Guatemala When to Go

Many countries make the claim, but in Guatemala it truly applies: You'll find no bad time to visit, although some seasons are more ideal than others. For near-perfect weather in the much-visited central part of the country (Guatemala City, Antigua, and the highlands), consider a trip during the November–April dry season. These are also the months when Guatemala's most famous religious festivals (the Day of the Dead, the Burning of the Devil, the Santo Tomás celebrations in Chichicastenango, Christmas, and Lent and Holy Week in Antigua) take place. However, don't feel the need to avoid the rainy season; rains rarely impede travel here, and will likely not interfere with your trip. Also, don't forget that the rest of the country (Las Verapaces, El Petén, and the Atlantic and Pacific lowlands) has a less distinct division between rainy and dry seasons.

Guatemala isn't a "fun in the sun" kind of destination, and there's little distinction between weather-based high and low seasons. Lodging and tour rates remain fairly constant year-round. (Some hotels at popular destinations such as Antigua and Lake Atitlán raise rates on weekends.) Two big exceptions to this rule are Christmas and Holy Week. Make reservations weeks or months in advance if you plan to travel during these times, and be willing, even then, to settle for alternate choices.

Climate

The high-elevation center of the country lives up to its self-described billing as "the land of eternal spring." Daytime temperatures reach 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 76°F) and may fall to 10°C (51°F) at night. The highest elevations of the western highlands see temperatures drop to freezing at night. This part of the country sees distinct rainy (May through October) and dry (November through April) seasons. Guatemalans confuse this situation by calling their dry season verano(summer) and wet season invierno (winter), although that conveys the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere's seasonal distinctions.

The rest of the country (the high-elevation Verapaces, low-elevation Petén, and Atlantic and Pacific coasts) sees less distinction between wet and dry seasons. Daytime temperatures in the lowlands reach 32°C (89°F), but occasionally soar to 40°C (104°F) during March and April, the hottest months of the year around the country. Although Guatemala has suffered occasional hurricane damage through the years—Mitch in 1998 and Stan in 2005—its short Caribbean coastline offers it greater protection than neighboring countries.

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