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  • Guatemala City

    Guatemala City travel guide

    Overview

    The most populous city in Guatemala and Central America, Guatemala City is a bustling metropolis of three million people. However, it still has the feeling of a small town, with the city loosely divided into approximately 20 .

    Ornate buildings dating back hundreds of years give the city a period feel, with many antique churches and government buildings like the Palacio Nacional worth seeing from the inside and out. This gives Guatemala City an attractive urban aesthetic to compensate for its lack of natural beauty.

    Guatemala City is the most modern city in the country, playing a role as the administrative, economic, and cultural capital of Guatemala, with a variety of restaurants, shops, art galleries, theatres, museums, hotels, and other attractions to keep visitors entertained. The hotels and nightlife in Zona Viva and Cuatro Grados Norte are particularly popular with visitors.

    Despite its vibrant arts scene and attractive facade, many travellers avoid Guatemala City due to the high crime rate, opting to head for Antigua or Monterrico instead. However, travelling to Guatemala City is relatively easy because most lines of transport connect here, so a convenient city break in Guatemala City can add a lot to a holiday in Guatemala, and the government is taking continuous measures to make the city safer and more attractive for tourists.

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    Due to its elevation, Guatemala City has a subtropical highland climate. This, combined with the windiness of the area, results in the city having moderate temperatures for most of the year. May is the warmest month, with temperatures averaging around 69°F (21°C), and temperatures drop only slightly to an average of 65°F (19°C) from October through to January. The rainy season in Guatemala City is between May and October, with the heaviest rains in September. December through February tends to be the most popular time for tourists to visit Guatemala City.

    Guatemala City La Aurora International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated four miles (6km) south of Guatemala City, and about 16 miles (25km) from Antigua.
    Time: Local time is GMT -6.
    Transfer Between Terminals: The terminals are connected.
    Getting to the city: Most hotels will offer transfer services from the airport, and there are several shuttles into Guatemala City and Antigua throughout the day; however, these have no strict schedule and often rely on the shuttle filling up first. Taxis and regular buses are also available. Car rental is another option.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies include Avis and Thrifty, along with some local companies.
    Airport Taxis: Flat-rate taxis are available outside the terminal building.
    Fascilities: There are bars, shops and restaurants at the airport. Shopping at the airport is particularly good, with plenty of local crafts on offer. An ATM is available in the departure lounge. There is a currency exchange at the airport, but it is often better to find an official bank offering foreign exchange services, as they offer more reasonable rates.
    Parking Parking is available at the airport, however visitors are advised against leaving their car parked in the lot overnight due to security reasons.

    Useful Contacts:

    The main gateway to the country is La Aurora International Airport, which is located on the edge of the city centre. Public transit in Guatemala City is problematic, and may be frustrating for visitors. A Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the Transmetro, serves the city. Operating hours are between 4.30am and 10pm during the week, and 4.30am and 9pm over the weekend.

    Visitors arriving in Guatemala City by bus from other cities will be dropped off at one of the BRT stations on the periphery of the city. These intercity buses have either first or second-class options, with the latter being renowned for being extremely uncomfortable and overcrowded.

    Both the local and inter-city buses tend to be the popular stomping ground for armed robbers and muggers; visitors are advised to always be aware of their surroundings and to avoid the use of the bus system at after dark.

    Taxis are available and can easily be hailed at inter-city bus terminals. In other parts of the city it is best to phone ahead and book one in advance. Taxi Amarillo (yellow) cabs are metered and trustworthy.

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