Guatemala may not be the first place photographers think when trying to come up with a great photographic opportunity, but there are some amazing opportunities in this small Central-American country.
The top photography opportunities in Guatemala include many volcanoes, rainforests, Mayan ruins, beaches and the picturesque towns of Antigua and Guatemala City.
The following list of 29 amazing locations comprise our top picks for photography in Guatemala, compiled with the help of locals, photographers and Instagrammers, all of whom graciously volunteered their work to show off these great locations.
If we missed somewhere you love, or you have a great experience or image to show off, please check out our Facebook group and share! Now onto the locations, in a completely random order!
Ruinas de Zaculeu
The Zaculeu, or Saqulew, ruins are not the most popular ancient Mayan ruins in Guatemala, but they should not be overlooked. The site contains a number of impressive pyramid temples, palaces, plazas and even a ballcourt.
You can visit Zaculeu in the western highlands of Guatemala, just a few miles outside the city of Huehuetenango.
I was drawn to this fun image of one of the temples that features some people showing off the scale of the temple. The image comes from photographer Alizander Mellado.
In another great image, this one from Josué Cano , you can see the whole of one of the temples.
A final image from Ruinas de Zaculeu, I love the creativity in this image from Kim Celada.
Playa Blanca in Livingston
Playa Blanca is one of if not the most popular beaches in Guatemala. It is a huge tourist destination on the east coast of Guatemala in the town of Livingston.
The beach is popular for a reason, it is beautiful with a lot of photographic opportunities, like this postcard shot from Instagrammer @la.phootos.
Playa Blanca is also a fun beach to play at, which you can capture in a great image like the one below from Isabel Hernandez.
Panajachel is a small town on the north shore of Lake Atitlan, which will be featured on its own. The town of Panajachel is surrounded by beautiful scenery and volcanoes and will make any photographer happy.
The view every photographer will want to get is the dock leading into Lake Atitlan with a volcano in the background. You can see the amazing scene in the beautiful image below from Instagrammer Kadri. We will highlight more of the lake below.
Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua
The Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua is perhaps one of the most photographed locations in all of Guatemala. This beautiful archway is located in the scenic streets of Antigua on 5th Avenue North.
If you get the right angle and clear skies you can even frame the Agua Volcano.
You can see the beautiful Arch with its saffron color in this great street scene from bicyclist traveler Erin Azouz.
Agua Volcano (Volcan de Agua)
The giant Volcan de Agua looms over the city of Antigua, making it one of the easiest Volcanos to shoot in Guatemala. The best place to shoot Agua Volcano is the beautiful city of Antigua. The beautiful city provides a great foreground for the huge volcano that looms over the city.
You get a great view of the volcano dwarfing the city in the image below from Instagrammer @evilgeniusslim.
Mayan Ruins of Tikal
The ruins of Tikal are definitely the most famous site in all of Guatemala. The main ruins are located in Northern Guatemala within, surprise, Tikal National Park. In 1979 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ruins of Tikal, anciently called Yax Mutal, dates back to the 4th Century BC and was once a center of power dominating the Mayan civilization. They are well worth the visit to anyone visiting Guatemala.
The amazing ruins are on display in the great image below from Steph aka Traveling Miss Frank.
Iglesia de La Merced
The Iglesia de La Merced is another popular location in Antigua. The beautiful baroque church began as a Monastery dating back to the 16th Century although most of the building has been redone following earthquakes over the centuries. Only the cross in stone at the atrium and the rooms behind the main altar date back to the earliest construction.
You can see the exterior of the Iglesia de La Merced in the image below from popular Instagrammer Fernanda.
Volcano Fuego is a must-visit photography location for anyone that wants to shoot an active volcano.
The volcano is located about 43 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City and can be seen from the capital city; however, you will want to get closer for the money shots.
Volcano Fuego is one of the more active volcanoes you will find in the world. It frequently erupts, spewing ash and lava, making for incredible photographs.
In the stunning image below from photographer Antoine Fahr, you can see the spewing lava with a backdrop of stars.
In another perfectly-timed photo, you can see the shooting lava from nature enthusiast yogi Yoture.
Even without spewing lava, you can still make a great image, like the aerial shot below from Gabriel Overall Salazar.
Lake Atitlan is probably the most famous and potentially most beautiful lake in all of Guatemala. It is located a couple hours from Guatemala City in the southwestern highlands.
Lake Atitlan is a massive crater surrounded by lush green and volcanic domes, all of which make for magnificent compositions.
This awesome image below was taken by Gabby Boucher. She says she was able to get this great shot during a tour she took with local company guateSUP. She recommends anyone that wants to recreate or take a similar shot to take a tour with them!
If you aren’t up for the SUP tour, you can still capture great shots of Lake Atitlan, like this next shot from Ellen Forssell.
The docks at Lake Atitlan provide the perfect foreground, as you can see in the image below from Keren Threlfall.
Playa Monterrico is on the Pacific side of Guatemala. It has been more of a domestic tourist location, but foreign tourism is picking up quite a bit due to the black volcanic beaches and sea turtle migration, all of which make for great photography opportunities.
The black beaches are on display in the image below from Eric Harb.
Cathedral of Guatemala City
The Holy Church Cathedral Metropolitan Basilica of Santiago de Guatemala or Metropolitan Cathedral is the main Catholic church in Guatemala City. I is located the the Parque Central or Central Park of Guatemala City.
You can see the impressive exterior of the Cathedral in the image below from Fernando Mendieta.
Antigua’s Central Park (Parque Central)
Since you will definitely be visiting Antigua with all it has to offer, it would be a waste not to check out the main gathering spot in Central Park. Besides being a hub of social activity, the park is loaded with colonial buildings, tree lined streets and fountains that make for great photography.
Some of the beautiful colonial architecture is on full display in the image below from popular blogger Made by f (fRANCE D).
Another beautiful image of the architecture is the below image from Daniel Marcelo.
Chichicastenango is a remote town north of Lake Atitlan you will want to visiti, just make sure you visit on a Thursday or Sunday so you can see the village explode into one of the biggest markets in all of Guatemala.
The market isn’t what you get with a lot of popular tourist market. This place still caters to locals with lots of fresh produce and bright-colored textiles. The bright colors and designs of the textiles make for great photography.
In the image below from Kelsey Blake, you can see the bright textures with the amazing backdrop of the crumbling town.
A great shot of local flowers with incense was captured in the image below from Alex and Brian of Nowhere Men.
National Palace of Culture
The National Palace of Culture, or Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, is known locally as “Palacio Verde.” This architectural gem in Guatemala City was the headquarters of the Guatemalan President and is considered the most important building in all of Guatemala.
The building is quite striking captured in the evening light, as in the image below from Julio de Leon.
We have already highlighted many awesome locations in Guatemala, but the whole city is pretty much a photographer’s paradise. The colorful buildings and cobblestone streets themselves are worth highlighting.
The colors on this wall alone rival any famous city and the street scene is beautifully captured by Fernando Mendieta.
Sunset on the streets of Antigua provides limitless opportunities, just check out the below image from Jose Juarez.
Santiaguito and Santa Maria Volcanoes
Santiaguito and Santa Maria volcanoes lie next to each other in southwest Guatemala. Santaguito is still active and you can capture photogenic puffs of smoke rising from its cone that make for great images.
You can see a beautiful image of the approach to Santiaguito along the side of Santa Maria from instagrammer @kgoonan.
Following their approach, they also provided us with this awesome image of what you can expect when you reach the base of Santiaguito.
In the image below from Kathecat, you can see the active Santiaguito lying at the foot of the massive Santa Maria Volcano.
Mirador Juan Dieguez Olaverri
If you like mountain-top viewpoints, Mirador Juan Dieguez Olaverri, in the western part of the country, is probably the best viewpoint in all of Guatemala.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mexico, and the viewpoint itself features a funky old building.
There are some great rock ledges for posing in front of the view, like the one below in the image from Ana Villatoro.
You can explore the old building and capture images from inside as well, like in the below image from Jacqueline Morales Rodas.
Laguna del Hoyo in Jalapa
Laguna del Hoyo is a photogenic little crater in Jalapa in southern Guatemala.
The crater looks quite different depending what season you visit. You can see it in the summer in the image below from Viaja con Nosotros.
You can find a completely different kind of beautiful when the greenery surrounds the crater, as you can see in the image below from Vicky Cajas.
Indian Nose Hill
Indian Nose Hill or Indian’s Nose is a popular hiking spot on the west side of Lake Atitlan. It is famous for its fantastic views, especially at sunrise when most people visit.
Most people opt to take a tour even though it is a relatively hike. This is because the trail is notorious for local people demanding entrance fees, often at different points, meaning you may pay more than once and you may not feel completely safe.
You can see the sunrise view from Indian’s Nose in the image below from Rodrigo Garcia.
In the shot of Indian’s Nose below from Eduardo Height, you can see more of the landscape and what you will be working with.
Fuentes Georginas is an impressive complex of hot springs naturally heated by volcano. The beautiful turquoise waters with lush greenery in the background make for great photo opportunities.
Fuentes Georginas is a little west of Lake Atitlan near the city of Zunil.
The beautiful water and lush greenery are on full display in the below image from William Testa of Onelight Visuals.
Adding a model to the water is a great way to highlight the colors, as you can see in the image below from podcaster Diana Tanchez.
If you want more beautiful turquoise waters, the National Monument Semuc Champey is an impressive natural attractions in Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala.
The area features turquoise waters, lots of rock formations, green jungles and great swimming.
You can see the beautiful waters of Semuc Champey in another shot from photographer Alizander Mellado.
Cerro de la Cruz
We talked earlier about the great views of Volcan Agua from Antigua, but Cerro de la Cruz is going to be the best viewpoint in Antigua.
The hike to the top is popular and is only about 20 minutes long, but it is a fairly steep incline. The views at the top are well worth the effort.
You can see the prominent cross dedicated to the city’s patron saint in the image below from Ing of Baking.
Hannah Londcaulk shows off the amazing view of Agua Volcano from the top of Cerro de la Cruz in the following image.
Yaxha is the site of more impressive pre-Columbian Mayan ruins. Yaxha is in northwest Guatemala, making it popular for visitors coming from Belize.
The impressive site has over 500 structures with the Northern Acropolis being the most impressive.
You can see the impressive ruins in the image below from Instagrammer @oscuropielago.
A great view of some additional ruins from Kevin Castro.
Pacaya Volcano is located 30 miles from Guatemala city. Pacaya Volcano is another active volcano which can make for some great shots if you get lucky.
Hiking to the volcano takes about two hours, but it is through a beautiful national park surrounded by nature.
From Pacaya Volcano’s viewpoints you can see three volcanoes: Agua, Acatenango and Fuego, the latter also active. You can also see Lake Amatitlán and Guatemala City.
Since 2005, Pacaya Volcano has been increasing its activity and is most spectacular with its petrified lava fields and, if you get lucky, the active lava flows, along with the multiple strombolian-type explosions.
You can see the beautiful hike to the volcano and lava fields in the image below from Javier Garcia.
Another great shot showing the Pacaya Volcano during the day with lots of lava rocks. This image comes from Alvin Jordan.
Laguna Brava, or Yolnabaj, is located in Huehuetenango on the western border with Mexico. The lagoon is yet another example of turquoise waters surrounded by mountains and lush greenery.
The water at Laguna Brava is famous for being super clear so that you can see all the way to the bottom.
You can see the all the beautiful color in the image below from Steffy Barrera.
Acatenango is the third highest volcano in Central America, at 3976 meters. The hike to the top can be rough, but the views of Antigua city, especially at sunrise, are well worth the effort.
You can also get a great view of the neighboring Fuego volcano, which may be erupting with smoke or lave flows if you are lucky.
The views from the top can be seen in the great image below from Alysee Brianna.
The Chicabal lagoon is located inside the crater of the Chicabal volcano just outside Quetzaltenango, west of Lake Atitlan.
The hike up Chicabal Volcano to reach the Lagoon is well worth the effort. After going through the lush rainforest, you reach a beautiful lake that is often covered in a dense and photogenic mist or fog.
The beautiful hike down to the lagoon can be seen in the image below from Gerson Avila.
I love this great self-capture from Claire Sturek that captures the mist over the lagoon.
Union Tank (Tanque La Unión) in Antigua
Union Tank is another great location in Antigua. The tank is the old colonial clothes washing location so the history is unique and interesting. If you are lucky, you may still find someone doing laundry when you visit.
Aside from the history, this unique location is full of beautiful colors, architecture and culture, with people coming to relax and hang out.
You can see the great colors of the Union Tank in the image below from Digital Nomad Christa.
You can also capture a great background with the Union Tank in the foreground, as you can see in the image below from content creator @rebecav06.
Raxruja is a small town in Central Guatemala. It is a great launch point to find some scenic waterfalls, like the one below, also shot by photographer Alizander Mellado.