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CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT IT COSTS TO TRAVEL GUATEMALA? GOOD - I GOT YOU. HERE IS A BREAKDOWN OF EXACTLY WHAT I SPENT DURING MY 2.5 WEEK TRIP. CHECK OUT MY IN-DEPTH GUATEMALA BUDGET BELOW.
First things first, what did I actually expect to spend in Guatemala during my 2.5 week trip? Honestly, I thought I could get by only spending $20 USD a day. But it turns out that that was a little too low - especially since I am a coffee fiend who loves checking out new cafes (not mad about it).
In actuality, I probably spent (on average) closer to $25 USD or Q195 a day (FYI this does not include lodging) - which is still not too bad. This total cost included three meals, usually a latte, activities and maybe a drink or two.
So were there any costs that surprised me? I would say that there were really just two: the price of coffee, which was not that much lower than USA prices even though coffee is grown so close by, and the price of eating out at a restaurant (again prices were closer to what you'd likely pay at a low or mid-range restaurant in the USA). Now I understand that my view of costs is almost entirely based on what I spent in Antigua - one of the most touristy places in the country. But, I talked to other travelers and a lot of them also mentioned how they felt like Guatemala was a bit more expensive than they were originally led to believe.
So if you are planning to visit, be aware that Guatemala is no longer this dirt cheap destination that I think we have all been led to believe it was. I still definitely think it is very affordable - especially if you are planning to spend more time outside of the major tourist hubs (like Antigua and Lake Atitlan). Just know that some items do cost more than you might originally be budgeting for.
Now are there ways to cut back on costs? Of course! There are definitely ways to lower your daily costs, including eating a lot of street food (it is delicious and very affordable) or cooking meals at your hostel, choosing cheaper accommodations (there are a ton of options for every budget - especially in Antigua), and shopping at the local markets instead of the main supermarkets.
But, I also believe there are a few things worth splurging on in Guatemala. And luckily, in this case "splurging" isn't even really accurate. For example, don't miss out on the 2-day Acatenango hike (even if you aren't really a hiker). This incredible adventure can cost anywhere between $50 and $80 USD - a pretty low cost considering it includes guides, accommodation, food and transportation. Likewise, if possible, try to head out to Semuc Champey. While it is a trek - and requires at least two long bus rides - I believe it is 100% worth it.
Below you will find a pretty in-depth breakdown of what I spent as a digital nomad during my nearly three week trip to Guatemala.
💱GUATEMALA CURRENCY EXCHANGE
Quetzal (or Q) is the Guatemalan currency. The exchange rate is $1 = ~7.8 quetzales or €1 = ~8.5 quetzales.
WHAT I SPENT IN GUATEMALA AS A DIGITAL NOMAD
This is a basic cost breakdown of the few adventures I partook in during my 2.5 weeks in Guatemala. I would say that overall, most of the top adventures are pretty affordable - especially when you think about how much similar activities would cost in places like the USA or Western Europe.
ACATENANGO 2-DAY HIKE: $55 USD
This was definitely one of my favorite adventures in Guatemala. The two-day hike gave me a lot of awesome opportunities to see the highly eruptive Fuego Volcano, get out of the city and back into nature, and meet some super cool people. If you do one big adventure in Guatemala, make it this one.
► Check out my in-depth guide on hiking Acatenango here.
BIKE TOUR AROUND ANTIGUA: $40 USD
Was this tour worth it? Eh, probably not. While it was cool to bike around the area outside of Antigua and see a different side of the city, it also felt like a tour focused solely on having me buy things (from chocolate to macadamia nuts to jade jewelry).
ANTIGUA WALKING TOUR: free! But definitely tip your guide between $10-15 USD.
I would definitely suggest doing one of the free walking tours of Antigua - especially if you are curious about the town's history and culture - or if you just want to learn more about the top hidden gems (like a 100+ year old sweet shop). You can book your free tour online at GuruWalk.
HIKE UP CORAZON DE AGUA: $8
This is a really off the beaten path adventure that includes a trip out of the main part of Antigua and a short hike up to the top of a tall hill with some cool miradors. I would rate this activity as a 7/10 - though that is mostly because it allowed me to meet new people and move my legs a bit (plus get some fresh air).
CERRO DE LA CRUZ: free!
If you are looking for a short (and free) activity to do in Antigua, then consider heading to the edge of town and walking up to the top of Cerro de La Cruz, a high point that affords you great views of downtown Antigua and the opportunity to see Fuego, Acatenango and Agua Volcanoes.
💬INSIDER TIP: I recommend coming here in the morning when it is quieter and there is a higher chance of you seeing the volcanoes (it often gets cloudy at dusk).
SEMUC CHAMPEY TOUR: $31 USD
Another fantastic adventure to be had in Guatemala is a trip to the middle of the country (aka the jungle) to see the stunning turquoise pools of Semuc Champey. After Acatenango, this was definitely my favorite activity I did during my 2.5 weeks in the country.
► Explore my full guide to visiting Semuc Champey here.
I was very excited to try all of the local dishes that I had heard so much about even before deciding to visit Guatemala. And for the most part, I loved all of the food I ate. From the local street food to the more upscale restaurants, the food scene in Guatemala is definitely top-notch.
Overall, I ate out at least once a day - though oftentimes twice (I usually made my own breakfast at the hostel). My dinners usually consisted of street food (especially pupusas and large, overstuffed tostadas), while a lot of my lunches were either eaten in the local market or made from a hodge-podge of local fruit, homemade tortillas and usually some fresh avocado.
Here is a quick cost breakdown of food in Guatemala:
A Nice Meal in a Restaurant // Q45 - Q75, up to Q150 at a really fancy spot
Lunch in the Market // Q15 - Q25
Breakfast at a Nice Café // Q30 - Q45
Street Food // Q10 - Q35, you can get a bag of fresh tortillas for Q5
Fresh Fruit on the Street or in the Market // Q5 - Q10
TOTAL: Q1950 / $250 USD
While I am not the biggest drinker, I do occasionally like to check out the local brewery and bar scene - especially if I have friends along with me.
In Antigua, there were some really cool spots to grab a drink. Including, the very fun El Bosque (a large outdoor beer garden in a literal forest), the Antigua Brewing Company (with its amazing terrace), a very funky cocktail bar located through an old telephone booth in the aforementioned Antigua Brewery, and the large El Barrio - which is really a conglomerate of many different bars.
TOTAL: Q322 / $41.30 USD
If there is one thing I love doing while traveling - besides getting out and going on adventures - it is exploring the local coffee scene. Luckily, Antigua, and Guatemala in general, has no short supply of cool, hip cafes slinging delicious coffee.
For the most part, you can expect to pay between Q20 ($2.60 USD) and Q35 ($4.50 USD) for a latte or cappuccino and a little less for an Americano.
TOTAL: Q293 / $38 USD
I spent almost every night of my 2.5 week trip at a Selina Hostel. For most of that time, I was living in Antigua, though I also spent a couple of days at the Selina in Lake Atitlan (in the town of Panajachel to be exact) as well as two nights in the small town of Lanquin.
The Selina hostels - while definitely not the cheapest option - do come with some nice amenities; including, a great coworking space, plenty of outdoor areas, a communal kitchen, a restaurant and bar, and lots of activities.
I spent roughly $450 USD for 19 nights, which comes out to about $24 USD a night.
Besides staying at the two Selina's, I also booked two nights at Zephyr Hostel in the town of Lanquin. This was for my quick trip to Semuc Champey. For those two nights I spent $42 USD.
TOTAL: Q3,833 / $492 USD
While I definitely think I could have saved some money in this category, I also don't regret spending just under $150 on getting around Guatemala. This total amount included three 8+ hour bus rides, two boat rides on Lake Atitlan (which run anywhere from Q15 to Q30 depending on your boat captain), two shuttles to and from the airport in Guatemala City (~ $15 USD each way) and two Uber rides out to a trailhead.
Antigua to Lanquin/Semuc Champey: $40 USD
Lanquin/Semuc Champey to Lake Atitlan: $60 USD
Lake Atitlan to Antigua: $18 USD
TOTAL: Q1,154 / $148 USD
As with all travels, there are always a few random things you need to buy along the way. In my case, because I only brought a carry-on bag with me, I had to purchase a small thing of toothpaste and sunscreen, as well as a small bath towel (because I forgot one, whoops).
I also bought a couple of cool souvenirs - including some locally made chocolate bars and a small wooden mask (which are very common in Antigua).
The only other miscellaneous expense I had was one laundry run - which only cost me Q25 (or just over $3 USD).
TOTAL: Q260 / $33.35 USD
Guatemala is a fantastic place to base yourself as a digital nomad. With so much to do - from hiking volcanoes to surfing in the Pacific Ocean - as well as an exciting culture and delicious cuisine (and coffee!), you will very likely not want to leave (I know I didn't). Luckily, the country is quite affordable, which makes it a great place for an adventure digital nomad looking to live on the cheap.
If you have any questions or comments about traveling in and around Guatemala, please leave them below or reach out directly.
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PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR ADVENTURING IN GUATEMALA
| Reusable water bottle: we love LARQ water bottles since they are the world's first self-cleaning water bottle and water purification system. Plus, they are rechargeable!
| Eco-friendly sunscreen: we love MadHippie sunscreen because it’s cruelty-free, vegan, broad spectrum, and reef safe. And even better, they donate $1 for every purchase to conservation efforts.
| Allbirds shoes: comfortable shoes can make or break an adventure or travel day, these eco-conscious and cozy shoes from Allbirds have been our faves for years.
► Find our full sustainable travel packing list here.
STAYING SAFE & PLANNING AHEAD
| SafetyWing: make sure you are staying safe with this easy-to-sign-up health insurance that is specifically meant for digital nomads. You can even sign up once you are already abroad.
| WayAway: this flight aggregator helps travelers find the best rates on airline tickets.
| BusBud: explore millions of bus routes and destinations in one easy-to-use search; plus, you can compare prices and book your tickets online.
| Rentalcars.com: check out the world’s biggest online car rental service that is available in over 150 countries worldwide.
| iVisa: this site helps make sure you have all the necessary documents and entry requirements while traveling.
| Wise: an app that makes it super easy to transfer money between currencies while abroad.