January 14, 2020

Travel Guide : Guatemala


Hôtels, Restaurants & Bars 

Style, Culture & Shopping...

I'm taking a few moments to share with you this little travel guide to Guatemala. Each time I visit, I always like to return to my favorite places. I hope that these recommendations will allow you to enrich your own adventure...
Lac atitlan Guatemala Gaiardo 

 Travelling through Guatemala means going from the Pacific rollers to the Quiché highlands, from the Antigua volcanoes of Antigua to the archaeological sites of Petén... I loved travelling through this country in all its diversity and in all directions, on the roads or on foot.

The wide-open spaces of Guatemala are fascinating. The country has more volcanoes per square kilometer than any other in the world. Earthquakes and eruptions are part of the history and drama, but also part of the magic and power of these landscapes.

The highlight of a visit to Central America is meeting the people, who share an incredible sense of humour and gentleness. Their history is rich, fascinating and complex, a mix between ancestral Mayan origins and a Spanish colonial occupation.

Each region and each village has its own identity and language. Artisanal techniques such as weaving are linked to a whole culture and evolve throughout generations. Everywhere, you will find markets full of colorful fabrics, ceramics or antiques…

Guatemala woman Santiago Gaiardo kid santiago guatemala gaiardo Women guatemala Xela Gaiardo 



Antigua - The Cathedral & Convents
Calle Oriente 5, Antigua 03001, Guatemala

The spectacular city of Antigua has been declared a part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It is a small haven of peace, caught between the twin volcanoes of Fuego (Fire) and Agua (Water). 

After an earthquake in the 18th century, the capital Antigua was moved to Guatemala City. However, the city still has many old buildings and facades, such as the magnificent ruins of the Capuchinas convent or Santa Clara...

The 17th century Antigua Cathedral is open air. The Museum of Colonial Art and its Moorish courtyard across the street are also worth a visit.


Antigua - Casa de Santo Domingo

3a Calle Oriente 28, Antigua www.casasantodomingo.com.gt

You should take the time to stop at this 16th century Dominican convent which was discovered in 1995 and transformed into a museum and hotel. Today you'll find a restaurant, a chapel, a swimming pool and a ceramics workshop.


Chichicastenango - The market

This highland town is remote and foggy but famous for its market and flowery church steps. Thursday is market day and the square is filled with brightly colored fabrics. Like in a bazaar, you can find: everything, everything, everything...


La Nueva Fabrica - Santa Ana - Antigua

Callejon Contreras, Santa Ana, Guatemala - www.newrootsfoundation.org/la-nueva-fabrica-eng

This art gallery in Santa Ana, just outside of Antigua, supports a number of contemporary artists, weavers and photographers through events and residencies.


Musée Ixchel, Guatemala city

6A Calle, Guatemala - museoixchel.org

The Ixchel Museum has a huge collection of textiles from all the indigenous communities of Guatemala and from every era. It also displays the beautiful watercolors of Carmen L. Pettersen, painted in the villages in the 1970s. Next to this small museum is the Popol Vuh Museum, which exhibits the oldest Mayan manuscripts in Guatemala and many objects from the pre-Hispanic period.


 antigua guatemala coutume yellow cactus green antigua guatemala




It is highly recommended to ask a local guide to accompany you in natural parcs. Get their contact details at your hotel.


Hike - Jaibalito to San Marcos, Lake Atitlan

This is one of the most breathtaking views of Lake Atitlan, between mountains, forest and swimming. End the walk in San Marcos with a dip in the lake. Boats depart from San Pedro or Panajachel. Count 3 hours for the walk. Difficulty *


Hike - San Pedro, San Pedro, Lake Atitlan

Get up early! Take a tuk-tuk to the entrance of San Pedro National Park where a 5 hour steep climb begins. At the top, the clouds offer a spectacular view of Lake Atitlan. Difficulty **


Hike - Acatenango

GUIDES : OX EXPEDITION 7th Calle Poniente #17, Antigua - oxexpeditions.com

One of the most incredible sights in Guatemala. Plan on two hiking days.

The climb is short but intense but on arrival at the camp, you can enjoy a view of the Fuego crater, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In the evening, under a sky full of stars, you can watch a natural firework of lava. At dawn, you will climb the volcanic sands to the summit (3,976 m) for a beautiful sunrise over Guatemala. Difficulty ***


atitlan san pedro volcano green coutume  



Meson Panza Verde - Antigua

5a Avenida Sur 19, Antigua - www.panzaverde.com

Panza Verde is the hotel you would never want to leave. You can take a yoga class in the morning, enjoy the pool in the afternoon and the candlelight live concerts at night.


Hotel Cirilo - Antigua

Calle de Los Duelos 11, Antigua - www.hotelcirilo.com

A dream. A little far from the centre but very quiet, the Cirilo hotel is a modern hotel built on an antique ruin. You can lounge by the pool between two walks and enjoy the charm of the colonial-style rooms.


Hôtel La Fortuna - Lac Atitlan

Patzisotz Bay Between Panajachel and Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz La Laguna - lafortunaatitlan.com

La Fortuna is a very well-named hotel, a cabin-chic hotel, tucked away in a small bay of the lake, open to nature. A magical place, cut off from the world.

Panza Verde gaiardo Coutume Guatemala Antigua




Fermento - Antigua

1a Avenida Sur #9, Antigua - www.fermentoantigua.com

From the same family of restaurateurs as Hector's, Fermento opened next to the famous Café No Sé. Very intimate, with a pretty patio and antique decor.


Saberico - Antigua

Avenida Sur #7 Antigua 6A - Trip Advisor

I always return to the Saberico restaurant & grocery store for a snack, an ice cream or a coffee. And enjoy the exotic setting and the tables lost in a lush garden.


La Cuevita de Los Urquizu - Antigua

2da Calle Oriente # 9-D, Antigua - facebook

It feels like you're invited to a family lunch. The chefs serve traditional dishes that your Guatemalan "abuela" could have served you, such as the famous: pepian, jocon and tamales... The cuisine is 100% local and delicious. Check out the rooftop which has a panoramic sight on the city.


Deli's - Panajachel - Lake Atitlan

Calle Santander, Panajachel 07010 - Trip Advisor

2 addresses in Pana': Jasmin & Llama de Fuego. An atypical place, ideal for a breakfast, in a very lush setting (you can't miss the big tulip tree that stands in the middle of the restaurant). Mexican, Guatemalan and international cuisine.


Isla Verde - Santa Cruz - Lake Atitlan

Boats from Panajachel, Hotel Isla Verde, Santa Cruz La Laguna - islaverdeatitlan.com

Out of time. You can take a yoga class or just have lunch by the lake. I come here to work, read or write between swims. Isla Verde is my haven of peace on Lake Atitlan.


La Posada - Santiago - Lake Atitlan

Boats from Panajachel,, Posada de Santiago, Sortie du village de Santiago - posadadesantiago.com 

Fantastic staff. I go back again and again for breakfast. My choice: the famous blue corn pancakes with macadamia nut syrup. For an evening cocktail, you can go down to their beach bar, the view is incredible.

Santiago Guatemala Market food Women gaiardo 



Hotel Casa Palopo - Santa Catarina Palopo - Lake Atitlan

Carretera a San Antonio Palopo, km 6.8, Santa Catarina Palopo - www.casapalopo.com

Accessible from Panajachel by tuk-tuk. In an elegant and colorful place, enjoy the most incredible sunset in Atitlan, with a 180° view on the lake. Magical (sigh).


Café No Sé - Antigua 

1st Avenida, Antigua 03001 - www.cafenose.com

This is the most intriguing and intimate bar in Antigua. Illegal Mezcal serves cocktails and shots by candlelight. Musicians play guitar until the middle of the night.


Antigua Cerveza - Antigua

5ta Avenida Norte # 20A Calle del Arco, Antigua 03001 - www.antiguacerveza.com

The bar is located on the main street, under the Santa Catalina arch. This 100% Guatemalan craft beer is produced by a team of cheerful and ultra-sympathetic team.




Crossroads Café - Panajachel - Lac Atitlan

Calle de Los Arboles, Panajachel - crossroadscafepana.com

In addition to Michaël's devastating humour and his wife Adèle's divine pastries, people come to this hidden address to chat at the counter with friends and travelers. Michaël is an expert in the coffee sector and works with the best producers: local, ethical, organic.


Café Loco - Panajachel - Lac Atitlan

Calle Santander, Panajachel, Guatemala - Trip Advisor

The true coffee connoisseurs at Pana'. This team of Korean baristas offers many techniques to serve you. Take your loyalty cards and go get in line!


Café La Union - Antigua

6 Calle Oriente # 6 Antigua - Facebook

Two addresses for the same city: the mezzanine or the sunny terrace, for lunch or just for coffee. 


Café Rafa - Santiago Atitlan

Calle principal, Santiago Atitlán - Trip Advisor

In the "calle principal", ask for Tono' who will serve you the best latte in town. Their staff is always friendly and they have the best organic coffee selection . They work with local producers.




Uxibal - La Creativa - Antigua

4a Calle Oriente #5 in beautiful Antigua - lacreativaantigua.com - uxibal.com

A collective of designers has set up shop & co-working in the heart of Antigua. It features beautiful modern objects, a workspace and a café, ideal for meeting the young local and international art scene.


Algodones Mayas - Antigua

3ra Calle Oriente casa # 33 Antigua - algodonesmayas.com

In this beautiful shop, you will find traditional, ethical and natural textiles designed by elegant Luisa Villavicencio.


Indigo - Antigua

Callejon de la Concepcion 5A, Antigua - indigocustomtextile.com

Olga Reiche is an expert in natural color and traditional weaving in Antigua. She gives natural dye workshops on request and her shop is full of wonders: fashion accessories, textiles and clothing.


Cojolya - Santiago Atitlan

Calle principal, comercial las mascaras, Santiago Atitlan - cojolya.org

My favorite association and second family... Cojolya is a non-profit that represents 35 artisans in Santiago Atitlan. They produce handmade accessories and home goods. Cojolya also gives tours and classes, so you can meet the artisans in their homes to learn more about their art.

Santiago atitlan coutume gaiardo lake   santiago cojolya guatemala coutume




La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes

Hacienda Mil Amores, Acul, Nebaj 14013, Guatemala

Take the road and drive through the highest sierra in Central America that extends to Mexico. These mountains are full of history and feel protected from teh world, especially from the tourist routes. Not to be missed: the towns of Nebaj and Todos los Santos. You can also visit the Hacienda Mil Amores, a farm in the magical Acul Valley for a timeless experience.

Cuchumatanes Acul Guatemala Coutume Gaiardo  Todos Los Santos Guatemala Gaiardo Coutume


Bambu Hotel - Santiago Atitlan - Lake Atitlan

Tzanchicham 7 Kilometro 16, Carretera a San Lucas Toliman, Santiago Atitlan 07019

End your day in Santiago Atitlan with a dip in the pool of hotel Bambu, hidden in a tropical garden. You can hear a multitude of birds and very often, the distant thunder in the mountains.

 hotel bambu santiago guatemala gaiardo coutume

Santiago Atitlan - Maximon

Curious visitors go to Santiago for Maximon. Carved in a sacred tree, this saint is a cross between a Mayan god, a Spanish conquistador and the biblical Judas, the result of a fusion of 2 cultures. He sits in a new house every year for easter, surrounded by flowers, candles and offerings. People pray to Maximon with drums, tobacco and a glass of alcohol in their hands.

gaiardo schultz coutume guatemala atitlan lake   maximon santiago coutume atitlan

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Guatemala road bus solola gaiardo Antigua guatemala Gaiardo

Textile guatemala coutume market pink  wall antigua guatemala coutume yellow flower

Santiago Guatemala Gaiardo Coutume Street

atitlan lake fisherman canoe guatemala gaiardo

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Antigua Guatemala Gaiardo Architecture    guatemala weaver woman coutume atitlan

Photographs : Céline Gaiardo @www.instagram.com/ateliers_coutume

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