Stuck on a Guatemala City layover at the La Aurora International Airport (GUA)? The airport is the third biggest in Central America but ranks number 1 in services, so you’ll find that the airport a number of facilities to help keep you occupied while you wait for your connecting flight. The airport is located 4 miles south of Guatemala City’s city center and 16 miles from Antigua (roughly 1 hour travel time), which makes both cities accessible for those on long layovers. There is a $3 USD security departure tax upon exiting the airport. If you’re trying to figure out if you can leave the airport during your Guatemala City layover, click here for useful tips.
In the airport, you can find a number of services including currency exchange and banks, duty free shopping and local crafts, restaurants and bars. There’s also a pharmacy, post office, and tourist help desks including information kiosks and hotel reservations.
If you’re looking for a hotel near the airport to catch up on some sleep, there are a bunch of options. Here’s a list of hotels near the airport.
Taxis are available outside the arrivals area and operate with fixed prices. There is also bus service – Bus 32 travels to Guatemala’s city center every half hour and from the city you can catch another bus to Antigua. There’s also airport pickup services, including this one.
Layover Guide’s Suggestions Of Things To Do On A Guatemala Layover:
Guatemala City Tours
If you have a limited time to check out the sites, might want to take a tour of the city that will pack them all in a short time frame. There are many to choose from including day tours, bus and bike tours, night cruises, outdoor activities, and more.
The Ruins of Tikal
The impressive ancient Mayan city of Tikal is hands down Guatemala’s top tourist attraction, however, it is only accessible for those on a long layover. The best way to visit the ruins is to hop on a 45-minute flight from GUA to Flores. From there, it’s another 40 miles from Flores to Tikal. If you have the time, though, it is an impressive site with pyramids that tower over 200 feet above the rainforest canopy. Schedule in time for delays, to make sure you return to GUA in time.
Located in the Central Highlands, Antigua is a popular place for travelers and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. With an incredibly preserved Spanish Colonial heritage, the city was founded in 1542 and was the Capital of Central America for over 200 years. From Guatemala City, there’s lots of ways to get to Antigua – taxis, (roughly $30), buses, and airport shuttles. It’s great stop for layovers less than 24 hours.
Located 140km and 2-3 hours northwest of Guatemala City, Chichicastenago (called Chichi by locals) has the largest and most colorful handicrafts indigenious market in Latin America. You can find everything including woodcarving, masks, candles and incense. Every Thursday and Sunday, Maya people from all over Guatemala meet on the cobblestone streets to sell their products and visit the town’s Catholic Church, Santo Tomas.
Also, for those on a long layover, Lake Atitlan is about a one-hour drive from Chichicastenango and 4 hours from Guatemala City. This gorgeous lake is unusual in formation as it was created from a ring of volcanoes. Located 5,000 feet above sea level, it is surrounded by three volcanoes and is considered to be located in the heart of the Living Maya culture.
If these activities require too much time, click here for other suggestions of things to do on your Guatemala City layover.