Planning a trip to Guatemala soon and do not know what to expect in terms of costs, or just exploring some options for relocating to Central America? Then this article is for you. For us, Guatemala was one of the most surprising destinations visited so far. We got to see the eruption of an active volcano from 1 km away (more info in this article), live among the descendents of a still living Maya culture and experience the simple life in one of the villages around Lake Atitlan, all of this only with a 25$ one-way bus ticket from Mexico.
Before leaving home we knew so little about this incredible country and also found little information online, so we thought that it might be helpful to gather some general good to know information on Guatemala in terms of prices, safety, transportation, cash handling and some other important topics to consider before heading there. Our stay there was a bit atypical (you can see why in this article) so you will not see a huge list of activities below, but we believe that everything happens for a reason and we feel lucky that we got to live like the locals do in Antigua.
Our budget for 28 days, by category
|Accommodation||Description||Price in EUR||Link|
|Antigua 6 nights||106||Booking link here – breakfast included, hosted by a tipical Guatemalan family that makes you feel like home. The rooftop views over the volcanos are great and you can have your lunch/dinner together with them. Recommended for longers stays also, as Anna is teaching Spanish classes to foreigners|
|Lake Atitlan 5 nights||108||Airbnb link here – highly recommend this Yoga Studio/Airbnb, is right next to Eagle’s Nest|
|Antigua 1 night||14||Booking link here|
|Antigua 15 nights||294,14||Airbnb link here|
In terms of accommodation you can easily find one room in a local guesthouse (with home-like conditions) for around 15 EUR/room/2 persons/night in Antigua and 18-20 EUR/night around the Atitlan Lake. Some places in Antigua also include the breakfast in the rate, which would ease the pressure on your budget even more.
In case you are looking for an entire apartment however, you need to be prepared to spend a bit more. For Antigua you should expect to pay not less than 20-22 EUR/night for a one bedroom apartment with decent living conditions, with very limited options to choose from for this price (under 5 rentals). This is what we chose in terms of places to live, and we can recommend you all of them:
|Food & drinks||Description||Cost in GTQ for 2 persons||Price in EUR for 2 persons|
When it comes to food and essentials prices, Guatemala is more expensive than some European countries (Romania included) and way more expensive compared to the neighboring Mexico. For an idea on the prices you should expect for several items check this article that we wrote. Also, be aware that the prices and availability of goods differ a lot from region to region.
In Antigua you can find a few smaller supermarkets and plenty of foreign-owned restaurants, so do not expect to find huge Walmarts here. The best and cheapest place to buy fruits/vegetables/bakery is at the local market. For cheese and dairy products you can find a good price store in front of the local market. As the prices in the supermarkets are quite high anyway, it helped a lot for our budget to shop for each category of groceries where the locals shop.
If you are looking for a relatively cheap (compared to the local offer) and good place to eat here are some of our favorite restaurants:
– Rincon Tipico: you can find the daily menu (soup + agua de Jamaica/tamarindo – natural flavoured water + tortillas + chicken with potatoes and salad for 35 GTQ (3,8 EUR)
– Toko Baru: good options for vegetarians for 25 + GTQ (2,8 GTQ +)
– Little Caesar’s Pizza: very good pizza to go for 40 GTQ (4,4 EUR)
If you plan to visit a community around Lake Atitlan (we stayed in San Marcos la Laguna), get ready to live a simple life. For us the time spent there changed forever our views on consumption and I am very grateful for this. You will find a few small tiendaswith limited supply in terms of items to buy, 2 tortilerias&panaderias to buy bread and 2 stalls for fruits and vegetables.
|Transportation||Route||Price in GTQ per 2 persons||Price in EUR per 2 persons||Comment|
|Uber Guatemala City-Antigua||116||12,7|
|Boat Panajacel-San Marcos la Laguna||50||5,5|
|Boat San Marcos-Panajacel||20||2,2|
|Chicken Bus Panajacel-Solola||10||1,1|
|Chicken Bus Solola-Los Encuentros||10||1,1|
|Chicken bus Los Encuentros-Chichicastenango||20||2,2|
|Chicken bus Chichicastenango-Los Encuentros||20||2,2|
|Chicken bus Los Encuentros-Solola||10||1,1|
|Chicken bus Solola-Panajacel||10||1,1|
|Boat Panajacel-San Marcos la Laguna||50||5,5|
|TukTuk San Marcos la Laguna||15||1,65|
|Boat San Marcos-San Juan||50||5,5||the correct price is 10 GTQ/person|
|Boat San Juan-San Marcos||30||3,3||the correct price is 10 GTQ/person|
|Boat San Marcos-Panajacel||50||5,5|
|Chicken Bus Panajacel-Solola||10||1,1|
|Chicken bus Solola-Los Encuentros||10||1,1|
|Chicken bus Los Encuentros-Chimaltenango||70||7,7|
|Chicken bus Chilamtenango-Antigua||20||2,2|
|Volaris Plane tickets Guatemala City-San Jose, Costa Rica||1801||198||bought 1 day before the departure date|
|Other Uber rides in total||94||10,35|
|Uber Antigua-Guatemala City||137||15,8|
We found private transportation (shuttles, big bus companies) to be quite expensive in Guatemala, so we tried to use more colectivos, Uber/tuk-tuks and chicken buses instead, on which we wrote more in this article. If you are spending time in this country I believe that riding a chicken bus at least once is a must. Apart from the fact that it was fascinating to see how each company customized these old American school buses, these Central American landmarks are a cheap way of traveling on both short and long distances.
Is riding a chicken bus safe? For us it was. We even went all the way from Panajacel to Antigua with all of our luggage (including valuables) and after changing 3 buses we got to the destination safe and fast. Just be careful that these rides might get really bumpy, as the drivers generally LOVE the speed (we cannot agree with them here as sometimes it felt like they were exaggerating with this) and the buses are very old.
Is it hard to use them? Not at all. Just pay attention to the names of the direction the bus ayudantes are calling and you cannot get lost. Plus, in bigger chicken bus hubs you will not even have time to search for the next bus, as they will take your bags and board you into the correct bus.
|Activities||Description||Price in GTQ for 2 persons||Price in EUR for 2 persons|
|Hiking Acatenango Volcano||920||101,27|
|Cerro Tzankujil Ratural Reserve||40||4,4|
|Cerro de la Cruz San Juan||20||2,2|
|Hobitenango entrance fee||100||11|
We did not have a lot of paid activities on our list, so fortunately this category was lighter this time. You can find all sorts of free activities, from hikes to walks in the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala has something for everybody. One of the paid activities we strongly suggest you to try is the hike on the Acatenango Volcano (we wrote more on our experience here), and out of safety concerns we strongly advise you to go with a guide.
|Other costs||Descrption||Total cost in EUR|
|ATM Cash Withdrawl taxes||15,28|
|Laundry||4,88 (during the last 2 weeks of travel our Airbnb had a washer and dryer, so did not had to spend extra on laundry)|
|SIM Cards and recharge||7,8|
|1 doctor Covid recovery certificate||21|
|2 PCR tests||141|
If you are looking for some no-thrills clothing/souvenir shopping then head to the local market in Antigua for some very good prices. We could not leave the country without taking a traditional Maya blouse with us, which can get quite expensive to buy unfortunately (22 EUR one of the cheapest).
The ATMs require a transaction fee each time you withdraw money, so you might think of planning your transactions beforehand (you can find more info in our article). And of course, most of the other costs went on Covid tests and doctor appointments, on which you can read more here.
|Total costs in EUR for 28 days, 2 persons|
|Food & drinks||298,6|
In total we spent 1470 EUR (2 persons) during 28 days of travel (+ an unfortunate COVID event) throughout Guatemala. Of course, during 28 days you can see a bigger part of the country since there are still beautiful places that we did not get the chance to explore (Semuc Champey, Flores, Tikal, Livingston, Rio Dulce), which would imply of course bigger costs.
Is this total expense is a lot or not? We would be curious to know your thoughts and hope that the above info will help you!