The highland city of Quetzaltenango has a distinctive atmosphere all its own. Also known by its Mayan name, Xela, the city is overlooked by a range of forested volcanic mountains. The most famous among these is the Santa María, with its active volcanic peak of Santiaguito. The large colonial baroque architecture in the city is set off by later Gothic elements in its central zones, giving Xela an architecturally rich and multi-layered effect. The grand Espiritú Santo Cathedral, the House of Culture and the city’s restored Municipal Theater are some of its highlights. Xela also makes for an excellent base for exploring Guatemala’s highland country, with its hot springs, lagoons and volcanic mountains. The highland villages dotting the landscape are added attractions, especially on weekly market days. If you’re enamored of eclectic cultures, Xela may just be the right place for you.
Active Volcanic Peaks
Hot Springs and Lagoons
Recommended Guatemala Tours
Places: San José (1 day) → Arenal (3) → Manuel Antonio (3) → Antigua (3) → Flores (3) → Guatemala City (1)
Tour Highlights: Spanish Colonial History, Museums and Contemporary Art, Saturday Markets, Vibrant Nightlife, Arenal Volcano National Park...