Most travelers in Guatemala don’t bother visiting Guatemala City and head directly to Antigua as soon as they land. And well, if you only have two weeks, yes you can skip it, but if you have more time or are just stuck waiting for your flight, there’s a couple of places you can visit.
If you just have a couple of hours, I would recommend starting at the Main Square, where you can see the cathedral, the market, and the Palace of Culture. Then walk down the Sexta, making a detour to check out the Post Office Building. If you have more time, take a cab to the Popol Vuh Museum. You can also take a tour and visit the city with a guide.
Regarding safety, common sense applies, the Historic Center is considered a “safe” area during the day. Beware of pickpockets, be careful when you take your phone out and don’t go there at night.
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Best things to do in Guatemala City
1 – The Central Market
The Mercado Central is my favorite place in Guatemala City, the variety of fruits and veggies is impressive, and most of it is local. Don’t hesitate to try the fruits you don’t know, they’re all full of flavors. There’s also an area inside with small food stalls. A meal cost around 30 quetzals, if you’re vegetarian, they’ll make something for you.
The market is open every day, they pack up around 5 PM.
2 – National Palace of Culture
A stunning building from the 1940s’ build in the colonial architectural style. Also known as the Green Palace, it used to serve as the Presidential Palace and it’s now the Palace of Culture. It’s still being used as an official building so you can’t visit it on your own. They have guided visits in Spanish every hour or so. It’s still worth visiting even if you don’t speak Spanish. It’s a beautiful place.
The entrance fee is 40 GTQ. Open from Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
3 – Plaza de la Constitution and the Sexta
The city main plaza is where you’ll find the Cathedral and the National Palace. Built around the 18th century, you can stroll around the square, then on to the Sexta, the city center’s main commercial streets. In this area, you’ll find many shops and restaurants.
On the Sexta, don’t miss the Pasaje Rubio and the Ministerio de Governacion.
4 – The Metropolitan Cathedral
Built during the 19th century, Guatemala’s most important cathedral is worth having a look at, with its white walls and blue dome. The architectural style is a mix of baroque and classical.
5 – The Post and Telegraph Museum
From outside, the building is beautiful, with bright colors and a unique facade. There’s also a passageway on the second floor to go from one building to another. Inside you can visit the small museum if you’re interested.
6 – MUSAC
The MUSAC is the San Carlos University’s Museum, set in an ancestral building, it offers different exhibits throughout the year. They have a permanent exhibit of local handicrafts.
The MUSAC is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The entrance fee is 8 GTQ.
7 – The History Museum
In my opinion, it’s not worth the price, maybe not even worth the time. The museum is only about the revolution, and you won’t learn much about it from the few signs here and there. The building in itself is nice but nothing spectacular either. The exhibit is mostly antiques from the 19th century and portraits.
Entrance fee: 50 GTQ.
8 – The Railway Museum
A small museum showcasing old trains and the history of the train system in Guatemala. The entrance fee is 10 GTQ and the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
9 – Casa Mima
Casa Mima is an ancient house you can visit. The furniture and decoration are original, with a nice patio in the middle.
The entrance fee is 20 GTQ and the house is open from Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
10 – Popol Vuh Museum
Probably the best place in Guatemala City to learn more about the indigenous people of the country. The museum showcases artifacts from Guatemala and the Mayas.
Right next to it is Ixchel Museum, showcasing traditional clothing.
The entrance fee is 50 GTQ and the museum is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9 AM to 5 PM (1 PM on Saturdays).
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