Guatemala fascinates above all because of its spectacular Mayan ruins and archaeological sites. Today, the Maya, who make up almost half of Guatemala’s population, still live in the old-fashioned way in the pine forests of the highlands, wearing their traditional colorful weaves. In Guatemala today there are still about 21 ethnic groups speaking 23 different languages. Stunning Mayan structures personify the mysterious atmosphere that reigns in Guatemala. The Maya civilization dominated much of Central America from the fifth to the eighth centuries. The Spanish conquistador Cortés conquered Guatemala in the 17th century. Century. After its independence from Spain, the country enjoyed relative stability for a long time, but this was replaced by a brutal, bloody civil war between the right-wing military government and left-wing rebel groups from 1960 onwards and only ended in 1996 with the signing of a peace treaty. In addition to the Mayan ruins, Guatemala’s nature is also highly remarkable and presents the visitor with imposing volcanic cones, subtropical forests and sulphurous lakes. See other countries in North America on franciscogardening.
Arriving by plane
There are no direct flights to Guatemala from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Lufthansa (LH) fly from Frankfurt/M with a stopover in Newark. and Austrian Airlines (OS) from Vienna, each in cooperation with United (UA) to Guatemala City. From Frankfurt/M. and Munich, Avianca (AV) offers flight connections to Guatemala City via Bogotá. From Zurich, Iberia (IB) fly via Madrid and Swiss (LX) in cooperation with American Airlines (AA) fly to Guatemala City via Miami. Iberia (IB) has non-stop flights to Guatemala City from Madrid.
Frankfurt/M. – Guatemala City: from 15 hrs 35 mins; Vienna – Guatemala City: from 16 hours 25 minutes; Zurich – Guatemala City: from 15 hours 20 minutes (each with 1 stopover).
Arrival by car
The Panamericana runs from Mexico through Guatemala and El Salvador to South America. Additional connections exist from Cancun, San Cristobal Las Casas and Tapachula (all Mexico). Other highways lead from El Salvador and Honduras to Guatemala. Long-distance bus: Ticabus connects Guatemala with its neighboring countries. Long waiting times are often to be expected at border crossings. Timely pre-booking is required. Toll: Tolls have to be paid when driving on the Panamericana. Documents: The national driver’s license is recognized; Nevertheless, it is advisable to also carry the international driver’s license with you.
Note on arrival by car
Information signs and signposts are often insufficient for those unfamiliar with the area. A rental car should therefore be equipped with a navigation system.
Arrival by train
There is no rail service to neighboring countries.
Arrival by ship
The two largest ports in Guatemala, Puerto Santo Tomás de Castilla on the Atlantic and Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific, are destinations for numerous cruise ships.
Hapag Lloyd Cruises also call at Guatemala on their cruises departing from Hamburg. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, MSC, Oceania Cruises, Phoenix and P&O Cruises also have Guatemala in their cruise program coming from Europe.
Traveling by plane
The airlines TAG Airlines and Avianca (GU) connect Guatemala City with Flores several times a day.
Traveling by car/bus
Guatemala’s road network covers around 14,000 km. The main thoroughfares are the Panamericana, which runs from the Mexican border at Huehuetenango via Chimaltenango, Guatemala City, Cuilapa and Jutiapa to the border with San Salvador, and a paved road running parallel to the Pacific. The Carretera Interoceánica connects Puerto San José on the Pacific via Guatemala City with Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic. There are other well-developed but very curvy mountain roads in the south of the country. Toll: The Panamericana is subject to a toll. The toll has to be paid in cash. There are enough gas stations everywhere; often only cash payment is possible.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
Only about 1/3 of the entire road network is paved. Gravel roads and potholes are not uncommon, even on longer routes. Mountain roads sometimes only have one lane.
Rental cars are available in Guatemala City and Flores both at the airport and in the city. In larger cities, such as Antigua and Petén, car rentals are available from local rental companies. Drivers must be at least 21 years old (may vary by vehicle category) and have held a driver’s license for at least one year. Drivers under the age of 25 often pay a young driver fee on site. Because of the lack of signage, travelers unfamiliar with the area should book a car with a navigation system.
Taxi ranks can usually only be found at airports and in front of larger hotels. There are licensed yellow or green taxis with license plates beginning with an “A” and license numbers visible on the side doors. There are also white cabs that have to negotiate fares, with tourists often being charged higher rates. In Guatemala City, it is safest to use the yellow or green taxis, which can be requested both by phone and online through VIT.
Guatemala’s colorful buses, also known as chicken buses or officially camionetas, travel to locations across the country. Camionetas are inexpensive and safe. Buses from companies that specialize in tourists are more expensive and less safe. Luggage transport on the roof should be avoided if possible, or at least no valuables should be deposited there. There are also minibuses (micros or collectivos) that operate on larger country roads in Guatemala and can be stopped at any time. Micros are inexpensive but often overcrowded. Collectivos are a good alternative to camionetas.
Traffic regulations: – right-hand traffic; – Alcohol limit: 0.1 ‰. Speed limits: – urban: 60 km/h; – extra-urban: 80-100 km/h.
The ADAC foreign emergency call offers ADAC members and holders of ADAC foreign health and accident insurance comprehensive assistance in the event of vehicle breakdowns, traffic accidents, loss of documents and money, and medical emergencies. The emergency number is available around the clock; in the event of vehicle damage: Tel. +49 (89) 22 22 22, in the event of illness: +49 (89) 76 76 76.
The national driver’s license is recognized; Nevertheless, it is advisable to also carry the international driver’s license with you.
Traveling in the city
Guatemala City and other major cities have well-functioning bus networks. Guatemala City’s green Transmetro buses have dedicated lanes and operate regularly on two routes. The blue and white Trans urbano buses, on the other hand, move in normal traffic. The red city buses run on fixed routes throughout the city and can be stopped anywhere. Another means of transport that is used a lot in the cities are taxis (see the Taxi section above).
Locally on the way by train
There is no passenger rail service in Guatemala.