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The best time to visit Guatemala

Nestled in the heart of Central America, Guatemala is a country of ancient ruins, vibrant indigenous cultures, and breathtaking landscapes. From iconic Mayan temples to the serene shores of Lake Atitlán, Guatemala offers a tapestry of experiences for every traveler. But when is the best time to visit this cultural gem?  

The dry season (November to April) 

Guatemala's dry season, which spans from November to April, is widely considered the prime time to explore this enchanting nation. During these months, you can expect sunny skies, warm temperatures, and minimal rainfall. This weather makes it perfect for exploring ancient ruins like Tikal, wandering through the colorful streets of Antigua, exploring the fascinating communities on the shores of Lake Atitlán and embarking on outdoor adventures such as hiking and volcano climbing. 

Boats in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

The green season (May to October) 

While the green season, or rainy season, might not be the most popular choice, it has its own allure. The landscape becomes a lush canvas as rain rejuvenates the forests and mountains. This time also sees fewer tourists, allowing for a more intimate experience of Guatemala's attractions. While rain showers are common, they're often brief and followed by bursts of sunshine. 

Semana Santa (Holy Week) 

San Francisco Church in Antigua, Guatemala
San Francisco Church was built in 1702 and amazingly lived through quite a few earthquakes.

If you're interested in immersing yourself in Guatemala's rich culture, consider visiting during Semana Santa (Holy Week), which usually falls in March or April. This religious celebration is marked by elaborate processions, intricate carpets of colored sawdust, and a deep sense of devotion. The most elaborate Semana Santa celebrations can be experienced in Antigua, a wonderful historical city that’s been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) 

For a unique cultural experience, plan your visit around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st and 2nd. This holiday is a colorful celebration of life and death, where families honor their ancestors with vibrant altars, food offerings, and visits to cemeteries. The town of Santiago Sacatepéquez is particularly known for its elaborate kite-flying traditions during this time. 

Festivals and events 

Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango, Guatemala
The barriletes gigantes, or giant kites, are a lively way to celebrate and honor the dead, and can also be seen as a beacon to help spirits locate their loved ones.

Throughout the year, Guatemala hosts various festivals that showcase its diverse traditions and cultural heritage. The Feast of Santo Tomás in Chichicastenango, celebrated in December, offers a lively market and indigenous rituals. The Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango, also in November, is a sight to behold as enormous kites take to the sky. 

The bottom line 

Guatemala is the definition of a year-round destination, and the ideal time to visit hinges on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Whether you're drawn to the dry season's sunny skies and outdoor adventures or the green season's lush landscapes and cultural authenticity, Guatemala promises an unforgettable journey.  

Experience this oft-overlooked gem for yourself with SA Expeditions. For inspiration we’ve put together a sample Guatemala itinerary. All of our tours are 100% customizable, however, and one of our Destination Experts would love to put together a tour that ticks all the right boxes for you. 

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