As most attractions in Guatemala have a Maya connection, it might be a good idea to start your visit to the country with Tikal and Chichicastenango; both of them were declared a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The ruins of Tikal include over three thousand structures, such as palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, plazas, avenues and steam baths. Tikal was built around 600 B. C. and remained an important religious, scientific and political center for about 1500 years.
The major attraction in Chichicastenango is the 400-year old church of Santo Tomas, which is situated next to the market. It is still used by the shamans for their rituals. The church has eighteen stairs; each of them stands for a month of the Mayan calendar that consisted of eighteen months with twenty days each. You cannot but visit the famous handcraft market of the town; it also belongs to the main attractions in Guatemala. Vendors come here not only from the regions around Chichicastenango, but from all parts of Guatemala.
Although Guatemala City is not as famous for its Mayan attractions as Tikal and Chichicastenango, it is also worth visiting. Its main attractions are the Minerva Park with a huge relief map of Guatemala cast from concrete in 1905 - the map is so big that it has to be viewed from observation towers to be properly appreciated - and the National Palace of Culture. The National Palace is where most official ceremonies take place, and it is also one of the most famous museums of Guatemala.
Natural attractions in Guatemala are so various that it is hard to say what predominant nature of a country is. Natural habitats range from rain and cloud forests to arid valleys, swamps and ocean shores. In fact, there are nineteen different ecosystems here, which are home to a great variety of animals. Guatemala's fauna includes over two hundred species of mammals, six hundred species of birds and two hundred species of reptiles and amphibians. Guatemala's flora contains more than eight thousand species of plants. In one of the nineteen ecosystems of the country you can watch the national bird - Quetzal - and the national flower - the monja blanca or white nun orchid.
The Tikal National Park is home to screeching howler monkeys, squawking parrots, brocket deer, toucans, macaws. Sometimes you can even spot the jaguar.
There are thirty-seven volcanoes in Guatemala, three of them are active. The most frequently photographed volcanoes are Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. The Pacaya - one of the active volcanoes - has recently dumped tons of volcanic sand on Guatemala City. The most beautiful volcanoes are Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro towering above Lake Atitlan, a natural wonder of blue, wind-tossed waters. The Lake is surrounded by Indian villages, where life and customs have changed very little.
Best opportunities for studying Spanish can be named among the attractions in Guatemala. You will be placed in a Guatemalan family that will help you master Spanish and learn more about the culture and traditions. Classes are given on a weekly basis at different levels. Prices range from $60 per week for four hours daily up to $100 per week for seven hours daily. You are expected to pay $50 per week for a private room and daily three meals if you choose to stay with a Guatemalan family.
Attractions in Guatemala can be spoken about only in the superlative: the highest and the most active volcanoes, the most impressive Mayan ruins, the most devastating earthquakes and the most cosmopolitan capital. Guatemala is superlative!!!