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Plan a Honeymoon in Guatemala

Our travel editor explores the countryside, coffee plantations and colonial hotels of this Latin American country.

By: Jenna Mahoney

Enter Slideshow
  • Guatemala

    Guatemala's Authentic Allure

    Sometimes — well, if we’re being honest, loads of times — I’ve hopped on a plane with little idea of what my destination had in store. Such was the case in my recent adventure to Guatemala. And what I discovered, along with cool colonial sites, cities of Mayan ruins, visitor-friendly lakeside towns and some of the best coffee on the planet, is that the Central American country is one of my favorites.

    The scenery, the hotels and — oh, boy — the shopping are all the stuff of travel daydreams. But really, it was the fact that Guatemala, although just two and a half hours from the States, feels totally untouristy and — dare I say — authentic, while still being so welcoming to visitors. Here’s what made me fall in love with Guatemala.

    Photo courtesy of Casa Palopó

  • Old Town

    Old Town

    My first stop was Antigua Guatemala, a colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the country’s highlands, which at first glance appears to have a golden glow. That may be in thanks to the emblematic Arco de Santa Catalina, an elevated yellow archway that was once linked to a nearby convent, ensuring nuns could cross the street unseen.

    The first capital of the country, Antigua, as it’s locally known, boasts a leafy central plaza that’s fringed by coffee shops, the Cathedral of San Jose and the city hall. The upper open-air balcony has awesome views of the mountainous surroundings.

    Another don’t-miss is the San Francisco Church, dedicated to the Spanish priest who eradicated slavery in Guatemala; there’s a small museum in the back. P.S. Antigua is an untapped treasure trove for antiques.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Site Seeing

    Site Seeing

    Mexico may get all the press, but Guatemala is just as robust with its own Mayan ruins, the most famous of which is Tikal in the north. Iximche is another sprawling site set on the route to Lake Atitlan from Antigua. The area was once the capital of the region’s Mayans, inhabitants until the mid-1520s. Today’s meticulously manicured ruins encompass multiple pyramids, temples and housing structures.

    Note: English-speaking guides are not common, so it’s best to arrange for one with the folks at Villa las Pillas.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Ceramics for Sale

    Ceramics for Sale

    Dedicate a day in your honeymoon itinerary to exploring the area towns. Hop on a boat and zip across the lake to San Antonio Palopó, where many of the families are potters. After a visit to the local stone church, have your guide show you a family-run ceramics operation and stop to shop.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Artist at Work

    Artist at Work

    Angelina, a San Juan de la Laguna artist, has developed her own school.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Textiles Galore

    Textiles Galore

    Save some of your quetzales (local currency) for San Juan de la Laguna, hands-down the cleanest and best-run town in the entire country. Managed in partnership with the local women and Mayan elders, this village is lined with female-run textile cooperatives, many of which offer interactive tours of traditional weaving techniques.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Guatemalan Cuisine

    Guatemalan Cuisine

    El Gallo is the national beer.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Guatemalan Cuisine

    Guatemalan Cuisine

    Almuerzo (or lunch) is served.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Guatemalan Cuisine

    Guatemalan Cuisine

    A tortillera (woman who makes tortillas) shapes fresh cornmeal.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Lakeside

    Lakeside

    One of the country’s most recognized sites is Lake Atitlan, which is actually a caldera — a volcano that collapsed into itself. It’s popular for its picturesque shores, which are ringed by small traditional villages and multiple volcanoes, as well as the surrounding mountainous landscape that’s dotted with collections of colorful buildings and winding roads that snake to and fro. Spend a day kicking back on your hotel balcony, sipping local coffee and watching the sun glitter across the cobalt water.

    Travel Tip: Guatemala is one of the world's powerhouse coffee producers. Seriously, Starbucks sources much of their java here. Go local and stock up on your favorite roast at any coffee shop in Antigua.

    Photo courtesy of Casa Palopó

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    Check into Casa Palopó and you’ll enjoy uninterrupted lake views from pretty much every possible perch including the sun-drenched terraces, colonial-inspired restaurant, cozy fireplaced sala (living room), picturesque library and your bed!

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    Occupying an entire city block, Villa las Pillas is the ultimate hideaway fantasy. The sprawling colonial manse encompasses an interior patio and garden with pool. Inside there’s a library, bar, dining room and just three guest rooms. The home is staffed by three of the friendliest guys in all of Guatemala and private gourmet dinners can be arranged (room rates start at $202 a night and include breakfast; casapalopo.com).

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    The intimate hotel, which houses just seven individually appointed guest rooms and a hillside two-bedroom villa, delivers impeccable service, fantastic locally sourced cuisine and customized experiences for every guest (room rates start at $154 a night and include breakfast; casapalopo.com).

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

  • Where to Stay

    Where to Stay

    A guest room at Casa Palopó.

    Photo Credit: Jenna Mahoney

Plan a Honeymoon in Guatemala

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