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North America > Central America > Guatemala > Central Highlands (Guatemala) > Guatemala City

Guatemala City

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Travel Warning WARNING: Guatemala City remains a dangerous place to visit, with high level of violent crime and rampant poverty. If you must go, it is highly recommended that you travel in an armored car and ensure you are well-protected.

Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala, a country in Central America.

Understand[edit]

Guatemala City is in the department (territorial division) of Guatemala, and it's the capital of the country. All the main highways start at Kilómetro 0, inside Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (National Palace), in Centro Histórico (Historic Center).

Guatemala City became the capital after Antigua Guatemala had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. With a population of around 3 million people, Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala. It can be interesting to visit "Guate," as it is also called by the locals. Guatemala City has attractions and restaurants, often with few tourists. Sunday evenings' gatherings of hundreds of locals at the main plaza is certainly an unforgettable experience.

Tourist information[edit]

  • INGUAT, 7 Avenida 1-17, Zona 4. Travellers have mixed reports about the service being unreliable here at the official travel office. There is little written material You can get some nice posters for Q6 (quetzales), and if you bring your own blank CD, they will copy some marimba music for you. Although it holds a repelling reputation for violent crime, Guatemala is also known for its good-natured, friendly citizens.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 La Aurora International Airport (GUA IATA) (in the south side of town, in Zona 13). Largest international airport in the country. La Aurora International Airport on Wikipedia La Aurora International Airport (Q765608) on Wikidata

There are daily international arrivals from the US, México, El Salvador, Honduras (San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa), Costa Rica (San José), Nicaragua (Managua), and Panamá and less frequent arrivals from Spain. The only available domestic flights are with Avianca (formerly TACA Regional) and TAG from Flores near Tikal. The number of arrivals are in parentheses:

  • Aeroméxico: México City (3)
  • American Airlines: Miami (3), Dallas (1) .
  • Avianca: Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Washington, México, San José (3), El Salvador (3), San Pedro Sula (2), Tegucigalpa (1), Flores (2), Cancún. (most outside Central America and Guatemala via San Salvador)
  • CM (Cielo Maya) Airlines: San Pedro Sula (1)
  • Copa Airlines: Panamá (5), Managua (2), San José (2).
  • Delta Air Lines: Atlanta (1), Los Angeles (1).
  • Iberia: Madrid (direct 3 times a week). (Rest of the week via San Salvador, San José, or Panamá. No fifth freedom rights for travel within Central America, meaning they cannot take on passengers who only want to travel from San Salvador or Panama to Guatemala City)
  • Interjet: México City (1)
  • Sosa [dead link] Tegucigalpa (1 M-F) and San Pedro Sula (1 M-F)
  • Spirit Airlines: Ft Lauderdale
  • Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos (TAG): Flores, Puerto Barrios, Belize City, Roatan, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, San Salvador Ilopango
  • United Airlines: Houston (3), Newark (on Saturdays), Washington Dulles
  • Veca [dead link]: (suspended since January 2017)
  • Volaris/Volaris Costa Rica: Cancun, Guadalajara, Mexico City, San Salvador & San Jose CR
  • Wamos Varadero & Madrid

There are always taxis at the airport. They operate with fixed prices (around US$12 from the airport to Zona 10) that are 2-3 times higher than what you would pay for the same distance with an ordinary taxi. If your hotel is in Zona 10, chances are high that there is a free shuttle service.

Regular shuttles run to Antigua each day, several times a day from 6AM to 8PM (prices US$8–12 per person).

There is also a bus route operating the road that passes the airport that will take you to Zona 10 at around La Reforma and 12 Calle. If you are going to the old city center (Zona 1), many buses go that way from La Reforma or from 7 Avenida that runs in parallel with La Reforma, one block away. The red city buses are not safe due high incidences of crime against the driver and passengers. It is recommended passengers use taxis locally.

By car[edit]

Central American highways CA-1 and CA-9 run through Guatemala City.

CA-1 is part of the Pan-American Highway and comes from the border with Mexico near Tapachula through the western highlands. Within the city, CA-1 is first Avenida Roosevelt, then Boulevar Liberacion and then Bulevar Los Proceres. It then becomes Carretera an El Salvador outside of the city and it leads to the Chinamas border with El Salvador.

By bus[edit]

Being the national transportation hub there are various bus lines going into and out of Guatemala City in all directions, from around the country, and from neighboring countries at varying distances. Most foreigners coming into the country would most likely fly in but it's also possible to travel from various cities in the U.S., through Mexico, to Guatemala City; and from Panama through the Central American isthmus by bus.

The city has four major bus stations based on the compass points. They are:

  • 2 Centra Norte, Km 8.5 Carretera al Atlántico, 40-26 Zona 17 (The Blue-White Transurbano buses connect Centra Norte into town), +502 2500-9800. Bus station and a major shopping mall integrated into one big retail complex in the northeastern part of Guatemala City. First class pullman and chicken buses go from here to Eastern Guatemala, Caribbean Coast, Northern Lowlands (Peten) and to Alta Verapaz.
  • 3 Centra Sur, Calle 23, Galerías Centra Sur Zona 12 Villa Nueva (South end of town on the border with Villa Nueva). Buses from points south such as San Miguel Petapa, Amatitlán, Bárcena, Villa Nueva, Esquintla, Puerto San José and the Pacific Lowlands. Centra Sur is also the southern terminus and bus station for the green Transmetro buses going into Guatemala City.
  • 4 Terminal Trebol, Calzada Roosevelt & 1a Avenida Zona 7 (Along 1a Ave between the auxiliary road alongside Calzada Roosevelt & 6a Calle, next to Estadio Trebol). Chicken buses to Antigua, Monte Carmela, Patzun, San Juan de Sacatepequez, Zaragoza and other cities and towns in Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango departments. The "terminal" is nothing more than a series of bus stops (paradas) lined up along 1a Avenida. The only available amenities are street vendors selling food and drinks along the sidewalk.
  • 5 Estacion de Occidente, 41a Calle entre 7a Ave y 11a Ave Zona 8 (41a runs parallel along the north side of Blvd Liberacion (Hwy CA-1), between 7a Ave & 11a.). Chicken buses to Huehuetenango, Panajachel, Quetzaltenango, Cuatro Caminos, Los Encuentros and other places in the Western Highlands. The "station" is nothing more than a series of bus stops (paradas) lined up along 41a Calle. The only available amenities are street vendors selling food and drinks along the sidewalk.

La Terminal in Zona 4 is closed as a bus station and only functions as a large (informal) marketplace.

The pullman companies and some chicken bus companies have their own terminals in Zona 1 near the old train station (Museo de Ferrocarril), a dodgy area. It is best to get a taxi to get around there especially after dark. There are other bus stations in Zona 10, 11 and in other parts of the city, some of which are in better areas. Some of the same companies have an additional presence in either Centra Norte or Centra Sur in addition to their own terminals:

  • Hedman Alas, 2a Ave 8-73 Zona 10, +502 2362-5072. Daily departures to Tegucigalpa via Copan Ruinas, Tela, San Pedro Sula in Honduras. Onward shuttle connection to Antigua for arrivals from Honduras.
  • Linea Dorada, 16 Calle 10-03 Zona 1, +502 2415-8900. Goes west to La Mesilla, Huehuetenango and/or Quetzaltenango and north to Flores/Santa Elena
  • Pullmantur, 1a Avenida 13-22 Zona 10 (Hotel Holiday Inn), +502 2495-7000. Operates buses between Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and San Salvador.
  • Rebuli, 21a Calle 1-34 Zona 1, +502 2230-2748. They have their own pullman and chicken buses to Panajachel. They also pick up at the Terminal Occidente.
  • Rutas Orientales, Centra Norte Km 8.5 Carretera al Atlántico, Zona 17, +502 2326-3200. Goes east to Chiquimula, Esquipulas and Zacapas. Additional service to Santa Rosa Copan and San Pedro Sula too.
  • Ticabus (Transportes Internacionales Centroamericanos), Calzada Aguilar Batres, 22-55 Zona 12, +502 2473-3737. International bus company going across the Central American isthmus between Panama City and Managua. From Managua one route goes to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in Honduras while another continues along the Pan American Hwy to San Salvador, Guatemala City and Tapachula in Mexico. They also have another north-south route connecting El Salvador to Honduras.
  • Trans Galgos Inter., 7a Avenida 19-44 Zona 1, +503 2232-3661, +503 2220-6018, +503 2230-5058. departs 13:00. International services to Tapachula from Guatemala City via Retalhuleau and Coatepeque on one route and twice daily to San Salvador on another. They also operate a third domestic route to Quetzaltenango from Guatemala City. They also book onward travel all the way to the U.S. border through Mexico. US$17.
  • Transportes del Sol, Avenida las Américas, adentro del Hotel Las Américas, zona 13 (Inside the Hotel Las Americas in Zona 13), +502 2422 5000, +502 4147 3104. Office hours M-F 08:00-18:00 and Sa-Su 08:00-16:00. Serves Guatemala City, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Managua and San Jose. US$28 (one-way).
  • Transportes Valesquez y Zacaleu Futura, Calzada Roosevelt 9-34, Zona 7, +502 7764-2145, +502 2473-5081. Second class pullman bus/coach towards Huehuetenango. Multiple stops along the road in the older MCI, Marcopolo and Mercedes coaches.

Get around[edit]

Map of Guatemala City

The city is divided into 21 zones (zonas). Zona 1 is the old historic center. Here are the national palace, the presidential palace, the cathedral, the main plaza, and the Central Market. South of Zona 1 is Zona 4, with many of the official buildings like the national bank, the national theatre, and the tourist board (INGUAT). Farther south is Zona 10 and Zona 9, divided by Avenida La Reforma. Zona 10 hosts most of the high class hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping facilities. A small part of Zona 10 is called Zona Viva (the lively zone) because of its nightlife.

If you walk, make sure to do so accompanied.

By bus[edit]

  • Transmetro is Guatemala City's bus rapid transit system. The fleet consists of (green) modern buses that have fixed stops and partly run on dedicated lanes, avoiding other traffic. Stops and vehicles are guarded by municipal police. The system has six lines, numbered 1, 2, 6, 12, 13, and 18. Service on each line begins between 4:30AM and 5:30PM, and ends between 8PM and 10PM. You must pay using a Q1 coin (April 2018). There is also a prepaid bus card system called Transurbano that is being implemented in the metro area.
  • Transurbano (blue & white) buses provide slower service on more routes. To use this system you have to buy a pre-paid card from special booths, such as in Zona 1's Plaza Barrios, the CentraNorte bus terminal and the Zona 10 TransUrbano office on Av La Reforma. Cash is not accepted on board. It has surveillance cameras, and panic buttons in the units, which communicate directly to police officers.
  • The old red city buses, los rojos, are hotbeds of violent robbery and extortion, and should only be used in an emergency.

By taxi[edit]

There are two kinds of taxis: the ones with a meter and the ones on which you have to agree on a price before the trip. Of the metered taxis, the best service is given by Taxis Amarillo (yellow cabs). It is not possible to hail them in the street so you have to call 1766. They will demand an address (they can sometimes by quite picky about getting an exact address: look around at nearby houses, and give the correct zona) and normally a telephone number, so it might be wise to have someone call on your behalf from a restaurant or so. With Amarillo, every trip is logged, and riding is considered safe.

The other kind of taxis are white. With these you have to negotiate a price, and as you are a foreigner, they most likely will demand more than the normal fare. Normally, the white taxis should be cheaper, but unless you negotiate well, the yellow taxis might actually be the cheaper choice. Also is also the question of safety. There are approximately 800 unlicenced and stolen white taxis circulating the city. If you do find a white taxi who is decent, the driver will be happy to give you a card and pick you up if you call in advance; many locals who can afford the odd taxi have their favorite "taxista" whom they call, and the drivers themselves can refer you to another reliable driver should they be busy. The minimum price for a metered cab ride is Q25.

See[edit]

Antique churches provide the capital city with a very special historic and architectural touch, such as Cerrito del Carmen, Catedral Metropolitana, Calvario, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Iglesia de Yurrita, and Iglesia de la Merced. The archaeological site of Kaminal Juyú is in this capital city, which according to specialists, is a city buried under one of the most commercial areas of the city, comprising Zona 7 and Zona 11.

Guatemala's National Palace, now known as the "National Palace of Culture"
  • Mapa en Relieve, +502 2254-1114. Daily 9AM-5PM. At Minerva Park, at end of Av. Simon Cañas, Guatemala Zona 2. Entrance is Q16. This relief map depicting Guatemala's precipitous topography is so immense you have to view it from an observation tower. What makes it even more amazing is that it was built in 1904, before satellite or even aerial photography.
  • Ixchel Museum of traditional costumes, +502 331-3638. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. 6 Calle final, Zona 10, at the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín. A large collection of traditional costumes, information on weaving and dying techniques, the processing of the materials in use, the history and development of the traditional costumes and a collection of paintings by Carmen Pettersen. The explanations are in both English and Spanish. The museum also has a shop where you can get fine examples of Guatemalan artesania. The prices are higher than at the markets, but the quality is also higher and the selection is good. The shop also has a variety of books, including its own series of publications about the traditional costumes of Guatemala, hard to come by in other book stores, and also the book The Maya of Guatemala - life and dress (with text in English and Spanish) by Carmen Pettersen, for Q465 (raised because the book is now out of print). Q25 adults, Q15 students.
  • [dead link] Popol Vuh Museum, +502 361-2301. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. 6 Calle final, Zona 10, at the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquín. The museum has no particular focus on the Popol Vuh as the name suggests, but has a rather nice collection of archaeological items from the pre-Hispanic Mayan world. There is also a room dedicated to Colonial items. The explanations are in English and Spanish. Q35 adults, Q15 students, Q15 for permission to take pictures (without flash), Q25 for video.
  • Archaeology and Ethnology Museum, 7 Avenida, Zona 13, just down the road from the airport. Presents an archaeological sample of the Mayan civilization. This is where you find the famous Tikal mask.
  • Museum of Modern Art, 7 Avenida, Zona 13. This is directly across from the Archeology and Ethnology Museum and the ticket from it should get people into both.
  • Aurora Zoo, Zona 13. See local and exotic animals in a decent environment. Make sure to listen to the songbirds that gather in the trees above.
  • Kaminaljuyu, Zona 7. An early Maya ruin right in the heart of the city. The buildings are mostly mounds, however, the excavations have opened up a lot of areas that are interesting to tour.
  • Parque Central and The Cathedral.
  • Palacio Nacional, Zona 1, can be seen via free guided tours (Q40 if your not a Guatemalan citizen) that operate every 15 minutes, and last about 30 min. You can see the interior courtyards and official function rooms, decorative artwork, wall murals, and a small statue commemorating the end of the civil war: a pair of hands that hold a fresh rose.
  • National History Museum (Museo Nacional de Historia)
  • [dead link] Museo Carlos F. Novella, +502 2286-4100 ext 6435. Mirador Basin Museum is free and inside a cement factory. 15 Avenida 18-01 Zona 6, Interior Finca La Pedrera. Go by cab to the front entrance and tell the guard you are visiting the Museo de la Cuenca Mirador.
  • Jardines Botánico, Calle Mariscal Cruz 1-56, Zona 10, +502 334 6064. First botanical garden in Central America. Houses a large variety of indigenous and exotic plant species in a mature, well-maintained facility. The garden is part of the Museum of Natural History--a operation of UCA.

Do[edit]

Recreational activities can be done as well, from climbing volcanoes (Agua and Pacaya), to swimming in several recreational facilities, as well as water sports in Lago de Atitlán (lake).

For recreation, you can visit 4 Grados Norte: pedestrian roads that offer great entertainment, commerce and cultural activities, and Zona Viva, an area of Zona 10 that has become the main center for nightlife. Guatemala City is an urban center with cultural diversity, cosmopolitan as well as traditional, in which traditional and folkloric abundance stands out, with legends such as El Cadejo or La Llorona. The city offers the tourist all the services and commodities and is normally the center of operations to set out to any of the other destinations in the Republic.

  • Shopping at the Central Market
  • Every Sunday hundreds of People stroll at the Main Plaza ("Plaza Mayor") in Zona 1, where music, arts and food is provided

Cinema

  • Magic Place, Avenida Las Americas, Zona 14.
  • Los Proceres
  • La Pradera
  • Miraflores.
  • Tikal Futura
  • Pradera Concepcion. Newest cinemas in Guatemala with IMAX Theater

Fútbol

If you want to experience a fútbol game in a fútbol nation, spend a Sunday morning/afternoon at Estadio Mateo Flores. You can catch a match of the most popular fútbol club in the country, CSD Municipal ("Los Rojos"). Tickets are cheap and you can get them at the stadium entrance. Go to [1] to see when there is a local match. "Palco" is the most expensive seating with ample spaced seats followed by "Preferencia", "Tribuna",where the "hinchas", or fanatics, sit and "General Sur y Norte" which are the cheapest. The first three are best for a good view.

The other big Guatemala City fútbol team is Comunicaciones ("Los Cremas"). If Municipal isn't playing, go see Comunicaciones play as they both share "Estadio Mateo Flores" as their home venue.about 12

  • [formerly dead link] LiveGuate (LiveGuate Tours), 16 Ave. 20-60 (Zona Viva), +502 4149-5025. 24/7. Visit the highlights of the city with this comprehensive and educational tour. Tours run daily, call in advance. Private transportation and tour service is available throughout the entire country. Q89.

Learn[edit]

Language schools[edit]

  • Oxford Language Center, 20 Calle 23-59, Zona 10, +502 2368-1231, +502 2368-1332. A small, friendly language school specializing in English, but also offering several other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin, Dutch, French, Italian, and German, which are taught exclusively by native speakers. This school gives personal service with payment required up front, no refunds. Oxford Language Center also has a second location in Coban.
  • IGA - Instituto Guatemalteco Americano, +502 338-5555, fax: +502 338-4571, e-mail: . Ruta 1 4-05, Zona 4. Teaching in small groups, normally 1-5 students. 7 levels, starting at basic level. More weight on grammar than the typical language schools in Antigua, with some courses on just practicing. The price is around Q850 for a course of 2 hours a day (M-F), seven weeks (approximately). You can get a discount if you only plan to follow part of the course. The classes are from 9AM-11AM or 11AM-1PM and you can combine two classes. The students are from all over the world, many of them children or spouses.
  • [dead link] Easy-Fácil, 14 Avenida 13-68, Oakland, Zona 10, +502 2337-3970, +502 2368-1187, e-mail: . Private teacher. It is run by linguists (a university lecturer in Spanish Literature, a British citizen with many years experience in teaching English), it has professional teachers, and it is in the best area of the city; so it is more expensive but promises better results. Attracts a range of clients from diplomats to children.
  • Academia Europea, 15 Calle 2-64, Zona 10, +502 2363-5760, +502 2368-1002. Most of the teachers (in other languages) from this academy teach their native language. It has taken a large portion of the market for language learning because of its unique and patented system.
  • Berlitz, Av. Reforma 7-62, Zona 9, +502 362-4444.
  • Universidad de San Carlos (USAC), Av. Reforma 0-63, Zona 10, +502 331-0904, +502 334-7662, +502 335-5635. Q600 for 40 hr (4 weeks).
  • Instituto Austriaco Guatemalteco - Österreichische Schule

University courses[edit]

Some of the universities give courses open to the public. Check out their websites for more information.

  • Universidad Rafael Landivar
  • Universidad Francisco Marroquin
  • Universidad Del Istmo
  • Universidad del Valle
  • Universidad San Carlos

Other studies[edit]

  • Intecap,Calle del Estadio Mateo Flores, 7-51 zona 5. Tel: 1565 or 2410-5555 [2]. An organization created since 1960 for job training. You can learn Guatemalan cuisine, International cuisine, carpentry, mechanics, basic and industrial electricity, electronics, mechatronics, English as a foreign language, dairy processing, meat processing, welding, painting, computer programming, web design, database administration, hair stylist, administration, mansonry, hotel administration, bar tender, barista, tailoring of garments, hand crafting, bakery, etc.

Work[edit]

If English is your native language (with Spanish as your second language), you might find work as a private English tutor or translator. Look at the classifieds in Prensa Libre.

Buy[edit]

Souvenir market.

Guatemala is famous for its textiles. In the city you should be able to find textiles from all over the country. If you are particularly interested in Guatemala or the Maya, you might find books (in Spanish) here that are hard to get anywhere else. For books in English, you get better prices at an online bookstore like Amazon in most cases.

Textiles and artesania[edit]

  • In Nola, 18 Calle 21-31, Zona 10. Tel 367-2424/367-2655/59. M-F 8:30AM-6:30PM, Sa 8:30AM-1:30PM. Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.
  • The artesania market, Zona 13.
  • Lin-Canola, 5 Calle 9-60, Zona 1, +502 253-0138, fax: +502 232-0858. Enormous selection of fabrics by the yard (prices from Q20-60 depending on quality/thickness). Wood, clothes, leather, ceramic, souvenirs, traditional costumes. You can also get clothes sewn there.
  • Centro guatemalteco de textiles, 5 Calle 9-41, Zona 1. Ceramic, wood and fabrics by the yard (Q15-25). Can't compete with the selection at Lin-Canola, but cheaper. In the same street you will find more shops with fabrics in the same price range, but none with the selection of Lin-Canola.
  • Central Market, between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1.

Bookstores[edit]

You can rarely find travel guides for the region at these places (not even a Guatemala guide).

  • Sophos, 12 Calle 4 Avenida, Zona 10.
  • Artemis Edinter, Gémimis Center, 12 Calle/1 Avenida, Zona 10, or 5 Avenida 12-11, Zona 1, or Centro Comercial La Pradera, Zona 10.
  • Libreria del Pensativo, 13 Calle/7 Avenida, Zona 9, +502 2332-5055.
  • Arnel, 9 Calle/7 Avenida, Edificio el Centro, Local 108 (basement), Zona 1.

Geminis Bookshop, 3a. Avenida 17-05 Zona 14, Edificio Casa Alta; 23661031. Books in Spanish and English.

Shopping malls[edit]

  • La Pradera, Blv. Los Proceres, Zona 10
  • Los Proceres, 16 Calle/2 Avenida, Zona 10
  • Unicentro, Zona 10
  • Oakland Mall, Diagonal 6, Zona 10. The newest shopping mall in the city, boasting the first restaurant aquarium in Latin America going by the Nais Aquarium.
  • Tikal Futura, Zona 11
  • Miraflores, Zona 11
  • Pradera Concepción. In Puerta Parada, next to the road to El Salvador.

6 Avenida (Zona 1)[edit]

This street has undergone massive changes in the last year and is now free of street vendors. Now almost fully pedestrianized, it is best experienced on a Sunday afternoon or early evening. Several coffeeshops and restaurants.

Aurora International Airport[edit]

The airport is going through remodeling in phases. The first phase, the North wing, has been finished. It is a modern design with nothing to envy from airports in developed nations. Phase two will see the construction of the South wing. When finished, the airport is said to be the most modern and largest airport in Central America being able to tend to 32 airplanes of different sizes at one time.

One thing you should take home with you from Guatemala is the prize-winning rum Ron Zacapa Centenario. If you don't drink, somebody else is bound to be very happy for a bottle of this exquisite rum. The price tag is around US$45 for a full liter, slightly cheaper than at a supermarket. There are two duty-free shops. The fancy one everybody passes by on the way to/from the gates and one at the end of the terminal behind Gate 11. The latter one is about 20% cheaper for Ron Zacapa rum. If Ron Zacapa is still too expensive for your taste, you may find a bottle of Indita Aguardiente for Q50 more to your liking. The souvenir shops have some nice things if you need some last minute gifts before you leave the country (a bit more expensive than the markets, but not too bad). The books they sell at the airport are ridiculously expensive, double or triple price of a bookstore.

ATM[edit]

Visa is the most common credit card for use in ATMs. In the main shopping areas, especially in Zona 10, you should have no trouble finding an ATM that takes Visa.

There is a Visa/MasterCard ATM at the south side of the central plaza 8 Calle 5-36, a Visa-only ATM at 5 Avenida 9-39, and a MasterCard only at the corner of 5 Avenida/11 Calle, all in Zona 1.

ATM key pads can be oriented with the 9 at the top left with the numbers descending right and down, or with the 1 at the top left with numbers ascending. If you have a spatial memory and have memorized the motion of punching in your PIN instead of the actual numerical sequence, you might be in for a surprise!

Banks (international)[edit]

CitiBank or Citi is found throughout the country. The retail branch in La Antigua Guatemala is a fine place to bank and perform international transactions.

Eat[edit]

Fast food[edit]

You can find quite an array of American fast food restaurants (McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.) as well as Pollo Campero which is the most popular Guatemalan fast food chain. Fast food restaurants in Guatemala are very clean and accessible only to the middle class.

Street food[edit]

Though a little risky, there are great street vendors that offer a variety of good local foods. Just remember to scope out the one with the best hygiene. This is the most more local.

  • Shucos can be found in carts that are usually parked in between "Estadio del Ejercito" and "Campo Marte" zona 5. They are comparable to a super charged hot dog with guacamole, meats such as "longaniza", "chorizo", and bacon. Just make sure you get the one with everything (Con todo).
  • Mangoes or cucumbers with salt, pepitoria & limón - you can also get sliced fruit such as magoes with "pepitoria" (roasted, crushed pumpkin seeds), salt, and lemon in a small clear bag. Or sliced oranges from carts all over the city.
  • Gauchitos are also good cart foods. They are basically a pattie with scrambled egg, "chimichurri" and some dressings on a bun. You can find them in various places throughout the city. One favorite is on the "Mirador" on Carretera an El Salvador. It sits adjacent to Cafesa, diner like restaurant, on an outlook overlooking the city. You can order a "Súper Gauchito", a soda, and sit and admire the hustle and bustle of the city below.
  • Atol de Elote is a very local and custom drink made from a corn (maize) base. It's somewhat sweet and a drink you must try. It's very rich so if you're not too hungry you can substitute it for a meal. The best place to try it is on the outlook on the other side of the city leaving towards Antigua. Just before you get to San Lucas. Its also another place where you can sit and admire the city from atop a mountain.

Carretera a Antigua Guatemala[edit]

  • Restaurante La Abuelita, the best homemade food in San Lucas.

Zona Viva, between Avenida La Reforma, 6 Avenida, 16 Calle and 10 Calle in Zona 10 is the best place to find restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Zona 10/Zona Viva[edit]

  • ONE Restaurant+Lounge, 14 Calle 4-74, Zona 10, +502 2368-0724, +502 2337-3903. ONE is a contemporary restaurant and lounge with an avant-garde design. It offers fusion cuisine. For RSVP: +502 5736-6117. Main dish Q70-190.
  • Kacao, 2 Avenida between 13 and 14 Calle, Zona 10. A nice restaurant with waiters in traditional Mayan costumes, tables covered with huipiles, under a big thatched roof. Serves traditional Guatemalan food like Pepián, Jocón, Suban-lek (ceremonial dish from the Cakchiquel royalty of San Martín Jilotepeque), Lomito Chiltepe. Q70-170.
  • Café de Paix, Hotel Intercontinental, 2 Avenida, Zona 10. Expensive French restaurant with typical dishes like entrecote and onion soup. Q90-190.
  • Hacienda Real, +502 2368-1168, +502 2333-5408. 13 Calle 1-10, Zona 10. One of the best places for steak. Try the tortillas with guacamole, frijoles (beans) and chorizo for starters, and the steak pimienta as the main course. Main dish Q70-140. Serves a free, delicious caldo while you wait for the meal.
  • Tamarindos, +502 2360-2815. 11 Calle 2-19A, Zona 10. Asian fusion cuisine, duck, ostrich, steak, shrimps, and maybe the best sushi in town. Try the Moo Shu Duck, the tuna dishes, and for dessert the bread pudding with ice cream and bourbon sauce, or the chocolate surprise. Main dish Q80-170. Expensive cocktails, Q45.
  • Fridas, +502 2333-7473, +502 2368-0686. 3a Ave 14-60, Zona 10. Mexican food. Main dish Q35-60. Chicken fajitas, Tortilla soup, pechuga de pollo en salsa de mango, pay azteca, a la flauta flautas, and for starters the queso fundido mixto (melted cheese with mushrooms) are all good. The best margaritas in Guatemala, but watch out when they ask you what kind of tequila you would like in/with it - the price might rise from the normal Q29 to Q85.
  • Casa Chapina, +502 2337-0143, +502 2368-0663. 1 Avenida 13-42, Zona 10. Traditional Guatemalan food. If you are lucky/unlucky (depending on your preferences) you might also be treated to the traditional marimba during your meal.
  • Donde Mikel, 13 Calle 5-19, Zona 10. Great place for steak and shrimps. Often full, so book in advance, or show up early.
  • Tapas y Cañas, +502 2367-2166. 13 Calle 7-78, Zona 10. Spanish tapas. Try pinchos españoles, pinchos de pollo and albondigas de lomito. You have a choice between sitting in the restaurant or in the bar.
  • El Gran Pavo, +502 2362-0608. 6 Avenida 12-72, Zona 10. Mexican food.
  • Inka Grill, +502 2363-3013. 2 Avenida 14-22, Zona 10. Peruvian food. Main dish Q45-100.
  • Vesuvio, 18 Calle 3-36, Zona 10, close to Los Proceres shopping mall. Tel 337-1697. Great pizza made over open fire.
  • Saint Honore, Hotel Intercontinental, 2 Avenida, Zona 10. Maybe the best coffee in Guatemala City. Serves cakes and small dishes. Expensive.
  • Los Alpes, +502 2331-4606. Zona 10. Swiss bakery, lunch dishes at Q30-45 (a bit boring), fancy cakes.
  • Zürich, 6 Avenida 12-52, Zona 10. Swiss bakery with cakes and chocolate. Also serves breakfast and lunch.
  • Hooters. Avenida La Reforma 16-01, Zona 10, local 18. The same as the ones in the USA.
  • Friday's, 12 Calle 1-25 Zona 10, Edificio Géminis 10 and 8 Calle 26-55 Zona 11, Parque Comercial Las Majadas and at Pradera Concepción shopping mall; the same as the ones in the USA.
  • El Ganadero, 20 Calle 2-19 Zona 10, across the street of Los Próceres shopping mall; excellent steaks.
  • tacontento, 2a Avenida 14-06, Zona 10, across the street from the Intercontinental Hotel. Serves excellent tacos for Q20-28 per set of three. Try the spicy pulled pork tacos. The crowd is a mix between hip locals and foreigners.

Zona 9[edit]

  • Chili's, Av Reforma/12 Calle. Big burgers and Tex-Mex style food. Slow service.

Zona 1[edit]

  • Altuna, 5 Avenida 12-31, Zona 1. Stylish interior. Spanish and Basque cuisine, seafood and paella.
  • Hotel Pan-American, +502 232 6807, fax: +502 232 6402. 9 Calle 5-63, Zona 1. Noisy hotel with clean rooms, Spanish'influenced architecture, and cool tile flooring. Q60-100.
  • Hotel Ajau, e-mail: . 8a av 15-62, Zona 1. Beautiful old hotel with decorations from around Guatemala. Nice restaurant with waiters dressed in traditional costumes. Q80.
  • El Rey Sol 8 Calle 5-36, Zona 1 (just off Plaza Central). Vegetarian restaurant, good value.

Carretera an El Salvador

  • San Ángel, Carretera an El Salvador. Great view of the city, especially at night; security is very tight, so you can eat with no worries. Try the lomito and the one called Mar y Tierra (Sea and Land): you get a large steak and big shrimps.

Santa Catarina Pinula (suburb just above Zona 10 and the airport)

This town is historically famous for its pork products, and the best tasting, cleanest, most authentic place around is "La Cabanita" which is a quarter block directly south of the cathedral. Fresh "carnitas" Guatemalan style, plus "chicharrones", "longanizas". If you're a fan of those exotic dining-gems from the Food or Travel channels then you'll love this place.

Supermarket and food markets[edit]

  • Central Market, between 8 and 6 Calle/8 and 9 Avenida, Zona 1
  • Econo Super, Av Reforma/16 Calle (close to Obelisco), Zona 9
  • Gourmet Center, Blv. Los Proceres, Zona 10
  • Tiendas, little grocery stores (with any name imaginable) that you can find all over the city; you can get soft drinks, beer, bread, candy, combs, razors, pens, toilet paper, any kind of snack you can think of, phone cards (some of them), etc.; cash only
  • Wal-Mart (Supermarket), Pradera Conception mall, Pan American Hwy (CA1) near Colnia Los Flores

Drink[edit]

  • 4 Grados Norte. A cultural district in Zona 4 in Guatemala City. It was a project of the municipality to convert this area into an attractive pedestrian area in 2002. Many green areas were created. Today the district also features bars, restaurants, shopping and cultural activities and has become one of the city's trendy and open minded areas, competing with Zona Viva in Zona 10. The most interesting places are perhaps the ones just outside the main street. More recently has become less popular and developed a poor reputation.
  • Bodegita del Centro, 12 Calle 3-55, Avenidas 3/4, Zona 1.
  • El Portal, inside the complex (entrances from 8 Calle, 9 Calle and 6 Avenida) facing Parque Central, Zona 1. Supposedly Che Guevaras favorite place when he lived in Guatemala City in the early 1950s.
  • ONE Restaurant+Lounge, 14 Calle 4-74, Zona 10, +502 2368-0724, +502 2337-3903. ONE is a contemporary restaurant and lounge with an avant-garde design. 25% off from 4PM through 8PM, Monday through Friday. Wednesday and Saturday is Ladies' Night with 2x1. For RSVP: +502 5736-6117. Main dish Q70-190.
  • El Establo, Zona 10.
  • Kahlua. Zona 10

The gay circuit in Guatemala is somewhat extensive, and it is growing every day.

  • Genetic, Near 4 Grados Norte. 8PM - 1AM. It is Guatemala's biggest gay club, where you can get for free if you come before 9PM. It has two floors, and shows a variety of music: from Latin beats to europop. US$12.

Sleep[edit]

Most accommodations in the Zona Viva are within a few blocks making location less important than amenities like airport transfers or breakfast. Check for hidden costs and taxes (22%) before booking.

Budget[edit]

  • Hostal GuateFriends, 16 Calle 7-40, Zona 13. Aurora 1, +502 2261-3460. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 1PM. In Zona 13, one minute from La Aurora International Airport, safe, private parking, affordable, breakfast, lunch and dinner, international foods prepared. Breakfast served 07:00-10:00 From US$18 per person in shared rooms and US$35-40 p/p in private rooms.
  • Pension Meza, 10 Calle 10-17, Zona 1, +502 2230-1233. In Zona 1, near the Parque Central, safe, cheap, basic. From US$4 p/p in shared rooms and $8 p/p in private rooms.
  • Dos Lunas Guest House, 21 Calle 10-92, Zona 13, fax: +502 2261-4248, e-mail: . Free services included: airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet. Close to the airport. Dorms and privates from US$14 p/p..
  • Hostal Hermano Pedro, 6a Avenida 20-53, Zona 13, +502 2261-4181, e-mail: . Free services included :airport transfer to or from La Aurora airport, breakfast and WiFi internet. Dorms and private from US$17 p/p. Close to the airport.
  • Hostal Los Volcanes, 16 calle 8-00, Zona 13 Aurora, +502 2261-3040, +502 2261-3584, +502 5853-7016, e-mail: . It is 600 m from airport La Aurora. Dorms and privates from US$15 p/p.
  • Hotel Spring, 8 Avenida 12-65, Zona 1, +502 232-2858. Double room US$22. English spoken. Situated in the colonial house, it has a nice cafeteria in the courtyard. But one annoying thing is that the entrance to the bathroom is very low, expect to bang your head at least once. It also provides internet access, but the prices are a bit steep. Apart from that clean and pleasant.
  • Hotel San Martin, 7. Av. between 15 and 16 calle; tiny rooms but "real" budget: $3,5 p/p
  • Quetzalroo Backpackers, 6ta Avenida 7-84 zona 10, +502 5746-0830. A hostel in the financial district (near the airport). It is easy to find, as it's neighbors with the McDonald's in Zona 10. The atmosphere has the laid-back Aussie aspects from Jodie and the local knowledge of Manuel, who are the owners. The rooms go for dorm US$15; Single US$20; Double US$35.

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • Holiday Inn, 1 Avenida 13-22, Zona 10, +502 2421-0000. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Rates from US$100 in advance purchase.
  • Real InterContinental Guatemala, 14 calle 2-51, zona 10. Ciudad de Guatemala, 01010. Guatemala, +502 2413-4444, fax: +502 2413-4445. Offers 160 total rooms, 48 rooms club Intercontinental, 24 business room, 6 junior suites and 1 Presidential Suite, Rooms for disabled and InterContinental Ambassador floor. In their space features 3 restaurants, gymnasia, spa, jacuzzi and pool. US$100-400.

Apartment hotels[edit]

  • Uxlabil, 15 Calle final, Oakland, Zona 10. For those planning a longer stay in the city. Differently sized (mostly small) apartments with kitchen. Cleaning service included. Internet connection in the reception. Washing machine. Around $600 per month (shorter stays also possible).

Connect[edit]

Phone[edit]

There are phone booths spread out generously over the whole city. Most of them are from the company Telgua, some from Telefónica, and most take only phone cards. Look for the sign Ladatel or Telefonica both on the phone booths and the places that sell the cards.

There are 3 cellular airtime service providers in this country. GSM frequencies used are 850, 900, and 1900 MHz. If you have an unlocked cell phone that can use one of these three frequencies, you’ll find prepaid SIM cards for sale. Should your phone be of the wrong sort to use locally, very cheap prepaid phones with airtime are said to be available for as little as Q150-200.

Internet cafes[edit]

  • Servicios España, High speed internet, 20th Street 18-65 zona 10. Tel. 5107-0188. Services include internet, scanner, photocopies, fax, document recording, selling of memory devices (memory sticks or disks), document editing, academic research. In-store designed cards for special occasions (bigger numbers, upon pre-ordered requests). M-Sa 8AM to 6PM. More services available upon request. The young men speak English. Contact: lourdesort@gmail.com.
  • Maber Cyber Internet, Internet of high speed; 8th street 33-51, colony Justo Rufino Barrios, Zona 21, Phone/Fax: +502 2449-9391, Q 8.00/Hour, Internet, Scan, Print,Works in Computer, Support and Technical service, sale of new equipment and accessories, and every thing that you need and want.
  • Jv Servicios, 1 calle 1-02 y 1-04 zona 1. Tel 2251-6543 Fax. 2251-6543 Q6-hour. Scan, print, burn, hardware new and used and suministries.
  • E@sy Web, 2 Avenida 9-72, Zona 1. Tel 2220-4645 and 5689-7315 Q4.00-hour. Scan, print, burn, copy,
  • Y2K, 2 Avenida 13-17, Zona 10. Tel 366-4783/93. M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Q16/hour. Scan, print, burn, copy.
  • EvolutioNet, 1 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 10. M-F 9AM-8PM, Sa 9AM-3PM. Q15/hour.
  • Cafe Virtual, Centro Comercial Los Proceres, ground floor, at the main entrance, Zona 10. Tel 332-8027. M-Sa 8AM-9PM, Su 09:00-8PM. Steep prices, but includes coffee of your choice. Q20 for 1/2 hour (including coffee).
  • @.com, Centro Comercial Los Proceres, third floor, locale 310 next to Bancafe. Tel 332-3439. Q15 1/2 hour, Q20/hour, cheaper with prepaid cards of 3, 7 or 10 hours.
  • Cafe Internet, 5 Calle 9-25, Zona 1. M-Sa 8:30AM-7PM. Q6/hour. Additional services like scan, print, burn cd.
  • Fátima Cafe Internet, 10 Avenida 7-23, Zona 1. M-Sa 8:30AM-6PM. Q7/hour.
  • Cafe Internet 2M, Edificio el Centro, basement, Zona 1. Q6/hour.
  • Internet Cafe, Local 207 (2nd floor facing 9 Calle), Edificio el Centro, Zona 1. M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-noon. Q6/hour. Sells computer accessories.
  • Internet, Local 5, Centro Comercial 6 Avenida, 6 Av. 9-27, Zona 1. Daily 8AM-7PM. Q5/hour.
  • Global Net Cafe, Edificio Plaza Vivar, 6 Avenida/10 Calle, Zona 1. 1 room in the 1st floor and 4 in the 2nd. M-Sa 9:30AM-6PM. Q3.50/hour.
  • Cyber Blue, 1st floor, Edificio Plaza Vivar, 6 Avenida/10 Calle, Zona 1. M-Sa 8AM-6PM Q4/hour, 6PM-8PM Q6/hour. Scan, print, burn services.
  • De@webo.com, 2nd floor, Edificio Plaza Vivar, 6 Avenida/10 Calle, Zona 1. Scan, print, burn services.
  • Ovnitech, 3rd floor, Edificio Plaza Vivar. Q3.50/hour. Tel 230-0335.
  • Net Club, Local 328, Centro Capitol, 6 Avenida/13 Calle, Zona 1. Q8/hour. Sells computer accessories.
  • J&J Internet Services, 5 Avenida 9-42, Zona 1. M-Sa 8AM-5PM. Q5/hour.
  • Internet, 5 Avenida 10-58, Zona 1. M-Sa 8AM-10PM. Q6/hour.
  • Extract Libre, 5 Avenida 11-30, Zona 1. Daily 8:30AM-9PM. Q6/hour.
  • Cafe Internet, 5 Avenida 12-16, Zona 1. M-Sa 8AM-7PM. Q5/hour. Scan, print, burn services.
  • Cafe Internet, 14 Calle 5-23, Zona 1. Q6/hour.

Post office[edit]

La Dirección General de Correos y Telégrafos the government agency overseeing the post office (El Correo de Guatemala) serves as the post office for Guatemala. The main post office is in 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 1. A stamp for a postcard to Europe costs around Q4. The postal system in Guatemala has a reputation for not being very reliable, and many Guatemalans have a post office box in Texas where they receive post, magazines and online purchases (brought to Guatemala by courier). You can buy stamps or post mail only at the post offices or its affiliates:

  • 7 Avenida/12 Calle, Zona 1
  • The airport, Zona 13
  • Av. Reforma/14 Calle, Zona 9

Stay safe[edit]

Guatemala City has a high level of crime. Check the U.S. Embassy website [3] [dead link] for a summary of recent crimes against foreigners. These include carjackings on the road from the airport, robberies and assaults of tourist vans, and ordinary buses and cars.

Even though it has a lot of crime, if you use some common sense and good travel practices, you should not be exposed to any of it. Make sure you sharpen your street smarts because as with any other big metropolitan urban area, you might be exposed to crime. Just make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times just as you would be in any big city around the world.

If you experience a robbery, give away anything the robbers want. Though some would suggest to just stay inside in most places after sunset, at night you can have fun safely in Zona Viva (Zona 10), Zona 14, or 4 Grados Norte.

But despite some of its negative aspects, Guatemala City is the largest Central American capital city, and one of the most beautiful in Latin America, with varied and rich culture. It is important that visitors not return to their hotels too late, and that they don’t walk alone in dark places, but as long as they keep this in mind, they should have a beautiful stay.

Stay healthy[edit]

Guatemala City is at a somewhat high elevation (about 1500 m) in the mountains (plus the air is very polluted in Zona 1), so if you are coming from a location near sealevel, you might wish to plan to take it easy and get extra rest on your first day while your body adjusts to the altitude.

Also, make sure that any food that you eat is well-washed and well-cooked, or you might get quite ill.

  • Centro Médico, 6 Avenida 3-47, Zona 10. Tel 334-2157/384-2600/332-3555. 24 hour service.
  • Hospital Bella Aurora, 10 Calle 2-31, Zona 14. Tel 384-3535. 24 hour service.
  • Hospital Universitario Esperanza, 6 Avenida 7-49, Zona 10. Tel 362-8626.

Pharmacy[edit]

Pharmacies are all over the city.

Cope[edit]

If you have electrical equipment that need 220-240 V 50 Hz input instead of the country's standard 110 V 60 Hz, you can find a transformer at Electronica Panamericana, 3 Avenida y 11 Calle, Esquina, Zona 9. They have various models with prices depending on how much power you require. Q230 for a 500-watt transformer.

Also, in the smaller hotels/motels, the electrical outlets only take 2-pronged plugs. So, if you have a laptop, for example, you'll need a plug adapter that will allow you to use the 2-pronged outlets.

Embassies[edit]

Being the national capital, Guatemala City hosts a large number of embassies. A majority of them are clustered in the areas east and northeast of the airport grounds in Zonas 10 & 14. There are others north of the airport runway in Zona 9 as well. A number of countries maintain a non-resident diplomatic representation to Guatemala from their other embassy in Mexico City, Havana or elsewhere in the region while other embassies in Guatemala City are accredited as a non-resident embassy to Belize, Honduras and/or other neighboring countries in Central America. The following countries maintain an embassy in Guatemala City:

  • Belize Belize (Belice), 5ª. Avenida 5-55, zona 14; Europlaza Torre II, Oficina 1502;, +502 2367-3883, fax: +502 2367-3884. M-F 8AM-2PM & 3PM-5PM.
  • Canada Canada, 13 Calle 8-44 Zone 10, Edificio Edyma Plaza, +502 2363-4348, fax: +502 2365-1210. M-Th 8AM-12:30PM & 1PM-4:30PM; F 8AM-1:30PM. Embassy is also accredited as a non-resident High Commission to Belize.
  • Taiwan Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), 4ª Avenida “A” 13-25, Zona 9, +502 2322-0168, fax: +502 2332-2956. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. Guatemala has full diplomatic relations with Taiwan as the Republic of China. Therefore, Mainland China does not have diplomatic relations with Guatemala. Some of the nearby PRC embassies are in Mexico City, Havana, Washington DC, San Salvador and San Jose.
  • Cuba Cuba, Ave. Las Américas 20-72, Zona 13, +502 2361 2860. M-F 8:30AM-1PM. A couple of doors north of the Residencial Covadonga Building.
  • Dominican Republic Dominican Republic (Republica Dominicana), 8 Calle 24-69 Zona 10. Centro Empresarial Zona Pradera. Torre II, Oficina 1606, +502 2261-7016, +502 2261-7017.
  • Ecuador Ecuador, 3a Ave 12-45, Zona 14, +502 2368-0397.
  • Germany Germany (Alemania), Ave La Reforma 9-55, Zona 10; Edificio Reforma 10, Nivel 10, +502 2364 6700, fax: +502 2365-2270. M-F 9AM-noon, M-F 9AM-11AM (to receive passport & visa applications). The embassy is also accredited as a non-resident embassy to Belize.
  • Japan Japan (Japón), Ave Reforma 16-85, Zona 10; Edificio Torre Internacional, Nivel 10, +502 2382-7300, fax: +502 2382-7310. M-F 8:30AM-12:30PM & 2:30PM-5PM.
  • Mexico Mexico, 2a Av 7-57, Zona 10, +502 2420-3400, fax: +502 2420-3410. M-F 8AM-1PM & 3PM-5PM.
  • Panama Panama, 10 calle 0-32, Zona 14, +502 2207-2999, fax: +502 2207-2996.
  • Sweden Sweden (Suecia), Ave La Reforma 9-55, Zona 10; Edificio Reforma 10, Nivel 11, +502 2384-7300, +502 2384-7304 (call appointment number before going), fax: +502 2384-7350. M-Th 9AM-noon office hours; M-Th 9AM-10AM consular phone hours. The embassy is also accredited to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
  • Uruguay Uruguay, 18 Calle 24-69 Zona 10 (Centro Empresarial Zona Pradera Torre IV of.701), +502 2261-8001.
  • Venezuela Venezuela, 13 Calle 3-40 Zona 10, Edificio Atlantis, Nivel 10, +502 2317-0701, fax: +502 2317-0704. M-F 9:30AM-12:30PM.

Go next[edit]


This city travel guide to Guatemala City is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.