Chichicastenango is easy to visit on a day trip from Guatemala City, Antigua, or Lake Atitlán. Check out the museums, and wander around Central America’s largest market. Take a look at the colorful murals steeped in symbolism, and experience a Maya tradition such as a fire cleansing ceremony (performed by a shaman). Tack on a stop at the nearby archeological site of Iximche, the last Maya capital before the Spanish conquest.
If you have more time, multi-day tours explore the stunning volcano-rimmed shores of Lake Atitlán, the colonial architecture and fascinating history of the UNESCO-listed city of Antigua, or even farther afield, the Maya ruins in Tikal National Park.
Recent reviews from experiences in Panajachel
Things to Know Before You Go
Chichicastenango’s nights can get chilly, and rain is likely—take a jacket or sweater.
Gentle bargaining is expected at the market.
How to Get There
Located roughly 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Guatemala City, Chichicastenango is reachable by regular buses and shuttles running from Antigua and Guatemala City.
When to Get There
Go to Chichicastenango on a Thursday or Sunday to catch the local indigenous market that draws communities from all over the region and travelers from all over the world. As it’s in the highlands, Chichicastenango enjoys pleasant spring-like weather year-round, with little variation. The warmest season is from May to August, and the driest months are October through December.
Saint Thomas Church
Saint Thomas Church dominates Chichicastenango’s main square. Built atop a Maya temple more than 450 years ago—mainly by Maya artisans indentured by Dominican priests—the church features Maya symbolism throughout. (For example, each of the 18 stairs leading to the entrance represents one month of the Maya year.) Nowadays, both Catholic and Maya priests share the interior to perform ceremonies and sacred rituals. Use the side entrance to enter, as the front is reserved for locals.
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