Guatemala vs. Peru

Deciding between Guatemala and Peru for your next vacation might be a challenge. Both countries offer unique attractions, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural experiences. Will you be drawn to the ancient ruins of Guatemala or the majestic mountains of Peru? Discover the best of both worlds and find the perfect destination for you.
Guatemala vs. Peru

Table of Contents

Each country has its own distinct allure, and it’s important to consider what aspects of travel matter most to you. In this comparison, we’ll dive into various factors such as history, culture, attractions, and more. Keep reading to learn about the highlights of Guatemala and Peru, and make an informed decision for your unforgettable journey.

History & Culture

Delving into the history and culture of a destination can enrich your travel experience. Comparing Guatemala and Peru, you’ll find unique and fascinating stories in both countries.

Guatemala’s history is steeped in ancient Mayan civilization, with impressive ruins scattered throughout the country. You’ll be amazed by the architectural and artistic achievements of this ancient culture. In contrast, Peru’s history is dominated by the mighty Inca Empire, with iconic sites like Machu Picchu showcasing their remarkable skills in construction and engineering.

Cultural experiences in Guatemala range from colorful textiles to traditional music and dance. You’ll find a vibrant blend of indigenous and Spanish influences in local customs and traditions. On the other hand, Peru boasts a rich tapestry of cultures, including Andean, Spanish, and African influences, creating a unique blend of music, dance, and art.

In terms of language, Spanish is predominantly spoken in both countries, but you’ll also encounter numerous indigenous languages in both Guatemala and Peru. Learning a few words of the local dialect can open doors and lead to more authentic interactions with locals.

Guatemala and Peru both have strong indigenous roots, with many communities still maintaining traditional lifestyles. Visiting these areas offers a glimpse into the past and a deeper understanding of each country’s history.

In summary, both Guatemala and Peru offer fascinating histories and rich cultural experiences for travelers. Whether you’re drawn to the ancient Mayan ruins of Guatemala or the Inca wonders of Peru, you’re sure to have a memorable journey.

Attractions & Activities

With countless attractions and activities in both Guatemala and Peru, it can be hard to decide which destination is right for you. Here’s a closer look at what each country has to offer.

Guatemala is known for its incredible natural beauty, from lush rainforests to active volcanoes. Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the country’s national parks, trekking through jungle trails, or climbing its volcanic peaks. History buffs can visit numerous Mayan ruins, including Tikal, one of the largest archaeological sites in Central America.

Peru, on the other hand, offers a diverse range of attractions, from the iconic Machu Picchu to the stunning landscapes of the Sacred Valley. Adventure-seekers can embark on the Inca Trail, a challenging multi-day hike that culminates at the famous ruins. Alternatively, nature lovers can explore the Amazon rainforest, home to an astonishing variety of wildlife.

For art enthusiasts, Guatemala’s colonial city of Antigua boasts impressive architecture and vibrant art galleries. Meanwhile, Peru’s capital, Lima, is a hub for contemporary art, with world-class museums and galleries showcasing the work of local and international artists.

While Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan offers a serene escape with its picturesque villages and stunning vistas, Peru’s Colca Canyon promises an unforgettable adventure, with opportunities for trekking, bird-watching, and spotting the majestic Andean condor.

In Guatemala, you can learn about the ancient art of chocolate-making, while in Peru, you can participate in traditional weaving workshops, connecting with local artisans and immersing yourself in their crafts.

In conclusion, whether you’re an adventurer, history enthusiast, or culture lover, both Guatemala and Peru offer a wealth of attractions and activities to suit your interests. Consider what experiences resonate most with you when choosing between these two captivating destinations.


A beach vacation can be the perfect escape, and both Guatemala and Peru offer beautiful coastal getaways. Let’s compare the beaches of these two destinations to help you decide which is right for you.

Guatemala’s Pacific coast boasts black sand beaches, warm waters, and fantastic surf spots. Monterrico, one of the most popular beach destinations in Guatemala, is known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning sunsets. This region is also home to several sea turtle nesting sites, offering unique opportunities to witness these amazing creatures up close.

On the other hand, Peru’s beaches are found along its extensive Pacific coastline. Punta Sal, located in the north, offers warm water, golden sands, and a relaxed vibe, perfect for soaking up the sun. If you’re into surfing, the town of Máncora is a must-visit, known for its consistent waves and lively atmosphere.

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, while not a coastal beach, provides an alternative to the ocean, with its crystal-clear waters and serene shoreline surrounded by volcanoes. In Peru, you can explore the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) above sea level.

Guatemala’s Caribbean coast features the town of Livingston, a unique cultural hub where the Garifuna community resides. It’s not known for sandy beaches, but the nearby Belize Barrier Reef provides excellent opportunities for snorkeling and diving.

Peru’s Paracas National Reserve, located along the southern coast, offers stunning landscapes, wildlife spotting, and secluded beaches like Playa Roja, famous for its red sand.

In summary, both Guatemala and Peru have their unique beach offerings. If you’re seeking black sand beaches and surf spots, Guatemala might be the choice for you. But if you prefer a diverse range of coastal experiences, from golden sands to wildlife reserves, Peru could be your ideal destination.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Savoring local cuisine and enjoying vibrant nightlife are essential parts of any vacation. Here’s a comparison of the eating, drinking, and nightlife scenes in Guatemala and Peru.

Guatemalan cuisine is a flavorful blend of Mayan, Spanish, and other influences. Traditional dishes like pepian, a spicy stew, and tamales are popular staples. Antigua is a culinary hotspot, offering a variety of restaurants and street food options.

In contrast, Peruvian food is internationally renowned for its rich flavors and diverse ingredients. From ceviche to lomo saltado, you’ll find a wealth of delicious dishes to sample. Lima, in particular, boasts an impressive gastronomic scene, with several world-class restaurants.

When it comes to drinking, Guatemala is known for its high-quality coffee and locally produced rum, like Ron Zacapa. You’ll find cozy cafes and lively bars throughout the country. In Peru, the national drink is pisco sour, a refreshing cocktail made from pisco, a grape brandy. There are numerous bars and tasting rooms where you can enjoy this famous concoction.

Guatemala’s nightlife scene is diverse, with Antigua and Guatemala City offering a mix of trendy bars, live music venues, and dance clubs. Traditional marimba music is popular, but you’ll also find modern genres to suit all tastes. Peru’s nightlife is vibrant, with Lima leading the way. Here, you’ll find a variety of options, from stylish rooftop bars to pulsating nightclubs.

Both countries have unique cultural experiences to offer after dark. In Guatemala, you can attend a traditional Maya ceremony or watch a live marimba performance. In Peru, you can experience a peña, a lively showcase of traditional music and dance.

In conclusion, both Guatemala and Peru offer enticing dining, drinking, and nightlife experiences. Guatemala showcases a blend of flavors in its cuisine, while Peru is renowned for its diverse culinary offerings.

If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, both countries deliver a variety of bars, clubs, and cultural experiences. Your choice may come down to personal taste, whether you prefer sipping on a Guatemalan rum or a Peruvian pisco sour, or if you’re drawn to the allure of either country’s unique cultural performances.


When it comes to shopping, both Guatemala and Peru offer unique opportunities. You can find handcrafted items, colorful textiles, and memorable souvenirs in both countries.

In Guatemala, markets are filled with vibrant colors and traditional crafts. You can find exquisite textiles, handmade ceramics, and beautifully carved wooden items. These unique treasures reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Peru, on the other hand, is famous for its high-quality alpaca wool products, silver jewelry, and traditional handicrafts. You can shop for warm alpaca sweaters, stunning silver accessories, and intricate tapestries in local markets and boutiques.

In both countries, haggling is common, so don’t be shy about negotiating prices. Exploring the bustling markets in either destination is an adventure in itself.

Overall, both Guatemala and Peru provide a rich shopping experience. Your preference may depend on whether you’re drawn to the textiles of Guatemala or the alpaca wool and silver products of Peru.


Finding a comfortable place to stay is essential when traveling. Guatemala and Peru offer a range of accommodation options to suit your needs and budget.

Guatemala boasts a mix of budget-friendly hostels, mid-range hotels, and luxurious boutique accommodations. From charming colonial-style guesthouses to eco-lodges surrounded by nature, you can find a place to rest your head in Guatemala.

Peru offers a similar range of options, with budget hostels, mid-range hotels, and high-end establishments. In popular tourist areas like Cusco and Lima, you can find charming B&Bs and luxurious five-star hotels, catering to various preferences and budgets.

In conclusion, both Guatemala and Peru offer diverse accommodation choices, ensuring you can find the perfect place to stay. The deciding factor may come down to your specific travel plans, budget, and personal preferences.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Planning a family vacation can be challenging, but both Guatemala and Peru offer fun and engaging experiences for children. Let’s explore what each destination has to offer for families.

Guatemala has a variety of activities that cater to kids. Visiting interactive museums, exploring ancient ruins, and discovering the country’s vibrant culture can be educational and entertaining. Family-friendly options include wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves where kids can learn about local flora and fauna.

In Peru, your family can also enjoy a mix of educational and adventure activities. Exploring ancient Incan ruins like Machu Picchu, visiting wildlife centers in the Amazon, or sandboarding in Huacachina are just a few examples. Interactive museums and hands-on workshops can further enrich your child’s experience.

Both countries offer a range of outdoor activities like hiking, zip-lining, and horseback riding. These activities can be tailored to your family’s preferences and abilities, ensuring a fun and memorable experience for all ages.

In summary, Guatemala and Peru are both family-friendly destinations with a variety of activities for children. Your choice may depend on the specific interests of your family and the type of experiences you seek.

Getting There & Getting Around

Reaching and navigating your chosen destination is an essential part of your trip. Here’s what to expect when traveling to and around Guatemala and Peru.

To reach Guatemala, you’ll likely fly into La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City. From the US, there are direct flights available, taking around 4-6 hours. For Peru, the main international airport is Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima, with direct flights from the US taking approximately 6-8 hours.

Once you arrive, both Guatemala and Peru have various transportation options. In Guatemala, you can choose from public buses, shuttles, taxis, and car rentals. It’s essential to be cautious when using public transportation, as safety can be a concern.

In Peru, you’ll find similar options like buses, taxis, and car rentals. In addition, Peru has a well-developed train system, providing a comfortable and scenic way to explore the country. Be aware of safety when using public transportation and taxis, especially in larger cities.

To sum up, both Guatemala and Peru are relatively accessible and provide various transportation options. Your choice may depend on your comfort level with public transportation and the specific destinations you plan to visit.


When planning a trip, weather plays an essential role in your decision. Here’s a comparison of the climate in Guatemala and Peru to help you choose.

Guatemala has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: the rainy season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April). During the rainy season, expect daily rainfall and temperatures between 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C). In the dry season, temperatures range from 59°F (15°C) to 77°F (25°C), making it a more popular time to visit.

Peru’s weather varies greatly depending on the region. The coastal areas have a mild climate with temperatures averaging between 63°F (17°C) and 82°F (28°C). The Andean highlands experience cooler temperatures and distinct wet and dry seasons. The Amazon region is hot and humid, with temperatures between 73°F (23°C) and 86°F (30°C) year-round.

In summary, Guatemala’s tropical climate offers warmth throughout the year, while Peru’s diverse climate provides a range of weather experiences. Your choice may depend on your preferred activities and the regions you plan to visit.


Safety is a critical factor when choosing a travel destination. Let’s compare the safety of Guatemala and Peru to help you decide.

Both Guatemala and Peru have concerns regarding petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft. It’s essential to be cautious in crowded areas and keep your belongings secure. It’s also wise to avoid displaying expensive items or flashing cash in public.

In Guatemala, some areas have higher crime rates, and it’s recommended to avoid traveling at night. Be particularly vigilant in Guatemala City and other tourist hotspots.

In Peru, while most tourist areas are relatively safe, exercise caution in larger cities like Lima and Cusco. As with Guatemala, avoid traveling at night and stay aware of your surroundings.

In terms of health, both countries may pose risks of mosquito-borne illnesses. It’s vital to protect yourself with appropriate clothing, insect repellent, and vaccinations if recommended.

To sum up, both Guatemala and Peru require caution regarding petty crime and health risks. Your choice may depend on your personal comfort level and the precautions you’re willing to take while traveling.


Budget plays a crucial role in deciding where to go on vacation. This section compares the costs of visiting Guatemala and Peru to help you choose the best option.

In Guatemala, the local currency is the Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ). You can expect to pay around GTQ 45 ($6) for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Accommodation prices vary, with a budget hotel room costing about GTQ 150 ($20) per night.

Peru’s currency is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). A meal at an affordable restaurant costs about PEN 20 ($6), similar to Guatemala. For accommodations, a budget hotel room in Peru will set you back around PEN 75 ($22) per night.

When it comes to attractions, Guatemala offers various historical sites, like the Tikal ruins, with an entrance fee of GTQ 150 ($20). On the other hand, Peru’s most famous attraction, Machu Picchu, has a higher entrance fee of PEN 152 ($45).

Transportation costs in both countries are relatively low. In Guatemala, a local bus fare is around GTQ 2 ($0.25), while in Peru, it costs approximately PEN 1.50 ($0.45).

In summary, the cost of traveling in both Guatemala and Peru is quite similar, with some slight differences in accommodation and attraction fees. Your choice may depend on which attractions you prioritize and your overall budget.

Which Is Better – Guatemala or Peru?

Now that you’ve explored various aspects of Guatemala and Peru, it’s time to decide which destination suits you best.

In terms of history and culture, both countries offer rich experiences. Guatemala is known for its ancient Mayan sites, while Peru boasts Incan history and diverse cultural influences.

For attractions and activities, Guatemala provides natural beauty and adventure opportunities. Peru, on the other hand, offers diverse landscapes from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes Mountains.

Beach lovers might prefer Guatemala’s Caribbean coastline, while foodies may enjoy the culinary delights of Peru. Nightlife enthusiasts will find vibrant scenes in both countries, with a slightly larger variety in Peru.

When it comes to family-friendliness, both countries offer exciting children’s activities, but Peru might have a slight edge due to its larger selection of attractions.

Getting around in both countries is fairly straightforward, with affordable transportation options. However, the journey to each destination may differ in cost and duration depending on your starting point.

Weather-wise, Guatemala’s tropical climate is consistently warm, while Peru’s varied geography offers different weather experiences. Safety concerns are similar in both countries, with petty crime being the primary issue.

Finally, the cost of traveling in both Guatemala and Peru is relatively similar, with minor differences in accommodations and attractions.

In conclusion, the better choice between Guatemala and Peru ultimately depends on your personal preferences, interests, and travel priorities. Whether you’re seeking cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, or culinary delights, both countries have unique offerings that cater to a variety of travelers.