Puerto Quetzal has a new cruise terminal on a floating pontoon where the ship docks.
There is a jade museum/store, cafes, local vendor stalls and live music all located in a pretty area near the terminal.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Puerto Quetzal, on Guatemala's Pacific coast, serves as a cruise passenger's gateway to the inland attractions of this Central American country. As with most Central American countries, the population centers are located in the more temperate central highlands, rather than along the humid, tropical coasts. Accordingly, Puerto Quetzal, while offering plenty for shipping companies, offers little in the way of attractions for cruise passengers.
There are some private cars for hire when you get off the ship right there at the new terminal and the prices are attractive.
For security reasons ship organized tours are recommended.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
Not unlike Mexico 30 years ago, Guatemala has to be the most colorful country in Central America and second only to Peru in all the Americas. It offers superb, jungle encrusted Maya pyramid complexes, gorgeous smoking volcanic landscapes [Guatemala volcanoes], wildlife crammed rain forests, magnificent colonial towns, and colorful ethnic people with curious customs. It's also good value, relatively undeveloped and - if you go in the right season - has a climate of 'Eternal Spring' in highland areas.
Antigua, the old capital, is just what appalling Guatemala City
should be - elegant, peaceful, interesting and scenically situated
between three volcanoes. This World Heritage site has cobbled streets,
flowers, evocative ruins and fine, varied, drinking and dining establishments
It's popular with foreign families and Spanish language students
as well as tourists.
Guided tours up smoky Pacaya Volcano are in demand by fit travelers.
Lake Atitlan, huge, clear and beautifully framed by three volcanoes; this is where Maya traditions are at their ancient best in spite of a river of gringo travelers silting up the neighborhood over the years.
The bizarre local god, Maximon/Ry Laj Man/San Simon, in all his wooden, smoking, drinking glory can be visited hereabouts.
The largest and most sophisticated of the lake's 13 towns is Panajachel - aka Gringotenango, not a pretty site, but what a location!
Next best stop is Santiago Atitlan, across the lake, a more traditional town with terrific Friday and Sunday markets.
San Pedro la Laguna is a kind of alternative hippie retirement home with plentiful inexpensive accommodation, thermal baths, hikes up the nearby volcano and ganja blowing in the wind.
Chichicastenango, a lovely town of narrow streets dominated by mountains and famed for two things:
- the huge and technicolor indigenous markets on Sundays and Thursdays.
- the weird and wonderful Pagan/Catholic crossbreed religion exemplified by the peculiar Pagan rites that take place in and around the Santo Tomas church.
If you wish to go for walks outside the town, take a guide - there have been robberies.
Tikal, one of the most impressive Maya pyramid groups anywhere, tall, magnificent and embedded in 370 sq kilometers of jungle.
Quetzaltenango [Xela]. A not very attractive highland city, but surrounded by travel totems - stunning countryside, little traditional villages, volcanoes, hot springs, pagan shrines and activities galore.
Guatemala is famous for its textiles.
The US dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency. Credit cards are accepted at many city hotels, restaurants and shops.
Language: Spanish, Garifuna and 21 Maya languages.
Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of paid internet access available.
January 1: New Year's Day, public holiday
January 12-15: Flores fiesta
1st Friday in Lent: Antigua
Semana Santa: Easter, or Holy Week is huge throughout Guatemala, particularly in Antigua, and it is advised to book travel and accommodation well in advance. Santiago Atitlan is also worth visiting to see the cigar smoking saint Maximon paraded through the streets
May 1: Labour Day, marked in Guatemala City by marches and protests, public holiday
June: Corpus Christi celebrations
June 30:Army Day, anniversary of the 1871 revolution, public holiday
July 25: Santiago fiesta in Antigua; also celebrated Santiago Atitlan
August: Many fiestas in highland areas
August 15: Guatemala City fiesta
September 15: Independence Day public holiday
October 2-6: Panajachel fiesta
October 12: Discovery of America bank holiday
October 20: Revolution Day, public holiday
November 1: All Saints Day, public holiday
November 26: Garifuna Day in Livingston
December 7: Burning of the Devil sees men dressed up as devils chase around highland towns
December 13-21: Large Chichicastenango fiesta
December 25: Christmas Day
December 31: New Year's Eve
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