Coffee lovers aren't the only ones who hear Guatemala calling them. This country could not be more ideal for those travelers who want an action-packed holiday, whether that be through outdoor activities like hiking or exploring the cultural influences that defined the region. Guatemala was the seat of the Mayan civilization before it saw the dawn of a new Empire with the Spanish conquests – and it still holds on to both of these cultures with a soft-spoken grace. Visit the beautifully restored temples of Tikal, the locals around Lake Atitlan, stop by one of the coffee plantations or marvel at the architecture of Antigua, and be fascinated by this country full of surprises.


Guatemala dances along an intriguing divide: while its early history is shaped by one of the greatest civilizations to live on this earth, the Maya, Spanish colonization has left an indelible mark on the country, as well. Remarkable examples of both architectures, particularly in and around the city of Antigua, the erstwhile capital, dot the landscape and take you back in time. You can visit villages in the hills of Guatemala where Mayans still live, and learn about their culture and their traditions, many of which are actively carried on into this era. But Guatemalan culture is tied very strongly to the natural world it is set into, as well, with only a minuscule fraction of the land urbanized. So, head out to discover the lush jungles and fearsome volcanoes (without worrying too much about them) and discover that this, also, is Guatemalan culture.


The emphasis on all things cacao and coffee seem justified in a country known for its fantastic variety and particular production methods when it comes to these two types of beans. As for the actual food, Guatemala's closeness to nature and the use of traditional ingredients will feel familiar to anyone who has tried the food of neighboring Mexico, rather than just its Americanized Tex-Mex sibling. Tortillas are essential here, too, and are prepared with as much care and regional differences in the recipe, so that you can try many different variations. Still, meat stew called Caldo, and all kinds of soup, or sopa, are two of the most frequently eaten meals in Guatemala. These, too, have Mexican cousins you can relate them to.


Aside from its well-deserved reputation as a cultural discovery paradise, Guatemala is a hotspot of exciting activity, a fantastic place for people who relish the outdoors. Adventurous spirits will find an endless amount of thrills to be had here: hiking through the remote jungles to see volcanoes up close, surfing along the gorgeous coast, or diving into the unparalleled beauty of Lake Atitlan. So, while this country isn't known for glittering metropolises or swanky, Michelin-starred dining, a lot of its nature is wild, untouched, and exciting. It also helps that Guatemala, despite its ever-rising popularity in tourist circles, has managed to remain a budget destination, where the discovery of unique wonders doesn't have to break the bank.