Guatemala City is the capital city of Guatemala, Central America. It is the largest and most populous city here, with around 3 million people. It can be interesting to visit it due to its modernity, plenty of attractions and nice restaurants.
One of the greatest experiences when visiting Guate, as it is called by its citizens, is Sunday evenings’ gatherings, when hundreds of local people come and meet at the main plaza.
As opposed to the size of the whole county, Guatemala City has numerous activities to offer to a craving tourist, starting from the antique churches, like Catedral Metropolitana, Calvario and Iglesia de Santo Domingo, special historic and architectural buildings, to various adventurous happenings.
Warnings & Dangers in Guatemala City
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
When the overall crime risk in Guatemala City is in question, it reaches the highest level. There have been reports of recent crimes against foreigners. The possible crime acts include carjackings, robberies and assaults of tourist, especially in public buses. Nevertheless, most visits to Guatemala are trouble-free, due to the fact that tourists know where they come and are well prepared to act properly.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Traveling on public buses is not advisable for security reasons. Armed attacks on bus drivers and conductors, ending with serious injury or even death, often happen in Guatemala City. The attacks are usually performed by local gangs. Buses might be the cheapest, but are the least safe way to travel within the city. The best solution to get around the city is by taxi. One type is the metered taxi, while in the other ones you have to negotiate a price, and be prepared to pay higher prices.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
The best way to avoid becoming the pray of pickpockets, that usually operate in markets, is to have as little cash as possible with you and not to boast with the latest technological gadgets in public. Volcan de Agua and Volcan de Pacaya are areas famous for robberies. Being in a group during the day might decrease the risk of being attacked, but that is not always the case.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Of all the possible natural hazards, Guatemala is prone to volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and occasional earthquakes.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
Taking into consideration the fact that Guatemala is the most violent city in Latin America, kidnaping and mugging are possible and frequent. The best advice, if you happen to be the victim, is to give the criminals what they want, since they are usually after money, credit card or passports. Tourist guides often advise to stay inside during the night, since there is no part of Guatemala City that is not dangerous.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The recent history does not record terrorist attacks in Guatemala City, but that can never be predicted. British nationals might be attacked by groups or individuals motivated by the situation in Iraq and Syria. Travelers should avoid being the part of demonstrations.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
The most common scam is when renting a car in Guatemala. Rent-a-car companies tend to accuse foreigner of damaging the vehicle and ask for money. Before you rent it, you should carefully check the car. Fake police officers are operating in Guatemala City and tourists became victims of theft and even sexual assault by people pretending to be the police.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
Over the last year, there have been reports on female tourists becoming victims of brutal sexual assaults, where victims have been killed or seriously injured. Such attacks can occur at any time of the day, so women are not advised to travel alone.
So... How Safe Is Guatemala City Really?
Like any other big city, crime in Guatemala City is a great problem. No parts of it are free from crime, and that is a big concern for travelers that are eager to visit this city.
Due to the fact that the city is popular among tourists and many of the visits pass without any issues, the best advice is to avoid areas known for the drug activity, use common sense when choosing a hotel, since there are cheaper hotels in more dangerous zones of Guatemala, which must be avoided, and not to use buses at night.
If you are experienced traveller who is vigilant enough, you can still enjoy this beautiful city and what it has to offer.
- Visas - Whether you need a visa when coming to Guatemala or not is based on your nationality. Valid passports are required for all the counties, except for Central America. In case you want to extend your visa, apply to the Migration Directorate in Guatemala City.
- Currency - The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal. When you want to exchange your money in a bank, passport is obligatory. ATMs are available in the most cities and Visa credit card is accepted. Debit cards might be rejected by ATMs. The safest place to use ATM is inside one of the Dispensa Familiar stores.
- Weather - The weather is characterized by warm days and cool nights. The rainy season in Guatemala starts in June and usually lasts up to November. The highest temperatures are in March and April.
- Airports - Guatemala’s largest and busiest airport is La Aurora International Airport, in Zona 13 of Guatemala City. It is a modern airport with lots of facilities. Alternative airport when coming to Guatemala is situated in Flores, Petén.
- Travel Insurance - Due to all the possible risks in this city, make sure you have adequate travel health insurance which will cover the cost of any medical treatment, as well as probable loss of your valuables.