With a central location in the Historic District and walking distance from Paseo de la Sexta shopping and nightlife, Hotel Pan American offers the ideal gateway to the best activities and things to do in Guatemala City. In addition to offering wonderful opportunities to meet and mingle with friendly Guatemalan locals, a stroll through our neighborhood brings you face-to-face with some of the city’s most fascinating sights and attractions.
Central Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias
The city's fine arts complex consists of the imposing Teatro Nacional and the open-air Teatro al Aire Libre. Named for Guatemala's Nobel Prize-winning novelist who spent much of his life in exile for opposing Guatemala's dictatorship, the hilltop cluster of buildings overlooks the Old City. Check out the performance schedule while you're here and pick up a ticket if something strikes your fancy. The only way to see the theater, other than attending a performance, is to take a one-and-a-half-hour tour.
A seemingly endless maze of underground passages is home to the Mercado Central, where inexpensive handicrafts from the highlands are sold from the many stalls. While not as pricey as the open-air markets in Antigua or Chichicastenango, the leather goods, wooden masks and woolen blankets are true testaments to Guatemalan design and craftsmanship. As a caution, there are skilled pickpockets in the market so keep your belongings close.
Encircling this historic square are landmarks that survived the 19th- and 20th-century earthquakes. In the center of the plaza is a fountain where children sometimes splash while their parents relax on the nearby benches. Photographers perch here on weekends, putting up small backdrops of rural scenes. You can even have your picture taken in front of them. On Sunday, the best day to go, the plaza is filled with vendors and local families relaxing on their day off.
Popol Vuh Museum
Home to one of the world’s most prominent collections of Mayan art, this museum should definitely be on your list of attractions. You’ll experience the wide range of artistic expressions from this culture. In addition, you can experience terrific exhibits that focus on natural history.
Ixchel Museum of Mayan Costumes
Discover the Mayans’ intricate heritage of woven fabrics. This museum offers thousands of incredible costumes from more than 100 Mayan weaving villages within the country.
Archeology and Ethnology Museum
Fascinated by the Mayan culture? Then be sure to visit this wonderful museum. It offers numerous exhibits with great artifacts representing all three Mayan periods.
The grandiose National Palace was built between 1937 and 1943 to satisfy the monumental ego of President Jorge Ubico Castañeda. It once held the offices of the president and his ministers, but now many of its 320 rooms house a collection of paintings and sculptures by well-known Guatemalan artists from the colonial period to the present. Look for Alfredo Gálvez Suárez's murals illustrating the history of the city above the entry. The palace's ornate stairways and stained-glass windows are a pleasant contrast to the gritty city outside its walls. Your guided visit includes a stop at the presidential balcony off the banquet room. If the palace is a must on your itinerary, call ahead to confirm that it is open. The building occasionally closes for presidential functions.