Quetzaltenango, also called Xela, is the second most important city in Guatemala. Xela provides a very different experience compared to Guatemala City. Xela has a more relaxed atmosphere, the city is located in the highlands of the country where the landscapes of the mountains and volcanoes will inspire you to keep returning to Xela.
- Historical center of the city: Xela is the cultural epicentre of Quetzaltenango with a warm welcome at ´Parque Central´ or ´Parque a Centro America´ as also is known. The center has a special structure like the ´Kiosko´, which is a circular stone in the middle of the park. Surrounding ´Parque Central´, you will find colonial and neo-classical structures to explore Xela´s heritage. Like “Casa de La Cultura”, which houses the museum of art and natural history museum. The City Hall is another beautiful building you can explore around ´Centro Historico´, or visit the Cathedral, known as ´La Iglesia del Espiritu Santo´. And of course, you can´t miss Pasaje Enríquez, which is home to various bars and restaurants for nightlife.
For those who enjoy the great outdoors, #Xela is also a fantastic base for various hikes, whether you prefer spending a few hours or a few days reaching a summit.
- Santa Maria and Santiaguito Volcano: Have a spectacular experience hiking around the highlands of Guatemala, with only a 30-minute drive from the city to the volcano base, you can take one of this two paths. One path will take you to Santa Maria while the other will take you up Santiaguito. Hiking Santa Maria volcano will take around 4 hours to go up and 3 hours to go down but the views of the landscape is worth it one hundred percent. In the case of Santiaguito, because it is an active volcano, you only have access to do the view point, which takes around 2 hours to get to where you will enjoy a majestic volcanic eruption.
- The Hot Springs: After getting to the top of Santa Maria or Santiaguito Volcano and back down again, you have a unique chance to relax your muscles and body. The hot springs, which are an hour drive away, are natural hot sulphur springs coming from the veins of Zunil Volcano.
- Chicabal Lagoon and Volcano: Just a little outside Xela – an hour driving – you will find a very interesting community, Maya Mam, that owns and protects one of the most important Mayan sacred sites. The crater and lake of Chicabal is a place where, the Mayan community still cares for and uses the sacred site for ceremonies during the whole year. This is a mystical place where you can feel the good energy that envelopes the area.
- Salcajá and San Andres Xecul churches: Knowing that Guatemala is a religious country, it should not be a surprise to find that the oldest Catholic church in Central America is in Guatemala. This church is located in Salcajá, which is only a 20 minute drive out of the city. Also, Guatemala is famous for the colourful dress sense, landscapes and markets, so you will also be able to find the most colourful church in Guatemala is just outside Xela. This church is located in San Andres Xecul, with both Christian and Mayan influence.
So, if you are in Xela to study Spanish as a second language, doing some volunteering work or just here for holidays, you should visit these unmissable places.
If you would like more information about what to do or how to travel from place to place, feel free to send a message and we will be happy to help you.