The capital city of Guatemala, Guatemala City is a major destination for those coming in and out of the country – whether you’re staying in the city or traveling to nearby regions, chances are you’ll likely spend some time in this bustling metropolis.

Though a good portion of Guatemala features a blend of modern and ancient cultures, it seems to be more prevalent in Guatemala City. There’s also a mixed bag when it comes to perception of this major city – depending on who you ask, Guatemala City could be one of those cities that you want to avoid because it’s full of traffic and has a reputation for being on the more gritty side or it could be a fascinating destination that visitors say you need to experience despite the grit and traffic. While it’s true that there’s a combination of money and poverty throughout Guatemala City, you’ll find plenty of things to explore during your stay and an interesting blend of skyscrapers next to dilapidated structures no matter where you look.

Like any major city in the world, Guatemala City has its share of historic points of interest, as well as cultural destinations. One of the top places to visit is the Cathedral of Guatemala City, which is a Catholic cathedral that dates back to the 19th-century. Walk around the cathedral to see the beautiful religious artifacts, including carvings and paintings. For a beautiful view of the city and to get a cultural context of Guatemala, head over to the National Palace of Culture – when you’re done exploring the exhibits, head out onto the balcony for a gorgeous view of the public square.

After you’ve had your fill of city life, you’re in luck. Outside of Guatemala City, you’ll find numerous hiking trails to explore the jungle topography of Guatemala – many of these trails also give you access to the active volcano, Pacaya. If you’re not keen on heading out on your own, Guatemala City has numerous accommodations and guides that provide you trips and excursions that allow you to discover the area safely and with a group – perfect if you want a little more detail about what you’re exploring during a visit!