The once-wonky La Aurora International Airport (GUA) underwent a major expansion and renovation and is now one of Central America’s largest and most modern airport terminals. Services include a bank, ATMs, various restaurants, excellent duty-free shopping, souvenir shops, and a post office.
There is a $2.75 (Q20) departure tax levied on international and domestic flights leaving the airport, which must be paid in cash. An additional departure tax of $30 is collected for international flights, though this is included in the taxes paid when purchasing your ticket.
Immigration, customs, and baggage claim are on the main building’s first floor, while departures and check-in counters are located on the third floor.
Immigration and customs procedures at La Aurora Airport are very straightforward. Customs (known as SAT) will look at your declaration paperwork (to be filled out on the airplane prior to arrival) and will either put you in a line where your bags will be searched and applicable duties (if any) collected or will simply wave you on. Most foreign travelers are waved on, as what they’re mostly looking for are arriving Guatemalans with loot from stateside shopping sprees. A disproportionate number of bags per traveler are usually a sure tip-off.
Taxis are easily booked from a kiosk inside the airport terminal, as are rental cars. A taxi from the airport costs $8–20 depending on what part of town you’re going to. Avis, Budget, Hertz, and National have kiosks inside the airport terminal. Their lots are across the road fronting the airport’s three-level parking garage. If you’re arriving on a later flight and have never driven Guatemala City’s chaotic streets before, it might make more sense to take advantage of free airport shuttles to Zona 10 hotels and have the rental car company drop off the vehicle at your hotel the next morning. You could also just as easily take a cab or shuttle from your hotel to the airport the following day and pick up the car at that time.
If most of your travel involves the Guatemala City  and Antigua  area, my advice is to forgo a car rental in favor of taxis and shuttle buses. You can also hire a driver to take you around for about US$75–100 a day.
If you’re bypassing Guatemala City altogether, you’ll find shuttle vans to Antigua ($15–20) are easily booked upon arrival at the airport. There is also a very helpful INGUAT (Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo) information desk just after passing customs. It’s staffed by English-speaking agents who can help you get your bearings.
It’s not a good idea to ride a public bus into the city, especially at night. The Transmetro is perfectly safe and efficient, but its coverage area is limited. It will not get you to or from the airport, though the newer eje central route can get you as close as Bulevar Liberacion, which fronts the airport runway’s northern extreme.
Guatemala City ’s unattractive Zona 4 bus terminal is being phased out thanks to a long-overdue plan to bring order to the chaos traditionally characterizing the state of public transportation, both within and into and out of the city. Accounting for 80 percent of the bedlam were buses arriving from and departing to the Western Highlands and the Pacific Coast. Buses to and from both of these regions are now based out of the Central de Transferencias (CENTRA) in Zona 12, on the southern outskirts of the city.
From there, a series of modern, bright green interconnected buses known as buses articulados take passengers on a new system called the Transmetro into the city center. Plans call for other transfer centers for buses coming from the eastern part of the country to be built thereafter. The city’s public transportation system, meanwhile, will be replaced entirely by the Transmetro, a sort of surface metro, which will cover the entire metropolitan area by 2020 (or so they tell us).
A number of the (mostly) first class buses still leave from their own depots spread throughout the city, and this will probably continue to be the case for some time. The more popular first class bus routes include: Chiquimula  (3.5 hours, $4, 170 km), Cobán  (4.5 hours, $5, 213 km), Esquipulas  (4.5 hours, $5, 222 km), Flores  (eight hours, $10–30 depending on service level, 500 km), Huehuetenango  (five hours, 266 km), La Mesilla  (seven hours, $6, 345 km), Panajachel  (three hours, 148 km), Quetzaltenango  (four hours, $4.50, 205 km), Río Dulce  (six hours, $6–21, 280 km), and Zacapa  (three hours, $3.50).