Solo female travelers in Guatemala will be satisfied. Central America is full of beautiful destinations such as Panama, Costa Rica, Belize, etc. However, Guatemala is often overlooked, and after visiting myself, I do not think it should be.
Antigua and Lake Atitlan provide two sides of Guatemala that solo female travelers should experience. They are doable on the same trip, and each brings its own flavor and traveler personality. So if you’re considering a solo trip to Guatemala, here’s what you need to know.
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When is the best time to visit Guatemala?
For solo travelers looking to go to Guatemala, their dry season is between November and April. Their rainy season begins in May and ends in October, with the heaviest rain in September and October. As a result, the summer months can be more humid than December and January (which are good times to hike the volcanoes).
Is Guatemala safe for solo female travelers?
After visiting Antigua and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala is a good destination for solo travelers. Antigua, in particular, is very walkable and easy to get around. While I recommend minimizing how much you walk around at night no matter where you are, I did in Antigua and felt safe.
Lake Atitlan also felt safe to me as a solo traveler. But, as with any place you visit, stay alert and trust your gut! Scroll down to the end of this post for more safety tips for solo female travelers in Guatemala.
Should I learn Spanish before traveling to Guatemala?
If you speak a little Spanish, it may be easier to travel in Guatemala compared to more touristy places in Central America. Therefore, learning at least a few phrases in Spanish is beneficial before going. As a Black solo female traveler who does speak Spanish, I think it made my experience even more accessible. But it’s still possible to enjoy Guatemala with minimal Spanish.
Where to stay as a solo traveler in Guatemala
Selina hostels are my go-to as a boujee hostel solo traveler. I love the privacy of private rooms and the solo aspects of the hostel, such as events and tours. Additionally, the layout of Selina Antigua was stunning, with a garden and hammocks between the pillars. For my first day, I worked remotely, but I also got to relax outside and take in the sun. They even offered massages and additional amenities for an extra cost!
Adra Hostel in Antigua
For a more traditional hostel experience as a solo traveler in Guatemala, head to Adra Hostel. It’s a boutique hostel with conventional dorm rooms. However, they also have a beautiful cafe, bar/restaurant, and open patio. Take part in the salsa dancing or just relax and enjoy the outdoors.
I chose Selina Atitlan on a whim because I know it’s reliable! I had a private room with a shared bathroom. It was convenient for walking around Panajachel and getting to and from the ferries. I also got a massage here; it was the best money I’ve ever spent at a hostel.
However, there are other accommodations in the lake villages, such as Mandala’s Hostel in San Pedro. This hostel would also be ideal if you wanted to hike Indian Nose at sunrise. Once you figure out what you want, you can strategize the best location for your trip.
How to get around Guatemala alone as a solo female traveler
I used more Ubers in Antigua compared to Lake Atitlan. If you are not a solo female traveler backpacker in Guatemala, Ubers are an option to help transport your luggage. An Uber may be best because the cobblestone and small streets make traveling with a wheeled bag more difficult. Also, they are only a few dollars since Antigua is tiny.
To travel between Guatemala City airport, Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Chichicastenango shuttles are the way to go. Most tourists prefer these versus renting a car because it’s cheaper and parking is few and far between. But, again, you can coordinate them with your hostel or hotel.
As a solo traveler in Guatemala, tuk-tuks are the local way of getting around Antigua and Lake Atitlan. For Q10, you can go around the various Guatemalan towns and villages. They don’t have seatbelts, but the drivers are accustomed to the roads and make it work. If you do not want to walk, hop in a tuk-tuk instead!
Once you take a shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, walking tuk-tuks and water taxis are your primary forms of transportation. You can use water taxis/ferries to get to the other villages in Lake Atitlan. Public ferries are inexpensive and convenient. Private ferries are also an option (and more expensive).
The most popular tours in Antigua:
- 🚁 Experience one of the ancient world’s most incredible archaeological sites at Tikal, a celebrated Mayan city deep in the Guatemalan jungle, on this trip by air from Antigua
- 🚴 See Antigua from above on this half-day ATV discovery tour, where you’ll journey up into the mountains on a quest to get the best view for sunset
- 🏞️ Spend a day on the shores of Lake Atitlan with this private tour from Antigua
- 🌋 Hike to Pacaya Volcano, one of the most active and most popular in all of Guatemala, on this tour
- 🍲 Go beyond just sampling Guatemalan cuisine at Antigua’s restaurants and learn to cook it for yourself at a cooking class
Things to do in Antigua for solo female travelers
Hike the famous Volcano Acatenango
Going up to Volcano Acatenango was the primary reason I booked this solo trip to Guatemala. It is one of Guatemala’s highest volcanoes, almost 4,000 meters above sea level. It is a must-do!
I booked my tour with Tropicana Hostel. It was $68 for the overnight hike, which included food, cabins with bunk beds, and the shuttle to and from the starting point. I would recommend them for all solo travelers in Guatemala.
Visit the Hobbitenango
Hobbitenango is an eco-park, hotel, and restaurant all in one. They have games such as archery, a giant swing, axe-throwing and more. And if you love to take photos as a solo female traveler in Guatemala, they have tons of opportunities for that too.
Get a post-hike massage
Part of traveling solo and Guatemala is also relaxing. Whether you need a massage after your hike or just want a general massage, I recommend them. With all the walking and caring of your backpack as a solo, female traveler in Guatemala, taking care of your body is a mess, and there are many options in Antigua in Lake Atitlan.
Shop around the stores & markets
Solo female travelers in Guatemala will love shopping. Guatemala is your place if you enjoy colorful fabrics, purses, jewelry, and more. As you waltz around Antigua, there will be many shops to spend money on souvenirs for yourself and others.
Hike for pizza with Pizza Pacaya
Hiking the Volcano Pacaya is a popular activity in Antigua. However, hiking a volcano for pizza is unique to Volcano Pacaya. A chef named Mario David founded Pizza Pacaya, where he and his team carry the supplies they need to make pizza on the volcano.
For solo female travelers, who are looking for a shorter hike, this is the one to do. You are guided up the volcano, and it takes under two hours to hike from the beginning to the end. Yet, you do not go up to the top of Volcano Pacaya, but you will have pizza greet you at the end.
Things to do in Lake Atitlan for solo female travelers
Go to the lake villages
San Juan is known as the artsy village, and San Pedro is known as the party village. If you want to see all three, you can also visit San Marcos, coined by my local guide as the hippie yoga village. Ferries from Panajachel leave daily, with the last leaving around 4 pm or 4:30 pm.
If you go to San Juan, be sure to go to their Mirador. For Q30, you have a 15-minute mini-hike up to the top with a gorgeous town view. You can also get snacks and fruit at the top as you see the picture and rest.
Visit the Nature Reserve
While in Panajachel, you can spend a day or half-day at the Nature Reserve Atitlan. At the reserve, you can zipline, walk on the hanging bridges, stroll on the trails, and more. Solo female travelers in Guatemala who visit Lake Atitlan can also visit the butterfly preserve and ride cable bikes.
Spend a Thursday or Sunday at Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango is one of the most vibrant markets you will ever visit. It has been named the most colorful market in Central America! Around two hours from Lake Atitlan, you can get a shuttle from the lake to the market. But the market only happens on Thursdays and Sundays.
I booked mine through Eterna Primavera for Thursday, which is the less busy day. Your hostel or hotel may host an experience or can recommend another agency. Be prepared to go through the market with your tour group. Only shuttles to and from the market are included, not a personal guide!
Do the Indian Nose Hike
If you cannot get enough hiking in Antigua, this is another hike for you! It is best to do the Indian Nose Hike at sunrise to get a gorgeous view. While you can travel there from Panajachel, visiting San Pedro Laguna to get the sunrise is best.
General safety and solo travel tips for Guatemala
I felt safe traveling in Antigua and Lake Atitlan. However, as a solo female traveler, you should still use common sense and trust your gut. So here are some safety tips for a solo trip to Guatemala.
– Do not travel at night – this is a general tip for all solo female travelers, especially to Lake Atitlan as I found it was the darkest with minimal street lights. I took the 4 pm shuttle and arrived after dark. Only do this if it’s door to door to avoid lugging your stuff on the cobblestone and making yourself a target.
– Take the public ferries to the lake villages. While you can use the tuk-tuks once you get to the villages, they take longer and aren’t very secure for long periods.
– Leave some cash on you and some at your accommodations. Only some places will take your credit card, so carrying cash is critical.
– Tuk-tuks and public ferries only take cash. Speaking of money, tuk-tuks and water taxis are cash exchanges. A tuk-tuk can be roughly Q10 from point A to point B, which also depends on distance. For example, the public ferry to the villages in Lake Atitlan is Q25 one-way from Panajachel.
On being a Black solo female traveler in Guatemala
Safety as a solo female traveler can vary based on the people you interact with while traveling. For example, I experienced a bit of catcalling while I was in Antigua. And I did have an annoying encounter with someone at the airport in Guatemala City, but that was because they assumed I did not speak Spanish.
Aside from those two interactions, thankfully, I did not face any severe issues in Guatemala as a Black solo female traveler. Most Guatemalans I interacted with in Antigua and Lake Atitlan were extremely lovely. They were some of the nicest people I have met while traveling through Central America.
Final thoughts on traveling solo in Guatemala
My solo trip to Guatemala was a last-minute decision, and I could not be happier. Antigua is small and walkable, with lots of colorful buildings and delicious food. Then, Lake Atitlan brings that relaxation and slow-paced lifestyle that so many solo female travelers in Guatemala are looking for on a trip. I recommend you go for it and see what it’s all about for yourself!
Excited about Guatemala and want to plan your first solo trip? Read this post here.