Seven splendid places to visit around Guatemala City

Seven splendid places to visit around Guatemala City

Living in a big city is not so amusing, especially when we talk about Guatemala City.

Its constant traffic jams without specific rush hours and the fact that the city is literally broken with ravines make it very hard to spot and reach the places that might delight you. After some time in that widespread concrete hive, you'll definitely need some relief.

Look no more, we have some places for you, located in the surroundings of the buzzing Guatemalan capital!

ALUX MOUNTAIN

Alux means duende in Spanish and elf in English. Now, who wouldn't like to visit a place that promises a bit of magic and legends? Located on a hill above San Lucas and Panamerican Highway that climbs to that town after you pass Mixco, it is a very simple place maintained by the local municipality.

ACTIVITIES

Walking. Lovely forest paths simply call you to walk and discover all parts of this public estate. The best part here is that paths include a lot of ascents and descents, so your exercise here will be very useful for your organism.

Next activity is – barbecue. In the center of the terrain is a place with some 20 barbecue houses, but to be sure that you will prepare your favorite food, you'll have to make a reservation.

Birdwatching is also recommended. Along the paths, you will find educational boards with information about local bird species. There is also a lot of benches along the paths, so if you choose a bit remote area, you will be able to sit and simply wait for birds.

Swings and lookout points add more to your experience of Alux mountain.

HOW TO GET THERE

Wherever in the City you are, you have to take Roosevelt Avenue and just proceed towards San Lucas (and Antigua Guatemala). When you reach legendary mirador, where today there are many restaurants inside, slow down and be careful. On that straight part after the curve with Mirador you have to turn right, almost 180 degrees. Follow that steep but asphalted road to the top where the parking is.

ENTRANCE FEE

Q 10.00 pp

CALDERAS

I bet that you've heard of the Pacaya volcano. Classical tour here includes arrival at the town of San Vicente Pacaya, then reaching the starting point of the climb and climbing until the lava field. To climb easily there are little mountain horses that can take your equipment and you to the heights where you will be able to see that charming lava glow.

But that's not all that this area offers. There is a charming village called Calderas, situated around the small pond in the beautiful nature of a very rough volcano. Don't expect here a theater or amusement park, this is one of those places that you use for enchantments like watching the stars, sleeping in a sleeping bag, preparing simple food on an open campfire and holding hands. And then someone produces a good bottle of something.

ACTIVITIES

First of all, you will encounter very rustical places to spend the night. Bunk beds, wooden cabins, that kind of stuff.

Next, you will walk. A lot. Hire a guide and see the local gardens and fields, or go higher to meet the volcanic nature.

You can also learn something about local gastronomy, or you can just sit and enjoy the tranquility.

HOW TO GET THERE

From the City take the road to the Pacific via Villa Nueva (alternative route is Las Americas Ave. – Boca del Monte – VAZ highway – main Pacific road). Proceed and before you enter Palin, you will see the sign directing you to San Vicente Pacaya. When there, ask for the road to Calderas (not a paved road).

ENTRANCE FEE

NO ENTRANCE FEE, possibility to hire a guide.

MAGDALENA MILPAS ALTAS

Classical 60-90 minutes mountain climb along the trail that finishes on the top that is at the same time a splendid viewpoint of all volcanoes and the Ermita Valley.

The climb starts on the outskirts of the town called Magdalena Milpas Altas. Immediately you find yourself in the forest and path is almost horizontal at the beginning. The first hill is not a big deal, and then you encounter another horizontal part with a path that leads you through the shade of big trees.

Then, you'll have to put in a little more effort to conquer the second, bigger climb all the way to the top. In the end, you will enter the guarded and fenced terrain owned by the local municipality, a place with viewpoints, barbecue huts, and benches. The place is called Corazon de Agua, a Watery Heart (a lot of wells around).

ACTIVITIES

You can sit here and eat the food that you brought with you, or prepare it in designated places. Birdwatching is possible, but above all, you will have splendid views of almost 180 degrees.

If you bring a tent and sleeping bags you can spend the night here. Flowers and plants, in general, could also occupy your attention.

HOW TO GET THERE

On San Lucas – Antigua Guatemala road there is a very characteristic crossroad before going down to Antigua, or when you reach the top coming from Antigua. Here you take the road to Magdalena Milpas Altas (from San Lucas left before the new commercial center, right on semaphores coming from Antigua).

Go through the town Santo Tomas Milpas Altas, keep on the main road, and you will reach Magdalena Milpas Altas. If using your car, you can park inside the town or at the end of the street at the forest entrance.

ENTRANCE FEE

Q 10.00 pp, maybe something more when spending the night.

IXPACO

Laguna Ixpaco is a small lake south of the capital city. To be precise, it is a volcanic, almost boiling lake with some little craters that produce a lot of sulfur and rotten eggs smell.

All of that is located in a lovely natural environment of small villages, fields, and pastures. It is very rare, if not unique, to see this volcanic form here in Guatemala, but don't expect anything spectacular. Just a lake that is some 200 meters in diameter and shores full of holes with bubbling boiling and smelly water.

ACTIVITIES

It is possible to walk around and take photos, or simply play a party of soccer with the locals. Bring some food and drinks and make it a picnic. Definitely take a lot of photos. And keep an eye on little volcanoes. Sometimes they spew more than expected and wanted.

HOW TO GET THERE

Take the El Salvador road southeast from the City. Be careful of the crossroad before you reach Santa Rosa de Lima – it is the one where they sell fruits and where the sign says Pueblo Nuevo Viñas (to the right). Take that road, and before you enter the pueblo be alert for a sign that says Ixpaco (to the left). From that crossroad, you have 11 km of the hard tarmac road, but the beauty of the laguna will award your efforts.

ENTRANCE FEE

no entrance fee

FINCA FLORENCIA

Florencia farm is a nice place where you can make your barbecue, walk, ride a horse, swim in a small swimming pool and feel the weekend beat of average Guatemalan. Here you'll have to tolerate some louder Latino music and hordes of running Latino kids. In other words: a real family atmosphere Latino style, that you'll undoubtedly love.

ACTIVITIES

There are barbecue huts, even some bigger places to make celebrations and gatherings. It is good to make a reservation.

Walking around is a very nice experience, there are several paths where you can also buy vegetables from the locals. Pay attention to the hordes of squirrels. You can hire a horse and pretend that you act in Mexican vaquero movies, you can refresh in a swimming pool (mostly kids), or you can ask a local guardian are there any hidden and less visited tracks (there are, believe me, codeword waterfall).

HOW TO GET THERE

Read what is said about Magdalena Milpas Altas, where I mention that famous crossroad on the San Lucas – Antigua Guatemala road. Well, entrance to Finca Florencia is there, some 20 m from the crossroad.

ENTRANCE FEE

Q 15.00 pp + car parking fee

RINCON DE LA FINCA

It is a kind of place that is popular on Sundays. Imagine that you are a classical Latino dad that wants to reward his family for being good and patient all the working week. Since love comes from the stomach, you would like to take them to a restaurant in nature, to enjoy real Guatemalan rich breakfast. You know how it goes: eggs, beans, platanos, cheese, and salchichas. Or even churrasquito.

Located on the El Salvador road, Rincon de la Finca is a perfect place for breakfast experience Guatemalan style. Lovely trees, village atmosphere, live music, and good and fresh food.

ACTIVITIES

Eat. When not eating breathe some fresh air. Continue eating. Other activities include a possibility to dance to a marimba, riding a horse, enjoying the fact that children are on the playground and therefore not molesting you, and there is always some piece of cake or ice cream to attend to.

HOW TO GET THERE

Going south-east from the City on the El Salvador road you will look for a right turn to Santa Elena Barillas. After you turn there is a left turn entrance to Rincon (100 m).

ENTRANCE FEE

No entrance fee, big parking.

CERRITO DEL CARMEN

Yes, this is a trick, I included one place that is not around, but within the city limits. Why would anyone do such a thing?

Well, Cerrito del Carmen is a place where this huge monster of Guatemalan capital was created. Yes, there was a Mayan place called Kaminaljuyu, but we don't count that because it doesn't fit. What fits in this modern narrative of the megalopolis that started when one hermit decided that the small hill in the valley of the cows is just the right place for him. His name was Juan Corz and his story is full of religious mysticism, but it all doesn't change the fact that this first capitalino was – Italian.

Today that place is known as Cerrito del Carmen and is definitely a nice experience for anyone who wants to understand the roots of the City.

ACTIVITIES

During the year there are many ferias and processions that bring nice food stands, live music, parties, and amusement park type content. In fact, that is how it is almost all year-round. You can walk in the park, grab some food and even meet the locals gathered around a guitar.

Sometimes there are additional events and you can be pleasantly surprised.

HOW TO GET THERE

Zone 1, using 11th Ave. Find parking.

ENTRANCE FEE

No entrance fee.

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