, offering a variety of cuisines and atmospheres from delicious cocktails to homemade coffee or traditional Guatemalan food. It can be a great place for you to enjoy the evening and meet new people!

Zona 4 is also a great place for seeing street art. You could join this guided street art walking tour that’ll take you to the best spots to see the art in Zona 4 and take photos with the artwork. Book the tour here.

  • Hours: Sunday – Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Zona 4

18. MiraFlores Museo

The museum at Miraflores in Guatemala City is an incredible archaeological museum that showcases the ancient Mayan civilization, and it was just completed recently! Located near a large shopping center, the museum offers fascinating insights into Mayan history and culture. The exhibits are divided into several sections, each highlighting a different aspect of Mayan life, including their art, religion, and daily life. In addition to exhibits, the museum offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops and lectures on Mayan civilization. 

You could also take a guided tour of Miraflores, as well as the Museo Popol Vuh and Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena, and the Railway Museum with this guided tour. The tour includes pick up from your hotel + entry to the museums.

  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9 am – 7 pm
  • Cost: 50Q or $6.50 
  • Location: Zona 11

19. Children’s Museum of Guatemala (Museo de los Niños)

The Children’s Museum of Guatemala, also known as the Museo de los Ninos, is a fun and educational experience for children. The museum is designed to encourage children to learn through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. Exhibits cover a variety of topics, from science and technology to history and culture, and are geared towards children of all ages.

One of the highlights of the Children’s Museum is the replica town, where children can role-play and learn about different jobs and activities. You can also explore a life-size pirate ship, climb a tree house and visit a farm with real animals. The museum also houses a planetarium, where visitors can learn about the stars and planets in an engaging and immersive way.

  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8 am – 4 pm
  • Cost:  50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 14

20. Railway Museum (Museo de Ferrocarril)

Guatemala City’s Railway Museum (Museo de Ferrocarril) is a great place for history buffs who appreciate trains. Located in the old railway station, the museum houses steam locomotives and railcars from the late 19th century. The museum also houses a unique collection of antique cars and motorcycles, as well as old telegraph equipment and other artifacts related to rail travel. Beautifully restored locomotives and railcars are a sight to behold, and visitors can even climb aboard some of them for an up-close look at the inner workings of the engines.

You could visit the Railway Museum as part of a tour. Such as this guided tour which includes a visit to 3 other historical museums in Guatemala + pick up from your hotel. Book the tour here.

  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 9 am – 4 pm
  • Cost:  50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood: Zona 1

21. Mapa en Relieve

Mapa en Relieve is a three-dimensional model of the country that was created in the mid-1900s as a way to help people understand the geography of Guatemala. Made of plaster, the map contains all of the country’s natural features, such as mountains, rivers, and Lake Atitlan.

There are also replicas of famous Guatemala landmarks, including Tikal and the Fuego volcano. The museum offers guided tours that provide interesting insights and information about the country’s geography and history. 

A great way to visit the Mapa en Relieve is as part of a guided tour, such as this private day tour of Guatemala City. On this tour you’ll visit 9 of the city’s landmarks including The National Palace, the Central Market and the Mapa en Relieve. Book here.

  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8 am – 4 pm
  • Cost:  50Q or $6.50
  • Neighborhood:  Zona 1

22. Santo Domingo Church (Iglesia de Santo Domingo)

The Iglesia de Santo Domingo in Guatemala City is over 500 years old, and thus, has been painstakingly restored with its carvings and frescoes. The church also has a museum displaying its history and that of the Dominican Order, as well as a garden courtyard with a fountain. The museum contains a collection of religious art, including paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts.

You could visit the Santo Domingo Church as part of a day tour that visits both Guatemala City and the Antigua UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour includes transport, and a local guide. Book here.

  • Hours: 24/7
  • Cost: Free
  • Neighborhood: Zona 1

Day Tours from Guatemala City

If you’re only here for a day and curious about what you can do from Guatemala City, here are some ideas for a fun day between your flights!

  • Hobbitenango : For those who love the magical world of JRR Tolkien’s Hobbit stories, this hobbit-style village offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside from 8,000 feet high altitude. Here you can peruse the restaurants and houses. Take this tour, to visit both Hobbitenango and Antigua.
  • Pacaya Volcano : This tour takes you to an active volcano that has been erupting for thousands of years. The hike is moderately challenging but well worth it once you see the lava and smoke! You can even road marshmallows or cook pizza over hot stones.
  • Antigua: Antigua is the gem of Guatemala! Check out our guide to the many things to do and boutique hotels to stay at in Antigua, Guatemala. You could visit Antigua as part of a day tour, such as this Guatemala city + Antigua guided tour.
  • Tikal: This day tour includes a scenic flight from Guatemala City to the ancient ruins of Tikal for a day trip full of adventure.

Best Neighborhoods to Visit in Guatemala City

Guatemala City is often referenced by its neighborhoods, or Zonas, by locals since it is a very large metropolis! Some are known for being full of activities and safe for tourists to visit, so here are the neighborhoods I recommend!

  • Zona 10: “Zona Viva” is one of Guatemala City’s most exclusive and trendy neighborhoods, offering vibrant shopping, dining, and nightlife. This is a great place to explore during the day or spend the night in the town.
  • Zona 14: Known for its upscale residential neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and luxury shopping malls. This is a great place for a refined, quality experience in the city.
  • Zona 1: One of the oldest and most historic districts in Guatemala City. It is home to many important landmarks, including the National Palace of Culture, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Central Market.
  • Zona 4: AKA “4 Grados Norte”, is a trendy bohemian neighborhood in Guatemala City that offers a variety of restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.
  • Cayala: A contemporary urban development in Guatemala City that combines residential, commercial, and cultural spaces in a walkable neighborhood. It offers trendy restaurants, upscale shopping, art galleries, and beautiful parks for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Best Restaurants to Eat/Drink in Guatemala City

Guatemala is known for its incredible food; you can find everything from traditional to high-end meals in Guatemala City! Here are some of the nicer restaurants that I recommend visiting in Guatemala City:

  • Gracia Cocina de Autor: An award-winning Guatemala City restaurant offering a unique and innovative dining experience! Gracia focuses on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients for delicious and beautifully crafted dishes.
  • Las Carnes de Rodrigo: This popular restaurant is known for its delicious meat dishes. With a cozy and rustic atmosphere, it’s a great spot to enjoy a hearty meal with friends and family!
  • Casa Escobar: A beautiful restaurant that offers a unique and elegant dining experience. With stylish décor and a delicious menu of traditional Guatemalan dishes with a modern twist.
  • Le Cafe Plaza Decorisima: A charming coffee shop in the heart of Guatemala City’s trendy Zona 10 neighborhood. With a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, it is the ideal place to enjoy a good coffee.

Best Hotels in Guatemala City

Since the only major airport in Guatemala is in its capital, there are plenty of great hotels to choose from during your stay. Here are a few that I recommend for visitors in Guatemala City:

  • Hyatt Centric Hotel: The Hyatt Centric Guatemala City is a luxurious, modern hotel in the heart of the city’s financial district. Its stunning city views and first-class facilities make it the perfect choice for business travelers and tourists alike. It is one of the best Hotels Near Guatemala City Airport too!
  • Good Hotel: The Good Hotel is a stylish, eco-friendly hotel in the center of Guatemala City. With its unique social impact program, it provides training and employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, making it an excellent choice for socially conscious travelers.
  • Courtyard by Marriott: The Courtyard by Marriott Guatemala City is a modern and comfortable hotel in the heart of the financial district, making it a great choice for business travelers. Featuring spacious guest rooms, a fitness center and an on-site restaurant, the hotel provides all the necessary amenities for a comfortable stay in the city.

About the Author: Alexis Musgrave

Alexis has been traveling the world since she was young and has now made her home in the mountains of Guatemala. Her love for Latin America has been a constant in her life, with frequent trips to Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Alexis is passionate about inspiring people to explore new destinations and cultures and is always eager to share her expert travel tips and tricks. Her ultimate goal is to visit every country in Latin America in the near future.

Local Co-Author: Saul Tovar

Saul is a proud Guatemalan raised in the heart of the country’s capital, Guatemala City. He has explored the world and made countless friends during his travels. After backpacking through Europe and the Appalachian Mountains, he returned home to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of Antigua. Saul loves to share tales of his adventures, and in his free time, he can be found hiking Guatemala’s stunning volcanoes.

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