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Guatemala City

12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

7 posts
1 review
1 helpful vote
12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Hello All,

I am planning a 12-night trip in Central America. I will be flying into Guatemala City Wednesday afternoon (landing @1300) and flying out Monday night (departing @1930). Here is the itinerary I've come up with so far. I think most of it seems alright, but trying to figure out how I should balance my time/energy between San Juan del Sur/Ometepe/Granada.

Sidenote, I have the energy to be up and about through most of the day, I prefer laid back, nice beaches, and hiking over partying and tourist traps, but would not be opposed to some nightlife at least.

Any and all suggestions welcome!

Wednesday – Antigua or Lake Atitlan

Thursday – Lake Atitlan

Friday – Antigua

Saturday – Antigua => El Cuco

Sunday – El Cuco

Monday – El Cuco => San Juan Del Sur

Tuesday – Ometepe

Wednesday – Granada

Thursday – Granada => Copan

Friday – Copan

Saturday – Copan => Rio Dulce

Sunday – Rio Dulce

Monday – Back to GC

Edited: 3:31 pm, November 26, 2016
Level Contributor
352 posts
1 review
1 helpful vote
1. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

You will definitely be seeing a lot.

I might encourage you to spend a little more time at Atitlan, Antigua, and Copan. All three are places that visitors tend to wish they had planned for more time after they got there.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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15,329 posts
331 reviews
272 helpful votes
2. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Lots of folks want to cram a lot into the time they have but by trying to see so many places that aren't closely grouped geographically, you would actually be diluting your time to explore and enjoy and spending way more time sitting on buses and shuttles than most of us would tolerate. Almost sounds like that's your priority and what you want to do most.

12 nights is plenty for a nice trip but I'd choose just 3 (or maybe 4) locations at most and drop Nicaragua altogether this trip. If it was my trip I'd either stay in Guatemala or maybe just that with time in Copán. ¡Buena suerte!

Seattle, Washington
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1,483 posts
29 reviews
11 helpful votes
3. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

I completely agree with Hopefulist's advice about not trying to cram too many sites into one visit; the travel will eat up too much of your time. For example, just getting by bus from Granada to Copan Ruinas will probably take almost 24 hours. And that's assuming that you are lucky and don't experience any delays due to road conditions, equipment failures, etc. The alternative would be to fly (about $300), but that still would involve spending most of your daylight hours getting to Managua from Granada and to Copan Ruinas from San Pedro Sula, as well as time spent waiting in the airports and in flight.

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
11,043 posts
21 reviews
50 helpful votes
4. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

I have nothing against a fast itinerary. But it has to be possible and I assume you want to be able to see something when you arrive somewhere, not just sleep there.

Yes, you could go to Lake Atitlan on arrival. And then you have a day at the lake which gives you enough time to explore a few villages but you would of course miss out on a lot. Then you have to get to Antigua so you have the rest of that day for Antigua. Then the next day I assume you would take a shuttle to El Cuco and that would take what? 8 hours? Then Monday seems impossible to me. There is probably a shuttle to Leon which would take 7 hours or so (or you have to go to La Union for a boat to Potosi and then a bus to Leon). Then it is still 5 hours or so to San Juan del Sur. And you would not stop in Leon at all (great colonial city, amazing volcanoes, nice beaches). At least skip SJDS because even if you could get there in one day you would just sleep there (no time for anything else and added to that the best beaches are north and south of SJDS). If you want a beach go to Jiquilillo or Las Penitas near Leon. Then you would not even have a full day for Ometepe. Because you are off to Granada... and you would just have time to wander around and hopefully see volcano Masaya in the evening. Then you would have to get to Managua after Masaya because the Tica Bus to San Pedro Sula leaves at 5 am and arrives at 5 pm and then you are not in Copan yet. That is another 3 hours by bus so the next day you wouldn't even have a full day for Copan. I am exhausted just writing this...

You only have 12 days. I would spend them in Guatemala: Lake Atitlan, Antigua, Semuc Champey or Rio Dulce, Tikal and Yaxha. Or in Nicaragua: Leon and its volcanoes and beaches, Granada with day trips, Ometepe Island.

Edited: 9:42 pm, November 26, 2016
7 posts
1 review
1 helpful vote
5. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Thanks guys. I've revised my itinerary after realizing that going to Nicaragua on the same trip is too much considering the distances being traveled.

Wednesday – (Landing in GC @1300) Antigua

Thursday – Antigua

Friday – Antigua => (stop at Chimaltenango perhaps) Lake Atitlan

Saturday – Lake Atitlan

Sunday – Lake Atitlan

Monday – Lake Atitlan => Copan

Tuesday – Copan

Wednesday – Copan

Thursday - Copan => Rio Dulce

Friday – Rio Dulce

Saturday – Rio Dulce => Livingston

Sunday – stay in Rio Dulce or Livingston

Monday – Fly out from GC @1930

Thoughts or tips? Maybe I should trade Rio Dulce/Livingston for Tikal/Flores or San Pedro Sulo? Although those alternatives would cost me more than going to Rio/Liv. Anyone have thoughts on how cool Rio/Liv is?

Edited: 5:10 pm, November 27, 2016
Bethesda, MD
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6. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Wow, that is SO much better. I'd suggest going to Tikal instead of Copan. Both great sites, but they just don't compare. Either way, it would be a very long day. Livingston works well as a day trip; no really good reason I know of to spend a night there. And depending on where you stay around RD, it would be a quicker get away from RD back to GC.

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
11,043 posts
21 reviews
50 helpful votes
7. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Copan is nice but I would definitely choose Tikal as well.

There is nothing in Chimaltenango. If you take the bus you will go from Antigua to Chimaltenango but only to change buses. In Chimal take the bus to Los Encuentros and in Los Encuentros the bus to Solola and in Solola the bus to Pana. And as it is a Friday it is market day in Solola so check that out: very colourful market.

I am not that fond of the Rio Dulce area. The boat trip to Livingston is nice. Livingston itself did not appeal to me. A few nights on the river were nice (Hotelito Perdido). But you can get your jungle fix in Tikal. Tikal does not only have the temples (which are very impressive). It has an amazing rainforest setting and lots of wildlife. I like sleeping in the hammocks.

If it were my trip: Lake Atitlan for 3 days, Antigua for 2-3 days (check out Acatenango overnight if you want to climb a volcano), shuttle to Lanquin for Semuc Champey (stepped pools, caves...), shuttle to Flores for Tikal and overnight bus back to GC.

Level Contributor
844 posts
12 reviews
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8. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

Yes, this is a lot better, but I also would suggest Tikal. You may never get another chance, and I would not skip or postpone a visit to Tikal. It is so impressive!! I know you cannot go to the very top of Temple IV up that frightening metal ladder any more, but still visiting and staying in Tikal is one of our all-time favourite and memorable travel life experiences!

9. Re: 12 Night Itinerary Suggestions

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