Best Time to Visit Guatemala
Short Answer: Mid-November through Mid-March
Longer Answer: Generally, the best time to visit Guatemala is between mid-November and mid-March.
In Guatemala City and Antigua, the dry season runs from November through April, with the least rain falling between December and March. The December through mid-March timeframe is also when humidity is at its lowest and thus most comfortable. However, in certain regions, it can actually be a little cooler than what one might expect to find in Central America.
Visiting in November and December will obviously yield lusher greens than visiting towards the end of dry season if that matters to you. Sometime in March, the clear skies start to grow more overcast and hazy. Due to the elevation, temperatures are generally comfortable all year round, and can be cooler than you might expect for Central America at night.
Thus, the best time for visiting places like Guatemala City and Antigua would be once the rains stop (Mid-Nov) and before the haze begins (Mid-March). Once the rains kick in, the haze dissipates.
If you are going to somewhere remote, visiting in rainy season can make some transportation difficult but generally you should have decent weather for at least half the day.
In reality, rainy season is not so bad. I stayed in Guatemala through the rainy season and if no one had said it was rainy season, I wouldn’t have noticed. In some places, such as the Atitlan area, rainy season meant typical afternoon and evening rains. In Antigua, it hardly rained at all. Every year is different, but I wouldn’t not visit Guatemala JUST because of the “rainy season”. And, in some places, going during rainy season means it can be a better temperature for swimming and such.
On Guatemala’s Pacific coast, the weather pattern is generally the same as noted above, expect the temperatures are warmer due to the lower elevations. As such, December through February can be the best time to visit if you aren’t interested in hotter and humid weather.
On the small strip of Atlantic coast of Guatemala, the temperatures are warm but less than what is typically on the Pacific coast. From a precipitation standpoint, February through April are the driest. However, when factoring in humidity and temperature, December through February are still most comfortable from that standpoint. As such, for the Atlantic coast, late-January into February is the best time.
For northern chunk which consists of rainforests, the best time to visit Guatemala from a weather perspective would be mid-December through April when rain is tapering off and the humidity, while no where close to dry, is at its lowest. However, realistically, you should visit February through March once the ground has dried out so you aren’t tromping through mud. It gets increasingly hot into April and May.
Miscellaneous Travel Tips for Guatemala
Coffee Harvesting takes place November through March. Guatemalan coffee is one of my favourites generally. However, nowadays, the secret is quite known.
Besides coffee, Guatemala has some good chocolate available.
I have found good metal citrus presses for sale here that are better than the plastic junk you’ll find in many parts of the world.
Guatemala also has some very nice fabrics and woven goods, especially if you are up in the highlands where there are more indigenous people.
Supermarkets can be pretty nice in Guatemala, offering a great selection of things. The outdoor markets are even better, offering great deals on local crops such as blackberries, etc.
I have found the avocadoes to be cheaper in Guatemala than in Mexico. There are a decent number of avocado trees around, and so that keeps prices down I imagine. Tomatoes and other such things are also quite affordable in the outdoor markets.
Antigua is a bit touristy now, with a bunch of money pumped in which has taken away some of the character. But it is a very picturesque place.
A lot of people talk about how terrible Guatemala City is, but in reality, I have never had any problems there and you can find some cool little restaurants and coffee shops there. The bus service works well and I’ve never had a problem walking around.
It is possible to walk from the Guatemala Airport to Guatemala City. When you get to the end of the airport road (take a right out of the terminal and a right outside the entrance road) you’ll take a left and there is a pedetrian overpass by McDonalds. There is also one if you take a right, it’s just a little further. Depends on where you are trying to go.
Many people ask, and wonder, if it is possible to take the “chicken bus” to Antigua from the airport. The answer is sort-of. I have taken this route several times. In reality, the chicken buses to Antigua and Panajachel do not go to the airport. However, it is possible, if you are traveling light, to walk to the proper chicken bus. I’d say it is maybe a 45 minute walk.
For most people, I would recommend just taking a shuttle to Antigua or Panajachel. For Antigua, you could also use Uber which if you are multiple people, can be quite competitive.
As for Panajachel, I would not recommend staying in Panajachel as it is somewhat noisy and full of traffic. All of the other towns are far better in my opinion.
Also, when taking the boats in Lake Atitlan, know your prices. Pay those prices and if the boat sellers demand more, just walk away. I have seen so many people getting over-charged. The boat captains are probably the worst thing about Lake Atitlan, as many of them are very manipulative and take advantage of visitors.
Overall, Guatemala is a very nice place to visit, with friendly people and excellent scenery. If you made it this far, I would tell you anytime is a good time to go to Guatemala. Don’t be afraid of rainy season or any other season.
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