One of the carvings at the ruins of Quirigua. Photo © Stefan Ember/123rf.com.

The Mayan Ruins of Quiriguá, Guatemala

Set amid banana plantations, the Mayan site of Quiriguá in Guatemala is smaller but somewhat similar to Copán, particularly in regard to its inhabitants’ skill and propensity in the carving of stelae.

Guatemalan huipiles are common handicrafts that are often hung in houses and hotels as decor. Photo © Al Argueta.

Shopping in Guatemala City

You can find almost anything you might possibly want or need in Guatemala City. In addition to many modern shopping malls stocked with the latest fashions and electronics, there are handicrafts centers, galleries, and bookstores catering to both Spanish and English readers.

Pollo Campero. Photo © Jerry Huddleston, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Pollo Campero: Guatemala’s Cult of Fried Chicken

If like most people traveling home from Guatemala you fly out on a commercial airline, don’t be surprised by the distinct smell of fried chicken onboard your aircraft. Meet Pollo Campero, which, along with coffee and bananas, may be one of Guatemala’s main exports.

Guatemala makes a great place for Spanish-language study. Photo © Al Argueta.

Study Spanish in Guatemala

Guatemala is a popular place for Spanish-language study, particularly Antigua and Quetzaltenango. In terms of value for the money you spend and variety of locales in which to learn, you really can’t beat Spanish-language instruction in Guatemala. Here are a few basic things to look out for when deciding where to study.

Sunrise at Lake Atitlán. Photo © Al Argueta.

Discover Guatemala’s Western Highlands

Most visitors to Guatemala daydream about the Western Highlands. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests, and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples. From the Indian markets in Chichicastenango and the Mayan practices of the costumbristas (shamans carrying out traditional Mayan rituals) in the hills just outside of town to the all-day November 1 horse races of Todos Santos, the region is steeped in rich culture.

A sailfish on Guatemala's Pacific Coast. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala: The Sailfish Capital of the World

A unique swirling of ocean currents between Mexico and El Salvador creates an eddy unusually rich in pelagic fish (such as herring and mackerel) right on Guatemala’s doorstep, where billfish, including sailfish and marlin, gather to feed along with large concentrations of dorado, yellowfin tuna, and wahoo. The result is some of the world’s best sailfishing waters.

The garden at Casa Popenoe in Antigua. Photo © Lgalvarado (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Antigua’s Museums

Awash with history, Antigua is home to a handful of museums well worth making time for between your explorations of the city and the surrounding landscape. Displays range from arts and sculptures to religious artifacts to wonderfully restored 17th century architecture.

Dobladas de queso (folded tortillas stuffed with cheese). Photo © Al Argueta.

Traditional Guatemalan Food

Guatemalan food may at first seem a bit odd to gringo palates, though the freshness and pungency of local ingredients, including a bounty of tropical fruits and vegetables, soon have many people enticed by the local flavors.

Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj. Photo © Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Ruins of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala

The archeological site of Takalik Abaj, meaning “standing stones,” is particularly interesting because it reveals elements of Olmec influence in early Mayan culture. Learn about the ruins and how to get there in preparation for your visit, along with recommendations for where to stay to explore the surrounding landscape.

Arco de Santa Catalina. Photo © Al Argueta.

Religious Sights in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is fascinating and easily manageable for a day of sight-seeing, as most everything you might want to see and do lies within a radius of a few miles. These churches and convents provide a great look into Antigua’s history.