When is the best time to visit Guatemala?
The ‘land of eternal spring’ is located in Central America, between the Pacific and the Caribbean at 15 degrees north of the Equator. Bordered by Mexico to the north, Belize to its east, El Salvador on the south and Honduras on the southeast side, Guatemala’s proximity to the equator naturally leads to very little seasonal variation. In fact, Guatemala has only two seasons – the rainy season and the dry season.
The best time to visit Guatemala is during the dry season, between the months of November and April
This is one of the busiest months in Guatemala. Cool temperatures – expect the highs to be in their late 60s and early 70s and dry conditions make this an ideal month to visit.
- Savor a stunning sunset at Yaxhá, situated in a beautiful national reserve
- Explore Pacaya Volcano, which first erupted 23,000 years ago and has continued to do so intermittently ever since. Enjoy a relaxing soak in one of the geothermal hot springs!
Expect similar conditions in February as you would in January, making this a good time to visit Guatemala.
- Visit Lake Atitlan, nestled into a volcanic crater. Take a boat trip across its flat glass-like expanse to best view the hillside villages, countless farms and lush forest that ring this vast body of water
- When at Lake Atitlan, go hiking and trekking in the lush green surrounding hills
- Head to Peten and explore the region’s tropical jungles, spotting the local wildlife, or simply enjoy a slow lazy day!
Temperatures slowly start to creep as spring begin to transition into summer. Expect highs to settle around the early 80s.
- Head for a sunrise walk up to Indian Nose mountain, which is part of the Sierra Madre range near Lake Atitlan
- Take a dip in the hot springs at Fuentes Georginas after which a walk through the city of Xela is ideal for a taste of local life
Summer usually sets in around this time, making this a warm month, with highs even touching the mid-90s. Expect humidity to increase with the rains fast approaching. Hotels get booked fast around Easter, so do factor that in when making your plans.
- Enjoy a boat ride or canoeing trip on the Rio Dulce as you experience the beauty of the Guatemalan wilderness
- Explore the Río Dulce National Park situated by the banks of the Dulce River, a haven for spotting tropical wildflowers, primates and exotic birds
This is the start of the hot, rainy season. Expect heavy afternoon showers and conditions aren’t ideal to head out especially once the rains set in.
- Visit the several art galleries in the capital Guatemala City
Expect the rains to continue, making this not the best time to visit the country.
- This is the start of the turtle nesting season, which continues till November
Hot rainy conditions persist in July, with the rains peaking at this time. Expect rainy days with meager amounts of sunshine.
Expect a short sunny window within the rainy season if you get lucky!
- Take a walk in the picturesque central district of Guatemala City with its colonial structures, hotels, bars, shops and restaurants – don’t forget to photograph its iconic chicken buses!
- Visit the neighborhood of La Bodeguita del Centro packed with street art, trendy coffee shops, cool bars and communal working spaces for digital nomads
The rains start abating and the heat of the summer slowly wanes, towards the end of the month.
- Head to the town of Coban and explore its Spanish colonial architecture trendy cafés, restaurants and fragrant cardamom and coffee plantations
- Hike in The Las Victorias National Park with its myriad easy foot trails is a lightly forested area that offers pleasant hikes
The precipitation reduces and the temperatures continue to drop with winter approaching. You can expect the day time temperatures to settle in the high 70s. This is the time the migratory birds starting coming here from the Northern Hemisphere, making this a good time to go birdwatching!
- With over 750 species of birds in Guatemala, it is no surprise that birding, or bird-spotting, has become a huge industry. Seek out hundreds of rare and colorful breeds found nowhere else in Central America!
- This is also a good time to head volcano trekking as the season of magnificent cloud formations continues up into November
Expect cool and largely dry conditions through the country with winter setting in, making this a lovely time to visit the country.
- Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal National Park with its rich treasure trove of Mayan archeological ruins and hundreds of exotic, colorful birds, and other wildlife
- Be charmed by Antigua, as you explore this UNESCO site steeped in hundreds of years of colonial history with its Spanish-Baroque architecture, beset amid a ring of active volcanoes
This is peak winter season so carry warm clothes!
- Succumb to the charms of Flores with its quaint cobblestone streets, and pastel-colored colonial-style buildings rising up from a central plaza
- Head south to the Chichicastenango Market – everything authentic and traditional about Guatemalan life can be found at this stunning western highland spot
- Head to misty hill country around Cobán for the annual Orchid Festival
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Best Time to Visit Guatemala by Season
- Dry season: November to April
- Wet season: May to October
Where you travel in the country is crucial since Guatemala is divided into three climatic zones depending on altitude. The low lying region of Guatemala boasts an altitude of up to 1000 meters and is known as the Tierra Caliente. With the Pacific Coast and the rainforest to its north, the climate in this area is tropical with high humidity throughout the year. Rainfall occurs every day and daytime temperatures can reach as high as 104°F! Nights are not much cooler with the temperature rarely dipping below the high 60s.
The slightly higher regions between 1000 and 1800 meters of altitude – the Tierra Templada – are characterized by volcanic mountains, leading to a temperate climate. It’s often pleasantly warm and dry during the dry season in these areas, making it the ideal time for trekking, sightseeing and wildlife tours. However, regions at altitudes higher than 1800 meters–the Tierra Fria–can get quite cool at night.
The rainy season lasts from May to October with short and heavy showers throughout this time. It usually gets cloudy around lunchtime and by afternoon, heavy downpours can be expected everywhere. It also rains at night quite often. Rainfall can problematic for traveling in some areas, especially those where the road conditions are not good. This is because, in the high mountains, heavy rainfall often leads to floods and landslides.
What to Pack
Central America is a huge region of spectacular scenic diversity. From rainforests to mountains and volcanoes, and coastal areas, the weather conditions can vary depending on where you wish to travel.
Generally speaking, the climate in Central America isn’t very diverse. It tends to be warm all year, with tropical or subtropical humidity, and frequent downpours during the wetter seasons. The only real seasonal difference is that some months experience much greater rainfall than others.
Don’t worry about a dress code! Central America is generally very relaxed and almost adventure-styled in some remote regions such as Arenal. You might want to pack something fancier for a night out in a bustling metropolis such as Antigua, but only five-star hotels and a few restaurants actually expect some sort of etiquette in the evening.
Important: If you are taking domestic flights we recommend you pack light because the baggage limits are much lower than on international flights. Please check the ‘Luggage Transport Allowance’ section.
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Once upon a time, Coban was little more than an overnight halt for passing travelers headed to the surrounding plantations, picturesque Mayan villages, and other highland destinations.
One of the very best travel experiences I have ever had. We even got updates once at 3 am! He also made one change in one day’s itinerary to accommodate our wishes which was very wonderful. For business, I have traveled to Europe, Russia, all over Asia and South Africa but was blown away by all the beautiful sites in Argentina and Chile.
All the little touches made by our Enchanting Travel consultant, Amelia Edwards, were noticed and recognized by my wife and I. Thank you for making our milestone trip (25th wedding anniversary) such a memorable one! We look forward to engaging Enchanting Travels again for our next South American adventure!!
This was my first adventure as a solo traveler. But while I may have traveled on my own, I was never alone. I was well taken care of by a superb team of planners, trip coordinators, guides and drivers.
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