Getting Around, Guatemala City Travel, Transport and Car Rental
(Guatemala City, Central Highlands, Guatemala)
By far the best way to travel into Guatemala City is to fly. The capital is a long way from the southern border of the USA
, for example, being below Mexico
. Getting in by train or bus transportation will therefore usually involve long journey times. However, if you are in one of the surrounding Central American countries, it may be worth it.
Guatemala City is a large place, although most of what you will want to see is in or around the centre, meaning that you can rely on foot power or taxis to travel between places of interest. Public transport is the bus, and while cheap and regular, buses can be 'dodgy' at night and are frequently riddled with pickpockets.
La Aurora International Airport (GUA) / Arriving by Air
Address: Avenida 11, Zona 13, Guatemala City, Guatemala, GT
Tel: +502 2332 6086
Guatemala City's international airport (La Aurora International Airport / Aeropuerto La Aurora) is just 6 km / 4 miles to the south of the city centre and is the main airport in the country, with annual passenger levels now exceeding two million travellers. Both TACA and Copa are the principal airlines, with flights coming in from all over Central America, as well as from North and South America, plus there is also the odd flight arriving from Madrid
. There is car hire here, as well as duty free shopping, a bar, a buffet and other amenities. Buses and taxis are to hand and run into the city. Travellers will agree that taking a taxi is a must, as these particular buses are not the safest in the city.
Always rent a car from the airport, as opposed to using a random rental agency on the street, where it may not come with full insurance. However, that said, there are some reputable car rental companies operating within Zona 9 and Zona 10. Having a car is a good idea for exploring the surrounds, although you wouldn't want to do so just for getting about the city. The Pan American Highway serves the city well and connects many places of interest.
Buses and Coaches
Buses come in from Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica
. If you do overland the border, be sure to get on the best possible bus service, as journey times are often long and no fun when there's no aircon. Buses in town run until about 20:00 and are super-cheap, yet are not the most reliable or safe. Crime levels on the red city buses are high and tourists are strongly advised to only use the considerably safer and more modern green articulated TransMetro buses.
Local bus transport travels between a huge number of Guatemalan destinations, such as the following, shown with their respective estimated journey times:
- Amatitlan (30 minutes)
- Antigua (one hour)
- Biotopo del Quetzal (three hours and 30 minutes)
- Chichicastenango (three hours)
- Chiquimula (three hours)
- Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado (two hours and 30 minutes)
- Coban (four hours and 30 minutes)
- El Carmen (seven hours)
- Escuintla (one hours)
- Esquipulas (four hours and 30 minutes)
- Flores (nine hours)
- Huehuetenango (five hours)
- La Democracia (two hours)
- La Mesilla (seven hours)
- Melchor de Mencos (11 hours)
- Monterrico (three hours)
- Panajachel (three hours)
- Poptun (eight hours)
- Puerto Barrios (five hours)
- Puerto San Jose (one hour)
- Quetzaltenango (four hours)
- Retalhuleu (three hours)
- Rio Dulce (four hours)
- Salama (three hours)
- San Pedro La Laguna (four hours)
- Santa Cruz del Quiche (three hours and 30 minutes)
- Santiago Atitlan (four hours)
- Sayaxche (11 hours)
- Tecpan (two hours)
- Tecun Uman (six hours)
Taxi fares are relatively expensive in Guatemala City, as with any world capital. They are ubiquitous and easy going, although you should always make sure of the price before getting in, even though they are supposed to charge a flat rate. You can hail taxis from the street, while taxi transport is also available at the airport, outside major hotels and near to many tourist attractions. For the best deals, try your hand at negotiating a more favourable rate.