A Guide To Flores Guatemala: Why I Loved This Maya Town

The colourful Isla de Flores in Guatemala
The colourful Isla de Flores in Guatemala

The vast majority of visitors head to Flores in Guatemala for one reason only: to visit the spectacular Maya ruins of Tikal. With towering ancient temples looming out of the thick jungle, and shady paths teeming with wildlife, Tikal is one of Guatemala’s highlights, and should definitely be on your Guatemala itinerary.

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But while most people simply fly in, do a Tikal day trip, and leave again, I think that’s a mistake. Because there are loads more things to do in Flores besides Tikal, and if you have time, it’s definitely worth staying a little longer to enjoy some of them.

About my visit to Flores Guatemala

I spent three months travelling in Guatemala and as part of my trip I spent a full week in Flores – way more than most people manage. That gave me a chance to explore the options and do many of the things that the majority of visitors to Flores don’t have time for.

So here’s what I discovered, complete with my recommendations for how to spend a few days in and around Flores, Guatemala.

Guide to Flores Guatemala pinterest pin
Why not pin this guide to Flores Guatemala for later?

Introducing Flores in Guatemala

Flores is a town in the north of Guatemala. It’s known as the gateway to the Petén, Guatemala’s vast northern rainforest region, because it’s the main transport hub. If you’re travelling to anywhere in the Petén, you’ll need to go through Flores.

Flores is made up of four areas:

  • Isla de Flores: This is the historic old town: a cute, colourful area clustered onto a small island in Lake Petén Itza, and connected to the mainland via a short causeway. The old town is charming, with pastel-painted houses, cobbled streets, and plenty of hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants. As a result, it’s something of a tourist hub that can feel like a bit of a bubble, but it’s a relaxed and charming place to spend a few days, so don’t let that put you off.
  • Santa Elena and San Benito: These twin suburbs are located on the mainland at the opposite end of the causeway. Most tourists don’t bother crossing over, except to go to the airport, the bus terminal, or the shopping mall – other than these, there’s no real reason to visit.
  • San Miguel: This is a small suburb just across the lake from the north side of Isla de Flores. It can be reached with a short boat ride, and there are a few lakeside hotels and hostels that are worth considering if you’re on a budget. There’s also an excellent viewpoint and a small beach for swimming.
Isla de Flores Guatemala and Lake Petén Itzá as seen from the Mirador on San Miguel
Flores old town is on an island in Lake Petén Itzá

A brief history of Flores Island Guatemala

Flores goes down in history as being the second oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the Americas, and the very last Maya city to fall to the Spanish.

When the Spanish army arrived in Guatemala in 1524, they began trying to conquer the Maya people. But the Maya civilisation was divided up into dozens of independent city states, so the Spanish had to battle through the impenetrable jungle terrain in an attempt to defeat them all, one by one.

It took them nearly 200 years, but eventually there was just one left, the island town of Noj Petén (Great Island).

In 1679 the Spanish army arrived on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá. They used boats to attack Noj Petén, and slaughtered many of the town’s defenders. The rest fled into the jungle, and the conquerors then destroyed the city, and built the new city of Flores over the top.

You can still see a few Maya stelae (carved monuments) dating back to before the Spanish conquest in Flores’ main square.

Carved ancient Maya stela in the main square in Flores in Guatemala
Carved ancient Maya stela in the main square in Flores in Guatemala

What to do in Flores Guatemala

Flores ended up being one of my favourite places in the whole of Guatemala. It’s a charming, chilled out town with beautiful views (including some incredible sunsets) so it’s really worth spending a few days here to explore.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the many things to do in Flores Guatemala and the surrounding area.

1/ Explore Mayan ruins at Tikal

If you only do one thing around Flores, it has to be Tikal. Tikal was one of the greatest cities in the Maya civilisation, with magnificent pyramids, plazas and palaces, and at its height the city and the kingdom it controlled were home to an estimated 100,000 people.

Today Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Park, a vast expanse of lush green rainforest crisscrossed by shady jungle paths and dotted with crumbling ruined temples. You can easily spend a day or more getting lost here, feeling like a Victorian explorer as you investigate hidden pathways and stumble across ruins hidden in the trees.

The Mayan ruins of Tikal near Flores Guatemala
The Mayan ruins of Tikal are the top attraction near Flores Guatemala

How to get to Tikal from Flores

Most people visit Tikal on a day trip from Flores. There are sunrise, early morning, daytime and sunset tours, with transport and guide included, though note that access to the park for sunrise and sunset requires an additional ticket.

You can also get a public bus and then explore by yourself, but it’s a huge site so I think it’s better to go with a guide, so you don’t get lost and know what you’re looking at.

There’ll be a full post about Tikal coming soon, so subscribe here if you want to get an email update when it’s posted.

Magnificent temples soar out of the jungle at Tikal
Magnificent temples soar out of the jungle at Tikal

2/ Have Mayan temples to yourself at Yaxha

Tikal is not the only Flores Mayan ruins, and certainly not the only one worth visiting. About 20 miles from Tikal is Yaxha, which was the third largest Maya city in Guatemala, and is now another gorgeous National Park busting with ancient ruins and abundant jungle wildlife.

Since most visitors to Flores only go to Tikal, it’s worth taking the time to visit Yaxha as well, for another incredible Mayan jungle experience but without any of the crowds.

How to get to Yaxha from Flores

The easiest way to get to Yaxha is on a day trip from Flores. You can do daytime tours or afternoon tours, where you get to climb up the tallest temple and watch the sun set over the park – a truly magical experience.

I wrote a full blog post about visiting Yaxha, which you can find here: Yaxha Guatemala: The Magical Mayan Ruins You Need To Visit.

The ancient ruins of Yaxha near Flores in Guatemala
Yaxha is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Flores

3/ Dive into the Blue Crater / Crater Azul

Visit any Flores tour company and you’ll see signs advertising something called the Crater Azul (Blue Crater). It’s a popular attraction with locals, but most tourists don’t go there because they don’t stay in Flores long enough to fit it in alongside all the other things to do.

But since I was in Flores for a week, I had time, so I went!

Despite its name, the Blue Crater is not actually a crater, but a part of the river Arroyo El Pucté. Here, the depth of the river reaches up to 8 metres, and the water is incredibly blue and clear.

There are no changing facilities or shops, just a small pontoon for swimming off, and a shady patch of forest to leave your stuff. Outdoor swimming as nature intended!

It’s a lovely place to cool off in a jungle setting with almost no one else around.  If you visit on a weekday you might even get the whole place to yourself, though I went on a Sunday when it was a bit more crowded with local people.

Read more: Crater Azul: Swimming In Guatemala’s Gorgeous Blue Crater

The blue crater (crater azul) near Flores Guatemala
The water in the Blue Crater is wonderful for swimming in

How to get to the Blue Crater from Flores Peten

The Blue Crater is about 1 hour’s drive from Flores, followed by a 30-minute boat ride along the river, making getting there part of the fun.

The easiest way to get there is on a day trip from Flores. I paid Q350 (£37.60 or $45.20) which included transport, drinks, the guide, and the chance to have your photo taken swimming in the clear water. It’s quite expensive compared to other day tours in the area, but it was a lovely day out.

Read more: Backpacking in Guatemala: All You Need To Know Before You Go

A Guide To Flores Guatemala: Why I Loved This Maya Town
The boat trip to the Blue Crater is part of the fun

4/ Explore the colourful streets of the Isla de Flores Guatemala

Not everything there is to do around Flores needs to cost money. You can happily spend a couple of hours just exploring the island and old town.

The Isla de Flores is small, with a promenade running all the way round its perimeter. You can stroll the entire thing in about half an hour, and if you’re into jogging, it’s also a safe and pretty place to run laps (though you’d have to do quite a few to get any kind of distance).

Wander the cobbled back streets and you’ll find souvenir shops, tour operators where you can plan your next excursion, bars and cafes.

Read more: 30 Beautiful Pictures Of Guatemala And The Stories Behind Them

The pretty streets of Flores in Guatemala
The pretty streets of Flores in Guatemala are lovely to walk around

5/ See Flores’ history in the main square

The middle of the Isla de Flores is a hill, with steep streets leading up to the main square at the top. Here you’ll find a few old Maya stelae dating from before the Spanish conquest.

The white-painted cathedral (Catedral Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios y San Pablo Itzá) is also worth a quick visit. Rising above the rest of the old town, it’s one of the oldest churches in Guatemala and was built on the site of the original Maya temple. Stick your head inside to admire the beautiful stained-glass windows and a rare Black figure of Jesus.

Sadly, the rest of Flores’ Mayan history has either been taken away to museums, or was lost or destroyed after the Spanish conquest.

Read more: The Expert Guide To Xela Guatemala: Things To See And Do

Catedral Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios y San Pablo Itzá (Flores church) in Flores Guatemala
It’s worth having a quick look at Flores church when you’re exploring the Island

6/ Enjoy sundowners overlooking Lake Peten Itza

One of my favourite things about Flores was the incredible sunsets. With its gorgeous lakeside setting, not only do you get beautiful colours, you also get fabulous silhouettes and reflections.

Many of the lakefront bars and restaurants take full advantage of the show, with rooftop terraces and happy hour specials. Watching the sun set over the lake with a drink in hand is one of the best ways to end a day in Guatemala.

Gorgeous sunset in Flores Guatemala
Flores gave me some of the best sunsets I saw during my whole time in Guatemala

7/ Swim in Lago Petén Itzá

If you’re a fan of freshwater swimming, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the lake is safe to swim in. As you walk around you’ll see people swimming pretty much anywhere, though for safety reasons it’s best to avoid swimming near where the boats arrive and depart.

There are a few jetties dotted around the perimeter of the island which you can use as a base for swimming, though there are no facilities and no security, so don’t take any valuables with you.

Read more: A Perfect Guatemala Itinerary In 10 Days, 2 Weeks Or 3 Weeks

Sunset and jetty, Flores, Guatemala
There are several jetties around the edge of the lake that you can swim off

8/ Take a boat trip on the lake

Another way to spend a chilled couple of hours in Flores is by taking a ‘lancha’ (boat) ride on the lake. Lancha drivers park their boats up at several pontoons all the way round the island’s perimeter, and will take you anywhere you want to go.

Prices start typically at about Q20 (£2.15 or $2.50) for a one-way trip, up to about Q200 (£21.50 or $25.80) for a half day tour where the driver will take you to various islands and wait for you while you look around. Places worth checking out on your lake tour could include the San Miguel viewpoint, Chechenal beach, Petencito Zoo or the Santa Barbara Museum of Mayan archaeology, a small museum on an island in the lake.

Boatmen wait for customers on Lake Peten Itza, Flores, Guatemala
Boatmen wait for customers on Lake Peten Itza, Flores Guatemala

9/ Chill out at Jorge’s Rope Swing

Jorge’s Rope Swing is a privately-owned lakeside hangout spot, where you can sunbathe, swim, and get a drink or some food. There’s a swimming platform and two rope swings for jumping into the lake. You can only get there by boat – any boat driver waiting at one of the main pontoons will take you – plus you’ll need to pay for entry which costs Q25 (£2.60 or $3.20) per person.

I didn’t visit as I had heard mixed reviews, with some people saying it’s a lovely place to relax and others saying it’s overpriced. I think it could be a fun way to spend an afternoon if you’re with friends, but I thought it was a bit expensive for me to go on my own.

A swim in the lake is the perfect way to cool off from the heat and humidity in Flores
A swim in Flores lake Guatemala is the perfect way to cool off from the heat

10/ Stroll along the lakeshore at El Remate

El Remate is a small village at the opposite end of Lake Peten Itza, about 40 minutes by road from Flores. It’s a relaxed, tranquil place, with a few hotels and restaurants and a pretty lakeshore walk with gorgeous views.

You can also visit the Biotopo Cerró Cahui nature reserve, where there are hiking trails and the chance to spot bird life.

The people of El Remate are clued up to Instagram trends, so as you walk around you’ll find loads of colourfully painted jetties, angel wings or signs to pose in front of, to give your travel pics a burst of colour. And since El Remate is much quieter than Flores, it’s also said to be an excellent place to go swimming in the lake after a hot, sweaty day of exploring jungle ruins.

El Remate is a pretty village near Flores that's lovely to walk around
El Remate is a pretty village near Flores that’s lovely to walk around

How to get to El Remate from Flores, Peten

Take a tuk-tuk from Flores Old Town across the causeway to the main bus terminal in Santa Elena. From there you can get any bus heading to Tikal (they go about every half hour) and ask to be dropped off in El Remate. When you want to come back, just stand on the main road where you were dropped off and flag down any bus heading back to Flores.

Read more: A Sunrise Hike Up Volcan Santa Maria In Xela, Guatemala

Posing on a colourful pier in El Remate Guatemala
There are plenty of photo opportunities in El Remate!

11/ Walk through the treetops at Skyway Ixpanpajul

Ixpanpajul is a nature reserve covering 450 hectares of Guatemalan rainforest. It has a network of six canopy walkway suspension bridges joined by jungle trails, a jungle zipline experience, and a viewpoint. The views are stunning and if you go in the morning you should be able to spot plenty of wildlife. You can also do a horseback tour, or stay overnight (there’s a campsite and some simple bungalows). 

How to get from Flores to Ixpanpajul

Ixpanpajul is about 15 minutes’ drive from the Island of Flores and 10 minutes from Mundo Maya International Airport. During peak season you may be able to do a day tour from Flores or get a public shuttle, but the easiest way to get there is by taxi.

Coati or Coatimundi spotted at Tikal in Guatemala
The area around Flores is full of wildlife including cute Coatimundis like this one

12/ Admire the views from Mirador del Rey Canek

The best views of the Isla de Flores can be had from the San Miguel Mirador, also known as the Mirador del Rey Canek. This is a viewpoint on the San Miguel side of the lake, just opposite the northwest tip of the island.

From the mirador you get a wonderful view of the whole lake, and you can really appreciate the beauty of Flores’s island location. Go just before sunset to enjoy magical views and listen to howler monkeys calling to each other as night falls.

Sunset views of the Isla de Flores as seen from the Mirador del Rey Canek
Sunset views of the Isla de Flores Guatemala as seen from the Mirador del Rey Canek

How to get to the San Miguel Mirador from Flores

To get there, grab a lancha for the 10-minute shuttle across the lake. I paid Q20 each way for this. The driver will drop you off at a jetty on the other side, from where it’s a relatively easy walk up a couple of hundred steps to the colourfully-painted viewing platform. The path is easy to follow so you won’t get lost. At the bottom of the last staircase you may meet a warden who will ask you to sign a register – this is just so they can keep track of visitor numbers.

13/ Swim at Chechenal beach

From the mirador, you can also take a path down to the opposite side of San Miguel, where you’ll find Chechenal beach. The word ‘beach’ is possibly a little ambitious, but there is a small strip of sand and a rainbow-painted jetty for swimming off which is popular with local teens.

The water is clear and fresh here, and there are picnic benches and vendors selling drinks and snacks. You can also get here directly without going via the mirador, by asking any lancha driver to take you directly to Chechenal beach. Entry costs Q50 (£5.35 or $6.45) per person. 

Chechenal Beach is probably the best place to go swimming near Flores Guatemala
Chechenal Beach is probably the best place to go swimming near Flores Peten Guatemala

14/ Do the 5-day hike to El Mirador Mayan ruins

For those of you who like your Maya ruins with a dose of real adventure, El Mirador is the place for you. The largest Maya site of them all, El Mirador is a magnificent complex of temples and palaces, most of which are still lost in dense jungle and have yet to be studied or restored.

There are no roads to get here, so the only way is either by helicopter, or via a challenging trek through the thick and humid rainforest. El Mirador hikes start from Flores and take 5-6 days, but according to those that have been there, are well worth it for the chance to explore Maya ruins that have barely been seen by human eyes for over 1000 years.

Thick tropical jungle in the Peten region near Flores, Guatemala
The hike to El Mirador is mostly through thick jungle like this

15/ Explore Uaxactun Mayan ruins

If a five-day jungle hike seems like too much (and I don’t blame you!), there’s one more set of Mayan ruins that are worth considering, and that’s the complex at Uaxactun.

Uaxactun is about 12 miles from Tikal and is another, smaller Maya city with plazas and temples. Although close to Tikal, the two city states were bitter rivals and warred constantly until Tikal conquered Uaxactun in 378 AD.

Today the site is not as impressive as Tikal and Yaxha, but is still worth visiting if you like your Maya ruins without the crowds.

16/ Get close to spider monkeys at Monkey Island

Monkey Island is an island in a private nature reserve that belongs to the luxury Las Lagunas hotel. The reserve covers 200 acres and includes five lagoons, one of which is where Monkey Island is located.

However you don’t need to stay in the hotel to visit, you can can also visit the nature reserve on a day trip from Flores.

The island is home to a colony of spider monkeys. You’re not allowed to set foot on the island, but you can take a boat cruise around the shore and the monkeys will come down to be fed when they hear the sound of the boat approaching. Contact the hotel for more information about how to visit.

Spider monkey. Yaxha, Guatemala
Monkey Island is a good place to get close to spider monkeys like this one

17/ See rescued wildlife at ARCAS

ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Centre is located on an island on Lake Petén Itza, about a 10-minute boat ride from Flores.

It was founded in 1989 to combat habitat loss and the illegal pet trade, and today is home to a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals including spider and howler monkeys and scarlet macaws. Tourists can’t visit the rehabilitation centre, but if you’re a really keen wildlife lover you can volunteer there, or there’s a nature trail where you can do a small tour in Spanish to see animals rescued from the illegal pet trade that wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild.

Howler monkey, Guatemala
Monkeys like this howler monkey are sometimes victims of the illegal pet trade

18/ Take Spanish lessons

Guatemala is often recognised as being one of the best places in the world to learn Spanish. It’s one of the cheapest countries to live in and travel around, and the Spanish spoken here is much clearer and easier to understand than in many other places. So if you have time, why not combine your stay in Flores with a few Spanish lessons?

Dos Mundos Spanish School offers one-to-one or group classes, and can also help you arrange tours, homestay accommodation, or volunteering opportunities.

As well as being a cute town to stay in, Flores is a great place to learn Spanish in Guatemala
As well as being a cute town to stay in, Flores is a great place to learn Spanish in Guatemala

Flores Guatemala hotels: where to stay

Budget and mid-range hotels in Flores

  • Los Amigos Hostel: Frequently touted as the best place to stay in Flores, this friendly and colourful hostel deserves all the accolades it gets. With dorms for the budget-conscious as well as clean and comfortable private rooms, Los Amigos also has a buzzing bar, a restaurant serving some of the best food in town, and a in-house travel agency. I stayed here a week, and the staff were some of the friendliest and most helpful I met in my entire time in Guatemala.
  • Mayan Spirit Hotel, San Miguel: I visited this one on a day trip to see some friends who were staying here. Hotels on the San Miguel side are much cheaper as they’re not on the island proper, so you get more bang for your buck. To compensate for the location, your room rate includes 2 return boat trips to Flores island between 6 am and 9 pm daily.
  • Zapote Tree Inn: Also on San Miguel, this hotel has a garden full of colourful birds, a tiny pool, and gorgeous views of Flores. One return boat trip a day is included in your room rate.
Los Amigos Hostel in Flores even has its own in-house travel agency
Los Amigos Hostel in Flores even has its own in-house travel agency

Flores Guatemala luxury hotels

  • Isla de Flores Hotel: The fanciest hotel on the island, Isla de Flores is the sister hotel of the atmospheric Jungle Lodge at Tikal, and staff can arrange tours and transport for you there.
  • La Lancha: Located about an hour from Flores, this luxury eco retreat is owned by the film director Francis Ford Coppola.
  • Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel: Another tropical paradise retreat about 10 minutes from Flores, with an infinity pool, spa, museum, and even a helipad if you want to arrive in style.
Isla de Flores hotel in Flores Guatemala
The Isla de Flores hotel is right in the middle of the island

Flores Guatemala restaurants and bars: where to eat

During my week in Flores I tried to eat in a different place for every meal, so I ended up trying quite a lot of different cafés, bars and restaurants! Here are some of my favourite places – all have great views and good food, though note that service was slow almost everywhere – but that seems to be Guatemala for you!

  • Maple y Tocino: Home of the best brunch in Flores. Try the Four Seasons waffle with four different toppings including bacon and egg and banana caramel for heaven on a plate.
Four seasons waffle at Maple Y Tocino in Flores Guatemala
Four Seasons waffle at Maple Y Tocino in Flores Guatemala
  • Secret Garden at Los Amigos: The leafy space inside Amigos hostel is chilled out eatery by day, and buzzing bar and restaurant by night. Huge portions, all delicious, and caters well to vegans and vegetarians. I’m not veggie but their spicy vegan bowl was so good I ate it twice.
  • Maracuya: Secret Garden’s sister restaurant, they serve the same menu but with the addition of an airy terrace and lake views.
  • Terrazzo: Probably Flores’ most popular restaurant, serving a huge range of dishes including steak, pasta and interesting salads, with fabulous lake views. The brownies and home-made gelato are legendary.
The Secret Garden at Los Amigos in Flores
The Secret Garden at Los Amigos
  • La Casa de Enrico: Another lakeside restaurant, this time serving a modern take on some traditional Maya dishes. Worth a visit to try something authentically Guatemalan.
  • Delirio Bakery: A cute-as-pie bakery with candy pink décor. Great for a light lunch, or to buy breakfast pastries for the road if you have an early start the next day.
  • Casa Blanca: Located right on the water’s edge, a perfect spot for brunch or a sunset drink.
La Casa de Enrico in Flores Guatemala
The romantic lakeside terrace at La Casa de Enrico on the Isla de Flores Peten
  • Cool Beans Café: Budget café with a wide-ranging menu that caters well to vegans and veggies.
  • Sky Bar: Rooftop bar perfect for watching the sunset with a cocktail.
  • Mango’s Bar: Located in the centre of the island, with fabulous 360 degree views and plenty of choices on the menu.
Drink with a sunset view at Sky Bar in Flores Guatemala
Drink with a sunset view at Sky Bar in Flores Guatemala

How to get to Flores de Guatemala

Getting to Flores by air

The quickest and easiest way to get to Flores is to fly from Guatemala City. There are usually 4-5 flights a day from La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City to Flores’ Mundo Maya international Airport. Flights take 45 minutes and typically cost roughly US100 for a single trip.

Note that it’s a small plane and the luggage allowance is only 20 lb (about 9 kg), but excess baggage charges aren’t too extortionate. My backpack weighed 17 kg so I had to pay a $17 excess fee which I didn’t think was so bad.

Be aware that the overhead lockers are also tiny (my camera bag had to go on an empty seat as it wouldn’t fit either in the bin or under the seat), so if you’re travelling hand luggage only with a bigger backpack, you may need to check it in.

From Flores Mundo Maya airport, it’s just a short taxi ride to Flores itself.

Flying to Flores Guatemala with TAG airlines
The flight to Flores is on a tiny plane like this one

Getting to Flores Guatemala by public bus

It’s easy to travel to Flores by public bus from Guatemala City.

Buses from Guatemala City to Santa Elena (where the Flores bus terminal is) take about 10 hours and depart a few times day. There are three different bus companies you can use: FDN (Fuente del Norte), ADN (Autobuses del Norte) or Linea Dorada. FDN also offer the ‘Maya de Oro’ 1st class night bus service which is the most comfortable way to travel.

If you’re coming from Antigua or Lake Atitlan, it’s probably best to get a shuttle back to the city and then get the 1st class night bus.

Getting to Flores by tourist shuttle

Another easy way to get to Flores is by tourist shuttle, which are smaller minibuses that cater to tourists only. They are safe, quick and reliable, can be booked directly through your hotel or hostel and will usually pick you up and drop you off door to door.

Shuttles to Flores run from Semuc Champey (Lanquín or Cobán), Antigua, and Rio Dulce, and typically take between 7-9 hours depending on where you’re coming from.

Adrenalina Tours offer a range of shared tourist shuttles to and from Flores, including to places in Mexico and Belize. Shuttles need to be reserved 48-72 hours in advance.

Read more: Is Guatemala Safe? 60+ Practical Tips For Safe Travel In Guatemala

Shuttles and buses waiting at the bus station in Santa Elena, Flores
Shuttles and buses waiting at the bus station in Santa Elena, Flores

How to get to Flores from Belize

If you’re coming to Guatemala from Belize, your first stop will be Flores. In fact after Guatemala City, Flores is the most popular point of arrival for visitors entering Guatemala.

To get to Flores from Belize you can either take a short flight from Belize City, take a public bus, or a tourist shuttle.

Public buses are run by Autobuses FDN and depart once a day.

Adrenalina Tours can arrange tourist shuttles from several destinations in Belize including Belize City, Caye Caulker or Belmopan.

Colourful Flores in Guatemala
Colourful Flores is likely to be your first stop if you’re arriving from Belize

Visiting Flores in Guatemala: FAQs

Weather in Flores Guatemala

Flores is in the Peten region of northern Guatemala, which is a hot, tropical region. It’s hot pretty much all the time, but the humidity and rainfall may vary. When I went, in early May, it was about 35 degrees C and extremely hot and sweaty.

In Guatemala the rainy season is between May and October and the dry season is between November and April. If you visit Flores during the rainy season, you should expect cloudy mornings and rainy afternoons, while in the dry season you can expect it to be much drier, though still with some rain – this is the ‘rainforest’, after all!

In extreme cases during the rainy season the roads and trails around the archaeological sites may become flooded or even impassable.

Since you’ll probably be doing a lot of outdoorsy stuff while you’re in Flores, the best time to visit is definitely during the dry season, if you can.

Lakeside and promenade at sunset in Flores Guatemala
When I visited Flores in May we had sunshine, some clouds, and beautiful sunsets

Is Flores Guatemala safe?

Before I went to Flores, I heard a few disturbing stories about people getting ripped off. There’s even a section in the Rough Guide about Flores ‘coyotes’ (ticket touts) who will try to sell you tickets at inflated prices or to tours that don’t exist. Others may try to convince you that your bus or tour has been cancelled in order to sell you a new, fake ticket.

The easiest way to avoid being ripped off is not to engage with or give money to anyone random, and don’t buy tickets from touts on the buses. Always buy your tickets and tours from your hotel or hostel, or from one of the proper tour agencies with offices in town. And if someone you don’t know tells you something is shut or cancelled, double check before trusting this information.

I bought all my tickets either from the travel agency inside Amigos Hostel, or from Getaway Travels which has an office in the centre of the old town.

In terms of personal safety, the Isla de Flores is pretty safe. I walked around during the day with my camera out, took photos at sunset, and walked back from bars after dark by myself with no problems. Of course, you should be sensible, don’t get too drunk, and don’t walk back alone if it’s very late or you are under the influence, but as long as you are careful, you’ll be fine.

Other suburbs like Santa Elena are considered less safe, so avoid going there after dark, especially if you’re alone.

Sunset over the lake in Flores Guatemala
I wandered around with my camera out taking photos and I never felt unsafe in Flores

Is Flores Guatemala worth visiting?

Flores is a cute and colourful little town with some really great restaurants and bars, and loads to see and do. It’s the heart of the Maya world and it’s pretty well set up for tourism, with plenty of hotels and tour agencies. I found it the perfect balance between touristy enough to have everything you need and plenty of choice of tours, and not so touristy that everything felt fake and crowded.

I found it pretty easy to meet people to hang out with on my tours and in hostels, and I loved my time in Flores. So if you’re going to Guatemala, I 100% recommend you add it to your Guatemala itinerary.

Flores was one of my favourite places to visit in Guatemala
Flores was one of my favourite places to visit in Guatemala

How many days should I spend in Flores Guatemala?

Most people only stay a couple of days in Flores. They fly in, head straight to Tikal for a day, and then leave. Personally, I think this is too short, but if you’re pushed for time and that’s all you can manage, fair enough.

Realistically you’re unlikely to have an entire week to spare like I did – if you do then great! But if you can, I think three to five days would be a good amount of time to spend in Flores.

Lago Peten Itza as seen from Isla de Flores in Guatemala
If you have time, it’s worth staying at least four days in and around Flores

A suggested itinerary for Flores Guatemala

With so many things to choose from, there’s any number of ways you could spend a few days in Flores. Below is my suggested itinerary for a 4-day stay, though of course you could substitute these activities with others from the list above if they sound more up your street.

  • Day 1: Arrival. If you’re coming on an overnight bus or a flight, try to arrive in the morning. Spend the afternoon booking your tours and exploring the town, and in the evening watch sunset over the lake.
  • Day 2: Day trip to Tikal. Possibly spend the night in the jungle at Tikal and return to Flores the next morning.
  • Day 3: A chilled out day around the town. Have a lazy brunch at Maple Y Tocino, spend a couple of hours in El Remate, go swimming in the lake, take a boat ride, hike up to the mirador, or visit Chechenal beach.
  • Day 4: Another day tour – possibly to Yaxha, the Blue Crater, or Ixpanpajul.
  • Day 5: Leave
Boat trip on the lake in Flores Guatemala
Taking a boat trip on the lake is great way to spend a couple of hours in Flores
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