I arrived to Flores, Guatemala late at night after crossing the Belizean border (one of the easiest border crossings ever!) and hopping on a chicken van that takes about two to three hours depending on how many times it breaks down in the middle of the road.
As soon as I boarded a Tuk-Tuk to reach the island of Flores from the nearby town of Santa Elena I was surprised by the pitch-black darkness that surrounded the place.
Turns out there was a strong wind that knocked down the power cable at the bridge so I had to walk all the way to the dock of Flores in order to take a boat to my hostel, located in San Miguel, a piece of land directly across from Flores.
The pitch black boat ride with only one candlelight to lead the way remains as one of my favorite experiences of my Central American journey!
The Island of Flores, Heartland of the Peten Region
The morning after the blackout, the first ray of sun hit the island of Flores and that’s when I knew it: Guatemala is definitely one of the most beautiful and overlooked places in all of the world!
Sure, most visitors will only spend a few hours exploring Flores since they will only use it as their base to visit the nearby Mayan ruins of Tikal but hey, it’s their loss.
Last week I spent one complete day discovering the hidden beauty of this small lovely town. Here’s a few of the main attractions I found.
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #01: Relax near the lake
Flores is one of the most peaceful touristy towns since most visitors are absent during the day so you can take advantage of that to enjoy unrivaled views and local prices all around.
My favorite spot is this place located in the Santa Elena-Flores bridge. I definitely love the effect of the sunken wooden bridges and the reflection of the water.
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #02: Visit the Mundo Maya International Mall:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking “A shopping mall, really?”. This mall located just after the Santa Elena-Flores bridge is actually home to some amazing replicas of the Mayan estelas that can be found in Copan.
If you cannot make it there, at least you can enjoy these impressive monoliths located outside the mall!
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #03: Take a boat to San Miguel and back:
For the small price of 5 quetzals (less than 1 USD!), you can take a shared boat San Miguel, where you can go to any nearby hill to get a panoramic view of Flores.
My favorite part, however, is the boat ride back to Flores. Seeing this medieval-looking city from the middle of the lake is a breath-taking experience!
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #04: Visit the Mayan Ruins of Tikal
From Flores, a one day trip to Tikal is extremely easy to arrange. You can go either by local bus or by tourist van. Prices are not that different but you’ll definitely save a lot of time by taking the tourist van.
Stay tuned next week for an in-depth article about the ruins of Tikal and the day I befriended a tarantula!
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #05: Enjoy Local Life at the Main Square
Did you know you can eat and drink like a king for only 20 quetzals (3 USD)? The street food vendors and the small restaurants in the main plaza of Flores (just follow the white church and you’ll be there in seconds) is where the locals eat and drink so everything is super cheap.
I remember I had lunch at a small restaurant called El Mirador. Watching the Guatemalans go crazy due to the Champion’s League was a very good local experience! They sure scream louder than the howler monkeys!
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #06: Go bird-watching at the Lake
Sure, you won’t find any exotic bird here in Flores (for that you have to go to Tikal) but you can certainly find many interesting photo opportunities thanks to the sunken wooden bridges and the amazing reflections at the lake.
Even a boring bird can create a very unique photo!
Top 7 Things to Do and See in Flores, Guatemala #07: Explore Flores by Night
If you’re lucky, you will see some unique water reflection effects thanks to rain and floods. Yes, I know that sounds awful but floods sure bring out some of the best photos opportunities. Take this one for example!
Magical, isn’t it?
How many days should you spend in Flores?
That is entirely up to you. My personal recommendation would be to spend two nights and two days. On day one I explored Flores itself while on day two I went to Tikal before boarding the night bus all the way to Antigua, Guatemala.
I know most people only spend one night and one day here since it IS a very small town (you can walk from one end to the other in 10 minutes) but trust me, you’ll end up loving it!
Last but not least, don’t forget to use our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders for making hotel reservations.
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Sweet deal, uh?
Have you ever been to Flores? Would you like to? Share your comments and let me know what you’re thinking.