Traditional Maya Markets

14 days

Are you tired of the crowds? Come to enjoy a trip off the beaten path and discover the most hidden attractions of a country full of surprises. It’s a journey through Guatemala to meet its people, markets, traditions, and ancestral Mayan culture. These two weeks will take you through the most isolated Guatemalan populations to learn about their customs and traditions.

You will visit Guatemala’s most emblematic cathedrals and traditional and colorful markets. Explore breathtaking landscapes and let yourself be captivated by the magic of the daily life of the ancestral Mayan populations in Guatemala.

Traditional clothing

Colorful markets

The highlands

San Andres Xecul

Highlights

San Andres Xecul, San Juan Comalapa, Xela, San Francisco el Alto, Todos Santos, Lake Atitlan, and Chichicastenango.

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

Your driver will meet you at the Guatemala City airport and drive you to your hotel in Antigua Guatemala, to rest and relax for the evening.

Day 2. Antigua Guatemala markets

One of the advantages of discovering Antigua Guatemala is appreciating the colorful Mayan handicrafts. Local artisans make unique art and some of the world’s most delicate dresses. Today you’ll explore the best markets in Antigua. 

Mercado Central. The best way to see the authentic side of Antigua Guatemala is to wander through the multicolored Central Market. It’s the only market directed at locals, and you can buy everything here. 

Mercado de Artesanías. It contains wooden masks, textiles, blankets, and jade jewelry. It’s a photogenic market to walk around. 

Mercado del Carmen. The market is next to the fantastic ruins of El Carmen Church, and it’s one of the less visited and less crowded artisan markest in Antigua Guatemala. It’s an excellent place to buy pottery, jade, textiles, and blankets. Finding what you’re looking for can be challenging, but that generally means you’ll stumble upon some fine hidden gems. 

Museum Casa del Tejido. The artisans in Guatemala are famous for making fascinating woven textiles, and one of the best places to learn more about the designs is Casa del Tejido. The art of Mayan textiles is far more meaningful than you might think; here, you can learn the various styles of long-established Guatemalan weaves. 

Nim Po’t. This enormous hallway is an artisan’s cooperative with delicate clothes displayed by provinces; looking at the elaborate pieces of clothing is like a fun geography lecture. The market also has a broad assortment of wood carvings, kites, masks, and paintings. 

Centro de Arte Popular. It’s a museum and market focusing on the art from Guatemala’s Mayan heritage, and it displays the work of artists from various Mayan groups. The artwork shows the different elements of indigenous life: handcrafted pottery, spiritual craftworks, wooden sculptures, oil portraits, and traditional masks. 

Casa de Los Gigantes. It’s a sustainable artisan cooperative; they produce handicrafts employing eco-friendly fabrics and offer artisans a distinguished way of making a living.

Day 3. San Juan Comalapa

We will leave Antigua today to head first to San Juan Comalapa. This town is known as the ‘Florence of America’ due to many local painters perpetuating the tradition of Naíf paintings that make the town notorious.

First, we will see a mural painted by local school children depicting events in the country’s history. After we visit a few local painters to admire their work, we head to the authentic local market; here, you will see the locals still dressed in the traditional textiles of the area. Walk through the colorful and bustling market where the locals buy and sell food, delicious seasonal fruits, colorful fabrics, and the most varied items.

After lunch, we will head to Guatemala’s second-largest city, Xela. Its beautiful historical zone of stately buildings contrasts its countryside and rugged agricultural valleys dotted with beautiful Mayan villages.

The colonial and modern mix in its cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, lavish malls, and colorful street markets make Xela a must-see.

Day 4. Volcanic hot springs

A ten-minute drive will take us to the small town of Almolonga, known as ‘The Garden of Central America’ for its splendid vegetables. We will visit its bustling produce market, where we will appreciate its vegetables and the colorful typical local clothes.

After that, we will visit Zunil, another agricultural town nearby. Here we see a weaving cooperative where they make elaborately embroidered women’s tunics, a stunning Cathedral, and the colorful local cemetery.

The day will finish with a relaxing visit to the Hot Springs Fuentes Georginas, located on the slopes of Zunil Volcano. The pools of this gorgeous spa are filled naturally with hot sulfur and are famous for their healing powers and stunning natural beauty surrounding them.

Day 5. San Andres Xecul

Today your driver will take you to San Andres Xecul, a trendy town for its colorful church. Once you arrive, you’ll understand why there is no other church like this in Guatemala. Its facade is painted in a lively yellow, lavishly garnished with saints, vines, animals, and flowers of bright colors.

Deep in the beautiful Mayan highlands is located Totonicapan. After a short ride, we will reach its bustling center of trade and market, where we will enjoy the unique handicrafts for which the region is well known.

Along the way, we can see how they make colorful textiles in giant wood looms or visit a ceramics workshop where they work on pottery wheels to make handmade clay dishes. After the exciting visit, your driver will take you back to your hotel in Xela.

Day 6. San Francisco market

Today, we’ll drive to San Francisco El Alto. Every Friday, this small and chilly town hosts one of the most authentic markets in Guatemala. This large market is known for the array of livestock that it sells, the traditional fabrics, baskets full of thread of every color, giant bolts of cloth, and the multitudinous textiles that it offers. We will also visit the town to check out its local cathedral.

We will continue to Huehuetenango; this department is home to the tallest mountain range in Central America, steep ravines, and hillsides covered with coffee plantations. This region is famous for its coffee, considered one of the finest in Guatemala. It also has a colorful indigenous market, unique natural wonders, and privileged views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 7. Todos Santos

A three-hour drive will take us deep into the Cuchumatanes mountain range to visit the Mayan town of Todos Santos (All Saints). Its remote location, at 2,500 meters above sea level, has helped to preserve its customs and traditions. One of the first things you will notice is that their population continues to use their typical traditional costumes.

The women wear bright purple embroidered tunics, rolled skirts with black and blue stripes, and straw hats with attractive embroidery. In contrast, the men wear red and white striped pants, striped shirts with embroidered collars, and straw hats, a kaleidoscopic landscape worth appreciating.

Every Saturday takes place in a bustling and diverse traditional market where you can find products and regional handicrafts. Suppose you visit around November 1st. In that case, you can behold one of the festivities for which the town is famous, All Saints Day, a mixture of folklore, tradition, and adrenaline with unique traditional dishes. Hundreds of families bring flowers to their loved ones in cemeteries, and exciting horse races occur.

Day 8. Chichicastenango

A transfer in the morning will take us to the highlands of Guatemala to reach Chichicastenango. Here we will visit the largest traditional market in Central America, where you can admire a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and articles of daily use. 

This famous market takes place on Thursdays and Sundays, and it is home to an infinite variety of colors and unique local handicrafts, textiles, wood, and ceramics crafts. Additionally, we will also visit its beautiful whitewashed Catholic church.

Afterward, you’ll go to your hotel on Lake Atitlan. Its surrounding rugged hills and towering volcanoes make the landscape of this lake something unforgettable. 

Small Mayan villages inhabit its shores, practicing ancestral customs and a large percentage of its men and women continue to wear vibrant and colorful traditional Mayan costumes.

Day 9. Lake Atitlan and villages

The morning will start with a boat transfer to San Juan La Laguna, a local village where your private guide will take you to learn how they use the backstrap loom in a local textile cooperative. You will also visit the workshop or local Naïf painters to admire their work. 

Afterward, we will continue to Santiagowhere we will visit the local church, one of the oldest in Guatemala, and learn about the history of this traditional town. You’ll explore its colorful market where you can observe and learn about its famous art and textiles for which this town is famous. 

Day 10. Free day

Today you will have a free day to rest and relax in Lake Atitlan, the most beautiful lake in Central America.

Day 11. Solola

We will leave today to visit Solola and its local market. Called the landscape city, Solola is on a mountainside overlooking the beautiful Lake Atitlan. Its bustling market is the commercial center of the surrounding towns where you can appreciate a great variety of local products and textiles. Later, we’ll drive to Guatemala City.

Day 12. Return home

After you enjoy a delicious breakfast, your driver will take you to Guatemala City Airport for your departure flight home.

map, expenses & price

Traditional Maya Markets

Expenses included:
-All private transportation.
-Eleven nights of hotel accommodations.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-All park entrance fees.
-Professional local guides.
-Three traditional lunches.
-Daily breakfast and two lunches.

Per person starting at $1,800

Extensions

extensions

Cooking class

Our local instructors have an unbelievable list of recipes and techniques, including many for vegetarians and dessert admirers. For 3-4 hours, you will have a lot of hands-on fun learning how to cook original Guatemalan dishes. We start with a little excursion to the market to buy ingredients and to meet resident vendors and producers. Then we make our way to the kitchen to start cooking.

Ingredients to cook traditional Guatemalan tamales
Takalik Abaj ruins, Guatemala.

extensions

Takalik Abaj

It’s an exciting archeological site since it evidences the historical transition between the Olmec and Mayan Civilizations. The park is in the Pacific Tropical Savanna, surrounded by organic coffee, rubber trees, and sugarcane plantations. The site was a vital commercial center during the Late Pre-Classical period, and its Olmec influence is still evident in the numerous sculptures visitors can admire.

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