The Flores peninsula is the most popular destination in the north of Guatemala. The most impressive Mayan ruins are nearby, the town has the best sunsets and the vibe is wonderfully relaxed. It is the kind of place where many travellers linger a little longer than actually planned. We totally understand why and will explain it all to you in this mini travel guide for Flores.
Where exactly is Flores in Guatemala?
I already mentioned Flores as the perfect base to explore the north of Guatemala, so that’s about where you can find it. Flores is a town on a peninsula in the Lago Petén Itzá lake. Around the lake are several small villages, but Flores is most popular with travellers because of the beautiful streets and the nice hotels and restaurants. The bus station for Flores is just south of the peninsula. From there you can easily take an Uber or tuktuk to Isla de Flores. The airport is also not far away.
Make sure to pay close attention when looking for a place to sleep in Isla de Flores. Many search results will be close to Flores or somewher else at Lago Petén Itzá, but not on the peninsula. Make sure to take a good look at the map to see if your choice is on the island itself.
What to do in Isla de Flores?
# 1 Visit Tikal on a day trip
The best known and most visited attraction in Guatemala is near Flores. Tikal was once the largest city of the Maya and dozens of impressive temples and ruins still bear witness to this. You can walk around for hours in this jungle to marvel at all the beautiful things. There are hotels at Tikal, but they are very pricey and Flores is also super close. A guide and transport from Flores will only cost you 90 Q, so just over € 10. An entrance ticket to the Tikal National Park is relatively expensive: you pay 150 Q for a day ticket with access between 6 AM and 6 PM. If you want to enter the park earlier or later, you need an extra sunrise or sun ticket of 150 Q.
Tip: book a day trip that departs from Flores at 4.30 AM. You will then be at the gate at opening time at 6.00 AM and can visit everything before most other visitors arrive. You are also just in time to enjoy the sunrise in the winter, as the sun will rise around 6.20 AM that time of the year.
# 2 The sunset from the Yaxha temples
Another cool day trip is to the temple complex of Yaxha. Deep in the jungle lies one of the hidden gems of Guatemala near a crocodile lake: the Yaxha temple complex. While all travellers go to the famous Tikal, neighboring Yaxha is still wonderfully undiscovered. The size of the complex is huge, the view from the highest temple phenomenal and the location on a deep blue lake is unique. Prepare for crocodiles and howler monkeys, jungle and temples, off the grid cottages and sunsets.
Reading tip: we wrote an extensive blog about Yaxha, including background information and best sunset spot.
# 3 Walk around the colourful streets and the promenade
Even though we are big fans of Flores, the peninsula actually doesn’t have much to offer. But that’s exactly its the charm. The best thing about Flores is to walk quietly around the colourful streets and along the water. The ideal way to taste atmosphere! You will immediately notice that the peninsula is built on a kind of hill. The park in the middle is a lot higher and the roads towards it are a bit steeper. The ‘malecon’ along the water offers a nice stroll, although in some places it is sometimes flooded.
# 4 Take a boat to the other bank for a viewpoint and rope swing
From the north side of Isla de Flores you can take a lancha to the other side of the lake. It is a boat trip of only 5 minutes and you pay 5 to 10 quetzal for it. We recommend to walk to the lookout point (look for ‘mirador’ on the map) for a cool view of the peninsula and the lake. A much more popular place on the other bank is the Jorge’s Rope Swing restaurant. The name already reveals that there’s a rope swing to have some fun with. Make sure you take the boat directly to the rope swing restaurant and not just to the other side.
# 5 Rent a canoe or kayak
The best way to explore the surroundings of an island or peninsula is on the water. In Flores canoes and kayaks are offered for rent at various locations. You can also take them to the other side of the lake, so you can visit the viewpoint or the rope swing without a lanche. Make sure you rent the canoe / kayak long enough, because you usually pay per hour.
Tip: rent a canoe or kayak during sunset for the best views.
# 6 Visit Playa Chechenal beach
Playa Chechenal is a small beach on the other shore where you can relax and take a dip. There are mainly locals, especially on the weekend. You can take a boat directly to the beach, but you can also get dropped off just at the other side of the water from Flores. From there you can take a nice stroll along the viewpoint to the beach by yourself. The entrance fee is 5 quetzal.
# 7 Enjoy the sunset every evening
We certainly have a soft spot for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. So we were in the right place in Flores, where sunset is a big hit here every evening. From the west side of Isla de Flores you have a beautiful sunset view. Enjoy it during a walk on the malecon, from a canoe or with a cocktail from one of the terraces. San Telmo terrace a nice place to have a drink – happy hour! – to enjoy the golden hour and the sunset.
The best restaurants, hostels and hotels
Where there are travellers, there are good places for coffee, food or drinks. You can find all our favourites on our Flores map. We already mentioned San Telmo for cocktails during sunset (and happy hour). We also visited Maple & Tocino several times for their all day brunch with pancakes and huge milkshakes with mini donuts. We can also recommend Cool Beans for good coffee and Guatemalan specialty beers.
Flores also offers the best sleeping places for all budgets. We have selected the best luxury hotels, budget options and hostels on the peninsula:
- Los Amigos Hostel | Current prices | The most popular hostel in Flores is Los Amigos. Travellers love the relaxed atmosphere, nice staff and colourful styling. There are dormitories and private rooms, all budget-friendly.
- Hotel Casona de La Isla | Current prices | This is one of the best hotels for a view of the lake and a beautiful swimming pool. This hotel might therefore a bit more expensive than you are used to in Guatemala.
- Hotel Casa Amelia | Current prices | More affordable than Hotel Casona is this hotel with lake view. The hotel gets a 8.7 on Booking.com.
- Hotel Villa del Lago | Current prices | Clean and spacious rooms, a comfortable bed and good shower. We found the price-quality ratio of this hotel perfect.
- Hostal Don Cenobio | Current prices | One of the hostels in Flores with the best rating on Booking.com: a 9.4. There are only dormitories. Cool Beans is just around the corner.
- Hotel Isla de Flores | Current prices | Perhaps the most comfortable hotel on the peninsula with king-size beds, a beautiful design, private swimming pool and roof terrace.
- Ciao Cacao Hostel | Current prices | This budget-friendly hostel has a tropical garden and vegan restaurant. There are private rooms with shared bathrooms and dormitories.
How do you get in Flores?
Because Flores is such a popular destination, you can get there from almost the entire country. The easiest and quickest, but also the most expensive is a domestic flight to Flores airport.
Bus connections to almost all popular destinations in Guatemala are more affordable. You can get to the jungle area of the Rio Dulce in 4 hours and you can travel to the more southern destinations in around 8 hours. There are also bus connections to Mexico (Palenque and Chechumal) and Belize (Belize City).
The bus station is just outside the peninsula, to the south of it. If you book a bus from your hotel in Flores, transport with a minivan from the peninsula to the bus station might be included. Otherwise, the Uber or tuktuk is also a fine and affordable way to get there.