Famous Natural & Historic Landmarks In Guatemala

Guatemala is a location with rich culture, deep roots, and plenty of history. In addition to an ancient monuments, Guatemala is full of natural beauty and local culture. These are the top historical and natural landmarks in Guatemala to visit during your travels.

Landmarks In Guatemala

Not only are there volcanos, tours of ancient sites, and temple ruins, but there are also crystal clear lakes and stunning artifacts from the Maya civilization, which was prevalent in the area. The Maya civilization was sophisticated for their time and had comprehensive art, ball sport games, math, calendar systems, and astronomical dating. This culture expanded through Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Many Mayan ruins are popular tourist destinations.

landmarks in guatemala
Lake Atitlan – one of the many natural landmarks in Guatemala

While Guatemala is rich in culture and artifacts from the Maya civilization, they are also rife with natural beauty and landmarks from earthquakes. For example, volcano treks, convents built in the 1700s, or baroque cathedrals are also part of Guatemala’s natural and abundant beauty.

Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano

Many visitors should beware of this volcano! While it is unlikely to explode while you visit, this volcano has been active for well over 60 years. This volcano resides near Guatemala City and Antigua, but hiking tours are available through Antigua.

Guests and visitors are encouraged to use a professional guide for their trek. An experienced hiker can help ensure that you will not get lost, run into wild animals, or get hurt without help.

This volcano is sometimes quite active, and on days when the heat begins to rise, some tourists and hiking guides decide to roast marshmallows over the hot spots close to the peak.

Tikal Ruins

Tikal – another of the most famous landmarks in Guatemala

Tikal National Park is on the border of Belize and is the location of an ancient Mayan city. This city is home to more than 3,000 structures that have been dug up and examined at length. These ruins tell modern archaeologists much about life in this ancient city. Not only was this part of the Mayan culture near a reserve in the middle of the jungle, but this ancient city also hails from 800 B.C.

Archaeologists believe that Tikal had residents for about 100 years before being abandoned. There is little information as to why people left the area. However, Tikal Day Tour offers a variety of details on the artifacts in the area, what the people may have been like, and the jungle beyond Tikal’s borders.

Tikal is a World Heritage site via UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Lake Atitlan

The stunning Lake Atitlan

There are likely hundreds of crystal clear lakes located in the world, but nothing matches the beauty of Lake Atitlan. This lake is bracketed by volcanoes on three sides and lies in the highlands of Guatemala. Additionally, this lake is one of the deepest in Central America.

Close to Guatemala City, visitors will only require a two-hour drive to arrive and can take a cruise on the lake to enjoy the natural view of all three volcanoes from the lake water. Below, visitors can get a glimpse of wildlife and fish.

There are also small villages of people who live on the lake, and each one covets their ancient Mayan roots by crafting traditional clothing and tools as their ancestors did.

The Ruins of Uaxactun

Uaxactun photo by: Clemens Schmillen

History buffs and those with a thirst for knowledge will adore the archaeological site that showcases an ancient Mayan city. Uaxactun has been declared a National Park within the jungle and is one of the oldest Mayan sites to have been found and protected. Members of the Mayan culture resided in Uaxactun in 900 B.C. and remained for one or two centuries. 

Like many of the other historical Mayan ruins, Uaxactun is rife with the remains of palaces, ziggurats, and temples.

Antigua, Guatemala

Beautiful Antigua City

Antigua is a city with spectacular views, located in a valley situated between three volcanoes. This city has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and has a comprehensive historical significance to the Guatemalan people.

For example, Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala until 1773, when an earthquake ruined the city and made it largely inhabitable for many. This colorful city has many ruins from the earthquake in the 18th century but has seen improvement for residents. However, there are more visitors than residents in Antigua.

Grutas De Lanquin (Lanquin Caves)

Entrance to the captivating Lanquin Cave system: Photo by Betipa

The Lanquin caves are a natural wonder, complete with a complex system that runs deep into the Earth. These caves are made of limestone and were home to many rituals and sacred gatherings by the ancient Maya people, who believed that these caves granted access to the underworld.

Visitors can visit these caves, hike through the jungle to get there, and traverse over small waterfalls. However, visitors should beware of the bats native to the location.


Iximche photo by: Tom Fortunato

The Mayan people once chose Iximche as the capital of the great Mayan empire during the 1400s and 1500s. There are ruins of ziggurats, large palaces, and sports arenas in Iximche.

Iximche is not rife with as many artifacts as Tikal and does not receive a large volume of visitors. Those fascinated with history are likely to visit and enjoy the mysteries of the location.

Convento De Las Capuchinas

Convento De Las Capuchinas: Photo by Zarateman

The Iglesia y Convento de las Capuchinas was built in the 18th century and resides in Antigua, Guatemala. However, after only 40 years, nuns left the location after a 1773 earthquake made the building a hazard for daily life.

The building has undergone a remodel to make the location safer for residents again. The ground floor of the convent is now a museum to discuss the ancient origins of the site and the paranormal activity it seems to hold.

Cathedral of Guatemala City

Cathedral of Guatemala City: Photo by Toby Arguelles

The Cathedral of Guatemala City is a titan of construction and style. This cathedral has survived much strife, from violent protests to earthquakes that consistently shake the nation. Additionally, this cathedral is in Guatemala City, close to the Pacaya Volcano, which is active and often spews minor debris.

The cathedral’s baroque style remains a beacon of faith and remembrance of a long past. 

The formal name for the Cathedral of Guatemala City is the Holy Church Cathedral Metropolitan Basilica of Santiago de Guatemala. Sometimes, visitors and locals refer to the church as the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Conclusion: Landmarks In Guatemala

Whether you want to see the many active volcanoes and hike their peaks or you wish to visit ancient ruins, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Guatemala.

Ancient ziggurats and artifacts are only a small portion of the appealing nature of visiting landmarks in Guatemala. In truth, there are dozens of locations that tourists and locals alike will enjoy when visiting this area.

With sophisticated artwork, malls, and historic districts that will make tourists feel like they are stepping back in time, Guatemala is a perfect location for exploration or vacation. In addition, the mountain and volcanic views from Antigua Guatemala harbor some of the most breathtaking views in the entire country. Not only can you see the peak of the volcano, but you can also see the weather change and the fog rolling in front of the scene.

Rife with UNESCO World Heritage sites, Guatemala is a perfect location for the traveler within, and visiting all of the natural landmarks located within this country can provide you with knowledge, excitement, and a thirst for more.

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