Guatemala Travel Guide
Guatemala City is the country's main hub: from Dallas or Houston the flying time is 2 hours; from Miami, 2½ hours; from Los Angeles, 7 hours; from New York, Chicago, or Toronto via Miami or Mexico City, about 7 hours.
Airlines and Airports
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Nearly all international flights arrive at the gleaming Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora (GUA) in Guatemala City, the country's main air hub. It sits inside the city proper, not far from the lodgings in the New City.
The arrivals hall has a temperamental ATM that is occasionally out of money or out of order. You can buy quetzals at an exchange office, open until about 9 pm, when the airport begins to shut down operations for the night, but passengers with a valid ticket can stay there overnight to wait for early flights.
The road between the airport and Guatemala City is sometimes targeted by thieves and carjackers, especially at night. Try to choose a flight that arrives in daylight hours. If you do travel into Guatemala City after dark, ask your hotel if they have a transfer service. Otherwise arrange a private shuttle or take a registered taxi or the shuttle bus, never the public bus.
Rush-hour traffic on the road between Antigua and Guatemala City can double the time of the normal 1-hour trip. Always leave plenty of time to arrive.
Tikal is served by the smaller Aeropuerto Internacional Mundo Maya (FRS), just outside Flores. More commonly known as Aeropuerto Santa Elena, it's mainly used for internal flights from Guatemala City, although it receives daily TACA flights from Cancún, Mexico, and some flights from Belize.
There are several other small airports in Guatemala—Puerto Barrios, for example—but these are usually served by private jets or charter aircraft, rather than scheduled flights.
In Guatemala there's a $30 departure tax on all international flights, but it's usually included in your ticket price. Check with your airline. All the same, you have to pay a so-called airport security fee of Q20 in cash at the airport. For local flights, departure tax is Q5.
Aeropuerto Internacional La Aurora. Guatemala City. 2331–8192.
Aeropuerto Internacional Mundo Maya. Santa Elena. 7926–0113.
La Aurora airport is about 6½ km (4 mi) from Guatemala City and 24 km (15 mi) from Antigua. The easiest and safest way to reach both cities from the airport is by registered taxi or private shuttle. Taxis to Guatemala City cost about $15 and take between 15 and 30 minutes; the trip to Antigua can take anything between 1 and 2 hours, depending on traffic, and costs about $25. Only take a numbered cab from the official booth, never one touting for service.
Shuttles are private minibus services. You can either book a shuttle in advance for yourself or you can share one with other passengers going in the same direction. Shuttles to Antigua leave regularly and cost $35 for a private service, or $12 to $15 per person on a shared service. STA is one of the best-known local shuttle services.
Public buses connect the airport to Guatemala City, but have a bad reputation for safety. Avoid them.
The 2-km (1-mi) taxi ride between Aeropuerto Mundo Maya and Flores costs around $3.
Servicios Turísticos Atitlán. 7762–2246. www.visit-antigua.com/vans.htm.
To and from Guatemala
All scheduled international flights into Guatemala land at Guatemala City, with the exception of flights to Flores from Belize City and Cancún.
Central American airline TACA flies direct from Los Angeles and Miami, as well as from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. TACA flights are usually punctual and include a meal service, though missing luggage is a sometimes-reported problem. The airline codeshares with itineraries of United Airlines.
There are daily flights from Dallas and Miami on American and from Houston on Continental. Delta flies from Atlanta. Mexicana flies from Mexico City, and Iberia has flights from Madrid. Panamanian airline COPA links Guatemala with Panama City and U.S. connections.
Some of the best deals around are with Spirit Airlines, a low-cost airline that flies three times weekly from Fort Lauderdale to Guatemala. US Airways, which flies daily from Charlotte, North Carolina, also has good prices.
Belizean airline Tropic Air has two daily flights from Flores to Belize City. TACA flies from Cancún.
AmericanAirlines. 800/433–7300; 2422–0000 in Guatemala.
Continental Airlines. 800/231–0856; 2385–9610 in Guatemala.
COPA. 800/359–2672; 2361–1577 in Guatemala.
Delta Airlines. 800/241–4141; 2263–0600 in Guatemala.
Iberia. 800/772–4642; 2332–0911 in Guatemala.
Mexicana. 800/531–7921; 2333–6001 in Guatemala.
Spirit Airlines. 800/772–7117; 2385–8743 in Guatemala.
TACA. 800/400–8222; 2470–8222 in Guatemala.
Tropic Air. 800/422–3435; 7926–0348 in Guatemala.
USAirways. 800/622–1015; 2470–0880 in Guatemala.
TACA has both morning and afternoon departures between Guatemala City and Flores. You can buy flights online before your trip, but booking through a Guatemalan travel agent can sometimes reduce the cost. Standard return fares usually cost around $200. TAG operates the same route once a day for a similar fare.
TACA. 800/400–8222 in U.S.; 2470–8222 in Guatemala.