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Places to Visit within 4 hours of Xela – How to get there and What to do

There are two main ways to get yourself around in Guatemala:

  1. Chicken Bus (Public transport)

  2. Private Shuttle (Through travel companies)

This guide will detail all the places you can visit around Guatemala from Xela, detailing both transport options and what you will find there. This is meant as an overview of things to do in Guatemala and how to get there from Xela, make sure you research places thoroughly before deciding to go! The places you really shouldn’t miss are presented in CAPS and all prices are for one-way services.

Catching the bus

Chicken Bus – There are many spots in Xela to catch a Chicken Bus, but we recommend keeping it simple and going to the Minerva Terminal, which is the main bus terminal found in Zona 3. This is walkable, but you can also take microbuses there.

Private Shuttle – You can book private shuttles through the many travel companies in Xela. They will normally arrange a pick-up point at your hostel or at a central location. Some good options are: Monte Verde or Adrenalina Tours.



Zunil and Cantel – 30 to 45 minute journey

Church in Zunil

Getting there
Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins – 6am to 7pm

Shuttle (Fuentes Georginas ONLY)
Depart 8am and 3pm


What to do
FUENTES GEORGINAS – Volcanic thermal baths heated from the Zunil volcano
Iglesia de Zunil – Colourfully decorated church
San Simon (Maximón) – Mayan saint presented as an effigy and given presents such as alcohol!
Las Cumbres – Luxury thermal spa


Cataratas de Igualdad


San Marcos – 1 ½ to 2 hour journey

Getting there
Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins – 4am to 8pm
PRICE: Q20-Q30

Shuttle N/A
(Possible on tours to Cateratas de Igualdad and Refugio de Quetzal)

What to do
VOLCANOES TAJUMULCO AND TACANA – Tajumulco is the highest volcano in Central America
CATARATAS DE IGUALDAD*– A huge waterfall hidden in the mountains, great walk and thermal baths
Refugio de Quetzal*– The spot to see quetzals, but be sure to go at the right time of year

***The Department of San Marcos has beautiful countryside but trips need a lot of planning as transport is very difficult. The places with * are more difficult to access***

Retalhuleu/Champerico and Mazatenango (similar routes)
To Xocomil/Xetulul 1 to 1 ½ hour journey
To Champerico 2 to 2 ½ hour journey

Getting there
MAZ Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins – 5am to 7pm
PRICES: Q10-20


REU/CHA Chicken Bus
Every 10 mins – 4:30am to 7:30pm
PRICES: Q10-20

Shuttle N/A
(Possible on tours to Xocomil and Xetulul)

***You wouldn’t necessarily want to visit these towns, but there are certainly some worthwhile spots on the way***

What to do
XOCOMIL – A great water amusement park, perfect for the hot weather in these parts
Xetulul – An amusement park with rollercoasters
Vuelo Extremo – A canopy of zip lines swooping over forest and coffee plantations
Champerico – Closest beach to Xela

Lake Atitlan – Both Panajachel and San Pedro 2 to 2 ½ hours journey

Indian Nose

Getting there
PANA Chicken Bus
Every hour – 9am to 5pm
PRICE: Q20-25

SanP Chicken Bus
11:30am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 4pm, 5:50pm

PANA Shuttle
Depart 7am and 3pm

What to do 
Trampolina – A huge diving platform (Access from San Marcos)
Volcanoes San Pedro, Atitlan and Toliman – medium difficulty hikes (Access from San Pedro)
INDIAN NOSE – Really easy walk, amazing for sun rise (Access from San Pedro)
SANTA CRUZ – The most chilled spot at the lake with the best swimming and some nice walks
Palopo – A step away from the tourism at the lake, this is a quiet town not far from Panajachel

Chichicastenango – 2 ½ to 3 hours journey

Chichi Market

Getting there
Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins
PRICE: Q20-25

Depart 8am and 3pm (7am Thurs & Sun)
PRICE: Q150 

What to do
MERCADO DE CHICHICASTENANGO – One of Guatemala’s most famous artisanal markets
Iglesia de Santo Tomás – Large white church
Cementerio – Colourful cemetary

Huehuetenango – 2 ½ to 3 hour journey

La laguna Brava

Getting there
Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins – 4am to 6pm

Depart 8am and 3pm
(Tours possible to La Laguna Brava and Magdelena)

***The Department of Huehue has beautiful countryside but trips need a lot of planning as transport is very difficult. The places with * are a long distance from Huehue and more difficult to access***

What to do
Mirador Juan Dieguez Olaverri – Fantastic view south of Tajumulco and Santa Maria volcanos
Ruinas de Zeculeu – Strangest Ruins you will see in Guatemala, famous for being in Tarzan (1935)
LAGUNA BRAVA* – A lake 6km long with almost nothing there. Total peace!
LAGUNA DE MAGDALENA – Holy lake that drops into a waterfall
Cenotes de Candelaria* – A literal hole filled with clear blue water (with a scary jumping platform)
TODOS SANTOS* – A town where all the men dress in traditional dress (Visit for the horse race)

Antigua – 4 to 5 hour journey


Getting there
Chicken Bus
Every 15 mins – 3am to 5pm

Departs 8am and 3pm
PRICES: Q200-Q250

***NO DIRECT CHICKEN BUS àBus to Capital and change at Chilmantenango for Antigua***

What to do
ARCO DE SANTA CATALINA – Beautiful arch that’s great for photos near the central park
CERRO DE LA CRUZ – Viewpoint of Antigua
VOLCANOS ACATANANGO, AGUA AND FUEGO – Great hiking, you should do at least one
Historical buildings – Famous for its Colonial buildings
Bars and restaurants – Famous for its number of international style restaurants and nightlife spots