Where is Trento and why should you love it?

Italy is one of those places that keeps drawing me back, and I love it because there is always another gem to explore. So where is Trento? And why should you love it? Let me explain the things that will have you booking your next flight to Italy.

Where is Trento?

Trento is situated in the district of Trentino, just south of the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy and is a hop skip and a jump away from Italy's Lake Garda. Although Lake Garda is stunning, Trento has that old world charm that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Things to do in Trento

Duomo di Trento

You can't visit an Italian city, town or village without visiting its most recognized cathedral or church and of course, Trento is no different. This cathedral is beautiful and attached to it is a great little museum called Castello del Buonconsiglio. You will not be disappointed by what the artwork, tapestry and wooden sculptures. It engulfs the rich history and culture of this beautiful town (which was once part of Austria).

Piazza Duomo

You can not help but fall in love with this part of town, with its beautiful fountain and busy thoroughfare. It makes for a perfect afternoon of alfresco dining.

Castello del Buonconsiglio

Who doesn't love the romance of a castle? This castle, in particular, is recognised as being one of the most important and impressive castles in the Trentino region. Although now it hosts many exhibitions, it was once the residence of prince bishops and cardinals alike.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Palazzo Roccabruna

Once occupied by the Roccabruna family who is considered to be one of the oldest noble families in Trentino, it is now used for both exhibitions and events. There are many reasons to visit this unique palace, whether you choose to visit one of the many exhibitions they have on display or to taste the local food and wine. Either way, there is a little something for everyone.

Trento City Centre

Book a tour and explore the history of Trento city Centre, team up with a local guide who can take you the city and explain the cities beautiful architecture, landscape and history. Or if you prefer to do it on your own, then head out to the surrounding areas of this beautiful city and enjoy the many wonders the landscape has to offer. Head up on the cable car and get a bird's eye view of this adorable town.

The food and wine

If you are anything like me, I am there to sniff out the best food and wine in the region. Who doesn't love Italian food? It is not always about carb overload and red wine, so here are my alternatives.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Gelato - Cherry

I had heard this place is impressive, and they were right with their definition. The gelato here has all types of quirky flavours, and the staff will guide you with their recommendations of the best combinations of flavours. I tried a few other gelaterias in the area, but I kept coming back and trying the delicious flavours cherry has to offer.

Aperitif - The Hugo

This little Aperitif can be found at any bar or restaurant in Trento. I have given away my love of the Aperol spritz and in its place comes the Hugo. The best part about this afternoon treat is the goodies that come along with it no matter where you choose to sit. The Hugo aperitif consists of:
One sprig of mint,
1 Tbsp elderflower syrup more if you like it sweet,
1 cup Prosecco or white sparkling wine,
1/2 lime sliced, 1 to 2 Tbsp sparkling water
and ½ cup of ice cubes.

Grappa - Francesco Poli

If you haven't yet tried grappa, then head over to Distilleria Francesco in Santa Massenza. This distillery might not be in Trento, but it is in the Trentino region. So if you want to spend a day out by the beautiful lake Santa Massenza a little grappa tasting might be right up your alley.

I am already making plans for my next Italian adventure and ensuring that this little gem is included in the itinerary.

by Paula

You can follow along her journeys at http://www.thetravellingexpat.com/

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Why You Should Move Out West

More and more people are deciding to move west, with some of the fastest growing cities

according to USA Today including St. George, Utah; Greeley, Colorado; Provo-Orem, Utah; and

Boise City, Idaho. Denver real estate is especially hot as well, thanks to its thriving economy,

booming job market and proximity to a wealth of outdoor adventure. Why should you consider making the move too?

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by Unsplash

More Open Space

If you’re looking for more open space, you’re much more likely to find it out west. The Western

states typically include vast wilderness areas where you can enjoy plenty of solitude and

perhaps even enjoy the charms of a small town, complete with a slower paced lifestyle. Even if

you live in the city, you’re likely to be within driving distance for a day trip to a more remote area.

For example, Los Angeles may be filled with traffic, but just a couple hours east you’ll find

Joshua Tree National Park, which feels like an entirely different planet.

by Unsplash

by Unsplash

Mountains or the Beach?

Living out West means you may not have to choose between living in the mountains or by the

beach – you may be able to do both in California, Oregon and Washington. Choose places like

Colorado or Montana and you’ll be in or within easy reach of the majestic Rockies for some of

the best skiing and hiking in the entire country.

A New Career

There tend to be a lot of jobs in the Western states so if you’re hoping to embark on a new

career or just land a better-paying job, you’re likely to do so out West. Three of the top five cities

for jobs, as ranked by WalletHub, are Scottsdale, Arizona; San Francisco, California; and

Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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by Unsplash

Your Health Might Improve

Social activities don’t just involve going out to the bar when you live out west. Spending time in

the great outdoors rules here, perhaps hiking to the top of a mountain, camping in gorgeous

state or national parks, paddling kayaks across a lake, whitewater rafting, beach BBQs with

Frisbee throwing, or just going to the dog park and letting your four-legged friends run around

together. Instead of drinking all those calories, you’ll be burning a ton, helping you stay fit or

lose weight. People tend to eat healthier in the west too, with plenty of organic fruits and

vegetables available, and along the coast, lots of fresh fish and seafood too. If you’re on a

specific diet, such as vegan, gluten- or dairy-free, you’re much more likely to find restaurants

that cater to your needs too.

It’s Easier to Make Friends

While it’s not all clique-free, communities tend to be more welcoming to outsiders in Western

states, especially in larger towns and cities, simply because so many people are moving in from

other areas. There’s a relaxed, laid-back feel, with people often friendly and more open to all

types which means generally, you’re more likely to find yourself with some new friends not long

after moving.

by contributing author

5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Spain

Do you love to travel?

When you travel, do you feel like your soul is set on fire?

Did you think about transforming and traveling at the same time?

There are so many hidden ways to transform and travel. With travel, we have opportunities to explore, learn and grow. When we reflect internally and take action externally, we transform into a new version of ourselves. Maybe you love to travel alone? Or maybe you are thinking about traveling with a group or a transformation retreat? Maybe you even want to take the kids along?

 Choose what’s best for you now. Each and every time you travel, challenge yourself to experience something differently besides the city or country.

Have you been dreaming about traveling to Spain? I don’t blame you. I’ve been twice now and definitely plan to go back again. Spain has something for everyone. You may experience culture, beaches and adventure to start. It truly has something for everybody.

 It’s time to transform and travel.  Get your journal out to make a plan. It feels great to dream about traveling to Spain and transforming. Putting pen to paper and taking action wins every time.

 You want to transform and travel to Spain, but you don't want to break the bank doing it?

Check out 5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Barcelona, Spain. It’s time to turn your life into your dream.

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by Unsplash

Insight into Spain

Spain does it all and has it all. It’s easy to see why Spain is one of the top visited countries in the world regularly.  The country combines culture, experiences, and food in every way. 

It’s worth it to visit Spain whether you go for a day, a week, or a month traveling solo or with a group. After you read my recent experiences in Barcelona, Spain, you will have more ideas than you can count to transform and travel.


Highlights from Barcelona, Spain Travels

I love Barcelona. What’s not to love from the culture, language, food and so much more?

Did you know that Barcelona is home to Spain’s largest park Montjuic, best beaches of the world, and food market and shopping streets? 

I’ve gotten to visit Madrid and Barcelona with some friends in 2013. During that visit, we stayed at a VRBO (Airbnb didn’t exist yet) and loved it! We did a double decker tour in Barcelona, tapas tour in Madrid, and flamenco dancing at Villa Rosa in Madrid.

I highly recommend all three. A double decker tour is a great way to see any city, especially for the first time and/or if you are short on time. In Barcelona, we visited Parc Guell, enjoyed Gaudi’s architecture in the city, and took cruise at the port in Barcelona. 

Recently, I visited Barcelona in 2018 again. Each and every time I go, I feel like I fall more in love. I love roaming the aisle at Mercado de la Boqueria (Food Market) and drinking yummy fruit drinks. The art and sunset at Parc Guell is absolutely breathtaking. The sites like Sagrada de la Familia remind us of how small we really are.

This time, when I went to Barcelona, Spain I knew I would be in the city for a day, and creating content and hosting the mastermind event the remainder of my time. I planned the highlights of the day in Barcelona somewhat in advance, and adjusted as I went.

I stayed at an incredible Airbnb (with a garden and a pool) in Castelldefels, which is a municipality that is part of Barcelona, Spain. It’s about 30 min away from the center and is amazing.

Before we get into the 5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Spain, I want to share some of my story. I am sure there are some travelers, adventures, and bloggers here (or those that want to be). I believe it’s important to relate so you know that I understand a variety of experiences.

Barcelona by Unsplash

Barcelona by Unsplash

My Experiences With Transforming + Traveling

I was born traveling. My parents conceived me in Bulgaria, born in Poland, and in a refugee camp in Italy by the time I was six months old. I immigrated with my parents to the United States when I was a year and a half. At that point, I had traveled to over four countries.

Since then, I have traveled to over 27 countries. This includes a solo trip across the Atlantic with my brother at the age of 11, solo trips before "travel blogger" existed, and creating over 4 retreats.

My experiences include scuba diving adventures in Jamaica and Egypt, and hot air ballooning in Spain. They include giving back with community service in Cuba and other countries. I love to transform + travel and help you create it too! 

In Cuba - Photo Credit  @light.travels

In Cuba - Photo Credit @light.travels

Since I am very passionate about transforming and traveling, I thought I would share 5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Spain.

5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Spain

I am sharing 5 Ways to Transform and Travel in Spain so you see how easy it is for you.

You will get insight to transform and travel with:

  • A Day to a Week (or more) in Barcelona

  • Content Creation at an Airbnb

  • Solo, Family, and Lifestyle Transformation Retreats

  • Ideas on hosting events with influencers and entrepreneurs

Whatever you choose to create next,  think of all the ways to transform and travel in Spain.

Each and every time you are feeling you may need to have a new experience, come back and visit this post!

1. Plan Like a Boss and Play Like a Tourist

Set up an itinerary for highlights you want to see in Barcelona, Spain. This will get you excited before you go. A great idea would be to google Top 10 in Spain or hop on a doubledecker tour.

For our social media gurus, bloggers and influencers, you could reach out with a press trip request to a hotel or experience to create content to one of the top tourist destinations in the world. You could even ask if they have options for ongoing collaborations or a press or overnight stay.

For the moms, you could play tourist with your kids around the city too! You will all enjoy some fun in the sun at a Barcelona beach, shopping at Las Ramblas, and a boat ride with the family nearby. 

I am a big believer that there is more than enough time to make the best of the time you have. Whether, you get to visit Barcelona for a day, a week or a month, you will enjoy yourself.

Last time, I went I spent one day in Barcelona, Spain within the city specifically. Before I went, I knew I wanted to visit my favorite Gaudi buildings again. I visited Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Casa Batllo when I started my day. 

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

You may see a short behind the scenes video too!

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

Ps. for a lot of my photos I use iPhoneX. Right before this trip, I upgraded to a Canon EOSM100. I highly recommend it with the flip screen especially for photos and video when you are traveling alone.

Then, I headed over to one of my favorites Mercat de la Boqueria, also known as St Josephs Market. This is a foodies dream especially if you love fresh fruit juices, seafood and more! It’s right in the heart of Barcelona and near Las Ramblas for shopping if you want that in.

This was one of the booth owners I met, Joy. I got 3 juices from her. She was super sweet.

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

After I left, the food market, I went to Park Guell. If you are planning to visit Park Guell, they now require tickets. The park used to be free years ago (and the first time I went) which was amazing. I recommend you get your ticket the day before if it is low season or  weeks to months before in high season.

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

The art and sunset at Parc Guell is absolutely breathtaking and well worth the time you will spend and the visit.

I ended my day by visiting La Sagrada Familia before heading back to my Airbnb. 

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

My entire day ran from roughly 1pm to 9pm and I didn’t ever feel rushed or tired.

You can imagine how transformational this experience felt.

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

My One Day In Barcelona, Spain this time:

1-2pm:  Exploring La Pedrera and Casa Battlon

3pm - 5pm: Food Market

5-8pm: Park Guell

8-9pm: La Sagrada Familia

I took public transportation the entire time. 

It was easy and safe with both the metro and the bus I took to Park Guell.

2. Stay at an Airbnb

Some of you may be avid hotel lovers and some of you may have stayed already at an Airbnb. I have now stayed in over 40 Airbnbs across the globe. I used to be an avid hotel stayer - including Platinum status with Hilton Hotels and Marriott years ago when I used to travel over 70% as a Corporate Exec. 

So, I completely understand the reasons why you may want to stay in hotels. I stay in them sometimes now and collaborate with them as well. However, the reason I started choosing Airbnbs is I wanted an experience I couldn’t get a hotel with incredible people. I wanted to create community as well.

The stays have included entire homes, guest houses, and private rooms too. I’ve stayed in Airbnbs locally in Atlanta as staycations, in the United States, across the globe including hosting our masterminds and retreats like the one day mastermind I hosted in Spain.

When you choose to stay at a hotel or Airbnb, my advice is the same. Look at the pictures, and the reviews. If you have any questions at all, message your hosts.

For Spain specifically, my list of requirements for the Airbnb included:

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

  • Great with a patio

  • Nearby a beach to relax

  • Great reviews

  • In Barcelona or

  • Public Transportation Access

  • Ability to host our 1 day event

On the Airbnb platform, they give you an option to select “available for events” in the filters once you select what country. However, I knew that there is always a chance that some people simply haven’t hosted events or experiences yet. So, I didn’t mark that filter. I’m so glad I did.

I found the perfect Airbnb < 30 minutes outside Barcelona and the most incredible hosts - Kris and Carlos. Immediately, when I saw the listing I knew it was perfect. The garden is breathtaking, a pool is right outside, and the beach is <10 minutes walking distance.

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

I messaged Kris to let her know I was coming for three nights and four days. I asked her if it would be okay if I hosted an event with <7 people. She had never previously hosted anything in the garden.

She replied back with that she would ask her friend on some feedback on some events they had. I immediately replied back with please look at my reviews with prior experience with groups in Costa Rica and Cuba and some others so she would be able to see how respectful, quiet, and clean we are. She said yes!

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

They do live in the home and offer private rooms. I knew from the reviews that Kris was amazing. I’m so glad I took the chance. They picked me up from the airport (even though my flight was delayed). They cooked me an incredible yummy Spainish dinner on the garden.

I had a motorcycle ride with Carlos. I also speak fluent Spanish and we had lots of laughs. I also helped her refine her listing and let them know they could list experiences on Airbnb. 

If you ever go, Carlos is also a driver with the double decker tour and knows Barcelona like the back of his hand!!! You can see how this an inspiring and beautiful experience with community that I would not have had at a hotel. It is priceless.

3. Create Crazy Content

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

Do you love to create content? Have you done it yet while you travel? This will transform your experience too whether you create content yet or not.

What better place to start creating content than Spain? You will inspire your friends and family. 

This is another reason why I love to stay at Airbnbs. You get to create content with an unique perspective. You could brainstorm by outlining some content ideas that you want to cover. What I did for Spain is exactly what I am walking you through. 

My Content Plan for Spain

  • 1 Day Site-seeing and Travel Blogger Feel

  • Unique Content Ideas for Blog and Podcast with Health, Wealth, Business

  • Airbnb and Beach to use for Blogs, Social Media, Courses

  • Event and Influencers at Airbnb and nearby

What I Completed in <3 Days:

  • Over 15 Shots and 2 Videos on Day 1

  • Over 25 Shots and 4 Videos on Day 2

Post the Trip:

  • This Post

  • Campaigns

  • Brands

  • Creating a Barcelona in a Day Post

  • Retreat Posts and more!

So, what content plan could you create for Barcelona, Spain, your next trip or even in your city? You may love some of our lifestyle transformation freebies that may help. Feel free to explore.

4. Choose a New Type of Trip

Do you always travel solo? You may want to think about going with a group or a retreat? Maybe you always go with family? How about a trip for yourself? Perhaps, the only travel you’ve done internationally has been with retreats. Think about going solo. 

My point is get uncomfortable so you transform. The essence of life is growth. I love mixing up both for myself and our community all the time in every way.

As you consider this, think about what type of trip you want to have in Spain. Perhaps, you want what some solo time and some group time just like my experience. This is what I love best. I did this in Spain and the same in between with our Cuba Retreats.

I don’t know about you but I’m what they call an ambivert. This means we are naturally introverted, and love to be around people with great energy. However, the world doesn’t always have great energy. Either way, I need downtime. If this is you, you may want to create a new experience for yourself during your trip.

5. Attend or Host Events in Spain

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

Last, but definitely not least - attending or hosting an event or retreat in Spain or overseas. Maybe you love the idea that I hosted a mastermind in Spain and host retreats. You can too! Let yourself dream about what is possible.

The day before I left Spain, we hosted our mastermind 1 day event with five of us. 

This included hands-on workshops on:

  • How Passion + Purpose = Profits

  • Smoothie Bowls and Tasty Treats

  • Meal and Workout Plans

  • 6 Pack of Wealth and Activities

  • Building Your Brand + Digital Tools

  • Interactive Tech Platform

by Katrina Julia

by Katrina Julia

Maybe you decide to attend an event in Spain first, or anywhere in the world. Perhaps, your brain is blowing up with possibilities. That’s what I love to do. I love to help you see that a limitless life is possible with expression, time, location, and financial freedom.

What workshops could you create? How could you start hosting events locally, nationally, or internationally? This is an incredible way to transform and travel.

Don’t think for a second I didn’t have fears come up as I was reaching out to people or creating the event. However, you can’t focus on faith and fear at the same time. I choose to fight for faith each and every time. 

Transform and Travel

You've got many ways on how to transform and travel in Spain. 

Decide how long you want to visit Barcelona, Spain or anywhere in Spain. Think about  if you want to do something solo, with your family, or with a community next. Choose to embrace transforming and traveling no matter where you are or go.

Make a plan to transform and travel to Spain.

Tag a friend you want to go to Spain with.

When you take action on any of these ideas, whether it is in Spain or not, please share this article or create a post on what you learned and applied via your channels and tag us and the author Katrina Julia. 

by Katrina Julia

Katrina is a co-creator of Fit Life Creations as well as an Author, Speaker, Coach, Creator, Videographer

Transformation Leader + Community Creator, Traveler over 25+ countries, Speaks 4+ Languages,

MBA, CPA, CFE, CIA, NASM, Herbalife Nutrition, NPC

Learn more about her and her company here - https://www.fitlifecreation.com/about

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How To Meet People On Solo Travels

Sometimes traveling solo can seem daunting. Thoughts like "but I won't have anyone to go on adventures with, who am I going to talk to, or is it safe?" might come to mind.

As a solo traveler myself and to those that have done it before you know that can be far from reality!

You meet so many people while you travel from all over the world. The best places to meet people are actually in hostels.

photo by Sam Hendricks

photo by Sam Hendricks

Hostel Stereotypes

When most people think of a hostel they think of trashy, run down, dingy, and sketchy dorm rooms. Am I right?! Or at least that's the perception I had and most people I've talked to who haven't stayed in one yet. It doesn’t help that movies and television shows often portray hostels as the worst place to stay.

How did I get over this stereotype? Hostel World is an app/website that rates hostels all over the world. People can leave reviews and ratings which made me feel better.

We are a society of reviews and ratings now so of course I'm going to do my research! Some of the best experiences I have had abroad were from staying at a hostel.

Ember Hostel, by Sam Hendricks

Ember Hostel, by Sam Hendricks


A lot of hostels will offer you excursions, tours, and guides to their city. Some are included but most are extra $$. When I stayed at the Slumber Party Hostel in Ao Nang, Thailand, we went on a Jungle and Kayak Tour (separate ones). You're with a group of other hostel people and a guide so you're not alone and there are plenty of photo opportunities!

In Denver I stayed at Ember Hostel and met some pretty cool people. We ended up driving to a nearby hot spring and caves in the mountains which was pretty unique. So it doesn’t matter where you stay, there can be people to go on adventures with while traveling solo.

Meeting People

When you travel solo it pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Plus you're with an entire group of people who are doing the same thing as you, interested in similar topics, so it makes conversation easy!

Now I think there's probably always going to be that one person that doesn't shower and just plays Wonderwall all day long. But, for the most part it's a challenging and worth while experience to branch out and meet new people. And I can say that with confidence because I'm an introvert!

by Sam Hendricks

by Sam Hendricks


Most hostels have the option of separate male and female bunks, smaller rooms, and private rooms. It just depends on what you’re comfortable with. When you stay in a hostel you have your own bunk and storage for your bags (usually a locker under your bed or in the room).

I highly recommend bringing some locks with you to put on your bags or the locker itself for security. I have had great experiences staying in hostels but you just never know and want to take precaution. Plus when I travel I always bring the locks with me in general because sometimes people can try and steal your stuff from the airport.

In Bali by Sam Hendricks

In Bali by Sam Hendricks


If meeting people and having some interesting experiences hasn’t sold you on hostels then maybe the price will. Staying in a hostel is so much cheaper than any hotel and even Airbnb! WHY?

Because you are paying for a bed/bunk and not an entire room or house. So they can charge a low price. The same type of amenities are still included. Most have a kitchen to store cold items, heat anything up, or make coffee in the morning.

So check out Hostel World and consider using it on your next trip! Your bank account will thank you and you’ll be able to spend on other things.

By Sam Hendricks

You can follow along with Sam through her blog and social profiles:

Blog: wanderlingtravel.net

Instagram: instagram.com/wanderlingtravel @wanderlingtravel

Pinterest: pinterest.com/wanderlingtravel

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5 Must Visit Destinations in Guatemala

Guatemala is brimming with historical sites, culture, and natural wonders, so it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a trip. Antigua is where most people start their time in the country, so I’m going to assume it was already on your travel itinerary (though if it wasn’t then it should be), and here’s five other places you need to visit during your time in Guatemala.



Tikal is the ruins of an ancient Mayan city found in the rainforest of Northern Guatemala. The archaeological sites are part of Tikal National Park, and the ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Tikal is also the largest excavated site in the Americas


Tikal National Park consists of the rainforest and ruins, a parking lot, three hotels, a museum and visitors’ center, guide service, post office, campground, souvenir shops, and four local eating places. There is NOT an ATM in the park, so you’ll want to bring cash with you.

Tikal National Forest photo by Lucy Maynard

Tikal National Forest photo by Lucy Maynard

If you don’t want to stay in the park, there’s lodging in Flores and El Remate, but the park opens at 6:00 am and closes at 6:00 pm, so if you don’t stay in the park you can’t do the two best excursions Tikal has to offer (more on that below).

 Maps are available outside the Visitor’s Center, and walking trails wind through the jungle and temple complexes. You can do self-guided hikes, but I’d recommend doing the following two guided tours, which can only be done if you’re lodging is inside the park:

 Sunset tour where you’ll hike into the jungle when it’s daylight, explore some of the ruins, climb up a temple to watch the sunset, and hike back in the dark.

 Sunrise tour where you’ll hike into the jungle when it’s still dark, climb up a different temple where you’re actually above the forest canopy, watch the sunrise, then hike back once it’s daylight. The morning hike does involve getting up around 3:00 am, which I know can be a tough “sell,” but it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had (in eight years of traveling through three continents and 12 countries). Plus, after the sunrise hike, I just went back to my hotel and took a nap during the hottest part of the day!

 Trip Advisor has an abundance of tour options from birdwatching to sunsets and sunrises to multi-day trips paired with other Mayan ruins. The guide and visitor center on-site in the park can also help you book guided tours.

 Fun Fact: the Jaguar Temple in Tikal was a filming site for Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (1977). The temple can be seen near the end of the movie as a lookout station for the rebel base.

Pacaya Volcano by Lucy Maynard

Pacaya Volcano by Lucy Maynard

Pacaya Volcano

Pacaya Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, and it's also one of the most accessible, making it a perfect day trip from Antigua or Guatemala City.

 Guides are required for hiking Pacaya. If you're driving to Pacaya National Park on your own, you can hire a guide at the visitor's center at the entrance to the park. If you don't have a car, I recommend going with a tour group where transportation will be provided. It can take up to four different buses and half a day to get to Pacaya via public transportation from Antigua or Guatemala City (as opposed to an hour and a half by car or coach).

 Most tours are either a morning or sunset hike as half-day trips from Antigua or Guatemala City, but you can also do a trip that lasts all day or camp overnight on the volcano. Viator and Get Your Guide have multiple tour options for visiting Pacaya.

 You should expect the hike up Pacaya to take around 4 hours, depending on your pace. The first part of the trail takes you through farmland and forest, so there's great views no matter how frequently you take breaks.

 The second part of the hike is through the lower caldera of the volcanic crater.

 Pacaya is monitored for geological activity and safety, park rangers patrol the area, and all trails are well marked and maintained. You'll also be sharing the trail with lots of other people, and there are food stands, restrooms, trash cans, and rest stops along the trail.

Semuc Champey at El Mirador Viewpoint by Lucy Maynard

Semuc Champey at El Mirador Viewpoint by Lucy Maynard

Semuc Champey

Found in the lush jungle mountains in the department of Alta Verapaz, Semuc Champey is a remote tropical paradise.

 Semuc Champey is an almost 1000 feet (300 meters) long limestone bridge made of six turquoise pools. Semuc Champey means “where the river hides under the stones” because the Cahabon River runs under Semuc Champey, disappearing under the first pool and reappearing downriver of the sixth one.

 The first thing you’ll want to do when you get here is swim in the crystal clear pools. After you’ve slid down some waterfalls and floated in the pools, hike to the El Mirador viewpoint for the iconic shot of the limestone bridge and pools from above.

 Other activities you can do are tubing down the calm part of the Cahabon River and the Ba Cave tour where you’ll hike and swim through a cave using only candlelight.

 To get to Semuc Champey, you have to get to Lanquin first. Lanquin can be reached from Antigua by shuttle, Guatemala City by shuttle or bus, and Coban by bus. GuateGo is a great resource for comparing and booking your transportation.

 Once you get to Lanquin, you can do a two and a half hour hike through the jungle to Semuc Champey, or you can take a 30 minute pickup truck (local taxi) ride. Lanquin is where most visitors stay (plenty of hotels and restaurants), but there are some more luxurious lodges and resorts in the jungle closer to Semuc Champey such as the Utopia Eco Hotel and Greengos Hostel.

Lake Atitlán   by Lucy Maynard

Lake Atitlán by Lucy Maynard

Lake Atitlán

Located in a massive volcanic crater in Guatemala’s southwestern highlands, Lake Atitlán is ringed by volcanoes with those iconic pointed cones.

 If you’re spending the night, I recommend staying in the town of Panajachel, one of the larger hillside villages known for its textiles. But Lake Atitlán can also be seen as a day trip from Antigua or Guatemala City. Trip Advisor has lots of tour options.

 A boat tour around the lake is an (obvious) must-do excursion, but there are many other activities in the area. One option is the Atitlán nature reserve, located on a former coffee plantation, that has a butterfly garden and several hiking trails.

 You can also visit one of the active coffee and avocado orchards, “soak in” the Mayan culture in any of the lakeside towns, take a cooking class, or (if you’re feeling more adventurous) take a motorcycle ride around the lake for higher-up panoramic views.

 Fun Fact: In 1938, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the famous children’s book, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), crashed his plane near Lake Atitlán. Legends say that during his recovery at Lake Atitlán, he saw the Cerro de Oro, “hill of gold,” that inspired a drawing and scene in The Little Prince.

 Cerro de Oro does (sort of) resemble an elephant with a boa trailing off at its head and tail as if it were being consumed, so when you’re here you can decide for yourself if you think this mountain inspired the book, or just the legend about the book.


Sunset in Monterrico by Lucy Maynard

Sunset in Monterrico by Lucy Maynard


Monterrico is a picturesque town along Guatemala’s Pacific coast. While Monterrico is known for its volcanic black sand beaches and nesting sea turtles, it’s also part of a nature reserve that stretches inland to preserve the town’s mangrove swamp.

 When you’re here, you must visit the Tortugario Monterrico, a wildlife reserve that raises endangered species of sea turtles, caimans (a cross between crocodiles and alligators), and iguanas. The staff offer lagoon trips and night walks from August to December to look for turtle eggs to rescue. And at sunset from September to January, you can help workers release baby turtles into the ocean.

 The Monterrico beach is narrow and the waves break close to the sand, so if you’re wanting a full swim-in-the-ocean day you should probably visit the nearby beaches of Iztapa or Tilapa. But what Monterrico beach does give you is some of the most extraordinary sunset views.

 Another activity I’d highly recommend is taking a boat tour of the mangrove canals. Tours usually take about one and a half to two hours. It’s worth getting up early to take a boat tour at sunrise when you’ve got the best chance of seeing the most wildlife (you can always take a nap on the beach later!)

 You can arrange boat tours through most of Monterrico’s hotels, but I’d recommend booking a tour directly through Tortugario Monterrico because it has the most knowledgeable guides and you’re supporting a good cause. Most tours are on a motorboat, but if you’ve got more time, you can arrange a paddled tour.

written by Lucy

About the author: “I’m a travel blogger and photographer who’s traveled across parts of Central America, Asia, and Europe. Some of my favorite things are: tiramisu, my selfie stick (gotta take pictures of yourself if you want to be an influencer), white wine, and just barely getting my camera out in time to capture a moment I want to remember forever. My goal is for my photographs, insights, and stories to inspire you to travel to places - old and new - that could be halfway around the world or just a walk away.” -Lucy Maynard

 My blog: https://www.lucyonlocale.com/blog

My Instagram handle: @lucyonlocale

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