Guatemala City

Guatemala City — the capital of Guatemala — is the most populous city in Central America. Guate, as it’s sometimes known, is a big and sometimes boisterous place. It’s the nation’s transport, administrative and industrial hub, and a melting pot of Guatemalan culture and society.

It’s not the easiest of cities to visit. The traffic, the noise and the sprawling nature of Guate are just some of the reasons many tourists choose to stay in the smaller and more historic city of Antigua, about 16 miles away. But give it a chance and you’ll find that Guatemala City is an increasingly tourist-friendly destination full of culture, colorful contrasts and plenty of energy.

The city is divided into 22 zones. Zona 1 is the city’s downtown and historic center. It was once a sketchy area known for crime, but the city has invested a lot of time and money into renovating the historic buildings and redeveloping the zone as a tourist hotspot. At its heart is Parque Central, the city’s main square. Running from east to west along the north of the park is 6a Calle. 6a Calle, now pedestrianized, is slowing filling up with cafes, restaurants and bars, turning it into a hip place for a stroll by day or by night.

For more restaurants and nightlife, head to Zona 10, also known as Zona Viva. Restaurants here specialize in both local and international cuisine, the latter ranging from Peruvian food to Italian food to T.G.I Friday’s and Hooters.

If you like museums and galleries, you’ll find few better cities in Central America. You can see traditional costumes in the Ixchel Museum; witness the famous Mayan Tikal mask at the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology; and view everything from art deco to indigenous artifacts at Casa MIMA. And that’s just for starters: modern art museums, botanical gardens, zoos and plenty of other places of interest are scattered across this vibrant Central American city.
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