Quetzaltenango, known locally as Xela (SHAY-la) or Xelaju, is the second largest city in Guatemala. The town has a number of attractions, and is also a good base for exploring Guatemala's Western Highlands ("Los Altos"). The surrounding department of Quetzaltenango has a variety of landscapes including volcanos (both active and inactive), hot springs, valleys, mountains, and rivers. The region provides a harvest of numerous products such as coffee, wheat, fruits and vegetables, as well as sheep and cattle breeding.
Pasaje Enrique in Parque Central
The city of Quetzaltenango, the department of the same name's capital and largest city, is situated on an extensive plain and surrounded by hills and volcanos. The city conserves the Maya-Quiche's old traditions and the colonial past, while maintaining the dynamism of modern life.
The city's roots go back to the Pre-Columbian Maya era. The Mam authority, called Kulahá, reached its most important expansion. Later Quiches's Lords conquered the area, and founded the city of Xelajú here, moving it from a previous location at the base of the volcano Santa Maria.
The city was already some 300 years old when Spanish Conquistadors came to conquer Guatemala in the early 1500s. Their native allies the Nahuas from Central Mexico called the city Quetzaltenango, meaning "the place of the Quetzal bird" in the Nahua language. The Spanish took the name from the Nahuas. It's still the city's official name, but locals are more apt to casually call it "Xela" from the the ancient name of Xelajú.
It was the administrative capital of the Western Highland region in the Spanish Colonial period. With Central American independence from Spain in the 1820s it was part of the Central American Federation. Conflicts between the interests of Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City led to the creation of "Los Altos", the "Sixth State of the Central American Confederation ", consisting of Western Guatemala (and a slice of what is now part of Chiapas Mexico) with Quetzaltenango as its capital. When the Central American Federation fell apart in 1839-1840, Los Altos was briefly a de-facto independent state, until the army of Guatemalan dictator Carrera brutally conquered the city and hung its leaders.
The city enjoyed prosperity with the boom in coffee production in the late 19th and start of the 20th century, when many of the city's "Belle Époque" style landmarks still seen were built. Plans for a railway to Quetzaltenango dated back to the 1890s, and construction was started in the 1920s and finally completed in 1930. The "Ferrocarril de los Altos" was proclaimed the engineering marvel of the age-- until it was destroyed by landslides in 1933. The fabled railroad is still remembered in local song and story, and there's a museum dedicated to it in town.
Quetzaltenango's prosperity declined from the Great Depression through the Guatemalan Civil War in the later 20th century, and for a time much of the city looked on the scruffy side. With the new millenium, however, better times are back. The old landmarks have been refurbished and new ones added, and the city is more beautiful and vibrant than ever.
Quetzaltecos are proud of their city, its distinct regional culture, and its rich heritage.
You can Volunteer in Guatemala Quetzaltenango in many social and animal rescue centers *Volunteer abroad in Guatemala
Use the Panamerican Highway (CA-1) which crosses the High Lands or the International (CA-2), parallel to the Pacific Coast.
Chicken buses (camionetas) ply most routes although they stop often are actually usually as fast as other services due in part to the manic driving. They are however vastly more uncomfortable and less safe than the options listed below. The chicken bus fare from Guatemala City should cost no more than Q30. Chicken buses may also be the only thing available if traveling to/from more remote & smaller locales in the western highlands. The chicken bus terminal is at Terminal Minerva, a dusty, noisy, crowded yard on 7a Calle, Zona 3, north of the market next to the zoo (Parque Zoologico), 2Km NW of the central park. Buses leave frequently for many highland destinations.
For a few dollars more its worth traveling with one of the better bus companies below  which have their own terminals closer into town & within easy walking distance to La Democracia Market and the central park. A taxi to the park should cost no more than Q20:
- Transportes Alamo, 14 Avenida 5-15 Zona 3, ☎ +502 7767-4582, 2471-8626. Has the most frequent departures on a variety of aging but well maintained buses. Departures from Guatemala at Direct: 10.30am, 3pm and 5pm Q72 Normal:6.15am, 8am and 12.30pm Q56 from 12 Avenida A, 0-65 Zona 7 Guatemala City edit
- Autobuses del Norte (ADN), 23 Ave. 5-06 Zona 3 Quetzaltenango, ☎ +502 6649-2089, . Has the newest and most comfortable buses, has a good morning connection for those continuing from Peten. Departures 7am and 3pm for Q60 from 8a Avenida 16-41 Zona 1, Guatemala edit
- Fuentes del Norte, 5ta calle y 13 ave. zona 3 Quetzaltenango (Plaza Monterey local 104(frente a la enco)), ☎ +502 7767-0186 or 7767-0187. Widest network in Guatemala with connections to El Salvador, Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Comfortable buses. Departures from Guatemala City 6am and 10pm for Q70 from 17 Calle 8a. Y 9a. 8-46. Zona 1 edit Also depart from Centra Norte Bus Terminal at 6am and 3pm for Q70
- Transportes Galgos, Calle Rodolfo Robles 17-43, Zona 1 Quetzaltenango, ☎ +502 7761-2248, . Run down aging greyhound style buses. Offers connection with San Salvador. Departures from Guatemala City: at 8:30am and 2:30pm arriving at 6:30pm. Q65 from 17a Ave 19-44, Zona 1 Guatemala City Tel: 2232-3661/2220-6018/2230-5058 edit
- Linea Dorada, 5a Calle 12-44, Zona 3 Quetzaltenango, ☎ +502 7767-5198/5308-0105, . Has two comfortable services from Guatemala City to Xela 8am and 3pm for Q70 from 16 Calle 10-03, Zona 1 Tel: 2415-8900 edit
An able-bodied person can walk from the center to any point in Xela in about 30 min. Minibus routes thread through all parts of the city and, although cramped, cost only Q2. The bus costs less but is slower and less frequent.
For travel around the countryside, the local buses are very reasonable. They can be entertaining and, at times, quite crowded. Do not plan on carrying much luggage with you on these: some buses have backpack storage above the seats, but most of the time you must store bags that do not fit on your lap on the top of the bus. While they are generally safe up there, they are at risk for weather.
Taxis are relatively common around the city, especially around nightlife hot spots. At night, it is not safe to walk around, so taxis are highly recommended, especially if you are by yourself. Catch a taxi on a public square rather than on one of the side streets and note its number. Negotiate the cost of the ride before you leave. If the driver seems sketchy to you, make a reasonable excuse and do not take it.
When using the minibus to get to Hiper Paiz (which is now Walmart and located in La Pradera, the large mall with a movie theatre) go to the back part of central park to catch the van. The guy will call, "Hiper Hiper Hiper" and it is 1.25Q in the day and 1.5Q at night. This same van also drops you at La Democracia Market and Paiz (a slightly smaller Mont Blanc mall which also has a supermarket).
This is also the van that you catch to get to the Chicken Bus terminal that takes you to Antigua or Panajachel. Most people tell you to get off at the Roman Columns-Minerva Terminal. You can ask someone where the bus station is or just walk down the street along side Hiper for 4-5 blocks. In the other direction, to get from the Terminal de Camionetas to Parque Central, walk through the market after getting out of your bus and listen for a conductor shouting "Parque, Parque, Parque!".
The camionetas will leave at regular intervals, but if you load your things on the bus, do not get off as the driver may leave without warning.
These buses at the main terminal do make other stops prior to leaving town (7th Street and 16th Avenue, for example).
The town conserves traces of the colonial period in its streets and avenues. The classical, neoclassical and Italian renaissance styles are evident in the buildings and the houses which have been built during the past century and the beginning of the 20th, with volcanic stones by artistic "Quetzalteco" masons. Some examples of architectural styles:
- Espiritu Santo Cathedral : Consist of two structures. The "Espiritu Santo" parish's ancient facade (1535/1896) and to the back the "Diócesis de los Altos" (1899).
- The Municipal Theatre is a very important Neoclassical work.
- The Central America park (known as "Parque Central): Situated in the centre of the town is also centre of cultural activities and amusements.
- The Enrique Passage : Commercial building from 1900 facing the central park.
- Gobernacion : one block from the central park.
- Also visit the Cerro del Baúl, where one can have a beautiful view of Quetzaltenango's valley, day or night (accessible by foot, car or taxi).
Quetzaltenango has important cultural activities. There, you'll find the Occidental Cultural Centre (La Casa de la Cultura de Occidente), and Alliance Française de Quetzalteango, numerous activities are scheduled all year.
The first Sunday of each month, the "Quetzaltecos" install the artisans' market in the central park where handcrafts from Quetzaltenago and surrounding villages are displayed. In September, the annual fair and festival is offered from the 12th to the 18th.
Stretching to the north and west of the historical center in Zona 1 is the more modern, fast-paced Zona 3.
- Templo Minerva and the chicken bus terminal lie at the far end of Calle 4, the main thoroughfare through Zona 3. It's about a 20-25 minute walk to the bus terminal and market from the Parque Central in Zona 1, and strolling through the area can be a great way to spend a quiet morning or afternoon. It's quite safe during the day (but of course take standard precaution with your valuables, like iPhones and cameras). There are also microbuses/rotativas that go directly between the front of Templo Minerva and the park if you're not interested in walking all the way; the ayudantes will shout out the major destinations they pass on their route, commonly including La Democracia market, el Parque, or el doce (12th Avenue in Zona 1). The microbuses charge a flat fare of 1.25Q per trip per person.
- A block farther past the market is the Zoologico Minerva and a great park. The playground in the park, especially on weekends, is popular with families.
- Closer to La Democracia on Calle 4 is the Museo Ixkik, a museum of Mayan handicrafts including textiles, ceramics, masks, and more. The museum has a huge collection of representative men's and women's trajes from different regions of Guatemala, as well as smaller collections of various styles of ceramics, masks used for dancing, and traditional toys. The museum is run by a women's group and is located inside of an old army base converted into a cultural+activities center as a part of the Peace Accords after the civil war in the 1980s and 1990s (look for the huge yellow building on Calle 4 just past the McDonald's and Quetzaltenango Tennis Club). The friendly and knowledgable docents give guided tours -- included in the entrance fee -- in basic Spanish, making sure to match their explanations to foreigners' levels of Spanish comprehension. A visit to the museum would be a great way to test out how much you've learned at your Spanish school! 50Q entrance, plus some small sweets, crafts, and books for sale here.
There are dozens of Internet Cafes in Xela as well as free wifi hot spots.
- Xela Pages  - Computer time rental, printing, scanning, cd/dvd burning, fax service, skype booth with mic and camera. Price from $0.40 cent/hour up to $1.25/hour - in front of Parque El Calvario 4ta Calle 19-48, Zona 1
- Alternativas Computer time rental, printing & scanning, Price from $0.50 cent/hour up to $1.50/hour. In front of Parque Benito Juarez - Zona 3
There are hundreds of volunteer opportunities with organizations and groups in and around Xela, ranging from one day projects to long term placements.
Non-profit organization Entremundos hosts a database of local opportunties, accessable for free at http://www.entremundos.org They offer an additional personalized volunteer service for a donation of Q25 ($3) which includes access to all of their 150 listings, a meeting with their volunteer coordinator to discuss possible opportunities for you, and use of internet and phone to contact organizations (and they can even do this for you) They also rent rooms to people studying or volunteering with local organizations (From Q750 a month). Entremundos, 6a calle, 7-31, Zona 1
For more info email [email protected]
Many of the schools listed above offer opportunities for their students. For other volunteer opportunities, see the list below.
- El Nahual Community Center (non-profit) offers volunteers teaching opportunities (9am-1pm usually) in a range of subjects such as English, Music, Art, Sports. They also have an after-school program where volunteers can help children with their homework or just play games with them from 2.30pm-5pm every weekday. http://languageselnahual.com/testimonials/
- Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano 
- Asociación Nuevos Horizontes, women's and children´s rights non-profit organization 
- La Pedrera Community Project (non-profit) offers volunteer work and internships with an indigenous community .
- Trama Textiles is a 100% worker-owned women's weaving association providing fair wages to its crafts women and helping them bring their high-quality, handcrafted designs to local and international buyers. 
http://www.entremundos.org/en/index.html Volunteers are always welcome. This is another site with opportunities
Xela is also well-known for its abundance of volcanoes, mountains, and hot springs.
The salsa scene is also very active in Xela. Lessons are cheap and there are lots of clubs. Every Wednesday, La Parranda (14 Avenida & 6a Calle) hosts a salsa night with free classes in the basic steps, and every Thursday, Charlie's (4a Calle 22-40) hosts a salsa night.
Some of the major salsa schools include:
- Sangre Latina (6ta calle 7-19, upstairs in the A la Gran Pizza restaurant. For info: 5590-5697)
- Salsa Rosa (Diagonal 11 behind Mercado de las Flores)
Arts & Culture
- Casa No'j Is a cultural center located at the SW corner of Parque Central. It hosts a range of activities including art exhibits, poetry readings, book presentations, seminars and the like.
- Efrain Recinos
- Ciudad de la Imaginación is a non-profit arts organization located around the corner from Transportes álamo in Zona 3. It hosts workshops, conversation series and exhibitions. Ciudad de la Imaginación
- Yabal Handicrafts is a Fair Trade Artisan organization that offers talks, demonstrations, and classes about the 5,000 year-old mayan weaving art of the back-strap loom. Call or email to make an advance reservation. They also have a fair trade store that sells accessories from rural cooperatives. Located 2 blocks from central park, around the corner from the Despensa Familiar grocery store, 7 Calle 13-29 Zona 1.
Xela is an excellent place to take language lessons (both Spanish and some of the Mayan languages specific to the area). There are various schools and NGOs in the city most offer rates based on one week of instruction (approx. 5 hours per day). Some schools offer volunteer opportunities for an additional cost while others offer it for free. Most also offer home stay options, which is an excellent way to make sure you keep practicing at all times. One of the best reasons to learn in Xela is the price. You can expect to pay about US$140-160 per week plus home stay. This often includes internet access at the school. Arrangements can be made ahead of time or upon arrival (most schools have multilingual administrators who can help make arrangements via email or phone - some even offer airport pick up from Guatemala City).
- Sisai Spanish School  - http://www.sisaispanishschool.org/guate - 15 Avenida - 2 min from Parque Central - tel +502 77651318. A total immersion not-for-profit Spanish school that offers 25-hours a week of custom tailored one-on-one Spanish classes for beginners to advanced, business, medical, social work and university accredited courses and hosts many after school activities.
- Casa Xelaju  tel 612 235 4307
- Celas Maya  tel (502) 7761-4342
- CBA  Centro Bilingue Amerindia, 12 Avenida 10-27, Zona 1, ☎ 502-7761-8535, . edit Founded in 1989, CBA is one of the oldest language schools in Xela. Its university-trained instructors teach classes in Spanish as well as Mayan languages in a family environment. School profits go to various development projects.
- Centro Maya Xela  - http://www.centromayaxela.org - 13 Calle "A" 32-52 zona 7 Colonia Los Trigales, Tel. +502 7767 3269, WhatsApp +502 4614 7463. Study Spanish, the Mayan languages K´iche´, Mam or Q´anjob´al, Mayan medicine, weaving, spirituality with Centro Maya Xela, in Xela or online on Skype, WhatsApp or Google hangouts.
- Educacion para Todos 
- El Nahual Language School & Community Centre - http://www.languageselnahual.com - 100% Non-Profit Volunteer Led Organization. Based out of a high school 20 minute walk from central park, all profits go into running the school for children who can't afford school supplies and textbooks. There are also opportunities for students to teach English, Art, Music, Sports to the kids in the high school (usually 10am-1pm) or help them with their homework every day from 2.30pm-4.30pm
- El Mundo en Español 
- El Portal Spanish School  A well-recommended, professional, good value and friendly, non-profit institution which uses fees to support the kids of single mothers through a scholarship program.
- El Quetzal Spanish School Excellent school run by a local indigenous woman since 1998. Professional environment but fun, a portion of your fees go to local local projects and scholarships. Offers homestays and private accommodation. It was voted as one of the top Spanish schools in Guatemal by Guatemala365.com.
- Escuela de Español Utatlan  ([email protected]). Highly recommended school by the city's central park, with a friendly atmosphere and very reasonable class rates. Discounts for longer stay and opportunities to teach English in the school to local students.
- Guatemalensis Spanish School  A fairly inexpensive option with excellent coordinators. Great planned activities and sense of community.
- ICA 
- INEPAS  Opportunities to participate in some great community development programs next to Spanish classes. Staff is friendly and helpfull.
- Kamalbe Spanish School & Volunteer Center, 14 avenida A 4-25 zona 1, ☎ 4106-2539, Kamalbe is a non profit school centrally located two blocks from parque central and offer Spanish lessons and unique volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups in their partner community just outside of Xela. Homestays and cultural activities for students and volunteers available. 
- Kie Balam 
- La Comunidad Spanish School  Very good school with English speaking teachers. Also the cheapest rates in the entire city, even $65 per week cheaper than some! Excellent volunteering activities also.
- La Democracia 
- La Paz 
- Madre Tierra 
- The MesoAmerica Academy 
- Miguel Angel Asturias Spanish School  Offers one-on-one classes, homestay with meals, many volunteer opportunities, and specialized instruction. Optional medical Spanish program with clinic and hospital volunteering. University credit available.
- Miguel de Cervantes School of Spanish  tel. 502-77655554 Great school offering a variety of Spanish classes with excellent instructors and immersion activities, with attached accomodation. Well worth spending time in. The best priced Spanish school in Xela.
- Minerva 
- Pop Wuj - Spanish School Guatemala  Non-Profit Organization run by teachers to support sustainable community development. Provides One-to-One Spanish Instruction , Medical Spanish ,Volunteering Spanish for Social workers; There is a clinic supported by the Timmy Foundation (http://www.timmyfoundation.org) located under the school. Medical students come to work at the clinic and learn or improve their Spanish. Living arrangements usually with community based families.
- Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco 
- Sakribal 
- Ulew Tinimit Spanish School  tel (502) 77630516.Ulew Tinimit (oo-lay-oo tinimit) is a K'iche phrase meaning "the land of the people". We offer intensive one-on-one Spanish courses for 5 hours a day and offer specific Spanish-learning programs and volunteer opportunities.
- Spanish School Sol Latino  tel (502) 5613-7222. Spanish School Sol Latino offers one-on-one classes with professional instructors, including D.E.L.E preparation and online classes. Besides Spanish classes Sol Latino offers accommodation, daily activities, salsa classes and volunteering opportunities. The staff speaks Spanish, English and Dutch. A part of the tuition for classes goes directly to support social projects in the area of Quetzaltenango.
There are many opportunities to buy goods in Xela. Mayans will approach you, especially in parks, about selling purses, bags and blankets in the local styles. Markets occur regularly in and around Xela. Remember to negotiate prices-- walking away is often a good way to get the price down a bit.
During the monthly market at the Parque Central on the first Sunday of the month, a row of vendor booths is set up in front of the Municipal building & Catholic Cathedral (east side of the park) with vendors mainly selling local products. Showing interest & walking away typically elicits price offers at around half of the original quote. For example: my wife decided against a Mayan tablecloth that was originally quoted at Q250 (a reasonable price) and the vendor's wife proceeded to follow us around the park for a while coming down to Q100 eventually before accepting that my wife simply had decided not to purchase at any price.
- Trama Textiles, 3a Calle 10-56 Zona 1 (From the Parque Central, follow 11 Avenida up the hill and around on the 1st left.), . 9am - 6pm. TRAMA is an association of 400 backstrap loomweavers in Queztzaltenango. TRAMA offers high quality products that ensure fair wages to the craftspeople as well as hands-on classes for individuals wanting to learn about traditional weaving processes. edit
- Y'abal Handicrafts, 7 Calle 13-29, Zona 1 (Only 2 blocks form Parque Central, Y'abal is about half a block behind the Despensa Familiar grocery store on the 7th Calle. It's halfway in between El Cuartito Cafe and La Chatia Artesana.), ☎ 7761-7760, . Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm. Y’abal is a Fair Trade store and social enterprise committed to providing sustainable and consistent jobs to over 50 rural indigenous women artisans. They specialize in a 100% artisanal line of accessories for both men, women, and the home- their designs are a unique mix of traditional and modern design and they specialize in quality craftsmanship. Fabrics are handwoven on the Mayan back-strap loom. All profits are used to fund social programs for their women's cooperatives, such as: Micro-credits, maternity leave fund, educational scholarships, sewing workshops, and a women's entrepreneurship program. edit
- Al Natur, (behind the municipal bldg). Great selection of fare-trade products and Mario is a sweetheart. You can also drink an espresso or hot chocolate while you check out the coffee, textiles, jams, and natural beauty products. edit
- Churrascaría Cajola This place is bare bones, dirt cheap, and delicious. You can get carne asada, with tortillas, beans, and cabbage for 10 quetzales (USD $1.25). A soft drink will cost another 4 or 5 quetzales. Located just east of Cervecería Nacional, next to the small roundabout.
- Sabor de La India A great indian meal from 40 to 70 quetzales, plus drink. Address is 15 Avenida 3-64, Zona 1, next to Vrisa Bookstore
- Comida Taiwanesa Their specialty is the Taiwanese empenada which is entirely vegetarian. They're Q3.00 a piece and two will make a decent size snack. They also sell soy milk and snow cones with all kinds of toppings. Located south of the Parque Central on 8a calle between 8a avenida and 9a avenida.
- La Genovese A small Italian Restaurant just two blocks south of the Municipal Theater on 14 avenida A serves great pasta dishes perfect for vegetarians, as well as a great selection of meat based sauce dishes such as the famous Lasagna Bolognes, Spaghetti ala Amatriciana. You will also be surprised to find gourmet dishes such as Fettucinni with black trouffles and smoked salmon, Penne alla Gorbachov which is penne pasta with a vodka based sauce. Part of the charm of this restaurant is its chef Alfredo Trovatti who can entertain you with stories of his travels all around the world.
- Luna Cafe has the best hot chocolate (spicy!), and decent food (some original takes on local ingredients & dishes) too. They are closed on Sunday. They are located off the east side of central park on 8a Av between 4a and 5a Calle. Around the corner on 4a Calle, is Bajo la Luna that has an excellent wine selection (seriously) and cheese plates.
- Cafe RED is located in Zona 1 on 3a Calle just west of 15a Av. and has delicious coffee, excellent salads (spinach - no iceberg lettuce thankfully), sandwiches, pasta, soups, tipico meals, and wine for only 15Q a glass. They are closed on Sunday.
- El Cuartito Cafe is located at the intersection of 7 Calle 7 & 13 Avenida, Zone 1, a block from the SW corner of Parque Central, across from the supermarket La Despensa Familiar. Open daily 8am-11pm. This cozy & trendy modern-art-decorated cafe serves amazing coffee drinks (Q10-23 using 100% organic & fair-trade Xela cooperative produced coffee), teas (Q15-20), hot chocolate (Q12-17), alcoholic (mojitos - Q20; wine - Q16; commercial beer - Q15; artisan beer - Q30; Irish coffee - Q200), excellent pastries, breakfast plates (Q20-35), and great snacks (chips & salsa - Q15, nachos - Q25, quesadilla - Q20). Free Wi-Fi. Live music often.
- Panorama Restaurante y Mirador, 13 Avenida A, D16-44, Zona 1 (http://restaurantepanorama.com/videos/como-llegar/), ☎ 5319-3536 or 7765-8580, . Tue-Fri 5-11pm, Sat-Sun 1-11pm. Amazing view overlooking central Xela (beside Iglesia Monte Sinai). Sit outside on the lawn as you gaze across the Quetzaltenango valley at the mountains all around. Excellent for celebrating an occasion or impressing that special someone. Specializing in Swiss cuisine and serving delicious fondues, raclette, sandwiches, pizzas, hamburgers & more. Q25-110. edit
- Baviera Cafe, 5a Calle 13-14, Zona 1 (1 block west of central park), ☎ 78799958 al 60, . 7a-8:30p. This charming cafe/restaurant offers tables, a lounge/sofa area, flat-screen TV showing sporting events. Serves wonderful teas (from Q6), locally sourced & roasted coffee drinks (from Q8), hot chocolate (from Q12), milk shakes (from Q20), juices/horchata/sodas/beers (from Q10) as well as soups (from Q20), sandwiches (from Q25), salads (from Q25), pastries (from Q20), snacks (from Q8), and breakfasts (from Q20). Free Wi-Fi internet to paying customers (passcode=11111aaaaa). As of July 31st 2015 this cafe has, sadly, been lost to fire. There are also 3 other locations in Xela. edit
- Cafe Nim Sut, 4ª. Calle 9-42, zone 1 (Half block NE from Central Park), ☎ 7761-3083, . 9am-7:30pm. Excellent location & service, with a terrace & panoramic view. Offers a variety of coffee, cappuccino, espresso, latte and more. As of 5/10/2014, only sells coffee and other drinks. Can plan/host events & gatherings. Also a hostel with nice rooms decorated in a warm style. Offers wi-fi internet access to customers. edit
- Bake Shop, Avenida 18 between calle 7 and 8. 9-6 Tuesday and Friday only. Excellent bakery run by local Mennonites.If your sick of pan dulce then this is the place for you, real European style bread !. They also have amazing donuts real actual fresh milk, cookies , granola and home made cheese. It's a little hard to find its behind the stairs next to the Banco Immobiliario. Only open Tuesday and Friday till 6pm although most food will have sold by late afternoon edit
- Rosario's Comedor, cnr 7a Calle & 7a Avenida (from Parque Central walk downhill along 5a Calle, when you get to 7a Avenida turn right under the bridge, it's a block away - across from the barbers). Breakfast & Lunch. This lovely little family run comedor is great for authentic local food. The lunch menu is different every day and always really good. You can get a delicious plate of huevos, frijoles negroes, platanos and a stack of freshly made tortillas most mornings. There are a lot of these places around but this place is open and full of natural light, the woman who runs it and her daughters are extremely friendly (and patient with beginner Spanish speakers!) and the atmosphere in the street is great. A great way to experience a bit of local life! Plus it'll cost less than 20Q! edit
- PETRA Café Gourmet, 15 av 2-40 zona 3 (In front of pollo campero in La Democracia market), ☎ 7761 5130, . Su-Fri 8:00 - 20:00. Tasty panini sandwiches and delicious infusions. edit
- Giardino, 6 Calle (btwn 14 & 15 av) Zona 3 (Walk north on 14 ave and make a left after passing Tertulianos), ☎ 7767 6758. Tue-Sat 10:00 - 22:00. Authentic italian restaurant. Chef/owner is Guatemalan-Italian and makes the best pizzas in town (some say in all of Guatemala). edit
- Heladeria Italiana Abbey, 4 calle (btwn 19 & 18 av) Zona 3 (Inside Paiz Mont Blanc Shopping Center). M-S ? -20:00. An assortment of unique flavors ranging in Almond, Raspberry, Swiss Chocolate, Coconut, Pistachio, Irish Cream, and Frutti di Bosco. Buy 2x1 cones for Q10 or a half liter for Q25. This is the place to visit if you want a sweet treat. Q10-25. edit
- La Esquina Asiatica, 6-79, 9 avenida, Zona 1, ☎ 7763-0316. La Esquina Asiatica (The Asian corner) serves up great Asian food at affordable prices. Try out their famous dumplings (Q30), Vietnamese summer rolls (Q30) or Pad Thai(Q40). Their thai burritos (Q35) are huge and come with a great peanut sauce. The restaurant is set on the 2nd floor of an old colonial building with huge windows that open out to a view of the mountains, check out their nice posters and decoration. They're open from 8:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. and you have to try their Q25.00 breakfasts, absolutely delicious and with coffee or tea refills! On Wednesdays they have live music from a great musician: son latino, trova and rock. The drinks are cheap and the whole vibe of the place is relaxing and fulfilling. edit
- Mandarina bakery, 13-25a, 7 calle, Zona 1 (Located close to despensa and is right beside King and Queen), ☎ 52501199. Mandarina is an inclusive kitchen that serves lunches and desserts for all. Be it gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan or just sinful desserts, she has something for everyone. Their sandwiches (Q25) are one of the best in town. Ask for the avocado-lime dressing on their focaccia bread. Yum. They also make healthy green smoothies (Q10, stuffed breads, vegan icecream and more. edit
Don't drink the tap water. Some hostels will have a water filter, which many drink from, and it seems to be safe. Otherwise, drink purified water (agua pura).
Cabro is made locally in Quetzaltenango. Another local beer, Gallo, is more like the Bud Lite of Guatemala -- bland, available everywhere, and sponsoring everything.
If you like dark beer, try the Moza, another local beer, it's some people's favorite. Shop at the liquor store and return Moza bottles for credit but not all bottles will receive a 1 Q credit.
- El Cuartito Cafe is located at the intersection of 7 Calle 7 & 13 Avenida, Zone 1, a block from the SW corner of Parque Central, across from the supermarket La Despensa Familiar. This cozy & trendy modern-art-decorated cafe serves amazing coffee drinks (Q10-23 using 100% organic & fair-trade Xela cooperative produced coffee), teas (Q15-20), hot chocolate (Q12-17), and many alcoholic beverages (mojitos - Q20; wine - Q16; commercial beer - Q15; several styles of artisan beer - Q30; Irish coffee - Q200). Free Wi-Fi. Open daily 8am-11pm. Live music often.
- Miel Y Cafe, 3ra Calle, 15-21, Zone 1 (just a few blocks from Central Park), ☎ 011-502-4009-3930. 12-8 p.m. Miel y Cafe is an eclectic cafe and hostel in downtown Quetzaltenango. They offer an especially tasty yet unusual avocado and chocolate drink, as well as locally grown gourmet coffee. $150.00 a month for a single room,$100.00 a month per person shared room. edit
- Baviera Cafe, 5a Calle 13-14, Zona 1 (1 block west of central park), ☎ 78799958 al 60, . 7a-8:30p. This charming cafe/restaurant offers tables, a lounge/sofa area, flat-screen TV showing sporting events. Serves wonderful teas (from Q6), locally sourced & roasted coffee drinks (from Q8), hot chocolate (from Q12), milk shakes (from Q20), juices/horchata/sodas/beers (from Q10) as well as food (see "Eat" section). Free Wi-Fi internet to paying customers (passcode=11111aaaaa). As of July 31st 2015 this cafe has, sadly, been lost to fire. There are also 3 other locations in Xela. edit
- La Galera, 3 calle 13-00, Zona 1 (just around the corner to The Black Cat Hostel). A small bar, very nicely decorated. Offers drinks and snacks at affordable rates. edit
Quetzaltenango has a variety of accommodations for a variety of budgets, though world travelers will find the prices and facilities in the "high end" accommodations more like that of mid-range places in larger world cities. It is best to always ask to see your room before moving in to it; whether budget or more pricey, some rooms in the same place can often be much better or worse than others. At cheaper places don't expect hot water or heat unless you ask for it; in some the "heat" may be wood to put in a fire place that you have to order and pay for by the bundle.
- Guesthouse Casa Latina, Diagonal 12, 6-58, zona 1, ☎ (502) 5613-7222, . Casa Latina is a beautiful, new guesthouse located in zone 1, the historic centre of Quetzaltenango. It is just a few minutes walk to the Parque Central and the bars and restaurants.Casa Latina has a friendly and homelike atmosphere. Because you have your own key, you will have the feeling of staying home immediately. There are two floors with each four rooms. Both of the floors have their own bathroom, kitchen, living room, free wifi and a balcony to enjoy the Latin sun. edit
- Casa Seibel, 9a Avenida 8-10 Zona 1 (Just off the Central Square), ☎ (502) 59587529 / 47048305. Lovely colonial house with spacious rooms and leafy courtyard (nice to relax and chat and meet other travellers). Equipped kitchen and lovely dining room table to eat at. Also a piano in one of the rooms for guests to use! Dorms (Q50) and nice private rooms (Q120). All spacious with no bunks in dorms. Shared bathrooms for all with decent hot water. Mattresses are new and comfy. Guatemalan-American couple running it very attentive and friendly with plenty of tips on things to do and happy to sit and chat. Very enjoyable place. Owners are really nice people, and the whole staff is always very keen on helping. A true hidden gem in Xela, conveniently located. Check out the excellent Asian corner just up the street, by staying at Casa Seibel, you will get a "free drink" coupon and a "breakfast for Q15.00" coupon valid at La Esquina Asiatica. edit
- Casa Argentina, Diagonal 12 8-37. Friendly and central, very close to a small fruit and vegetable market. Home of Quetzaltrekkers, a non-profit trekking company. It has a wi-fi (or use their computer), kitchen (a bit dirty and run down), hot water (use the top one - hottest, and it's solar (?)). 25 Q for a Dorm room, 35 Q for a single room. If you are going to be in Xela by the week tell Leanora when you pay-May 2010-there is a weekly rate at least for the private room with bath. Some find this a great kicked back place, but do check your mattress for signs of bed bugs. editNewly opened Hostel. Lovely colonial house with spacious rooms and leafy courtyard (nice to relax and chat). Equipped kitchen and lovely dining room table to eat at. Also a piano in one of the rooms for guests to use! Dorms (Q45) and nice private rooms (Q80). All spacious with no bunks in dorms. Shared bathrooms for all with decent hot water. Mattresses are new and comfy. Guatemalan-American couple running it very attentive and friendly with plenty of tips on things to do and happy to sit and chat. Very enjoyable place and as of July 2014 new and exceptionally good value. Check out the excellent Asian corner just up the street.'The Black Cat Hostel is in the old House Kahel (13 av 3-33 zona 1), located one block from central park, with a patio where you can have breakfast or sit in the sun. Both travelers & locals gather in the bar, so you can practice your Spanish. If you are a big breakfast eater, the extra $ for the room is well worth it - breakfast of your choice from a menu until 11am. Wi-fi internet included. Rooms with wheelchair access. Visa card accepted. Pets accepted. No smoking but smoking area provided. Phone: 77658951 or 77612091. http://www.blackcathostels.net Prices: dorm bed (with shared bathroom) - Q60, Private room (with shared bathroom) - Q160, Private room (with private bathroom) - Q200. *All prices include breakfast.
- Hotel Pension Bonifáz, 4a. Calle 10-50 Zona 1 (Just off the Central Square), ☎ (502) 761 4241, . One of Xela's top hotels since 1935. Convenient location; offers parking for those who came with a car. On the pricey side for Quetzaltenango. Even if you decide to stay somewhere cheaper, you may wish to stop by the fashionable bar and restaurant for a meal or a cocktail. edit
- Casa Doña Mercedes, ☎ (+502)5687-3305 ([email protected]), . is off to the southeast corner of central parque at the corner of 6a Calle and 14 Av. The rooms run $11/night for the shared room, $70/week for a private room (both with shared bath), and $110/week for a private room/bath. The private baths have REAL hot water (coming from a water heater). There is a sun room, kitchen, TV in the rooms, and the staff cleans your room every day. Also, they will do your laundry for 30Q/load. edit
- Hostal La Estacion, 16 Avenida 1-23 Zona 1, ☎ If calling from outside Guatemala, the calling code is: (011-502)Home phones: 7761-8065 or 7761-0219. Cell phone: 5407-9583 ([email protected]). The hostel is located not far south of Mercado de Democracia and is a short walk to Parque Central. Q40 for a room with two double beds (similar to dorm style) and Q50 for a room with one bed. There is also a cheap single room on the terrace that costs about Q30 per night. If you stay for a week or a month you can get a cheaper rate. You can also buy great home cooked food for Q15 a meal. The hostel is run by a very nice woman(Doña Maria) who has years of experience hosting backpackers. It has a fully equipped kitchen, 24 hr. hot water, free bicyles that guests can borrow and a family atmosphere. edit
- Itzamna Xela Homestay, ([email protected]), . is a service placing travelers with a family for a homestay. They can accommodate stays of a few days to months. edit
- Casas Luna De Xelaju, . Nice two storey house with 3 beds, 2.5 baths with garage and apartments 2 beds, 1 bath. edit
- Miel Y Cafe, . Miel Y Cafe, 3ra Calle, 15-21, Zone 1 (just a few blocks from Central Park), ☎ 011-502-4009-3930. 12-8 p.m. Miel y Cafe is an eclectic cafe and hostel in downtown Quetzaltenango. They offer an especially tasty yet unusual avocado and chocolate drink, as well as locally grown gourmet coffee. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and the rooms are very homey. It is great for longer term stays in Quetzaltenango, and you can rent by the month or by the week. They have hot water for showers and a fully equipped shared kitchen. Sneak up on the roof because the view of the Xela sky is beautiful! $150.00 a month for a single room,$100.00 a month per person shared room. edit
- Hotel Modelo, 14 Ave A 2-31 zone 1, ☎ (502) 77612529, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. Owned and operated by the same family for over 100 year the Hotel Modelo offers old world charm in the heart of Quetzaltenango. $30 up. (14.838046,-91.521453) edit
- Hotel Real Virginia, 11 Avenida 8-11, Zona 1. More quiet than many of the hotels right in the heart of downtown edit
- Casa San Andres, 4a calle, D12-41, Zona 1, ☎ 502 42153411 ([email protected]). This beautiful house 5 blocks from the park, is not a hostel, but they rent a couple of rooms which surround a plant filled colonial courtyard. Guests share a kitchen and bathroom with hot water. Wi-fi internet also available. Contact directly or through airbnb. edit
- Casa San Bartolomé, B&B, 2da ave. 7-17 zona 1, Barrio San Bartolomé (one block from Parque Bolívar, take 6ta, Calle from Parque Central), ☎ 7761-9511 ([email protected]), . A quiet, clean and comfortable bed & breakfast with very nice gardens. The hotel has six bedrooms and two equipped and furnished apartments, all with private bathrooms and enough hot water. Rates include full breakfasts to select from a six options menu. Special rates for longer stays. Free Wi-Fi. Q205-350. edit
- Hotel Villa Real Plaza, 12 Ave & 4ta Calle Zona 1, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. The Villa Real Plaza sits on the same block as Quetzaltenango's wonderful Central Park. It is a lively area with lots of restaurants and nightlife. Nice rooms, hot showers with Cable TV in every room. $30 up. edit
- Casa Xelajú, ([email protected]), . Offers two-story house for rent and 10 apartments with big windows where you can see the city, mountains and volcanoes. They are completely furnished including central heated water, washing machine, , a dining room, living room, full kitchen and three bedrooms/one bedroom, two bedrooms and balconies. We are located five minutes walking distance from the Central Park, in the Historice Center of the City, Callejón 15, Diagonal 13-02, Zona 1, Quetzaltenango. Free unlimited high speed WIFI, 24/7 For more info, info(AT)cx.edu.gt USD35/day for the house which include three bedrooms. edit
- Hotel Casa Mañen, 9a Av. 4-11, Zona 1., ☎ (502) 7765-0786, . Casa Mañen is a wonderful bed and breakfast located just two blocks from Parque Central. The service is first class, the staff dedicated to helping visitors. Whether short or longer stay, this hotel is only blocks from many schools, attractions and the night life of Xela. The rooms are comfortable, each with its own character. edit
- Hotel Casa del Viajero ([email protected]), 8 av. 9-17 zona 1, ☎ 77614594, 77615297, . Well-known colonial style traveler's home located in the historic center, a few blocks from Central Park. Offers: Rooms with private bath, hot water, Cable TV, Wi-Fi, Breakfast and dinner, parking, Event room. Prices start at Q75 per person in single, double or triple rooms. $10+. edit
- FLORA INN HOTEL, 12 av. 3-61 Zona 1, ☎ 7761-2326, . Located at the central park, based on the European hotel tradition. Nice, spacious rooms. Great for business travel. Prices: Single Room - $24 (Q190) Double Room - $34 (Q270) Triple Room - $40 (Q325) Extra person - $4.50 (Q35) Additional bed - $10 (Q80) Breakfast - $3.00 p.p. (Q25) edit
- Loc Chocoyos Casa Siguan, 7 calle 15-20 zona 1, ☎ 77616497, . 2-3 beds per room, private bathroom, hot water, wi-fi internet included, breakfast included, restaurant & bar adjacent, laundry, bed linens included, towels included, luggage storage, guest kitchen use, reception 24 hrs, common room, no smoking, taxes included, pets accepted. Its cultural center (meeting room) often hosts music events, theater, poetry, art exhibits, photography, etc. Sister bar "Ojala" offers a smaller venue. Prices: Private rooms Q70 per person, Dorm bed Q60 per person. Q60-70. edit
- HOSTAL DON DIEGO, 6 calle 15-12 zona 1, ☎ 77631000, . The owner of this Hostal speaks fluent English which is nice. She is also extremely friendly and guides with Adrenalina Tours. She and her 4 sons live in the common space of the Hostel which is either homey or awkward depending on your perspective. Expect some funkiness, but hey, it's cheap. Wi-fi internet access, parking, laundry, bed linens included, accepts credit/debit cards, towels included, luggage storage, guest kitchen use, reception 24 hrs, travel information, common room, bicycle parking, no smoking, taxes included in prices, smoking area. Prices: Dorm - Q45 per person, Double Room - Q90, Triple Room - Q125. Single room w/ small bed - Q50.00 per person. Single room w/ bigger bed - Q70.00 per person. edit
- HOTEL EL CENTRO, 10 calle 11-69 zona 1, ☎ 77631357 or 77650620. 3 blocks from Central Park with 24-hr reception. Rooms have hot water, cable, wi-fi internet & free parking. Towels & bed linens included. Prices from Q130 per person, breakfast included. Children under 5 are free. Visa cards accepted. edit
- Casa Latina, Diagonal 12, 6-58, Zona 1, ☎ 5613-7222, . beautiful, new guesthouse, just a few minutes walk to Parque Central and bars/restaurants. Las Flores market is across the street! Casa Latina has a friendly, home-like atmosphere. 2 floors, each with 4 rooms. Both floors have bathroom, kitchen, living room & balcony. Spanish School Sol Latino is just a stone’s throw away, www.spanishschoolsollatino.com Includes wi-fi internet access, parking, bed linens, smoking area, & travel info. Available services include laundry & airport transport. Option to pay per night ($7 for 1 person or $10 for 2 people), per week ($35 for 1 person or $48 for 2 people) or per 4 weeks ($122 for 1 person or $173 for 2 people). * $30 deposit per room (returned at checkout if room in good condition) edit
- Guesthouse El Puente, 6a Calle 14-55 Zona 1 (http://www.celasmaya.edu.gt/how-to-get-here.html), ☎ 7761-4342, . Located in the rear part of the main Celas Maya Spanish school building/facility, a small hostel used primarily for student residency. 4 ample sized rooms, 1 with private bathroom (Q65/day or Q1650/month) & the other 3 with a shared full service bathroom (Q50/day or Q1350/month). Each room accommodates 1-3 guests. Kitchen is shared and fully equipped. Beautiful private sunny garden. edit
- 7 Orejas Hostal, 2a. Calle 16-92 zona 1, ☎ 7768-3218, 5207-3006, . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Since 2008, a quiet & friendly environment in a cozy atmosphere with rooms decorated in Guatemalan style. Located in the historic district with easy access to cafes, discotheques, bars, travel agencies, Spanish schools, et al. Facilities: Wireless Internet, Cable TV, private bathrooms, security storage (bring your own lock), linens & towels, reading light, Luggage Storage, Free continental breakfast, Free coffee, tea & drinking water all day, 24 hours reception, Parking with reservation. Restrictions: No Pets, No smoking, No drugs, No visitors in rooms. Prices: Dorm bed (8 available) - Q65/$9 pp Single room - Q150/$20 (weekly - Q840/$112, biweekly - Q1400/$187, monthly - Q2550/$340) Double room - Q230/$31 (weekly - Q1295/$173, biweekly - Q2170/$290, monthly - Q3900/$520) Triple room - Q285/$38 (weekly - Q1690/$225, biweekly - Q2800/$374, monthly - Q5100/$680) edit
- Kiktem-Ja, 13 Av 7-18 | Zona 1, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (across from Cuartido about 2 blocks from Parque Central). checkin: Noon; checkout: Noon. In historic charactorful old building clean and comfortable. Internet wasn't working when we were there (but just go across the street to Cuartido for some of the fastest internet in Xela) -- you may be able to get a discount if you stay awhile. The location is unbeatable -- just two blocks from Parque Central. Hot showers with good pressure and televisions in some rooms with both Espanol and English channels. 135/160Q. edit
- Kasa Kiwi, 9 avenida 8-34 zona 1. Kasa Kiwi is Quetzaltenango's newest B&B. Located bang in the historic center of Quetzaltenango (Xela). Beautiful equipped kitchen, the view from the hostel is perfect to start your mornings with a boost. Rooms are very big, spacious and you can choose with or withouth private bathroom, according to your budget. Their dorms are also excellent. Owners or management are present at all times to help out with tips or shuttle's advice. You get a coupon for breakfast at Q15.00 at the Esquina Asiática restaurant and a free drink in that same place. Gotta love them! edit
It may be possible to arrange a tour of the Gallo brewery by calling ahead.
You can spend hours in and around the Mercado de la Democracia in the commercial center of Xela. It is where the locals shop for most of their needs.
Any concert is worth attending in the Municipal Theater. It is beautiful inside.
Evening marimba concerts are often given on the steps of the Municipalidad on the west side of Parque Centro America.
Walk around town. In the side streets, you'll often come upon a master giving guitar lessons or a group of men practicing Marimba.
Go to a football game: Xelaju M. C. vs anyone. The crowd is animated and the fireworks alone can be worth the price of admission. Don't pay extra for the high priced seats, they remove you from much of the fun. Try to sit in the corner near the band. A "Xelaju M. C." flag to wave costs Q10. Grilled sausages are less. No alcohol permitted in the stadium.
Fireworks! If it's your birthday, or you just feel like it, spend a couple of Quetzals for a big string of firecrackers. You'll normally hear them any evening or early morning. Yeah bring your ear plugs they usually sound off about 4 am. I understand they are called God Bombs and are used to wake God so He will hear your prayer. It definately wakes the dogs who bark till the roosters wake and cook a doodle doo until they figure out it is not dawn. Ear plugs.
Weekend nights are also an option, you will find night clubs in all the center, from the Central Park, to the Theatre, for 30 quetzales you can get in anywhere and drink something. Also in some seasons the "14A" is closed to the traffic because of some music festival, concerts, street art exhibitions etc.
- Zunil is 9 km from Quetzaltenango. Monday is market day. Located on the Samala river and on the main highway leading down the coast, Zunil's people wear attractive clothes made by hand using traditional techniques featuring intricate designs and bright colors. This picturesque town is the center for the worship of "Maximon" or "San Simon" a life-sized mannequin endowed with occult power: Just 8 km from town on the slopes of the inactive Zunil volcano would have found the beautiful "Fuentes Georginas" thermal springs, equipped with restaurant and bungalows.
- Fuentes Georginas has a restaurant, but it closes at 6:30pm, and doesn't serve anything but huevos (eggs) and meager salads after 6pm. The accommodations are rather spartan by any standards and downright ridiculous for the the 320Q/night. However, the room rate includes admission to the pools for two days. It is recommended to take the bus into Zunil early and spend the day at the springs, heading back home at sundown. Admission to the pools for tourists is 50Q/day. There are four pools. The largest upper pool is often quite pleasant, but at times is so hot that no one can get in it. The other two main pools are fed from the largest and are a little cooler; they were made bigger and deeper after the 2011 renovations. The pools are in a fantastically beautiful natural outdoor setting, however visibility is limited to a few inches during times of heavy fog.
The "Quetzaltecos" villages of Quiche and Mam origins, have small places with impressive colonial style churches where the tourist will see the regional handcrafts displayed on market days.
- Salcajá: 9 km from Quetzaltenango. Market day: Tuesday. Local festival: August 25. The church of San Jacinto, constructed in 1524, was the first Western church in Central America, and a fine example of colonial architecture. Also famous for its hand-woven "jaspe " materials, and alcoholic beverages "caldo de fruta" " and "rompopo."
- San Juan Ostuncalco 12 km from Quetzaltenango. Situated in a valley of the mountainous region, it is the commercial centre for the Mam-speaking villages which border the departament. Here you may acquire musicals instruments, wicker furniture as well as lovely hand woven materials.
- Almolonga 5 km from Quetzaltenango. Market on Wednesday and Saturday. Annual festival during June 28-29. Known for vegetables cultivated on small farms that surround the village, and thermal springs such as "Las aguas amargas" and "El rosario" .
- Cantel 10 km from Quetzaltenango. Visit the interesting cooperative for handmade blown glass. Chojolom, a small K'iche' archaeological site is located on a hill just outside the village. For a guide, ask at the Municipal offices, in a temporary location in a sidestreet to the right of the Catholic church.
- Olintepeque : 7 Km from Quetzaltenango. The place where according to legend, the famous Maya-Quiche prince Tecún Uman died in battle against Pedro de Alvarado in 1524.
- San Andres Xecul : 7 km from Quetzaltenango, in the direction of the "Cuatro Caminos" highway junction, with a colonial-style church whose facade is both colorful and picturesque.
- Volcán Santa Maria, 12,256 feet & Santiaguito. The summit of the Santa Maria Volcano lies at the end of the steep 3-4 hours climb from the village of Llanos del Pinal (located 6 km above Quetzaltenango). You'll best enjoy the truly awesome view during the clearer weather of the early morning hours. The whole coastal plain lies at your feet, along with the cities of Quetzaltenago and Tapachula, Mexico. You can look down into the very active Santiaguito crater which erupts at least once every hour. You can still enjoy the view minus the ragged hike by driving to the top of the adjacent Siete Orejas Volcano. (10,384 feet above sea level).
- La laguna de Chicabal, 3 hours by foot from the village of San Martin Sacatepequez (also known as Chile Verde) (14 km from Quetzaltenango). At this very picturesque lagoon, the sorcerers of the whole region meet on May 3. Be sure to arrive early in the day; after mid-morning, fog can obscure everything.
The High Country
- Totonicapan Near Quetzaltenango, you have to visit the principal town Totonicapan (in the departament of the same name). Known for its hand woven textiles and his potteries.
- San Francisco El Alto Friday this is the site of the Central America's largest market. If you can buy it in Guatemala, you can buy it here, although there is very little aimed specifically at tourists. If you can, drop by the cathedral and see if someone will take you up on the roof for a bird's-eye view of what's going on.
If you go here be on the look out for pick pockets. A man hit my shoulder from behind almost knocking me down and
I had all my money in both my front pockets taken...including change! I knew about pick pockets being there so I had money in my money belt for the bus ride back to Xela. It is a great market with animals for sale on Fridays...I saw all the old Singer Sewing Machines America has dumped for sale at this market. Also if you have a camera keep it in your hand since a swish of the knife will cut a strap and you will not even know it till you start to take a photo.
- Momostenango: Wednesday & Sunday: Market. This curious "Riscos de Oro", rock formation produced by erosion.
Toward the Coast
- El Palmar Town destroyed by Santiaguito Volcano. Lagoons and tropical vegetation.
Chicken Bus Details
Guatemala City & Antigua - Every 15-30 min, 3am-5pm, you change buses in Chimaltenango. There are also direct Pullman buses, ask around.
Panajachel - 9am-5pm hourly. 30-35Q for this trip.
San Pedro la Laguna - 11:30, 12pm,1pm, 2pm, 4pm. Look out for or ask around about a Pullman bus that occasionally runs - much more comfortable than a camioneta.
San Marcos District - 4am-8pm frequent. Q10. Change at the last stop (San Pedro) to a Q5 camioneta to Tajumulco/El Volcan/Llano de la Guardia for Volcán Tajumulco.
Cantel & Zunil - 6am-7pm Frequent buses
Huehuetenango - 4am-6pm Frequent.
La Mesilla border with Mexico at 7am, 8am, 10am, 2:15pm, or take a bus to Huehue and change.
Retalhuleu & Champerico - 4:30am-7:30pm
Santa Cruz del Quiché - Leaves hourly, 8am-4:30pm
Coatapeque and Mexico border at Tecún Umán - 5am-7pm
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