Guatemala City

There's plenty in Guatemala City to occupy you for a couple of days. A textile and an anthropological museum will enhance your appreciation of ancient and indigenous cultures and get you ready to head into the highlands or El Petén. A pair of art museums display paintings and sculpture by Guatemalan masters; one focuses on the 20th century while the other goes back to colonial days. For families traveling with kids, there's a zoo and a children's museum. And if you're in town on a Sunday, you can stop by the Plaza Mayor, which explodes in a riot of music and color, with vendors selling handmade textiles and indigenous people wearing traditional dress. If you're lucky, you may even see one of Guatemala City's goatherds guiding his flock through the streets of the Old City and charging Q5 for a glass of fresh-squeezed milk.

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  • 1. Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena

    Museum/Gallery

    The city's best museum, the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, focuses on textiles of Guatemala's indigenous community, with an impressive array...Read More

  • 2. Catedral Santiago de Guatemala

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Built between 1778 and 1867, Guatemala City's cathedral replaced the old Catedral de Santiago Apóstol in Antigua, destroyed in that city's 1773...Read More

  • 3. Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias

    Arts/Performance Venue

    The city's fine-arts complex consists of the imposing Teatro Nacional and the open-air Teatro del Aire Libre. Named for Guatemala's Nobel Prize...Read More

  • 4. Cervecería Centroamericana

    Winery/Brewery/Distillery

    The capital's Cervecería Centroamericana has brewed the majority of the beer sold in Guatemala since 1886. If you've been traveling around...Read More

  • 5. El Correo

    Government Building

    You can mail packages from your hotel, but it's far more fun to come to the main post office, housed in a cantaloupe-color structure dating...Read More

  • 6. Iglesia de La Merced

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    If religious iconography is your thing, step inside this lovely church dating from 1813 to see its baroque interior. Many of the elaborate paintings...Read More

  • 7. Iglesia de San Francisco

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The Church of St. Francis, built by its namesake Franciscan order between 1800 and 1851, is known for its ornate wooden altar. A small museum...Read More

  • 8. Jardín Botánico

    Garden

    The small but lovely Botanical Garden at the northern end of Zona 10 contains an impressive collection of plants managed by the Universidad...Read More

  • 9. La Aurora Zoo

    Zoo/Aquarium

    It's small, but the capital's zoo is well arranged and well maintained. The facility contains several exhibit areas, including the African savanna...Read More

  • 10. Mapa en Relieve

    Other Attraction

    If you want to get the lay of the land before you head out to the country, this unusual relief map depicts Guatemala's precipitous topography...Read More

  • 11. Mercado Central

    Plaza/Square

    A seemingly endless maze of underground passages is home to the Mercado Central, where handicrafts from the highlands are hawked from overstocked...Read More

  • 12. Mixco Viejo

    Ruins

    North of Guatemala City lie the 12th-century Mayan ruins of Mixco Viejo. The mountaintop site, thought to be largely ceremonial, was one of...Read More

  • 13. Museo de la Arquidiócesis de Santiago Guatemala

    Museum/Gallery

    Off a courtyard on the cathedral's south side—enter through the church—stands the Museo de la Arquidiócesis de Santiago Guatemala, the archdiocesan...Read More

  • 14. Museo de los Niños

    Museum/Gallery

    Via interactive exhibits, the capital's splendid Children's Museum takes the young and young-at-heart on a journey through space, the human...Read More

  • 15. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología

    Museum/Gallery

    Dedicated to the history of the Maya, the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology has a large and excellent collection of Mayan pottery...Read More

  • 16. Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno

    Museum/Gallery

    Surrealism and multimedia works are among the wide range of styles represented at the National Museum of Modern Art. Some of the collection...Read More

  • 17. Museo Popol Vuh

    Museum/Gallery

    Religious figures, animals, and mythological half-animal–half-man creatures with stolid eyes, hawkish noses, and fierce poses inhabit this museum...Read More

  • 18. Palacio Nacional de la Cultura

    Castle/Palace

    The grandiose National Palace was built between 1937 and 1943 to satisfy the monumental ego of President Jorge Ubico Castañeda. It once held...Read More

  • 19. Plaza Mayor

    Plaza/Square

    Some people refer to this expanse as the Parque Central, but, despite a few trees, it's more vast concrete plaza than park. Clustered around...Read More

  • 20. Zona Viva

    Neighborhood/Street

    The so-called "lively zone" is undoubtedly the most cosmopolitan area of town. The daytime crowd is mostly business executives, but at night...Read More

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