We found a steal of a deal on a flight from San Jose, Costa Rica direct to Guatemala City for $80 using Kayak.com. Guatemala City has somewhat of a bad reputation for crime so we weren’t trying to hang out there. Once we landed, we haggled with a few taxi drivers to get a good rate on a ride to Antigua. We scored a ride for $10 each. There are multiple daily shuttles from the Airport to Antigua as well. From what I’ve researched online, they run $12-$15 per person. I considered our cab fee a score!
No trip to Guatemala is complete without passing through this historical city. If you’re looking for vibrant culture, cheap food and drinks, all while surrounded by volcanoes, Antigua will not disappoint!
Upon arrival to Antigua, we decided to wing it and didn’t book a hostel in advance. It was not very long before we stumbled into Hostel Roo and found bunks for 50 Q (~$7) / night!! They also accept volunteers if you’re looking to save some extra cash.
We spent our days in Antigua roaming the cobblestone streets, eating fantastic street food, exploring the Cacao museum, and drinking really, really cheap drinks. There are many tour agencies here that have shuttles to get you to your next destination.
Pro tip: If you speak some Spanish, this is your place to haggle! Don’t be afraid to make an offer at the market or a tour agency. You can definitely save some Quetzales by haggling!
I’m in love with this Lake, the people, the volcanoes, did I mention the price?
From Antigua, we took a two hour shuttle for 70Q (~$10) per person to Panajachel (Pana). From there, we took a boat (see above) across the Lake for 15 Q (~$2) to San Pedro. There are 5 different villages around the Lake each with their own different feel. We chose San Pedro based off of a friend’s recommendation, and it did not disappoint. (Check out her blog here!)
We stayed five nights at Hotel Peneleu for 40Q (~$6) / night for a private room!!! That’s total, not per person. Insane!! We ate most of our meals in restaurants for under $5 per person per meal. Beers or cocktails? ~$1-2. Seriously. Can I go live there now?
Wow, our six days here flew by! We spent our time roaming the streets, eating amazing food, sipping on local coffee, shopping, and hiking! One day, we took a tuk tuk to the trail head for Volcan San Pedro. Note: You do not need to pay a guide! The entrance fee (100Q ~ $13) to the trail includes a guide for the first few kilometers. The rest of the trail is very easy to follow to the top of the volcano for incredible views of the lake.
The Lake is also a very popular spot to take Spanish lessons while living with a family. There are various programs, all very affordable, that will totally immerse you in Mayan culture while learning Spanish. All levels will find classes to suit your needs. I couldn’t recommend this place higher if you’re looking to develop you language skills!
We left the Lake and headed back to Antigua to make a connection to Copan Ruinas in Honduras. Planeta Maya (picture above) had steep discounts on shuttles connecting all over Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Crossing borders was simple!
Next Stop: Honduras!
I LOVE GUATEMALA!! We spent a week here and came in way under our $30 / day budget. I only wish we had more time to spend. I highly recommend staying in the country longer to stretch your pennies. Antigua and Lake Atitlán are must sees! I also recommend checking out Tikál in the northern part of the country. It is one of the largest Mayan Ruin sites discovered. I loved my visit on my first trip to Latin America in 2015. I can’t wait to return to this beautiful vibrant country, and I must check out Semuc Champay some day!