Is Guatemala Safe To Visit? Travel Advisory 2024

Volcanoes, Mayan ruins, colonial infrastructure, and unspoiled natural beauty are some of the things that are waiting for you in Guatemala.

The country can be safe if the necessary precautions are taken. Local gang activity and volcanic eruptions are the main sources of concern for travelers.  

Guatemala is going through 44 massive wildfires which have prompted the nation to issue a nationwide “State of Calamity.”

Read on to learn when is the best time to visit and what places you should or shouldn’t avoid.

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LATEST NEWS from Guatemala

Guatemala issues a “Natural Disaster” alert due to 44 wildfires

On April 10, Guatemala had to declare a nationwide State of Natural Disaster due to wildfires consuming over 44 forests across the country.

Over 200 Guatemalans have been rushed to the hospital due to exposure to toxic smoke coming from a burning landfill in Villa Nueva.

On April 8, President Bernardo Arévalo stated that at least 80 percent of the fires had been started by people, according to official data. Criminal investigations have been announced.

All schools across three cities in Villa Nueva had to close their doors.

The state of emergency is expected to last at least 30 days.

Areas to Avoid

When in Guatemala, you are advised to basically avoid all areas after dark. At night, it’s when most violent crimes happen.

Having said that, refrain from visiting zones 1, 3, 6, 18 and 21. There have also been reports of tourists being robbed at gunpoint when hiking the Agua Volcano.

Criminals are also targeting some routes surrounding Lake Atitlán. If you decide to go hiking there make sure to hire a certified guide who can take you through the safest paths.

Do not travel to the departments of San Marcos, Huehuetenango, Amatitlán, Chinautla, Escuintla, San José del Golfo, San Raymundo, Villa Nueva, and the municipalities of Chiquimula, Jutiapa, Zacapa due to crime and drug trafficking. 

Crime Statistics

With a score of 76.22 points, crime in Guatemala is considered “high.” Read on to learn about other important stats regarding safety in this Central American country, according to Numbeo.

Crime level  76.22 High
Rise in crime over the last 3 years 61.94 High
Concerns about home invasions and getting your belongings stolen from your house 52.47 Moderate
Concerns about getting mugged or robbed 70.24 High
Concerns about getting your car stolen 61.62 High
Worries about getting your things stolen from your car 69.14 High
Concerns about being attacked 54.45 Moderate
Worries about being insulted 36.81 Low
Concerns about being physically attacked due to skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion 26.03 Low
Problems with drug addicts or drug dealers 55.82 Moderate
Vandalism and theft 66.68 High
Assault and armed robbery 75.23 High

Official Travel Advisories 

US Travel Advisory

The US government ranks Guatemala as a “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” country. This means travel to this nation is not forbidden but it is also not encouraged.

Guatemala is reportedly experiencing multiple cases of violent crime like killings, armed robberies, drug trafficking, gang-related crime and more.

US personnel are more likely to be able to assist you when visiting Tikal, Antigua, Lake Atitlán, and Pacific coast areas in the Santa Rosa and Escuintla Departments.

If you have any questions regarding your safety or require urgent medical care please contact PROATUR at 1500 or +502-2290-2800. They have English-speaking workers.

Canada Travel Advisory

Canada advises its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting Guatemala due to violent crime and demonstrations.

Don’t drive on the RN-7E, CA-11, CA-12, CA-13 and PET-13 highways.

Drug-related crimes are particularly prevalent at the Guatemala-Mexico and Belize borders. Thus, refrain from visiting these areas. 

Safety Tips for Guatemala

Stick to popular tourist destinations and do not travel to the areas we recommend not to travel to (see Areas to Avoid). And follow these recommendations to make the most of your trip to this beautiful country.   

  • It’s absurd to have to say this but do not engage in drug trafficking. Tourists have been caught transporting drugs to Huehuetenango Department – It is illegal and you don’t want to serve time in a Guatemalan prison. 
  • Avoid walking alone or traveling between cities at night. 
  • Don’t show off your money. Don’t make yourself a target.
  • Don’t take part in political demonstrations – It’s a right foreigners don’t have. 
  • The rainy season which goes from June to November can make roads dangerous. Avoid driving between cities during these months.
  • Refrain from swimming in the Pacific Ocean. Currents can be extremely strong and you may not be able to get help if needed.
  • Don’t go to private parties with people you just met.
  • Only book reputable accommodations and taxis.
  • The Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT) can provide you with some security personnel if you are engaging in a group tour. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
  • If you want to hike the volcanoes, always hire an expert and certified guide who will take you through the safest routes that don’t appear on travel guides.
  • Don’t leave your beverages unattended.
  • Only used ATMs located inside banks.