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With quaint valleys, red-roofed houses, and cobblestone lanes in the highlands of Guatemala, Chichicastenango is perhaps best known for its enormous Thursday and Sunday market. You’ll find handmade pottery, medicinal plants, machetes, traditional clothing, and other items that pay homage to the area’s rich culture.
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.
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.
2 Tours and Activities to Experience Chichicastenango
Immerse yourself in the ancient rituals and colorful culture of the Mayans during this 7-hour trip to Chichicastenango and its famous market. Discover the wealth of handicrafts, produce, herbal medicines and more for sale at this traditional indigenous market. Then spend time exploring the town’s museums, cemetery, colorful murals and Mayan heritage, including a chance to observe a Fire Cleansing Ceremony performed by a local shaman. Your trip also covers round-trip hotel transport from Panjachel.
We are a travel agency that focuses on offering the best personalized service to our clients in organizing tours and cultural trips around Guatemala. In addition we want to promote interaction with local communities in order to create work opportunities and increase respect for the environment and local traditions and customs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Chichicastenango?
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