Sights are listed here by city zone, the official format for divvying up the city’s land area. Most of the city’s historic sites are found within the Centro Histórico . Some of the nicer museums are found near the airport in Zona 13  and in the Miraflores area west of the city center in Zona 11 .
Guatemala City’s sprawl occupies about 400 square kilometers, filling a large valley scarred by deep ravines (known locally as barrancos) and surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Its terrain gives the city a patchwork kind of feel when viewed from the air, with parts of the city meandering fingerlike into the scarred landscape. The urban sprawl has also started migrating east and west into surrounding mountains.
A large plateau atop the mountains abutting the city to the east is traversed by the Carretera a El Salvador  (Road to El Salvador) and is one of the fastest-growing suburban sectors. The surrounding landscape is accentuated by the presence of active Pacaya volcano, often visible at night, to the south. To the southwest, the cones of Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango volcanoes can be seen rising above the mountain separating Guatemala City from neighboring Antigua Guatemala .
The city itself is divided into 21 zones, or zonas. Only a few of these hold any interest for the foreign visitor or resident. Zona 1 (Centro Histórico ) and Zona 2  encompass the downtown sector, with Zona 4  serving as a kind of transition zone between the original city core and newer business and residential sectors. Zona 10  harbors the homes of wealthy elite, high-rise condominiums, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, banks, and embassies.
Moving south and abutting the airport, Zona 14  is home to a large concentration of wealthy neighborhoods and high-rise condos. To the east and heading up the slopes of surrounding mountainsides lie residential Zona 15, Zona 16, and Carretera a El Salvador. Several of the city’s zonas are separated from each other by natural boundaries, such as forested barrancos.
Unlike Managua, Nicaragua, or San José, Costa Rica , street addresses are very much in use here. Pay special attention when looking for street addresses, as the same street and house number can exist in more than one zona. Addresses usually begin with an avenue, or avenida, followed by a number with a dash. A typical street address would be something like: 7a Avenida 8-34 Zona 10. In this case, the “8” corresponds to the intersecting street number, or calle. The number after the dash is the house number. So the above address would be house number 34 between Eighth and Ninth Streets along 7th Avenue of Zona 10.
Guatemala City  can be dodgy, though certain zonas are certainly safer than others. Most of the areas frequented by tourists are relatively safe, though the downtown area is considerably less safe than Zona 10  and Zona 14  and purse snatching and pickpocketing are serious problems. Exercise common sense and caution when in public areas. Riding public buses is not usually a good idea, though the newly unveiled transit system, the Transmetro, has proven safer and is certainly more efficient. Pay careful attention when using ATMs. Some thieves have been so ingenious as to set up keypads at the entrance to ATM kiosks asking cardholders to enter their PIN numbers in order to gain access to the machine. You should never enter your PIN number anywhere other than on the ATM keypad itself.
Watch out for another common scam, particularly in the vicinity of the airport, whereby a “Good Samaritan” informs you of a flat tire on your car. If that is indeed the case, pull over in a well-lit, public place if you can but do not stop in the middle of the road to change the tire. He may try to carjack you. If you are able to make it to a public place such as a gas station, have someone in your party stay inside the car or keep an eye on it yourself while you have someone change the tire for you (it’s common for gas station attendants to change tires in Guatemala). The important thing is not to lose sight of the inside of your vehicle for a moment. Thieves can be extremely crafty at distracting you and getting into your car while you take care of the urgent business at hand. Locked doors may be a deterrent but are not going to stop the thieves if they’ve targeted you. For information on other precautions and common scams to watch out for while traveling in Guatemala, see the State Department’s Consular Information Sheet online here .