The main reason travelers typically visit Flores, Guatemala, is that it’s the gateway to one of the most visited Maya sites in the world, Tikal. While Tikal is the obvious draw, Flores is a beautiful area and worth spending a few days exploring.
The small island town of Flores is located on Lake Petén Itzá, one of the largest lakes in Guatemala. A causeway connects Flores to the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Benito, which most people refer to collectively as Flores.
Flores has its own airport nearby, the Mundo Maya International Airport. It’s the only other international airport in the country aside from Guatemala City. Airlines like TAG and TACA Airlines run flights from Guatemala City. Another popular option is Tropic Air, which operates flights from Belize City.
If you’re coming in by road, you’ll find buses from several destinations, including Guatemala City and Belize City as well. Buses from the popular Rio Dulce area also stop in Flores.
Taxis, which are basically auto-rickshaws, are one of the most convenient and economical ways to get around the Flores area outside of walking. You can circle the whole island in well under 30 minutes. You can also hire private boats to get to more remote areas like the shore towns of San Jose and San Andres.
It’s very easy to fill a couple days just walking around the lake and enjoying the variety of great eats and drinks at all the restaurants and bars in Flores. Nighttime, when the street vendors come out, is when you’ll find incredible deals on food. There are plenty of other restaurants around the lake, and be sure to take in a sunset at least once. Wander around the streets and enjoy the beautiful architecture. It’s pretty quiet for the most part around Flores, especially in slow season. Since most people visit Tikal during the day, it’s an even better time to wander the beautiful streets.
But, if you want to see more, here are a few suggestions on notable attractions in the Flores region:
Ak’tun Kan Caves: Limestone caves that have interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight, or rent one at the cave’s entrance.
Ixpanpajul Natural Park: Located just outside of Flores, the 3.5-mile park is a great way to explore the Guatemalan landscape and the forests typically found in the country. Go zip-lining and take a walk along the Sky-Way. You’ll find beautiful views of the lake here as well.
Jorge’s Rope Swing: Located in the north shore, you can take a public boat or kayak to get there. Jorge also offers private boat services for a little more. They have a fun rope swing set up next to their house and run a small restaurant as well.
Guatemala is a diverse country, topographically speaking, so what may be the best time to visit one part of the country may not be the best elsewhere. In Peten, the wet season coincides with the Atlantic Hurricane Season. May through October are the wettest months, with most of the rain typically coming in September and October, however it can extend through the end of the year. If you’re looking to visit more remote sites in the area, it’s best to come between December and March.
Is Tikal on your travel bucket list?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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