You can travel to Guatemala by plane: you must arrive at the international airport of Guatemala City, La Aurora. It is the only international airport and it is from there that your journey will depart. In recent years, the offer of airlines serving Guatemala has improved, making your trip much easier.
The most common airlines from the United States to Guatemala are Continental (Houston), Delta (Atlanta), Spirit (Florida) or American Airlines.
Coming from Europe, you always have to make a transfer, either in Europe, or in the United States, or in Panama. American companies depart from most European airports (Continental is recommended), but you can also choose to travel with Iberia (transfer to Madrid and/or Panama) or from the Netherlands, with KLM (transfer to Panama).
To travel to Guatemala, you do not need to apply for a visa in advance. Citizens of most countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and European countries, only need a passport as a travel document to enter Guatemala. Passports must be valid for at least 6 additional months upon arrival in Guatemala. Upon arrival at the airport or border, you will receive a 90-day tourist visa, valid in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Remember that for connecting flights in the United States, you must apply for ESTA authorization. If you know in advance that you want to stay longer than 90 days in Guatemala, please let us know on your booking form. We can send you information about extending your visa, as well as the documents you will need for this.
The local currency of Guatemala is the Guatemalan Quetzal. The value of one US dollar is quite stable, around 7.5 quetzales. The value of one euro is approximately 9 quetzales. It is necessary to have Quetzales on you during your trip to Guatemala. In larger hotels or tour operators, US dollars are often accepted as well, but the exchange rate can be low. It is very difficult to get Quetzales outside of Guatemala (before your trip), but at the airport you will find ATMs and a currency exchange office. We recommend withdrawing or exchanging money immediately. It is best to use US dollars for exchange, euros or other currencies are generally not accepted. US dollars can also be exchanged easily at border crossings and city banks.
Please note : Due to stricter money laundering laws, it is increasingly difficult to change US dollars into cash. The best chance of changing cash is to bring crisp, new $50 and/or $100 bills. They will not accept small notes, or notes that are overly folded, torn, stained/written on, or simply old.
Cards can also be used in Guatemala. Best to bring a Visa debit/credit card. They are generally accepted in most vending machines. The Mastercard card can cause some problems in local distributors. Other bank debit cards may also work, but they must have an international payment option (Cirrus, Maestro, Visa, etc.).
It’s not uncommon for ATMs to not work with certain cards, so always try to carry a debit card and an extra Visa credit card in case of an emergency.
If you take medication at home, please bring an adequate supply of the prescribed medications you use. In Guatemala, many medicines are available, but you may not find what you need. Please always carry a copy of the prescription and the instructions for use.
In Guatemala, many drugs are sold in pharmacies, without the need for a doctor’s prescription. However, the people behind the counter are often not pharmacists or doctors, so bring the drug names with you when you go to the pharmacy. Even antibiotics are sold without a prescription. It’s always wise to carry a small travel first aid kit, with aspirins, bandages and the basics.
Guatemala is a very varied country, especially in terms of its climate. It’s the typical destination where you have to bring a “little bit of everything”. Guatemala has several destinations, each with its own climatic characteristics. Check in which region you are going to pack your suitcase accordingly!
Guatemala is generally a safe place for tourists. If you stay on the tourist routes and organize your excursions with an agency, the risk is considerably reduced. However, as a foreigner in an unfamiliar country, you still need to take certain precautions. When you are in Guatemala City, do not use public transport. Our partner can help you by offering a pick-up or shuttle service. Also, don’t display valuables like laptops, cameras or (expensive) cell phones. This deposit is also recommended in the rest of the country.
In almost all tourist areas of Guatemala you can do your laundry. You can drop off your laundry bag, and they’ll wash it for you. They will tell you what time you need to come back to pick it up, usually it takes them around 3 hours. The laundry is washed in cold water and dried in the dryer with hot air. The colors are not separated. Typically the cost is Q25 per bag.
During your trip, you will see that it is quite common to find wifi. All accommodations have wifi (more remote accommodations may only have wifi in common areas), and also many restaurants have free wifi. In the Tikal area there is no phone service, and if you are staying in one of the hotels in Tikal the wifi is not always reliable, also depending on the weather.
To make a phone call in Guatemala you can use your own cell phone, but bear in mind that calls are expensive. Being called often also pays off. If you are staying for a few weeks, it may be worth buying a local sim card. We recommend the Claro or Tigo provider, they have a strong signal and your credit does not expire.
The diet in Guatemala is more basic, and unless you are a vegetarian, you will receive the same as what the rest of the family eats. Normally, families eat a lot of black beans, eggs and rice, especially for dinner. Lunch is the main course. They may not be eating as many vegetables or the same types of vegetables you are used to. Fruit is plentiful here in Guatemala, but is more often prepared as drinks for lunch or fruit smoothies and for snacks.