Guatemala

14 Great Things to Do in Flores, Guatemala

Last Updated on 15/05/2024 by kami

Flores, Guatemala, is one of the most popular places to visit in Central America, but the main reason the city sees so many travelers is its proximity to the impressive Mayan ruins in Tikal. But there are more reasons to visit Flores.

This is such a laid-back and relaxed destination, with nice Colonial architecture and a perfect location right at the shores of Peten Itza Lake. If you can give the city a chance, you might be surprised by all the cool things to do in Flores!

I know I was! Despite the indescribable heat, I still managed to explore and enjoy all Flores attractions, and I was happy I gave the city a solid spot in my Central America itinerary.

things to do in flores guatemala

If you decide to visit Flores too, I put together this guide with the best things to do in Flores so you can plan your trip there smoothly and immerse yourself in all the place has to offer.

How to get to Flores, Guatemala

Flores is located in the northern part of Guatemala, near the borders with Mexico and Belize. The capital of the country, Guatemala City, is almost 500 km away from Flores.

The best way to reach the city is by plane. There are a few daily domestic flights from Guatemala City, with a flying time of around one hour. Tickets aren’t too expensive, so it’s definitely an option worth considering to save time. Two airlines are operating on this route, TAG and Avianca.

Besides Guatemala City, you can get to Flores by plane from Cancun and Merida. The local airport is located around 3 km from Flores island, and a taxi should cost around 20 GTQ.

You can also get to Flores by bus. However, if you travel from Antigua Guatemala (which is probably the most popular place to visit in the country), it can take up to 10 hours (hence, flying might be a better option).

Since Belize is only a short ride away, buses and transfers are available that will take you across the border to San Ignacio or Belize City.

things to do in flores guatemala

How to get around Flores

Most Flores attractions are located on the small island connected to the mainland by the causeway. The best way to explore Flores is on foot, but if you need to get to some places a bit further away, you can use affordable tuk-tuks. There are also taxis available.

things to do in flores guatemala

How many days for visiting Flores

You can enjoy the best things to do in Flores in one day, but there are a few attractions (besides Tikal) a bit further from the city, so you might stay there a bit longer to enjoy them all. Moreover, Flores is an enjoyable place where you simply want to stay and relax a bit.

things to do in flores guatemala

Where to stay in Flores

Most of the Flores accommodation places are located on the island. I, however, stayed in the hotel on the mainland, and it was good, too.

Here are the recommended places to stay in Flores:

things to do in flores guatemala

Things to do in Flores

And finally, here are the best things to do in Flores.

Wander around Flores

The heart of Flores is located on the island connected with the mainland by the causeway. Once you cross it, it feels like a completely different world, with winding cobbled lanes and colorful houses.

One hour is enough to explore the island, but what a pleasant time it will be. Wandering aimlessly around is such a nice way to get to know Flores, as you never know what wonders you might stumble across.

The highlight of the island is the colonial architecture since this part of Flores dates back to the 13th century (although the Mayan state eventually lost to Spanish conquerors, hence the distinctive style of buildings). Some even say this is the second-most beautiful town in Guatemala after Antigua. I’m not the one to judge, but it surely is charming, and you will enjoy discovering it, too.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Visit the Cathedral

The center of Flores is Central Park (with some interesting Mayan sculptures around), located at the highest point of the island. It’s another pleasant place in the town, with trees giving a much-needed shadow and some fine views of the surroundings.

When you are there, don’t miss the Cathedral of Our Lady of Los Remedios, humbly standing in the corner. This white structure isn’t overly impressive (not if you compare it to stunning churches in Antigua), but it’s one of the most important historical sites in Flores, dating back to the colonial period. On January 15th, the cathedral becomes a pilgrimage center when visitors come to worship the icon of Black Christ – you can find it above the church’s main altar.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Take a picture with the “Yo Amo Peten” sign

One of the most popular landmarks in Flores is the “Yo Amo Peten” sign (I love Peten), located right at the entrance to the island. It’s funky, colorful, and one of the must-see places in Flores. Be sure to take a picture with the sign, as it can be a great souvenir from your time in Guatemala.

things to do in flores guatemala

Relax at the waterfront

The waterfront is lined with cafes and restaurants where you can relax a bit after all the Flores sightseeing. There are plenty of options to choose from, but each one offers a laid-back vibe and lovely views of the lake.

If you don’t want to visit cafes and restaurants, you can sit at the wall between the lake and the street and admire the tranquil landscape in front of you.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Admire sunsets

The town is known for its amazing sunsets, so don’t miss one when you visit Flores. There are a few good rooftop bars for the best view, but as long as you are at the waterfront during the sunset, you are in for a treat!

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

See street art

If you are a fan of street art, like me, you will be pleasantly surprised that you can find some decent works in Flores, too. I found them on the road leading from the airport to the center (a few are on the wall surrounding the airport itself), but probably there is more good street art around the city. The works I’ve seen were mostly connected to local sights and nature, but nevertheless, they were pretty great.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Take the boat across the lake

Once you are done with exploring Flores, you can take the boat across the lake and visit San Miguel. This is the only boat route with a fixed price (5GTQ). The boats leave from the northeast side of the waterfront whenever there are passengers.

In San Miguel, you will find plenty of attractions that can greatly complement your time in Peten. The most important one is Tayasal – the Mayan site founded in the Preclassical period, around 1000 BC. The ruins are mostly overgrown today, but the place can still give you a nice overview of the Mayan culture and history. There is also a fine viewpoint (Mirador de Canek) with probably the best view over Flores and surrounding nature.

After visiting Tayasal, you can continue your walk further to Playa Chechenal. In this nice lakeside area, you can swim and relax. Since it’s a privately owned place, you need to pay a small fee to enter and use the facilities. You can take the boat here directly from Flores, but those are overcharged, and you need to bargain for the price. It’s better to take the regular one to San Miguel and walk along the forest (with stops along the way for some sightseeing) to reach Playa Chechenal.

On the other side of San Miguel, you can find another excellent place to relax – Jorge’s Rope Swing, where, as the name indicates, you can use rope swings to jump into the waters of Lake Peten Itza. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, you can still chill here, with snacks, drinks, and hammocks available.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Visit Isla Santa Barbara

Only a short boat ride away from Flores, you can visit Isla Santa Barbara, a small, privately owned place that is a great getaway from the town. There is a small museum with Mayan artifacts and a radio station, as well as a highly-rated hotel where you can spend the night (click here for details).

things to do in flores guatemala

Explore Ak’tun Kan Caves

One of the best things to do in Flores is visit the Ak’tun Kan Caves, located on the outskirts of the city. You can reach it by tuk-tuk or a 3-km walk from Flores Island.

Once there, you can tour the cave either independently or with a guide (which is a recommended option since you can see so much more and learn a lot about the place). You can expect to spend around two hours inside the cave.

Be sure to have comfortable shoes and clothes, as exploring the place can be a bit challenging. You will also need a headlamp, but no worries if you don’t travel with one; you can rent it at the entrance.

If you visit the place in the late afternoon, you can witness a spectacular view of countless bats leaving the cave.

Visit Ixpanpajul Nature Park

If you are looking for a thrill of adventure, there is no better place near Flores than Ixpanpajul Nature Park. It takes only a short car ride to get there, and while the attractions are slightly expensive by local standards, it’s still worth considering a trip here.

In Ixpanpajul, you can enjoy activities like zip-lining or a skywalk, which is especially exciting as you can encounter some exotic animals, such as howler monkeys, grasshoppers, or butterflies.

things to do in flores guatemala

Visit Tikal

The main reason why everyone decides to visit Flores is the proximity to Tikal, the greatest Mayan site in Guatemala and one of the most impressive places of that kind in General.

The area of Tikal was inhabited already around 600 BC, but the town really flourished in the 7th and 8th centuries when it was the cultural, political, and economic leader of the Mayan world. After being abandoned in the 10th century, the jungle took over, and today, only around 15% of Tikal was uncovered. That gives the visitor a perfect mix of history, culture, and nature.

During your trip, you can admire some impressive Mayan structures, learn more about them, and encounter amazing flora and fauna. Nothing beats the view from the top of the highest temple in Tikal, where all you see is a lush jungle with only a few structures peeking through the dense vegetation. This truly is one of the most incredible places to visit in Guatemala, and you need to put it in your Central America itinerary.

There are a few ways to reach Tikal: with a tour, by shuttle (some options include the guide), or independently. I recommend going for a tour (that’s what I did, too) as this way, you can really get to know the place properly and learn so much about the site. Here are some of the recommended Tikal tours from Flores:

You can read more about visiting Tikal in my article about this magnificent place, just click here.

visit tikal guatemala

visit tikal guatemala

visit tikal guatemala

visit tikal guatemala

Visit Uaxactun

A bit further north from Tikal, you can visit another impressive Mayan site – Uaxactun. It dates back to the Preclassical period, but it never gained great importance like Tikal, and it was dependent on the more prominent neighbor.

That’s why, even today, Uaxactun is less popular than Tikal. Nevertheless, you can find some impressive Mayan ruins there, too, including the Maya astrological observatory. You can reach Uaxactun from Flores by bus or by tour.

things to do in flores guatemala

Visit Yaxha ruins

Another important Mayan complex in the area, the third-largest one in Guatemala, is Yaxha. The place played a significant role in the 3rd-6th century, during the Early Classic Period. What you can see today are around five hundred structures, such as temples, pyramids, stelaes, altars, and more.

Since Yaxha is not as popular as Tikal, you will not find many other visitors here, which gives a completely different experience and feel of the place. The best way to visit Yaxha is with the tour; here are some highly-rated ones:

Trek through El Mirador National Park

Flores is a getaway to El Mirador National Park, located near the border with Mexico. What makes this place special and worth visiting is El Mirador – another Mayan site with the two largest temples in Guatemala (El Tigre and La Danta).

Since this is a very remote place, the only way to reach it is by foot or helicopter (here is the highly-rated tour from Flores you can join). The return trek to El Mirador takes around five days.

It is an excellent adventure since you spend so much time in the wilderness and you can visit one of the greatest Mayan sites.

Where to go next

From Flores, you can either continue your trip within Guatemala, to numerous Mayan sites in the area, Rio Dulce, or all the way to Antigua, Lake Atitlan, or Chichicastenango.

You can also jump across the border to Belize, starting in San Ignacio, before continuing your trip to Caye Caulker. Or you can go north to Mexico and explore the Yucatan Peninsula. No matter your choice, this is a fascinating part of the world to discover, and you are in for a treat.

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

things to do in flores guatemala

Further reading

I published more articles about Central America that you might find useful when planning your trip there. You can find them here:

If you are looking for articles about a specific destination – check out the map with all the articles I’ve published (and their locations).


Travel Resources

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Flores

Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Guatemala here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.

Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.


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things to do in flores guatemala


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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Stan
    31/01/2024 at 17:28

    Hello Kami – Did you encounter any personal safety issues while you were in Guatemala or do you have any advice on that topic? Thanks you.

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2024 at 14:41

      No, everything was fine during my visit. I simply used to common sense and stayed mostly in the touristy or safe areas. I can imagine bad things might happen there but overall I found Guatemala safe and welcoming and can recommend going there. All the best!

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