Is Guatemala Safe? (2021 Safety Guide)

So you want to go to Guatemala…we’re all for it! There’s a whole lot of amazing nature to explore here – and history too. From the colonial buildings of Antigua to ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, you’ll be in a wonderland full of archaeological sites and steamy jungles.

But Guatemala hasn’t always been known as the safest place in Central America and it still necessarily isn’t. Scams, petty crime, robberies, gang violence, and volcanic eruptions combine for a melting pot of intimidation.

So, of course, you may want to know if Guatemala is safe; we totally get it. Which is why we’ve written this insider’s guide on staying safe in Guatemala. We’re all about smart travel and we want you to be able to explore this incredible country and stay safe at the same time!

This guide is packed full of useful information regarding your Guatemala safety concerns. Whether it’s safe to drive in Guatemala, safe to eat the food, and even how safe it is for solo female travellers in Guatemala; it’s all in here!

You may be wondering, “can I travel with children to Guatemala?” You may also be wondering if it’s safe to visit Guatemala right now after the recent volcanic activity. Whatever your worries are, it’s ok – we’ve got you covered with our insider’s guide.

safety guatemala lake atitlan paradise
Looks pretty similar to paradise from here.

How Safe is Guatemala? (Our take)

Volcanoes, jungles, colonial and Mayan history; Guatemala is another Central American jewel. There’s plenty to do here, from trekking and getting lost in all that ancient civilization, to just kicking back on a beach on either the Pacific or the Caribbean Coast.

For a long time, we probably wouldn’t have said Guatemala was safe – but that never stopped us from travelling there.  Like the rest of Central America, Guatemala has its fair share of problems and does require a fair bit savviness.

Before going any further, you have to understand what has happened in the country. For a long time, violence was the norm in Guatemala. Though the civil war here may have ended in 1996 (after 36 years) it’s still very much an issue.

Today violence remains. It’s a corridor for drug traders, highway (and pathway) robberies happen, and human trafficking is becoming more and more common as well.

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of violent crime in Latin America and a lot of petty theft/scams to go with it. There’s always the potential for political trouble as well.

Guatemala is also still a developing country. With a fractious history, much of the nation suffers from poverty and unemployment.

That said, Guatemalans are warm, friendly people and often welcome travellers with open arms. Many people will be there to aid you on your journey through this amazing country, so don’t think that everyone is out to get you.

Is Guatemala Safe to Visit Right Now?

guatemala safe to visit antigua
Guatemala can be a magical place.

Despite having a reputation for crime, Guatemala is generally safe to visit right now. 

Travel warnings and stats don’t always paint a true picture of what it’s like to actually BE in the country.

For example, most violent crime is gang-related i.e. only affects locals living in certain areas. As such, the chances of a tourist becoming a victim are unlikely.

Tourism is one of the main forces behind the Guatemalan economy. There’s Tourist Police here to help you out and the Guatemalan government will do what it can to make sure that you are safe.

Guatemala is starting to clean up its act and has become much more stable since the end of the civil war. That doesn’t mean you can travel around without a care in the world, however.

Political trouble seems to never be too far off. As is often the story in Latin America, corruption plays a big part in the government. The former president was impeached and imprisoned after a scandal in 2015. Current president Jimmy Morales is surrounded by his own controversies.

And as far as nature is concerned, Volcán de Fuego near tourist-favourite Antigua erupted in June 2018, killing at least 190 people. It erupted again in November and will probably erupt again. So keep an eye on the news.

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Safest Places in Guatemala

While Guatemala might have a bad reputation, and yes, you should definitely be careful when visiting, there are still a couple of awesome places to visit that are definitely safer than what the media tells you. We’ve listed the best ones below. But always keep in mind, travelling smart is essential, no matter where you’re staying!

Antigua Guatemala 

Antigua Guatemala is a classic colonial town with beautiful neighbourhoods to stay at, and a great place to kick back or wander around the cobblestone streets. You’ll find quite a few hostels in Antigua as well, which makes it a great hang out spot for backpackers from all over the world.

It is quite a small city so you can easily walk from one side to the other. As such, there are only a handful of neighborhoods, which makes it not as crime prone as massive Guatemala City for example. While it definitely pays to stay aware of your surroundings, Antigua Guatemala is definitely one of the safest places in Guatemala. 

Safest place

visiting antigua guatemala

Safest place

Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala is a colonial gem, filled with narrow cobblestone streets, jacarandas, 16th-century ruins, and bright, infectious culture. It’s a historically significant town that’s UNESCO listed, and yet it lives firmly in the present.

Xela (Quetzaltenango)

Quetzaltenango is commonly referred to as Xela (pronounced Shela). This bustling mountain town is a great city to organize 1 to 7 day treks in the stunning mountains, or base yourself for Spanish lessons, as many gringos do! Xela isn’t as clean or extravagant as Antigua, but it’s also not as expensive.

You can arrange a home stay with local families around here and see a side of Guatemala many travellers miss. Locals here are generally very welcoming and kind. You’ll be well looked after! 

Great adventure getaway

things to do in xela Guatemala visit cemetery

Great adventure getaway

Xela (Quetzaltenango)

With stunning culture, great hiking trails, and very affordable accommodation options, Xela is one of the most rewarding places to stay in Guatemala. There are hot springs, multiple volcanos, beautiful Mayan villages, and much more to explore.

Lake Atitlán

Just a few hours from Antigua, Lake Atitlán is an easy bus journey or hitchhike away. There are a number of villages surrounding the lake with completely different atmospheres and many amazing things to do. Many of them require a boat to reach them but they are generally pretty safe.

One of those little towns in Panajachel. It’s the most convenient town to base yourself because it’s connected to the main road. Many expats live here for its convenient shops, restaurants, and bars. You can also summit Volcano Atitlán – the tallest of the three volcanoes – in 8 hours, but opt to get a guide for this adventure. There have been a few robberies recorded in the last couple of years. 

A diverse paradise

paragliding in Lake Atitlan

A diverse paradise

Lake Atitlán

With endless charming villages, modern cities, and plenty of things to do, Lake Atitlán is one of the most popular backpacker destinations in Guatemala. From hiking, exploring the real Mayan culture, and outdoor adventures, you won’t have a boring minute here!

Places to avoid in Guatemala

As we made it quite clear already, there are many areas in Guatemala that aren’t safe for travellers. To help you plan a successful tip, we’ve listed the no-go areas below: 

  • ANYWHERE after dark – whether it’s in the countryside or in the city, avoid being on the street at night. Most violent crimes, kidnapping and mugging happen at night. If you want to stay safe, stay inside! We’d even advise not to travel at night either. 
  • Zones 1, 3, 6, 18 and 21 – these zones are in Guatemala city and are hotspots for all sorts of crimes. If possible, avoid! 
  • The Agua Volcano – you don’t need to avoid it, but there have been quite a few robberies recorded of tourists that just wanted to go on a peaceful hike. If possible get a guide. That’ll add a significant level of safety to your trip. 

And of course, always stay away from the dodgy side streets, shortcuts, and areas where you can’t find another tourist. You don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, so stick to the busy streets or get yourself a local guide to explore the area further.

Guatemala Travel Insurance

Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Guatemala, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.

Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.

We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?

Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

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If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.

24 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Guatemala

safety tips for traveling in guatemala
A temple of Tikal.

There may be some scary government warnings, but Guatemala can be visited safely. It helps if you’ve already got a few countries or backpacking trips under your belt already.

Regardless of how much experience you have with hectic destinations, travelling smart is going to be the main thing to keep in mind. That and our top tips for keeping safe in Guatemala, of course.

  1. Travel during the daytime – if you can help it. It’s just best not to travel after dark, as this is when criminals like to operate.
  2. Check out the latest volcanic activity – especially before hiking on an actual volcano. The threat is real.
  3. Learn some Spanish…and Mayan – more than half the population is Maya and it’ll go down well if you can actually speak their language; well, a bit anyway.
  4. Warm clothing and waterproofs are essential – at high altitudes. Crazy low temperatures at night are very, very dangerous.
  5. Use a GOOD bus company – travelling through rural areas can be sketchy. The more reputable the travel company, the better.
  6. Be wary of talking to children in rural areas – ask permission if you want to take photos. Interacting with children can very much be taken the WRONG way.
  7. Don’t go flashing your cash – don’t look rich. That’s just asking to be robbed. Keep money out of view, preferably in a money belt.
  8. And keep your smartphone out of view – just another thing to get stolen.
  9. Scams are RIFE – BEWARE of overfriendly strangers, people falling over in front of you, ‘priests’, fraudulent charity fundraising, sauces getting ‘accidentally’spilled on you…
  10. Practice safe sex – goes without saying. But there’s a relatively high rate of HIV compared to Western European countries.
  11. Understand the risks involved with drugs – whilst cannabis is everywhere (especially in Lake Atitlan) it’s still illegal.
  12. Cross at designated border crossings – and the earlier in the day, the better. There is also the Belize-Guatemala border dispute to bear in mind.
  13. Don’t walk through empty city/town streets – robberies, at night or broad daylight, are most frequent in less busy areas.
  14. Not all police are who they seem to be – people dressed as police committing crimes against tourists have been reported.
  15. Keep away from political demonstrations – it’s just not a good idea as they can turn violent. It’s also illegal for foreigners to get involved.
  16. Be extra careful in the rainy season – from June to November roads can get swept away; landslides also happen. The National Route 14 takes a particular beating during this season and closes often.
  17. Use ATMs inside banks, shops, reputable places – card cloning happens. Don’t take out too much at once and avoid withdrawing at night.
  18. Hand over the goods – if someone wants to rob you, let them. Your life is worth more than all your worldly goods.
  19. Feel free to carry to a dummy wallet – a wallet PACKED with cash is a worse loss than a wallet lightly lined with cash.
  20. Cover up against mosquitoes – and use repellent and burn coils where you can. Not only are they just nasty in general, but they can also carry the Zika virus, amongst others.
  21. Travel with your ID wherever you go – if you’re afraid of losing it, a certified copy should work as well.
  22. Only head out trekking in groups or with a guide – the risk of robbery is high if you’re by yourself.
  23. Contact PROATUR – this is the Guatemala government’s tourist program and can give you advice on travel routes and more. They can even organise a police escort for you!
  24. Stay alert – travelling through Guatemala isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but it’s amazing.

As that last point says, staying alert is definitely a good way to travel around Guatemala safely and to ensure your time isn’t hampered by any petty crime – or worse.

It’s not 100% safe (that much is easy to say) but then again many tourists and backpackers alike visit Guatemala without any trouble. Keep your wits about you, don’t do anything stupid, keep abreast of the political (and volcanic) situation and you’ll have a blast!

Some General Safety Tips from the OG Broke Backpacker

Is Guatemala safe to travel alone?

Is Guatemala safe to travel alone?
No man is an island. | source: Fernanda07 (shutterstock)

Solo travel is an AMAZING way to see the world – no one to answer to, no compromising on travel plans, the chance to make friends with a whole lot of other people, and the challenge to learn stuff about yourself! It’s awesome.

But Guatemala is not ALWAYS the safest of places. Travelling solo is going to pose more problems than if you were in a group, absolutely. But many people do take the plunge to Guatemala and have the time of their lives!

To stay safe in Guatemala, there are a few things to keep in mind…

  • Avoid, at all costs, travelling around at night by yourself. This puts you at a much higher risk of a robbery.
  • Going hiking by yourself is a BIG no-no. You could get into trouble by injuring yourself, lose judgement, and have nobody to say “actually let’s not keep climbing for another hour, let’s rest.” You could also be robbed. It’s much better for your safety to NOT venture into the wilderness for the sake of staying solo.
  • Unless you’re on a tour, travelling to remote areas by yourself isn’t smart. You’ll stick out more and be more of a target. Although you MIGHT be fine, we wouldn’t advise it.
  • Make some travel buddies! There are loads of group tours and activities to get involved with, plus some fantastic local guides who can show you what’s what in Guatemala. Just make sure you do your research with these and you’ll be sure to have the best time.
  • Another good way to meet fellow travellers is at a well-reviewed hostel.  You might some great people to travel with through Guatemala as well.
  • Don’t party TOO hard. It’s a good way to lose your senses and take risks, which is NOT something you want to be doing when you’re backpacking in Guatemala.
  • Do your research. Get online and look up your next destination. You should also ask locals about current travel safety.
  • Take a cheap, unlocked phone with you and get a sim at the airport. You can use this to keep track of where you are and keep in touch with your friends and family. And if it’s cheap, it won’t matter too much if it gets lost or stolen.
  • Let people know where you are: hostel staff, other travellers, people back home. Travelling solo doesn’t have to mean going off-grid. Your safety is more important than some delusion of authenticity and ghosting on everyone.
  • Don’t skimp on accommodation. A well reviewed, actually nice and decently located hotel (or hostel) could save you a whole lot of stress if you’re by yourself.

So whilst it’s not what we’d call the safest place in the world, Guatemala is awesome. You’re going to have an awesome time exploring it!

What’s going to make it even better is staying safe the whole time. Remember: travelling solo doesn’t mean you have to be a hero and do EVERYTHING by yourself. Be cool, make friends, keep in touch, and take minimal risks!

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Is Guatemala safe for solo female travelers?

Is Guatemala safe for solo female travelers?
A queen overlooking her kingdom. | source: soft_light (shutterstock)

Solo travel is one thing, but solo travelling as a female is another story. Because of Guatemala’s high crime rate, it doesn’t immediately seem to be the best place for a woman travelling solo…

As with most places, traveling as a female is going to come with a higher risk, but it is possible to travel to Guatemala as a solo woman, just so long as you take some crucial extra precautions.

Travelling smart and listening to your gut is going to play a big part in staying safe in Guatemala. These, in addition to the following solo female travel tips for Guatemala, are going to help you enjoy travel and limit the hassles.

  • Speak up. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, make it clear the MOMENT it starts getting weird. Doing so is most likely going to stop it from getting weirder. Remove yourself from any situation that feels sketchy.
  • And on a similar note, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself! If you’re being hassled a polite brush-off might not have the same effect that a firm no is going to have.
  • Walk around confidently and do your best to appear less like a victim, but don’t think you’re untouchable. There are some situations that are just un-winable or too dangerous. If someone’s being aggressive or scaring you, find somewhere safe and ask for help.
  • If somebody seems TOO interested in you, just be aware that you don’t need to give all your personal information away. A random stranger does NOT need to know everything – and you don’t need to tell ’em.
  • When it comes to fashion, skirts below the knee work well. Shorts scream TOURIST. Guatemala can be pretty conservative and showing a lot of skin is not very respectful. Plus it will get you a lot of unnecessary attention.
  • Join a group tour! They’re an amazing opportunity to see Guatemala with the help (and knowledge) of a guide.
  • Make sure that somebody knows your plans. Check-in with somebody back home and let them know what you’re doing. Schedule check-ins every few days just to let them know you’re safe.
  • Chicken buses may be cheap, but can be sketchy for females travelling by themselves. A shuttle bus will be the safer option. Even then, make sure you read reviews so that you use the best company possible.
  • Guatemala is definitely a macho society – it’s part of the social fabric here. Catcalling does happen, and when it does it’s just best to ignore it. It’s not worth the stress. You’ll have to be careful about walking alone anywhere at night. If possible, avoid doing so or buddy up.
  • Checking yourself into a hostel with a female-only dorm is a good idea. Not only will you get a safe space with no oddballs (not male ones anyway), but also you’ll get to share tips with other female travellers, which can only be a good thing.
  • Making friends is always a plus. Travelling onward in a group would be good even if you’re feeling apprehensive.

Guatemala has some shocking statistics – like boasting a high rate of femicide, among others – but it’s important to remember that these require context. Most violent crime is gang-related or directed towards local communities. Indigenous women bear a huge brunt from the macho society here and seem to be at the bottom rung of society.

That said, tourists aren’t usually the target. A lot of female travellers DO go to Guatemala and usually have an awesome time – no complaints apart from the odd catcall.

So if you are up for an adventure, aware of the situation, and willing and able to take some extra safety precautions, then you’re going to have a blast in Guatemala!

More on Safety in Guatemala

We’ve covered the main safety concerns already, but there are a few more things to know. Read on for more detailed information on how to have a safe trip to Guatemala.  

Is Guatemala safe to travel for families?

Lucky for you, Guatemalan society loves children.

Guatemala is perfect for curious and mature kids. Taking children younger than 7-years-old might be a bit stressful. If they’re not interested in history or scenery, they might not have a good time either.

To be honest, you’re probably going to have to an adventurous family to make the trip to Guatemala.

Is Guatemala safe to travel for families
They make it look so easy! | source: Tom Pratt (flickr)

When it comes to the question of whether or not Guatemala is safe for families, there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • First of all, Guatemala is a malaria zone and children are more susceptible than adults – so make sure you pack all the necessary medication.
  • Dengue fever is also a threat. In the highlands, places, like Antigua, are less mosquito-ridden. Essentially, plenty of repellent, covering up, burning coils, all these things will help avoid nasty mosquitoes.
  • There’s no point bringing a pushchair since pavements aren’t much of a thing in Guatemala. Making sure your children understand that roads in Guatemala can be dangerous is a must.
  • Stray animals like dogs (there are a lot of these) and cats may be carrying fleas and/or rabies. Your kids might want to pet them, so prep them on the dangers of going near potentially disease-carrying animals. Plus, you never know if they’re going to be aggressive.
  • Oh, and don’t forget: it’s hot and humid in Guatemala. A good sun hat for everyone, plenty of sun cream, and a whole lot of water should keep off sunburn, sunstroke, and dehydration. Make sure you have a good water bottle with you.

At the end of the day, it’s safe to travel to Guatemala with children, but you have to be well-prepared and ready. Remember: this is a developing country – it’s not always going to be easy, or even straightforward…

BUT there’s a wealth of culture, history, and natural beauty to discover here. Your efforts will definitely pay off and traveling with children is going to give you a whole different perspective on this amazing country!

Is it safe to drive in Guatemala?

Granted, it’s safe to drive in Guatemala, but for the hassle involved it just might not be worth it. Here are some reasons why:

Is it safe to drive in Guatemala
Looks about right. | source: Grigory Kubatyan (shutterstock)
  • For starters, hiring a car is not as easy as it ought to be. There have been reports of trouble with car rental companies trying to extort money out of people. This is obviously made ten times more difficult if you don’t habla espanol.
  • When driving outside of the city, it’s best to stick to the main highways, but things can still be pretty dodgy. Drivers can be all over the place so make sure you drive carefully and are alert. There’s crazy overtaking on blind corners, random honking, no use of indicators, using hazard lights for things other than hazards, drunk drivers… It’s all here.
  • If you see bits of branch or old tree in the road, it probably means there’s a broken-down car around 100 metres ahead. It’s a way that people alert each other here (so there you go).
  • Avoid driving in rural or isolated routes. It’s not altogether uncommon for armed bandits to rove around. Similarly, don’t drive at night.

To be honest? It’s safer to get a couple of other people together and hire a private driver to shuttle you. The roads can be mad, the cities aren’t worth driving around, and you’ll still have to figure out where to park at the end of it.

Note: a vehicle coming UP a hill has right of way.

Is Uber safe in Guatemala?

Yes, Uber IS safe in Guatemala.

Officially, Uber operates in Guatemala City and Antigua. People even take an Uber all the way from Guatemala City to Antigua.

Uber is a good option for non-Spanish speakers as they don’t need to worry about communicating with the driver so much – it’s all on the app.

The cars are cleaner than regular taxis, often cost less, and are much less of a hassle. In the end, Uber wins.

Are taxis safe in Guatemala?

Taxis in Guatemala can be a little sketchy. There are a lot of them and, besides some areas in Guatemala City, they DON’T use meters. So make sure you agree on a price before you get in. 

The language barrier might be an issue. Having your destination written down and showing it to the driver works to clear up some confusion.

The best way to get a taxi is to ask your hotel or hostel to call one for you. If you find a driver you like, it’s ok to take their card and use them again!

Fake taxi companies do exist and using them will put you at high risk. Using authorized taxi stands is a good way to avoid hailing the wrong taxi. You’ll find these outside malls and hotels as well as alongside parks. Hailing a random taxi off the street may not always be safe.

Getting around at night is always going to be sketchy, even when taxis are involved. That being said, taxis remain one of the safest ways to get around at night.

Is public transportation in Guatemala safe?

The ubiquitous chicken bus is the primary mode of public transport in Guatemala. These are colourful, cramped affairs that ferry people from town to town. Good for an adventure, not so good if you have problems.

Chicken buses aren’t exactly safe either. Hijackings, robberies, assaults on travellers; these things have all happened to them.

Whilst a lot of travellers still use them and incidents are few and far between, that doesn’t mean they won’t happen. So if you do fancy hopping on a chicken bus, be aware of the risks, keep your important belongings on you, and stay vigilant. The drivers aren’t always the best, either, so expect a crazy experience.

guatemala safe public transportation
The most famous mode of transport in Central America.

There are express buses that go between Guatemala City and other destinations. These are much better than chicken buses. Some even come with toilets or show films during the ride.

Inside Guatemala City itself, buses are split between older red buses and newer TransMetro/TransUrbano ones. We wouldn’t recommend the old ones. It’s so much hassle – they’re busy and we’d definitely say they aren’t safe to use at night.

Most travellers get around on tourist shuttle services, which are basically minibusses. Do your research on these and find a reputable company.

In Guatemala, you can also hop on a tuk-tuk, much like in Southeast Asia! Agree on a price before you get in and away you go!

Keep everything on you in transit!

When moving from place to place, you shouldn’t store travel documents in a bag, even if it’s under your seat or overhead.

A full-sized money belt that stays tucked under your clothes keeps your documents and cash organized during your travels and assures nothing critical gets left behind or stolen.

Is the food in Guatemala safe?

Be prepared for a tasty trip because the food in Guatemala is AMAZING. Its roots are firmly Mayan, so you can expect a lot of corn, a lot of beans, and a lot of chilies. Throw in plantain, tortillas, tamales, and a whole lot more and you’re in for a feast!

Is the food in Guatemala safe? 
Looks like tacos, but they aren’t. | source: Inspired By Maps (shutterstock)

Like much of the world, getting to know Guatemala means getting to know its food – and especially the places where people eat food; notably on the street. Street food is definitely great in Guatemala and it’s safe. Just be sure to remember these points:

  • There’s plenty of fruit on offer in tropical Guatemala, but this REALLY needs to be washed before you eat it. Do it yourself using filtered water, because often the food at the market has either not been washed or has been in unsanitary water. Or better yet: peel it.
  • When it comes to vegetables, cook ’em.
  • Often food is served with salad. If you’re worried, avoid it, especially if you’re far from the tourist trail.
  • Use your common sense. Does the food stall look clean? Does the restaurant look clean? Usually, if it looks the part, it’s probably going to be alright.
  • Similarly, popular = good. If there are a lot of (local) people eating somewhere, chances are it’s going to be delicious AND safe to eat there. 
  • Also, eat WHEN locals eat. Go during lunch or dinner, stalls will be cooking up a storm. Chances are everything’s going to be cooked super freshly at these stages. The lull between the two might mean leftovers…
  • Go for hot, freshly cooked food where possible. Anything that’s been sitting there uncovered could have been doing so all day and attracting all sorts of germs the whole time. Avoid.
  • Smoothies might LOOK delicious, but these can be made with ice – not good – and fruit that hasn’t been washed – also not good. This can really give you a bit of stomach trouble, that’s for sure.
  • The coffee here is delicious!! But do make sure that the water that’s been used to make has been properly boiled. If you’re worried, then don’t bother with it.
  • Wash those hands. Seriously, your hands are probably just as dirty as anybody else’s.
  • Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Guatemalan ingredients in Latin American Spanish.

Guatemalan food is TASTY and eating your way around the country is going to be a great way to discover how the locals live. Mainly how they eat, to be honest!

But by following our tips, you’re likely to have a great time trying out all there is on offer. Of course, if you’re super worried you can always bring diarrhea medication (which you should be bringing anyway).

Can you drink the water in Guatemala?

Nope. Unless you want traveller’s diarrhea.

Stick to purified water. This is widely available at every hostel and hotel, so bring a refillable bottle. Some water purification tablets or a Grayl Geopress would be great, too. Use single-use plastic only when necessary.

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Is Guatemala safe to live?

Guatemala is actually safe to live in. Of course, you’ll have to pay attention to some new things if you’re planning on making the move to Guatemala. Namely, these are cultural differences and the weather. Also gang violence, but mainly if you live in Guatemala City.

So whilst it IS safe to live in Guatemala, HOW safe it is will depend on your outlook and where you choose to live as well.

Crime does happen and vigilance is important. That means paying attention to your surroundings at pretty much all times. Police are usually helpful towards foreigners.

guatemala safe to live lake atitlan
This could be your doorstep…

Being a foreigner in the country means you’ll stick out more. So trying to blend in and trying to understand local customs is going to go a long way in making sure you don’t end up feeling like a tourist. Learning Spanish, and some Mayan is a good place to start.

And that weather…heavy rain can cause landslides, power outages, and flooding, so being prepared makes sense. Other times of the year, it’s very hot.

Knowing what to do in a disaster situation, like a volcanic eruption, is going to be invaluable. This means knowing where you’re supposed to go, knowing where the evacuation points, and a whole lot more.

So do your research, join Facebook groups, make friends with expats and locals alike, and you’ll have an awesome time. LEARN about the country you’re about to move to.

Is it safe to rent an Airbnb in Guatemala?

While Airbnb itself will be pretty safe, it always depends on where exactly you’re staying. Obviously, renting an Airbnb in a super shady neighborhood will have an effect on your safety, so as long as you stay away from those areas, Airbnbs are probably your safest option. You can check ratings and reviews from previous guests, so you know exactly what to expect. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many Airbnbs in Guatemala yet. You can find most of them in Guatemala City, Antigua and around Lake Atitlán. 

Is Guatemala LGBTQ+ friendly? 

Guatemala is a largely Catholic and conservative country, so LGBTQ+ members might face a few challenges from closed-minded locals. While same-sex relationships aren’t illegal, it’s still a fairly new topic in Guatemala. There are a few clubs that cater to the LGBTQ+ community. But you’ll only find them in major cities like Guatemala City, Antigua, Panajachel, and Quetzaltenango. We hate to say it, but as long as you keep public affection to a minimum, you’ll have a safe trip. 

FAQs on Guatemala’s Safety

Planning a safe trip to Guatemala can get quite overwhelming. That’s why we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on safety in Guatemala.

So, is Guatemala Safe?

guatemala final thoughts pools and swimming
Guatemala has a lot of unique attractions to offer.

It’s not always had the best reputation when it comes to safety, but Guatemala IS generally a safe place to visit. Granted, there ARE crimes committed against tourists, like petty theft and robberies.

As we always stress: travel smart – try not to LOOK like a tourist, avoid deserted streets, do your research on the best companies to use, and you’ll most likely avoid trouble.

Also remember: the statistics for violent crimes in Guatemala are mainly down to gangs. Unless you get yourself into a really stupid situation involving drugs, you’re unlikely to be involved in anything to do with these elements.

Volcanic eruptions are a natural but dangerous event to be aware of, too. Reading up on what to do in an emergency is going to help you stay safe.

At the end of the day, Guatemala does have safety issues. BUT as a tourist, you are valuable to the economy. Sticking to tourist areas, steering clear of sketchy ones, and keeping our travel tips in mind is really going to help you stay safe. Guatemala is awesome – and you should be able to see how awesome it is!

And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? You can get a quote from World Nomads by clicking on the link below.

Want to learn how to travel the world on $10 a day? Check out the Broke Backpacker’s Bible…

Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

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