Guatemala City is located in the department (territorial division) of Guatemala, and it's the capital of the country. All the main highways start at Kilómetro 0, located inside Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace), in Centro Histórico (Historic Center).
Guatemala City became the capital after Antigua Guatemala had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. With a population of around 3 million people, Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala. It can be interesting to visit "Guate," as it is also called by the locals. Guatemala City has plenty of attractions and pretty good restaurants. Sunday evenings' gatherings of hundreds of locals at the main plaza is certainly an unforgettable experience.
INGUAT, 7 Avenida 1-17, Zona 4. Travellers have mixed reports about the service being unreliable here at the official travel office. There is little written material You can get some nice posters for Q6, and if you bring your own blank CD, they will copy some marimba music for you -although technically that would be copyright infrigement. Although it holds a repelling reputation for violent crime, Guatemala is also known for its good-natured, friendly citizens.
Guatemala City has one big airport called La Aurora in the south part of the city, in Zona 13. There are daily arrivals from the USA, México, El Salvador, Honduras (San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa), Costa Rica (San José), Nicaragua (Managua), Panamá. The only domestic flight route (within the country) available is a flight between Guatemala City and Flores in Peten offered by TAG and Avianca (formerly Taca Regional). The number of arrivals are in parentheses.
Aeromexico/Aeromexico Connect: México City (3), Tapachula (1)
American Airlines: Miami (3), Dallas/Ft Worth (1).
Avianca (Merged from TACA) : Bogotá, Flores (2), Los Angeles, Miami, San José (CR), San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa
United Airlines: Houston (3), Newark (on Saturdays), Washington-Dulles.
Any transportation option at the airport can be paid with US Dollars, so you don't really need local currency until after you've left the airport. That being said, if you'd like to use the ATM before leaving the airport you will need to exit the departures area, cross the street, take an elevator to the third floor and reenter the airport arrival area. You may need to show your passport with your stamp from that day to enter the arrivals area. The ATM is somewhat hidden behind the stairs that lead up to the food court. The exchange kiosks that pepper the airport have an exchange rate that is worse than most (6.8 Quetzals/USD as of Nov 2014 in comparison to 7.4 elsewhere). Banrural (located next to the ATM) has better rates.
There are always taxis at the airport. They operate with fixed prices (around $12US from the airport to Zona 10) that are 2-3 times higher than what you would pay for the same distance with an ordinary taxi. The minimum charge for a taxi in any direction is 70 Quetzals. If your hotel is in Zona 10, chances are high that there is a free shuttle service.
There is also a bus route operating the road that passes the airport that will take you to Zona 10 at around La Reforma and 12 Calle, although riding city buses in Guatemala city is considered by many to be unsafe. If you are going to the old city center (Zona 1), many buses go that way from La Reforma or from 7 Avenida that runs in parallel with La Reforma, including the safer Transmetro bus line. The nearest Transmetro bus station from the airport is a 30-45 minute walk from the departures exit.
Regular shuttles run to Antigua each day, several times a day from 6AM to 8 PM (prices $8-12US per person).
Central American highways CA-1 and CA-9 run through Guatemala City.
CA-1 is part of the Pan-American Highway and comes from the border with Mexico near Tapachula through the western highlands. Within the city, CA-1 is first Avenida Roosevelt, then Boulevar Liberacion and then Bulevar Los Proceres. It then becomes Carretera a El Salvador outside of the city and it leads to the Chinamas border with El Salvador.
In almost any town in Guatemala, you will find a bus that eventually will take you to Guatemala City. The second-class extra-urbanos or camionetas are often crowded and uncomfortable but cheap. They are known as "Chicken buses" as they are used to carry everybody and everything including live chickens going to market and were once American school buses. Expect to pay around Q10 per hour if you are a foreigner. There are also various first-class buses from some of the larger cities and from neighboring countries (Belize, México, El Salvador and Honduras). Most buses end up in Zona 1 or Zona 4 but they can be located elsewhere in town too.
NOTE: As of January 2007, there has been a transition to a new mass transit system that has more or less removed buses from their normal terminals in Zona 1 and Zona 4. Guatemala City is currently converting to a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, where intercity buses bringing in riders from other parts of the country drop them off at different stations at the periphery of the city, and the privately-owned municipal bus system brings them to their respective destinations within the city. Currently, intercity buses heading in the direction of Antigua can be found at the Plaza del Mariachi at the periphery of Zona 3. This arrangement is currently in flux, however, with the bus cooperative members fighting for a legal right to use the old terminals in Zona 1 and Zona 4 again. In 2012 they had opened a new bus station at CENTRA Sur (Central de Transferencias Sur) located 16km south, next to Colonia Villa Lobos II in Zona 12 with buses going south towards the Pacific coast and on shorter routes to/from nearby places of San Miguel Petapa, Amatitlán, Bárcenas, Villa Nueva and Cd Peronia south of Guatemala City. CENTRA SUR is also the southern terminus of the 'orange' line (T70,D70,D71) of the BRT Metro system. They also added another bus station at 'CENTRA Norte' (combined w/ a mall) at Km 8.5 de de la Carretera al Atlántico (CA-9) en Zona 17 for buses going north, such as to Peten, and northeast of the country. Chicken buses going to the western highlands leave from a series of stops (paradas) along Calle 41 between 6a & 7a Ave. It would be best for travelers to consult locals or the bus companies below to find out what the situation is instead of going anywhere for the buses.
Most of the first class pullman bus companies have their own terminals located in Zona 1. The terminals are generally clustered in an area south of the Plaza Barrios (by National Palace) bounded north by 15 Calle, south by 20 Calle, west by 2a Avenida and east by 12a Avenida. They can also be located in other parts of the city or inside hotel lobbies instead. Some of the first class companies also operate second class chicken buses while others only operate chicken buses that have their own stations or lots. The area around the bus stations in Zona 1 is sketchy especially at night and it is advisable to get a taxi to get from one station to another or to wherever you need to go. With everything in a state of flux regarding their location it is BEST to verify locally before going to the stations as their locations may of changed and they may or may not update their websites to reflect these changes. See the list in the below and the boxed text in the above:
Transportes Alamo, 12 Avenida 'A' 0-65, Zona 7 Cd Guatemala, ☎ +502 7767-4582, 2471-8626, . Offers frequent service to Quetzaltenango/Xela.edit
Autobuses del Norte (ADN), 8a Avenida 16-41 Zona 1, Guatemala, ☎ +502 2251-0610, 2251-0079, 2251-0050, . Has the newest and most comfortable buses with services from Flores (Peten), Coban & Quetzltenango.edit
Comfort Lines Premium, 4 Av. 13-60 Zona 10, ☎ +5022445-1366, . Direct international bus between San Salvador and Guatemala Cityedit
Fuentes del Norte, 17 Calle 8a. Y 9a. 8-46. Zona 1 Cd Guatemala, ☎ +502 2251-3817, . Widest network to/from various places in Guatemala with international connections to San Salvador, San Pedro Sula, Belize City, & Tecun Uman (border crossing to Mexico). They also have another terminal at Calzada Aguilar Batres 7-55 Zona 12 for buses going to/from Tecun Uman & Malacatan.edit
Transportes Galgos, 17a Ave 19-44, Zona 1 Guatemala City, ☎ +502 2232-3661, 2220-6018, 2230-5058, . Uses run down aging greyhound style buses and newer equipment from Tapachula (Mexico) via Rethaluleu & Coatepeque to Guatemala City and another route to/from San Salvadoredit
Los Halcones, Calzada Roosevelt 34-47, Zona 11, ☎ +502 7963-3000, 7765-7986 or 2439-4911, . direct bus to/from Huehuetenangoedit
Hedman Alas, 2 Ave. 8-73 Zona 10 Guatemala, ☎ +502 2362-5072, 2362-5076 (fax: 2362-5074), . goes to/from the San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, Copan Ruinas, Tegucigalpa/Comayaguela in Honduras in deluxe class buses and to/from Antigua Guatemala in a smaller vanedit
King Quality/Platinum, 4a 13-60 Zona 10, ☎ +502 2501-1000, . International buses to/from San Salvador, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Managuaedit
Linea Dorada, 16 Calle 10-03, Zona 1 Guatemala City, ☎ +502 2415-8900, . Offers service to/from Huehuetenango & Quetzaltenango in the west, Peten (Sta Elena) in the north; Rio Dulce in the northeast; and international services to Tapachula (Mexico) and Belize Cityedit
Litegua, 15 Calle 10-14, Zona 1 Cd Guatemala and Centra Norte in Zona 17, ☎ +502 2220-8840, . goes to the eastern part of the country such as Puerto Barrios, Chiquimula, Morales, El Florido (border crossing with Honduras near Copan), El Rancho and Jocotan. The also have an agency and twice daily shuttles down to Antigua as well.edit
Monja Blanca, 8a Ave 15-16, Zona 1 Guatemala City and Centra Norte in Zona 17, ☎ +502 2238-1409. Primary bus service between Coban and Guatemala City and points in between.edit
Pullmantur, 1a Avenida 13-22, Zona 10 Guatemala City (Ticket desk in the Holiday Inn Hotel), ☎ +502 2495-7000, . International bus travel between Guatemala City, San Salvador and Tegucigalpaedit
Rebuli, 21 Calle 1-34, Zona 1 Guatemala City, ☎ +502 2230-2748 or 5306-9917. to/from Panajacheledit
Rutas Orientales, 21 Calle 11-60, Zona 1 Cd Guatemala & Centra Norte in Zona 17, ☎ +502 2503-3100, . goes to the eastern part of the country such as Esquipula, Chiquimula, Quetzaltepeque, Zacapa, El Rancho, Teculutan, Guastatoya & Sanarate. They also go to/from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. edit
Transportes del Sol, Hotel Crowne Plaza @ Av Las Americas 09-08, Zona 13 Guatemala City (Ticket desk inside the Hotel Crowne Plaza), ☎ +502 2422 5000, 4147 3104, . Travels between Guatemala City, San Salvador and Managuaedit
Tica Bus, Calzada Aguilar Batres 22-55, Zona 12 Guatemala City, ☎ +502 2473-3737, . Major international bus traversing the length of Central America (except Belize), stopping only the major cities between Tapachula (Mexico) and Panama City.edit
(Various going to/from north and eastern part of country), Km 8.5 de de la Carretera al Atlántico (CA-9) Zona 17 (Centra Norte), . edit
(Various going to/from the western highlands), 41 Calle entre 6a Ave y 7a, Zona 8. edit
(Various going to/from the Pacific Coast), Calle 23 Zona 12 (Centra Sur). ... that also include buses going the communities of San Miguel Petapa, Amatitlán, Bárcenas, Villa Nueva and Cd Peronia south of Guatemala Cityedit
(Various second class chicken buses going to/from Antigua), Calzada Roosevelt entre 4a Ave y 5a, Zona 7. To get to the Antigua bound chicken bus stop from the other bus stations (or somewhere else, it would be safer to travel by taxi instead of the red city buses. From the airport there are direct shuttles to Antigua, therefore no need to come here. The terminal for chicken buses heading to and from Antigua can be found in Zona 3, on the corner of 3ta Avenida and 23 Calle. In July 2015 it cost Q10 and takes about 1.5 hours either way.edit
The city is divided into 21 zones (zonas). Zona 1 is the old historic center. Here are the national palace, the presidential palace, the cathedral, the main plaza, and the Central Market. South of Zona 1 is Zona 4, with many of the official buildings like the national bank, the national theatre, and the tourist board (INGUAT). Farther south is Zona 10 and Zona 9, divided by Avenida La Reforma. Zona 10 hosts most of the high class hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping facilities. A small part of Zona 10 is called Zona Viva (the lively zone) because of its nightlife.
The common way to get around in Guatemala City is by bus or taxi. Hardly anyone walks (people might find it odd if you do). The below are what kind of buses are available:
Transmetro are the green Volvo buses running on dedicated lanes separated from other traffic, on a fixed route basis, and only stop at a limited number of stations where passengers pay the fare while waiting. The vehicle and stations are guarded by municipal police and the drivers carry NO money. This is the closest thing to a 'metro' in Guatemala City. Currently there are two routes operating and plans are underway to build more dedicated lanes & stations to expand.
Trans urbano are the the blue & white buses similar to the 'Transmetro' only they don't have dedicated lanes, have more stops, and use the same lanes as other traffic. Drivers carry NO money and access is controlled by a prepaid SIGA card which can only be obtained at specific customer service centers upon showing passports (for foreigners) or cedulas (national ID card for all others) and pre-paying the fare making them safer than the regular red city buses. These cards are rechargeable and can be used on either the blue white Transurbano or the green Transmetro buses. The routes most useful to most travellers are the ones running between Plaza Barrios in Zona 1 and the Centra Norte terminal as well as the one traveling between Zona 1 & 10.
Regular Red city buses are like the local version of the chicken buses running all over the city on multiple fixed routes and will stop anywhere on request. These are the cheapest but the least safe way to travel within the city as they have been targeted for extortion (protection money), robbery and/or other crimes. They cost Q1.00 (Q1.25 on Sundays) per boarding and more at night.
There are two kinds of taxis: the ones with a meter and the ones on which you have to agree on a price before the trip. Of the metered taxis, the best service is given by Taxis Amarillo (yellow cabs). It is not possible to hail them in the street so you have to call 1766. They will demand an address (they can sometimes by quite picky about getting an exact address: look around at nearby houses, and give the correct zona) and normally a telephone number, so it might be wise to have someone call on your behalf from a restaurant or so. With Amarillo, every trip is logged, and riding is considered safe.
The other kind of taxis are white. With these taxis you have to negotiate a price, and as you are a foreigner, they will most likely try to get more money from you as you will be viewed as a rich foreigner, especially if you're from the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, or Western Europe. Normally, the white taxis should be cheaper, but unless you negotiate well, the yellow taxis might actually be the cheaper choice. There also is the question of safety. There are approximately 800 unregistered/unlicenced/stolen white taxis circulating around the city. If you do find a white taxi who is decent, the driver will be happy to give you a card and pick you up if you call in advance. Many locals who can afford the odd taxi have their favorite "taxista" whom they call, and the drivers themselves can refer you to another reliable driver should they be busy. The minimum price for a metered cab ride is 25Q.
Antique churches provide the capital city with a very special historic and architectural touch, such as Cerrito del Carmen, Catedral Metropolitana, Calvario, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Iglesia de Yurrita, and Iglesia de la Merced. The archaeological site of Kaminal Juyú is located within this capital city, which according to specialists, is a city buried under one of the most commercial areas of the city, comprising Zona 7 and Zona 11.
Parque Central and Palacio Nacional
Mapa en Relieve located at Minerva Park, at end of Av. Simon Cañas, Guatemala Zona 2 Tel. 2254-1114 Entrance is Q16 and it's open daily 9-5 This relief map depicting Guatemala's precipitous topography is so immense you have to view it from an observation tower. What makes it even more amazing is that it was built in 1904, before satellite or even aerial photography.
Ixchel Museum of traditional costumes, 6 Calle final, Zona 10, at the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Tel 331-3638/34. Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00 Sat 9:00-13:00. Q25 adults, Q15 students. A large collection of traditional costumes, information on weaving and dying techniques, the processing of the materials in use, the history and development of the traditional costumes and a collection of paintings by Carmen Pettersen. The explanations are in both English and Spanish. The museum also has a shop where you can get fine examples of Guatemalan artesania. The prices are higher than at the markets, but the quality is also higher and the selection is good. The shop also has a variety of books, including its own series of publications about the traditional costumes of Guatemala, hard to come by in other book stores, and also the book The Maya of Guatemala - life and dress (with text in English and Spanish) by Carmen Pettersen, for Q465 (raised because the book is now out of print).
Popol Vuh Museum, 6 Calle final, Zona 10, at the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín. Tel 361-2301/11. Mon-Fri 9:00-17:00 Sat 9:00-13:00. Q35 adults, Q15 students, Q15 for permission to take pictures (without flash), Q25 for video. The museum has no particular focus on the Popol Vuh as the name suggests, but has a rather nice collection of archaeological items from the pre-Hispanic Mayan world. There is also a room dedicated to Colonial items. The explanations are in both English and Spanish.
Archaeology and Ethnology Museum, 7 Avenida, Zona 13. Presents an archaeological sample of the Mayan civilization. This is where you find the famous Tikal mask.
Museum of Modern Art, 7 Avenida, Zona 13. This is directly across from the Archeology and Ethnology Museum and the ticket from it should get people into both.
Aurora Zoo, Zona 13. See local and exotic animals in a decent environment. Make sure to listen to the songbirds that gather in the trees above.
Kaminaljuyu, Zona 7. An early Maya ruin right in the heart of the city. The buildings are mostly mounds, however, the excavations have opened up a lot of areas that are interesting to tour.
Museo Miraflores, 7 Calle 21-55, Zona 11. Tel 475-4621. firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu, Wed, Sun 9-19, Thu, Fri, Sat 9-20. Monday closed. Museum that focuses on the ancient city of Kaminaljuyú.
Parque Central and The Cathedral.
Palacio Nacional, Zona 1, can be seen via free guided tours (40Q if you're not a Guatemalan citizen) that operate every 15 minutes, and last about 30 min. You can see the interior courtyards and official function rooms, decorative artwork and wall murals, as well as a small statue commemorating the end of the civil war: a pair of hands that hold a fresh rose.
National History Museum (Museo Nacional de Historia)
Museo Carlos F. Novella. Mirador Basin Museum is free and located inside a cement factory. 15 Avenida 18-01 Zona 6, Interior Finca La Pedrera. (502) 2286-4100 ext. 6435. Go by cab to the front entrance and tell the guard you are visiting the Museo de la Cuenca Mirador.
Jardines Botánico, Calle Mariscal Cruz 1-56, Zona 10, ☎ +502 334 6064. First botanical garden in Central America. Houses a large variety of indigenous and exotic plant species in a mature, well-maintained facility. The garden is part of the Museum of Natural History--a operation of UCA. edit
Paseo Cayala, Zona 15, it was founded 2013. There you can take a walk in a roofless place, at night there are several lights that illuminate the streets. Also there are several restaurants where you can have a great meal. There's Cinepolis (Cinema) where you can watch a movie. This place is ideal to go on a date.
Recreational activities can be done as well, from climbing volcanoes (Agua and Pacaya), to swimming in several recreational facilities, as well as water sports in Lago de Atitlán (lake).
For recreation, Zona Viva, an area of Zona 10 that has become the main center for nightlife. Guatemala City is an urban center with cultural diversity, cosmopolitan as well as traditional, in which traditional and folkloric abundance stands out, with legends such as El Cadejo or La Llorona. The city offers the tourist all the services and commodities and is normally the center of operations to set out to any of the other destinations in the Republic.
Shopping at the Central Market
Every Sunday hundreds of People stroll at the Main Plaza ("Plaza Mayor")in Zona 1, where music, arts and food is provided
Arkadia Shopping Mall. Newest cinemas in Guatemala and its located in front of La Pradera.
Oakland Mall. Located at diagonal 6.
If you want to experience a fútbol (football soccer) game in a fútbol nation, spend a Sunday morning/afternoon at Estadio Mateo Flores. You can catch a match of the most popular fútbol club in the country, CSD Municipal ("Los Rojos"). Tickets are cheap and you can get them at the stadium entrance. Go to  to see when there is a local match. "Palco" is the most expensive seating with ample spaced seats followed by "Preferencia", "Tribuna",where the "hinchas", or fanatics, sit and "General Sur y Norte" which are the cheapest. The first three are best for a good view.
The other big Guatemala City fútbol team is Comunicaciones ("Los Cremas"). If Municipal isn't playing, go see Comunicaciones play as they both share "Estadio Mateo Flores" as their home venue.about 12
LiveGuate (LiveGuate Tours), 16 Ave. 20-60 (Zona Viva), ☎ 4149-5025, . 24/7. Visit the highlights of the city with this comprehensive and educational tour. Tours run daily, call in advance. Private transportation and tour service is available throughout the entire country.89.00. edit
Stix Sport bar, Boulevar Liberacion 15-86 Z.13 (Enfrente del Obelisco), ☎ 2332-7619, . 11:00 am to 1:00 am. *Pool *Drinks *Karaoke *and moreedit
Oxford Language Center, 20 Calle 23-59, Zona 10. Tel 2368-1231/2368-1332, . A small, friendly language school specializing in English, but also offering several other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, French, Italian, and German, which are taught exclusively by native speakers. This school gives personal service with payment required up front, no refunds. Oxford Language Center also has a second location in Coban.
IGA - Instituto Guatemalteco Americano, Ruta 1 4-05, Zona 4. Tel 338-5555. Fax 338-4571. email@example.com, . Teaching in small groups, normally 1-5 students. 7 levels, starting at basic level. More weight on grammar than the typical language schools in Antigua, with some courses on just practicing. The price is around Q850 for a course of 2 hours a day (Mon-Fri), seven weeks (approximately). You can get a discount if you only plan to follow part of the course. The classes are from 9-11 or 11-13 and you can combine two classes. The students are from all over the world, many of them children or spouses.
Easy-Fácil, 14 Avenida 13-68, Oakland, Zona 10, ☎ 2337-3970/2368-1187 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Private teacher. It is run by linguists (a university lecturer in Spanish Literature, a British citizen with many years experience in teaching English), it has professional teachers, and it is located in the best area of the city; so it is more expensive but promises better results. Attracts a range of clients from diplomats to children.edit
Academia Europea, 15 Calle 2-64, Zona 10. Tel 2363-5760, 2368-1002, . Most of the teachers (in other languages) from this academy teach their native language. It has taken a large portion of the market for language learning because of its unique and patented system.
Berlitz, Av. Reforma 7-62, Zona 9. Tel 362-4444, .
USAC - University of San Carlos, Av. Reforma 0-63, Zona 10. Tel 331-0904/334-7662/335-5635. Q600 for 40 hours (4 weeks).
Instituto Austriaco Guatemalteco - Österreichische Schule
Guatemala is famous for its textiles. In the city you should be able to find textiles from all over the country. If you are particularly interested in Guatemala or the Maya, you might find books (in Spanish) here that are hard to get anywhere else. For books in English, you get better prices at an online bookstore like Amazon in most cases.
In Nola, 18 Calle 21-31, Zona 10. Tel 367-2424/367-2655/59. Mon-Fri 8:30-18-30, Sat 8:30-13:30. Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.
The artesania market, Zona 13.
Lin-Canola, 5 Calle 9-60, Zona 1. Tel 253-0138. Fax 232-0858. Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.
Centro guatemalteco de textiles, 5 Calle 9-41, Zona 1. Ceramic, wood and fabrics by the yard (Q15-25). Can't compete with the selection at Lin-Canola, but cheaper. In the same street you will find more shops with fabrics in the same price range, but none with the selection of Lin-Canola.
Central Market, between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1.
This street has undergone massive changes in the last year and is now free of street vendors. Now almost fully pedestrianized, it is best experienced on a Sunday afternoon or early evening. Several coffeeshops and restuarants.
The Airport is going through remodeling in phases. The first phase, the North wing, has been finished as of December 2007. It is a modern design with nothing to envy from airports in developed nations. Phase two will see the construction of the South wing. When finished, the airport is said to be the most modern and largest airport in Central America being able to tend to 32 airplanes of different sizes at one time.
One thing you should take home with you from Guatemala is the prize winning rum Ron Zacapa Centenario. If you don't drink, somebody else is bound to be very happy for a bottle of this exquisite rum. The price tag is around $45 for a full liter, slightly cheaper than at a supermarket. Note that there are two duty-free shops. The fancy one everybody passes by on the way to/from the gates and one at the end of the terminal behind Gate 11. The latter one is about 20% cheaper for Ron Zacapa rum. The souvenir shops have some nice things if you need some last minute gifts before you leave the country (a bit more expensive than the markets, but not too bad). The books they sell at the airport are ridiculously expensive, double or triple price of a bookstore.
Visa is the most common credit card for use in ATMs. In the main shopping areas, especially in Zona 10, you should have no trouble finding an ATM that takes Visa.
There is a Visa/MasterCard ATM at the south side of the central plaza 8 Calle 5-36, a Visa-only ATM at 5 Avenida 9-39, and a MasterCard only at the corner of 5 Avenida/11 Calle, all in Zona 1.
Note that ATM key pads can be oriented with the 9 at the top left with the numbers descending right and down, or with the 1 at the top left with numbers ascending. If you have a spatial memory and have memorized the motion of punching in your PIN instead of the actual numerical sequence, you might be in for a surprise!
Safer to use ATM inside one of the Dispensa Familiar stores where guards reduce risk of card scanners, and BI machines rather than the more common Beta.
You can find quite an array of American fast food restaurants (McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.) as well as Pollo Campero which is the most popular Guatemalan fast food chain. Fast food restaurants in Guatemala are very clean and accessible only to the middle class.
Though a little risky, there are great street vendors that offer a variety of good local foods. Just remember to scope out the one with the best hygiene. This is the most more local.
"Shucos" can be found in carts that are usually parked in between "Estadio del Ejercito" and "Campo Marte" zona 5. They are comparable to a super charged hot dog with guacamole, meats such as "longaniza", "chorizo", bacon etc... Just make sure you get the one with everything (Con todo).
"Mangoes or Cucumbers with Salt, Pepitoria & Limón"You can also get sliced fruit such as magoes with "pepitoria" (roasted, crushed pumpkin seeds), salt, and lemon in a small clear bag. Or sliced oranges from carts all over the city.
"Gauchitos" are also good cart foods. They are basically a pattie with scrambled egg, "chimichurri" and some dressings on a bun. You can find them in various places throughout the city. One favorite is on the "Mirador" on Carretera a El Salvador. It sits adjacent to Cafesa, diner like restaurant, on an outlook overlooking the city. You can order a "Súper Gauchito", a soda, and sit and admire the hustle and bustle of the city below.
"Atol de Elote" Is a very local and custom drink made from a corn (maize) base. It's somewhat sweet and a drink you must try. It's very rich so if you're not too hungry you can substitute it for a meal. The best place to try it is on the outlook on the other side of the city leaving towards Antigua. Just before you get to San Lucas. Its also another place where you can sit and admire the city from atop a mountain.
Zona Viva, between Avenida La Reforma, 6 Avenida, 16 Calle and 10 Calle in Zona 10 is the best place to find restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
ONE Restaurant+Lounge, 14 Calle 4-74, Zona 10, ☎ +502 2368.0724/2337.3903. ONE is a contemporary restaurant and lounge with an avant-garde design. It offers Fusion Cuisine. For RSVP: 502 5736.6117. Main dish Q70-190. edit
Kacao, 2 Avenida between 13 and 14 Calle, Zona 10. A nice restaurant with waiters in traditional Mayan costumes, tables covered with huipiles, under a big thatched roof. Serves traditional Guatemalan food like Pepián, Jocón, Suban-lek (ceremonial dish from the Cakchiquel royalty of San Martín Jilotepeque), Lomito Chiltepe. Q70-170.
Café de Paix, Hotel Intercontinental, 2 Avenida, Zona 10. Expensive French restaurant with typical dishes like entrecote and onion soup. Q90-190.
Hacienda Real, 13 Calle 1-10, Zona 10. Tel 2368-1168/2333-5408/9. One of the best places for steak. Try the tortillas with guacamole, frijoles (beans) and chorizo for starters, and the steak pimienta as the main course. Main dish Q70-140. Serves a free, delicious caldo while you wait for the meal. Ask for Hugo Amaya the manager. HR is known for its excellent bi-lingual service. Steaks cooked to perfection!
Tre Fratelli, 2 Avenida 13-25, Zona 10. Tel 2366-3164/68. email@example.com. Mainly Italian food. Main dish Q40-80. Also restaurants at Unicentro, Tikal Futura, Miraflores and Las Majadas.
Tamarindos, 11 Calle 2-19A, Zona 10. Tel 2360-2815/35. Asian fusion cuisine, duck, ostrich, steak, shrimps, and maybe the best sushi in town. Try the Moo Shu Duck, the tuna dishes, and for dessert the bread pudding with ice cream and bourbon sauce, or the chocolate surprise. Main dish Q80-170. Expensive cocktails, Q45.
FRIDAS, 3a AVE 14-60, Zona 10. Tel 2333-7473/2368-0686. Mexican food. Main dish Q35-60. Chicken fajitas, Tortilla soup, pechuga de pollo en salsa de mango, pay azteca, a la flauta flautas, and for starters the queso fundido mixto (melted cheese with mushrooms) are all good. The best margaritas in Guatemala, but watch out when they ask you what kind of tequila you would like in/with it - the price might rise from the normal Q29 to Q85.
Casa Chapina, 1 Avenida 13-42, Zona 10. Tel 2337-0143/2368-0663. Traditional Guatemalan food. If you are lucky/unlucky (depending on your preferences) you might also be treated to the traditional marimba during your meal.
Donde Mikel, 13 Calle 5-19, Zona 10. Great place for steak and shrimps. Often full, so book in advance, or show up early.
Tapas y Cañas, 13 Calle 7-78, Zona 10. Tel 2367-2166. Spanish tapas. Try pinchos españoles, pinchos de pollo and albondigas de lomito. You have a choice between sitting in the restaurant or in the bar.
El Gran Pavo, 6 Avenida 12-72, Zona 10. Tel 2362-0608/9. Mexican food.
Inka Grill, 2 Avenida 14-22, Zona 10. Tel 2363-3013. Peruvian food. Main dish Q45-100.
Vesuvio, 18 Calle 3-36, Zona 10, close to Los Proceres shopping mall. Tel 2323 2323. Great pizza made over open fire.
Saint Honore, Hotel Intercontinental, 2 Avenida, Zona 10. Maybe the best coffee in Guatemala City. Serves cakes and small dishes. Expensive.
Los Alpes, Zona 10. Tel 2331-4606. Swiss bakery, lunch dishes at Q30-45 (a bit boring), fancy cakes.
Zurich, 6 Avenida 12-52, Zona 10. Swiss bakery with cakes and chocolate. Also serves breakfast and lunch.
HOOTERS, Avenida La Reforma 16-01, Zona 10, local 18. The same as the ones in the USA.
Friday's, 12 Calle 1-25 Zona 10, Edificio Géminis 10 and 8 Calle 26-55 Zona 11, Parque Comercial Las Majadas and at Pradera Concepción shopping mall; the same as the ones in the USA.
El Ganadero, 20 Calle 2-19 Zona 10, across the street of Los Próceres shopping mall; excellent steaks.
Tacontento, 2a Avenida 14-06, Zona 10, across the street from the Intercontinental Hotel. Serves excellent tacos for Q20-28 per set of three. Try the spicy pulled pork tacos. The crowd is a mix between hip locals and foreigners.
Altuna, 5 Avenida 12-31, Zona 1. Stylish interior. Spanish and Basque cuisine, seafood and paella.
Hotel Pan-American, 9 Calle 5-63, Zona 1. Tel 232 6807/8/9. Fax 232 6402. Noisy hotel with clean rooms, Spanish'influenced architecture, and cool tile flooring. Q60-100.
Hotel Ajau, 8a av 15-62, Zona 1. firstname.lastname@example.org. Beautiful old hotel with decorations from around Guatemala. Nice restaurant with waiters dressed in traditional costumes. Q80.
El Rey Sol 8 Calle 5-36, Zona 1 (just off Plaza Central). Vegetarian restaurant, good value.
Carretera a El Salvador
San Ángel, Carretera a El Salvador. Great view of the city, especially at night; security is VERY tight, so you can eat with no worries. Try the lomito and the one called Mar y Tierra (Sea and Land): you get a large steak and big shrimps.
Santa Catarina Pinula (suburb just above Zona 10 and the airport)
This town is historically famous for its pork products, and the best tasting, cleanest, most authentic place around is "La Cabanita" which is a quarter block directly south of the cathedral. Fresh "carnitas" guatemalan style, plus "chicharrones", "longanizas", etc... if you're a fan of those exotic dining-gems from the Food or Travel channels then you'll love this place.
*Central Market, between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1
Hiper Paiz supermarket 9 Avenida 5-30, Zona 1, just one block from the Central Market
Hiper Paiz supermarket 6 Avenida/9 Calle, Centro Capitol, Zona 1
Econo Super, Av Reforma/16 Calle (close to Obelisco), Zona 9
Gourmet Center, Blv. Los Proceres, Zona 10
Tiendas, little grocery stores (with any name imaginable) that you can find all over the city; you can get soft drinks, beer, bread, candy, combs, razors, pens, toilet paper, any kind of snack you can think of, phone cards (some of them), etc.; cash only
Wal-Mart (Supermarket), Pradera Conception mall, Pan American Hwy (CA1) near Colnia Los Flores
4 Grados Norte .Is a cultural district located in Zona 4 in Guatemala City. It was a project of the municipality to convert this area into an attractive pedestrian area in 2002. Additionally, many green areas were created. Today the district also features bars, restaurants, shopping and cultural activities and has become one of the city's trendy and open minded areas, competing with Zona Viva in Zona 10.The most interesting places are perhaps the ones just outside the main street. More recently has become less popular and developed a poor reputation.
Bodegita del Centro, 12 Calle 3-55, Avenidas 3/4, Zona 1.
El Portal, inside the complex (entrances from 8 Calle, 9 Calle and 6 Avenida) facing Parque Central, Zona 1. Supposedly Che Guevaras favorite place when he lived in Guatemala City in the early '50s.
ONE Restaurant+Lounge, 14 Calle 4-74, Zona 10, ☎ +502 2368.0724/2337.3903. ONE is a contemporary restaurant and lounge with an avant-garde design. 25% off from 4pm through 8pm, Monday through Friday. Wednesday and Saturday is Ladies' Night with 2x1. For RSVP: 502 5736.6117.Main dish Q70-190. edit
El Establo, Zona 10.
Kahlua. Zona 10
The gay circuit in Guatemala is somewhat extensive, and it is growing every day.
Genetic, Near 4 Grados Norte. 8:00 pm - 1:00 am. It is Guatemala's biggest gay club, where you can get for free if you come before 9:00 pm. It has two floors, and shows a variety of music: from latin beats to europop. $12.00. edit
Most accommodations in the Zona Viva are within a few blocks making location less important than amenities like airport transfers or breakfast. Check for hidden costs and taxes (22%) before booking. Note that Zona 1 (downtown or el centro), where some of the budget hotels, hostels and bus stations are at, is sketchy and more so at night.
Casa Las Canchitas Bed and Breakfast, 4 calle 7-46 zona 2 (From the airport, go north on the main street 7 Avenida. Turn right onto 4 calle of zona 2. It is on the right.), ☎ (502) 5577-3171, . checkin: 2:00PM; checkout: 12:00PM (noon). This bed and breakfast guesthouse has double ($35) and quadruple ($55) rooms, an amazing view of the city from their large rooftop terrace, free wifi throughout, and includes a big breakfast with eggs, beans, fruit bowl, toast, juice, and unlimited coffee. It is located in safer and quieter zona 2, but still close to downtown zona 1 by giving you easy access to the busy pedestrian path "La Sexta" (6ta Avenida). While on La Sexta, it is about a 15-min stroll to the historic center of zona 1, where the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, and Central Market are. The Canadian owners are extremely friendly and always willing to give you advice on taxis, tours, shopping, and what to see. The room rates are great for what you get. Email email@example.com$35-55. edit
GuateFriends Bed & Breakfast, 16 Calle 7-40, Zona 13. Aurora 1 Tel +(502) 5308-3275. From $18 p/p in shared rooms and $24-30 p/p in private rooms. In Zona 13, one minute from La Aurora International Airport, safe, private parking, affordable, breakfast, lunch and dinner, international foods prepared.
Pension Meza, 10 Calle 10-17, Zona 1. Tel +(502) 2232-3177. From $4 p/p in shared rooms and $8 p/p in private rooms. In Zona 1, near the Parque Central, safe, cheap, basic.
2 Lunas Guest House 21 Calle 10-92, Zona 13. Tel/fax +(502) 2261-4248. firstname.lastname@example.org. Free services included :airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet.Dorms and privates from $14 p/p. Close to the airport.
Hostal Hermano Pedro 6 Avenida 20-53, Zona 13. Tel +(502) 2261-4181 email@example.com. Free services included :airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet. Dorms and private from $17 p/p. Close to the airport.
Hostal Los Volcanes, 16 calle 8-00, Zona 13 Aurora. Tel +(502) 2261-3040 /+(502) 2261-3584 /+(502) 5853-7016. firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorms and privates from $15 p/p. It is located just 600 meters from airport La Aurora.
Hotel Spring 8 Avenida 12-65, Zona 1. Tel 232-2858. Double Room $22. English spoken. Situated in the colonial house, it has a nice cafeteria in the courtyard. But one annoying thing is that the entrance to the bathroom is very low, expect to bang your head at least once. It also provides internet access, but the prices are a bit steep. Apart from that clean and pleasant.
Hotel San Martin, 7. Av. between 15 and 16 calle; tiny rooms but "real" budget: 3,5$ p/p
Xamanek Student Inn, 13 calle 3-57 Zona 10. Tel +(502) 2360 8345. email@example.com. Prices from $15 dorm rooms and $35 for private rooms including taxes, continental breakfast, full kitchen access and internet . Although this is in an area of nightlife and great restaurants, there is an inexpensive local place to eat at nearby (as well and a McDonalds also if you go to that sort of place). You can walk to the Museos Popul Vuh and Ixchel and to the Archaeological Museum and the zoo from there. Reservations are recommended, but they can be done via e-mail.
Quetzalroo Backpackers, 6ta Avenida 7-84 zona 10, ☎ (502) 5746-0830, . Quetzalroo backpackers is a hostel located in the financial district (near the airport). And is easy to find, as it's neighbors with the McDonalds in Zona 10. The atmosphere has the laid back Aussie aspects from Jodie and the local knowledge of Manuel, who are the owners.The rooms go for dorm USD$15; Single USD$20; Double USD$35. edit
La Coperacha, 2a Avenida 2-03 zona 2, ☎ +502 2232-1414, . La Coperacha is a non-profit cultural project. They have a hostel in zone 2, which is the emerging but still very underground artistic neighborhood. It is a few blocks from the main plaza, national palace, cathedral and Transmetro.$10-$15 per person. edit
Hotel Princess Guatemala, 13 Calle 7-65, Zona 9. firstname.lastname@example.org . Tel +(502) 2423 0909. One mile from Aurora international airport. Free Shuttle. Rates from $89
Hotel Mansión Imperial, 15 Calle 5-85, Zona 10. Fax 367 2874/75/76. email@example.com Doubles from $66 + taxes with breakfast. A peaceful oasis close to Zona Viva.
Best Western Stofella, 2 Avenida 12-28, Zona 10. Tel +(502) 24108600. In the heart of Zona 10. Rates from $66, continental breakfast included.
Comfort Hostel, 17 Calle 14-35 Zona 10. A new breed of personalized, first class service hostel, located at Guatemala City's most exclusive area, only 10 minutes to the airport, and 5 minutes to Zona Viva. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org , (502)2367-0754, 55.
Ciudad Vieja, 8 Calle 3-67, Zona 10. Tel/fax +(502) 2331-9104. Email email@example.com. Doubles from $69 + taxes with continental breakfast and one free hour internet.
Hotel Pan American, 9 Calle 5-63, Zona 1. Tel 232 6807/8/9. Fax 232 6402. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Doubles from $60. Beautiful old hotel with decorations from around Guatemala. Nice restaurant with waiters dressed in traditional costumes.
Hotel Barceló Guatemala City, 7ª Avenida, 15-45. Zona 9 | 01009 Guatemala City | Tel. +50 223 784 000 | email: email@example.com | Amazing 5-stars urban hotel located in the principal business area of the capital.
Holiday Inn 1 Avenida 13-22, Zona 10. Tel +(502) 2421 0000. Rates from $100 in advance purchase.
Real InterContinental Guatemala, 14 calle 2-51, zona 10. Ciudad de Guatemala, 01010. Guatemala, ☎ +502 2413 4444 (fax: +502 2413 4445), . The Real InterContinental Guatemala has 160 total rooms, 48 rooms club Intercontinetal, 24 business room, 6 junior suites and 1 Presidential Suite, Rooms for disabled and InterContinental Ambassador floor. In their space features 3 restaurants, gymnasia, spa, jacuzzi and pool. Prices range between $100 - $400. edit
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Avenida de la Americas 9-08 Zona 13. Tel +(502) 2422 5000. Fax +(502) 2422 5001. Double rooms from $95.
Uxlabil, 15 Calle final, Oakland, Zona 10. For those planning a longer stay in the city. Differently sized (mostly small) apartments with kitchen. Cleaning service included. Internet connection in the reception. Washing machine. Around $600 per month (shorter stays also possible).
There are phone booths spread out generously over the whole city. Most of them are from the company Claro, some from Telefónica, and most take only phone cards. Look for the sign Ladatel or Telefónica both on the phone booths and the places that sell the cards.
There are 3 cellular airtime service providers in this country (Claro, Tigo & Telefónica). GSM frequencies used are 850, 900, and 1900 MHz. If you have an unlocked cell phone that can use one of these three frequencies, you’ll find prepaid SIM cards for sale. Should your phone be of the wrong sort to use locally, very cheap prepaid phones with airtime are said to be available for as little as 150-200 GTQ.
SERVICIOS ESPAÑA, 20th Street 18-65 zona 10. Tel. 5107-0188. Document services and computer accessories. Open Monday through Saturday 8:00am to 6:00pm.
MABER CYBER Internet, 8th street 33-51, Colony Justo Rufino Barrios, Zona 21, Phone/Fax: (502)-2449-9391, Q 8.00/Hour, Document services and computer accessories.
Jv Servicios, 1 calle 1-02 y 1-04 zona 1. Tel 2251-6543 Fax. 2251-6543 Q6.00-hour. Scan, Print, Burn, hardware new and used and suministries.
E@sy Web, 2 Avenida 9-72, Zona 1. Tel 2220-4645 and 5689-7315 Q4.00-hour. Scan, print, burn, copy,
Y2K, 2 Avenida 13-17, Zona 10. Tel 366-4783/93. Mo-Sa 10:00-22:00, Su 10:00-15:00. Q16/hour. Scan, print, burn, copy.
EvolutioNet, 1 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 10. M-F 9:00-20:00, Sa 9:00-15:00. Q15/hour.
Cafe Virtual, Centro Comercial Los Proceres, ground floor, at the main entrance, Zona 10. Tel 332-8027. Mo-Sa 08:00-21:00, Su 09:00-20:00. Steep prices, but includes coffee of your choice. Q20 for 1/2 hour (inc. coffee).
@.com, Centro Comercial Los Proceres, third floor, locale 310 next to Bancafe. Tel 332-3439. Q15 1/2 hour, Q20/hour, cheaper with prepaid cards of 3, 7 or 10 hours.
Cafe Internet, 5 Calle 9-25, Zona 1. M-Sa 8:30-19:00. Q6/hour. Additional services like scan, print, burn cd.
The main post office is in 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 1. A stamp for a postcard to Europe costs around Q4. The postal system in Guatemala has a reputation for not being very reliable, and many Guatemalans have a P.O. Box in the United States. You can buy stamps or post mail only at the post offices or affiliates.
Guatemala City has a high level of crime. Check the U.S. Embassy website  for a summary of recent crimes against foreigners. These include carjackings on the road from the airport, robberies and assaults of tourist vans, and ordinary buses and cars.
Even though it has a high level of crime, if you use some common sense and good travel practices, you should not be exposed to any of it. Make sure you sharpen your street smarts because as with any other big metropolitan urban area, you might be exposed to crime. Just make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times just as you would be in any big city around the world.
If you experience a robbery, please be advised to give away anything the robbers want. Though some would suggest to just stay inside in most places after sunset, at night you can have fun safely in Zona Viva (Zona 10), Zona 14, or 4 Grados Norte.
Guatemala City is at a somewhat high elevation (about 1500 m) in the mountains (plus the air is very polluted in Zona 1), so if you are coming from a location near sealevel, you might wish to plan to take it easy and get extra rest on your first day while your body adjusts to the altitude.
Also, make sure that any food that you eat is well-washed and well-cooked, or you might get quite ill.
Centro Médico, 6 Avenida 3-47, Zona 10. Tel 334-2157/384-2600/332-3555. 24 hour service.
Hospital Bella Aurora, 10 Calle 2-31, Zona 14. Tel 384-3535. 24 hour service.
Hospital Universitario Esperanza, 6 Avenida 7-49, Zona 10. Tel 362-8626.
If you have electrical equipment that need 220-240V 50Hz input instead of the country's standard 110V 60Hz, you can find a transformer at Electronica Panamericana, 3 Avenida y 11 Calle, Esquina, Zona 9. They have various models with prices depending on how much power you require. Q230 for a 500-Watts transformer.
Also, in the smaller hotels/motels, the electrical outlets only take 2-pronged plugs. So, if you have a laptop, for example, you'll need a plug adapter that will allow you to utilize the 2-pronged outlets.
first class buses, two overnight and one in the day.
Q180 one way.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!