Amazing murals, historic buildings and trendy bars: Guatemala City has more to offer than you would suspect. Most travelers travel straight to Antigua when arriving at the Guatemala City airport, considering the Guatemala capital too dangerous to visit. We decided to do otherwise and stayed for one day to explore the historic center and upcoming districts. We loved doing so and can totally recommend you to do the same, as Guatemala City has much more to offer while we didn’t feel unsafe at all. Read more about the best things to do in Guatemala City, where to stay and how to stay safe!
Safety in Guatemala City
The main reason for travellers to avoid the capital is its level of safety. Guatemala City is not the safest travel destination, but this is improving over time. In the end, we didn’t feel unsafe for a moment. We did follow some safety tips our hostel gave us, but most of them are just common sense when traveling abroad anyways.
We were advised not to walk down the street in the evening and always take a taxi or Uber (you can sign up here for Uber for a discount). The city is divided into different zones and it is important to avoid certain unsafe zones. As a tourist, you have nothing to do there either, so just limit yourself to the more touristic and safe zones. Of course you have to pay attention to your belongings, but we do that well when traveling anyway. Do not walk down the street with unnecessary expensive items and pay close attention to your bag and pockets.
Guatemala City Tourist Map
Best things to do in Guatemala City: the best zones to explo
#1 The historical centre in Zona 1
Guatemala City is built in a grid with multiple zones. For you as a traveler, Zona 1, 4, 10 and 13 are the most interesting places to visit in Guatemala City. Zona 1 has the most historic buildings, squares and the Guatemala City cathedral. This is also the best area around town to find affordable hotels and hostels and restaurants. One of the Zona 1 attractions is the indoor local market. You can buy pretty much anything here and there is a food court to try the local food.
#2 Urban and upcoming Zona 4
Our favorite thing to do in Guatemala City was visiting Zona 4. The district is often referred to as the Brooklyn of Guatemala because of its urban, industrial, artistic and upcoming vibe. It is filled with street art and the highest concentration in Guatemala of cool hotspots restaurants for food and drinks. Our favorite places in Zona 4 are food court La Esquina, coffee and murals at 4 Grados Norte and coffee near Coffee District. Check out our map at the top and at the bottom of this blog post for more favorites and their exact location.
#3 Musea and luxury in Zona 10 and 13
Are you visiting the capital to learn more about Guatemala? Then you have to be in Zona 10 and 13. The most important museums are located here and these are the more luxurious areas of the city. Hotels and restaurants are a lot more expensive, but these are also the safest and most international areas of the city.
Where to stay in Guatemala City
We already referred to Zona 1 as the best place to find affordable hotels and hostels. We choose to stay in nearby Zona 4, as we were invited to stay at one of the best budget spots in the city: Capsule Hostel. It is not luxurious and spotless, but the rooms are basic and decent, the atmosphere is good and the staff is friendly. And the pancake breakfast is just the best!
Interested in staying at another Zona? Or is Capsule Hotel fully booked? Check out our selection of top hotels and hostels in Guatemala City.