The capital of Guatemala and the most modern in Central America, Guatemala City isn't exactly a tourist hotspot. In fact, most travelers avoid it and go straight to Antigua. The increasing crime rate does not help the largest city in Guatemala draw in more visitors either. But Guate, as it is commonly called by the locals, is the intellectual, economic and cultural center of the country. This is where great minds converge and it's always full of dynamism and heady energy. Certainly you'll have to be alert while you explore the sights. But as soon as you get your bearings and immerse yourself in Guate, you'll begin to understand what makes this city throb. It's certainly worth taking a chance.
The Parque Central is where to start your tour. On the north is Palacio Nacional de la Cultura. It's an architecturally unique and impressive structure, despite the many lives that were lost in its construction. Facing Parque Central is the Catedral Metropolitana with its stately altars. The Parque Arqueologico Kaminaljuyu is an ancient Mayan ruin right in central Guatemala City. More Mayan artifacts can be found in the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnologia. For the lovers of textiles, the Museo Ixchel has interesting exhibits of indigenous costumes and other native crafts. In Parque Minerva, you'll see the curious open-air map of Guatemala, the Mapa en Relieve. Other attractions to put on your list are the Jardin Botanico, Museo de Historia Natural and La Aurora Zoo.
You can find upper-end restaurants and eateries in Zona Viva in Zona 10. Spanish and Mexican restaurants are numerous along Cuatro Grados Norte in Zona 4. Street food such as gauchitos and shucos can be found in abundance among the food carts along Zona 5. Needless to say, many eateries are found in the touristy spots like in the Plaza Mayor in the Parque Central area.
Textiles are one of the best souvenirs to bring home from Guatemala. And the best places to get them are at In Nola in Zona 10, the Artesania Market in Zona 13 and the Central Market in Zona 1. Most of the shopping malls are found in Zona 10. These include La Pradera, Los Proceres and the new Oakland Mall. In Zona 11, the Tikal Futura and the Miraflores provide more shopping choices.
9 Avenida 12-29 Zona 1 Centro Historico
11 Avenida Z13