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Guatemala City

City Guide

Meet Guatemala City

As the largest city in Central America, Guatemala City is a financial and cultural hub in the Land of Eternal Spring, and a great destination for digital nomads who want an authentic Guatemalan experience.

The site of Guatemala City has been inhabited by people since the Mayans established the city of Kaminaljuyu there in around 1,500 BC. In more modern history, it was the site of Central America’s declaration of independence from Spain, and has been the capital of Guatemala since it became its own republic in 1847. Despite this long history, the city’s architecture is surprisingly modern, built in the early 1900s after much of the city was destroyed in an earthquake. Guatemala City carried a reputation for being seedy and dangerous in the latter half of the 20th century, and though it’s a much safer place today it’s yet to gain popularity with tourists in the same way as cities like Antigua. Which isn’t to say it’s not crowded. With a population of more than 3 million, this sprawling city is not only the largest in Guatemala but the most populated area in all of Central America. This makes it both an excellent city for those who enjoy the bustling, sometimes chaotic energy of a large city, and for those who want a more authentic immersion into Guatemala’s rich culture.

Where to live in Guatemala City

Guatemala City is just as big in terms of area as it is in population. This sprawling city is divided into 22 numbered zones (or “zonas”), each of which has its own distinct culture and identity. In fact, traveling to some zones can feel like you’ve gone to a completely different town. Most travelers stick to Zone 1 (the city center) or Zone 4 (the trendy arts district). If you don’t speak Spanish, these zones will be the easiest to navigate and have the highest number of English speakers, so they’ll make the safest bet. Conversely, Zones 3, 6, 18, and 21 tend to have the highest crime rates. Until you’ve had time to get to know the city you’ll probably want to avoid these areas, and they’re not the best places for foreigners to live.

Best Neighborhoods in Guatemala City

The most popular (and safest) neighborhoods of Guatemala City are located to the south and east of downtown. Zones 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, and 13-17 are widely regarded as the best areas to live by both locals and expats. These areas are all well-served by the local public transportation, including the transmetro and trans urbano bus lines, so you can get around fairly easily with or without a car whichever zone you live in. Choosing between these zones comes down more to what living environment you want. If you like the bustling energy of the city, Zone 1 or Zone 4 will be most to your liking. Those who prefer a more laid-back, residential setting will be more drawn to Zones 9, 10, 14, or 15.

Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More

We've been rounded up the best housing options in Guatemala City. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want

Destination MX - Zona 14

Guatemala City

Destination MX - Sophisticated Apartment

Guatemala City

Destination MX - Alluring Apartment @ Zona 14

Guatemala City

Quick Facts About Guatemala City

The civil war that ravaged Guatemala in the early 1990s is still the first thing many people think about in regards to Guatemala City. The city’s full history is much broader, built on Mayan traditions with Spanish influences, and you’ll see this celebrated in both the architecture and museum. Here are some more facts to help you get to know this beautiful city:
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Work in Guatemala City

Agriculture and the service sectors are the driving industries in Guatemala, together making up roughly 40% of the labor force. While these are important to the economy of Guatemala City, as well, the capital has a more diverse economy than the nation as a whole. Workers in education, city planning and maintenance, manufacturing, and finance are in demand in the city. Expats and travelers looking for traditional employment will find service industry jobs easiest to come by, and the city’s hotels are especially eager to hire native English speakers. Many also get work teaching English, either in one of the local schools or as a tutor. If you may want to go this route, obtaining a TEFL certification can be very helpful.

How good is Guatemala City for Digital Nomads or Remote Work

Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Guatemala City. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Guatemala City for both of these growing movements?

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Food and Drink in Guatemala City

Traditional Guatemalan cuisine is unique from the food of nearby Mexico, and something you should definitely try while you’re in town. Top spots include Kacao (Zone 9) and the tiny, family-owned La Cocina de la Senora Pu (Zone 1). For a more innovative, modern twist, check out the tasting menus at Flor De Lis or the unique cuisine of Gracia Cocina De Autor. Fusion cuisine is especially popular in this foodie city. Zone 10’s Tamarindos is a prime example, blending Thai, Italian, and Mayan influences to make their eclectic menu. Another great choice is Ambia, whose menu is mostly Asian-Guatemalan fusion, with outliers like carpaccio and steak thrown in for good measure. You’ll also find plenty of straight international fare in this cosmopolitan city. For French food, Jean Francois has an elegant atmosphere to match its upscale cuisine. If you want to go more American, Hacienda Real in Zone 9 is the top steakhouse in the city, while Jake’s serves some of the best American-style pizza you’ll find in Central America (as well as one of the best wine lists in the city).

Restaurants

Bars

Top 6 Things To Do in Guatemala City

For fans of history and culture, Guatemala City’s dozens of museums will keep you plenty busy. Among the most popular are the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena, the Museo Popol Vuh, the Museo Miraflores, and the National Museum of Modern Art. Many historical buildings can be toured, as well. The Palacio Nacional de la Cultura is both a museum and an active government building. For religious art and history, check out the Iglesia La Merced or Metropolitan Cathedral. The Mercado Central is a popular destination for both tourists buying souvenirs and locals getting fresh meat and produce and is an excellent place to see the city’s modern culture first-hand. Those who prefer outdoor adventures won’t have to travel far outside the city, either, with options like the Pacaya Volcano hike within an easy day trip.

Minerva Park

Guatemala City

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Hipódromo Del Norte, Guatemala

Av. Simeón Cañas, Guatemala

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Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno "Carlos Mérida"

Guatemala City

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Iglesia Yurrita

8-52, 01004, Ruta 6, Guatemala

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Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

y, 1 A Calle & Avenida Juan Chapin, Guatemala

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Plaza Berlin

Guatemala City

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