During the preparations for a new trip, the same question always arises: how expensive is it there? Let us answer your question immediately: Guatemala is affordable. It is not as cheap as in many Asian countries, but the price level is much lower here than in Europe. To give you an impression of the prices, I have listed a few.
As an indication: the exchange rate between the euro (and roughly also the dollar) and the Guatemala Quetzal is around 1: 8 at the time of writing. So a meal of 80 quetzal is around a tenner.
The hostel and hotel prices in Guatemala
That of course depends on what you choose and Guatemala offers it all. Are you sleeping in a large dormitory or are you opting for that insta-worthy yoga retreat? We did it all and slept in budget-friendly private rooms in hostels, but also in beautiful locations such as on a honeymoon. Our cheapest night was €28 and our most expensive night was €280. But actually, one of our cheapest places to sleep was also our favorite. So it’s not just about the prices.
You can generally assume the following prices. For converted €5 to €10 you can already sleep in a bed in a dorm. If you want your own bedroom in a hostel with possibly your own bathroom, then you spend around €20 to €40. If you are looking for a more luxurious room and prefer to skip the hostels, then it becomes free play and all prices are possible.
The costs for food and drinks
Start your day with a breakfast (30 to 60 quetzal) and a cup of coffee (10 to 20 quetzal). Because it quickly gets warm, you should always have water with you. A one liter bottle of water usually costs something of 4 quetzal. But did you know that almost every hotel and restaurant in Guatemala has an ecofilter to purify tap water? You can always top up your water bottle free of charge there.
For lunch we usually paid 40 to 80 quetzal. A soft drink in a restaurant usually costs 10 quetzal and in a supermarket you can already buy a can or bottle from 3 quetzal. Our dinner usually cost between 60 and 120 quetzal, but can of course also be much more upscale and expensive.
We found that the prices per city did not differ greatly. Only Flores at Tikal was more expensive than the rest of the country. Remarkably enough, prices within the same city can differ greatly. For example, we ate for 65 quetzal for lunch or evening meal at Boatique Hotel, while dinner across the river at Dreamcatcher Hostel cost us 125 quetzal.
The costs for the volcano hikes
The coolest things you can do in Guatemala are the volcano hikes. We went down all the three active volcanoes: the Fuego (from the Acatenango) and Pacaya at Antigua and the Santaguito at Quetzaltenango. You almost always do the tours with a guide for safety and support. There is a lot of difference between the costs of the different tour companies, but that difference is also reflected in what you get for that price.
We did the overnight tour on the Acatenango with a view of the active Fuego volcano at Old Town Outfitters. This tour costs 125 USD. For a porter to lift your backpack up you pay 25 USD per day. That is 50 USD, if you also want to use a porter on the way back. The organization of this hike was perfect. The food was good, the tents spacious and the guidance by the guides top.
We also did an overnight tour on the Pacaya, with overnight accommodation on top of the volcano. We chose the tour organization Ox Expeditions. This tour costs 79 USD and for a porter you pay 100 quetzal. Our tent was perhaps a bit tighter (our bags didn’t even fit), but otherwise all facilities were great. A big plus of Ox Expeditions is that you can borrow a lot of things there. So you don’t have to bring them yourself or buy them specifically for this trip.
To the viewpoint of the Santiaguito we did a shorter dayhike of a few hours. We chose the Monte Verde organization, because it works exclusively with local guides and thus supports the local community. This hike costs 25 USD.
The costs for the Mayan sites
Besides the beautiful volcanoes, of course nobody wants to miss the beautiful Mayan ruins that Guatamala has to offer. We visited two of the three largest complexes: the famous Tikal and the neighboring and lesser-known Yaxha.
The entrance fees for Tikal are somewhat complex. For the day entrance to Tikal you pay 150 quetzal, so converted just under €20. With this you can enter the park from 6am to 6pm. However, if you want to enter the park sooner or later, you must both purchase a sunrise or sun set ticket of 100 quetzal and pay for a guide. We chose not to do that. Instead, we were at the entrance around 5:55 AM, so that we could also see the sunrise at 6:20 AM. We slept in one of the hotels next to the entrance, but it is just as possible to book a tour from Flores for 90 quetzal. Tours can also be booked to ensure that you are at the gate at exactly 6 am. For example with the super helpful people of GetawayTravels.
Please note: the tip that you can buy a day pass after 3pm and that you can use that ticket both that afternoon and the next day is incorrect. This is even still stated on the official website of Tikal, but the rule has changed a number of years ago. So you cannot take the quiet afternoon and morning both at the price of one ticket.
We also visited the Yaxha temple complex, between Tikal and the border with Belize. We paid 80 quetzal entrance fees and were able to stay in the park until 6 pm, so until after sunset. With this day ticket we could visit all the temples in the park, so not only those of Yaxha, but also those on the island of Topoxte. Want to know more about a visit to Yaxha?
The costs of transportation
The prices for transport differ greatly from each other. How you travel and how long naturally matters a lot. We noticed that a private ride with an Uber is not expensive at all in Guatemala. For three people or more it may even be cheaper for some journeys than public transport.
Tip: don’t have an Uber account yet? Via this link you can easily register and receive a discount on your first ride.
A few cost examples of trips:
- The boat from one village to the other on Lake Atitlan costs 10 to 20 quetzal. Locals pay a different price and sometimes they try to get travelers to pay double.
- From Atitlan to Quetzaltenango a direct shuttle costs 150 to 170 quetzal and you pay for 2x the local chicken bus (with transfer) and an Uber from the bus station in total 35 quetzal.
- Our ride with Uber from Guatemala City to Antiqua cost 155 quetzal.
- The ride with Uber from Antiqua to Panajachel, the largest city on Lake Atitlan, cost us 370 quetzal. A direct shuttle does not cost much less for two people.
Tip: for Uber it is handy to have internet on your phone. For only 25 quetzal (€ 3) you can buy a sim card for 15 days including 7 GB + 150 minutes. Often all social media and whatsapp are unlimited with these subscriptions, so inquire about this.