Introduction to Guatemala City
Guatemala City is the biggest city not only in the country, but also in all of Central America (as long as you assume that Mexico isn’t part of Central America). Like many Latin American capitals, it is a beacon to migrants from the countryside who come looking for work. The stress of all these untrained people has left Guatemala city overcrowded and ridden with crime. It is most likely a good city to avoid, but if you do have to stay here for a few days to catch a flight or take care of some other errand, there are some interesting sites to see.
The city is commonly called ‘Guate’ by it habitants.
Guatemala City is divided into 21 zonas, with Zona 1 being in the center and where many of the things of interest to a tourist would be. Although this area has a lot of police presence, it still has it’s share of thieves, especially around the bus stations and at night.
South of the center, in Zona 10 there are many upper class hotels and good nightlife.
Where to stay in Guatemala City
The Zona Viva to the south of the city is the nicest and safest choice. Zona 1 could not be more centrally located, but one must take care at night in this area.
Getting there and around
Guatemala Cities airport, La Aurora, has daily fights to and from the US, Mexico and many Central American countries.
Many airlines seem to have intermittent service to Guatemala. Check flights here.
Local buses go just about everywhere but are often full and sometimes unsafe. The usual fare is 1Q, 1.25Q on Sunday. Service runs till 8Pm.
Official taxis are yellow and have meters and are obtained only by phone or in a few taxi stands. The minimum fare is 25Q.
Unofficial taxis are cheaper than yellow taxis, but do not have meters and the fare must be negotiated before getting in. Foreigners are typically overcharged. Robberies in these taxis are also common.