Things to Do in Guatemala City

The capital of Guatemala is traditionally treated primarily as a jumping off point for travelers who have just entered the country and who have thoughts of El Mirador, Lake Atitlan, and Tikal dominating their mind. Consequently, one of the most popular things to do in Guatemala City is to arrange the next step in your vacation, such as a Guatemala tour or a trip to Santo Tomas de Castilla.

In fact, however, there’s a range of Guatemala City attractions available that are sufficient to entertain vacationers for days. This is just a city that requires a bit of effort before it offers up the reward of all the great activities in Guatemala City. Consider some of the following tourist attractions in Guatemala City, and you'll find plenty to fill a trip to this beautiful area.

Palacio Nacional

Also known as Culture’s National Palace, the Palacio Nacional is a mammoth building situated on the Plaza de las Armas, a square often considered the historical heart of Guatemala City. Once the presidential seat, it is today an open monument to the history of Guatemala. Taking a guided tour around the Palacio Nacional is one of the very best things to do in Guatemala City.

Metropolitan Cathedral

Another one of the Guatemala City attractions located in the city's historical zone, which has its center at the Plaza de las Armas, is the longstanding Metropolitan Cathedral. From outside, this neoclassical structure is great to gaze at and study while inside it houses, among other things, an excellent collection of classical art.

National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology

Located in Zona 13, the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is home to a great collection of historical documents and artifacts. Comprehensive and well-curated, it includes extensive exhibits that illustrate life in pre-Columbian times. The National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a permanent fixture on any list of things to do in Guatemala City.

Zona Viva

Zone 10, or the Zona Viva as it’s popularly known, is where entertainment and nightlife activities in Guatemala City reach their high point. The city’s best dining options can be found here, along with many bars and nightclubs to keep you awake and entertained until the early hours of the morning. For travelers wary of the city’s crime record, it should be noted that Zone 10 is well-policed and considered very safe for locals and tourists alike, though a taxi is probably the best form of transportation if you need to get back to one of the Guatemala City hotels after dark.

Mercado Central

As with cities across Central America, South America, Spain, and Portugal, the Mercado Central is where seemingly the entire population heads to do their daily or weekly grocery shopping. An itinerary of Guatemala City attractions must include a trip here on Sunday when the market is at its busiest and best. One of the most enjoyable activities in Guatemala City is to buy enough food for a picnic here, and then enjoy it outside on the streets as the city goes about its daily life.

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