Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala: Top sights to see
Quetzaltenango, Guatemala – locally named Xela – is a beautiful city surrounded by fabulous mountains. If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife or you simply want to chill out in hot springs for the day, Xela is the perfect place for every type of adventurer.
Hiking in Xela
There are many tours offered to explore volcanoes close to Xela, but there are mountains within walking distance of the city centre you can hike. From the centre you’ll see the viewpoint atop Cerro El Baul. Though it gets steep at various points, the view is worth the hike. There are a couple of trails leading to the main road which levels out and circles to the top. The panoramic view is absolutely spectacular! We were told some of the trails can be dangerous due to hikers being robbed, so just bear it in mind, and we were advised not to hike alone.
Fuentes Georginas hot springs
If you’re in the mood for relaxing, head into the heart of the jungle to Fuentes Georginas hot springs – about one hour from Xela. The scenery is fabulous and the springs are in a beautiful setting. There are a number of pools to relax in, but it does get colder in the evenings so bring warmer clothes to change into. It’s a lovely place to relax and there is a restaurant and facilities too. You’ll be telling everyone you feel “muy tranquilo” for certain! Our tour cost 130 quetzal (about $17) for transport and entry.
Xela’s amazing nightlife
For lovers of a vibrant social scene, Xela is the place to be! From Parque Central, head to Padsaje Enriquez for a string of fabulous bars and a lively atmosphere. Behind Padsaje Enriquez, on 5a Calle, you’ll also find many nightclubs and bars. Pop into whichever holds your fancy and party with the locals! Or check out El Shamrock, an Irish bar, for a great time!
For something different, head to Vintage, a karaoke bar. The atmosphere is electric and you’ll find people standing on tables and chairs having a great time! If you don’t know the words to any popular reggaeton songs, have no worries; Vintage is an amazing place!
The nightlife in Xela is amazing at the weekends, and Wednesday and Thursday nights are also busy. Bars close about 1am but if you ask around you’ll find out where the afterparty is! Many people head to these hidden locations and you can keep on going into the early hours!
Traveling through Guatemala? Check out more justfinch guides
Coffee spots in Xela
When you’re in need of a coffee, check out Xelapan on Parque Central. Their coffee is great and they have a huge selection of fabulous pastries to indulge in! Close by, Mandarina café has great coffee if you like a strong, bitter americano. I recommend chilling out in the patio to de-stress!
Cementerio Privado Minerva
While you’re in Xela you have to check out Cementerio Privado Minerva. The colours of the graves in the cemetery are fabulous and the surrounding scenery is spectacular. Take some time to walk around and you’ll find many statues with their heads and hands cut off (I found it unsettling but research indicates it was vandals rather than for any significance). Walk to the back of the cemetery and you can climb the steps for a panoramic view of the cemetery and surrounding scenery. It’s fabulous!
Xela is a wonderful little city. From hiking the mountains to the hot springs, you’ll have a wonderful time. The weekends are alive with parties and you’ll find many backpackers passing through the city. Xela is beautiful and there is something for every traveler!
Thinking of heading out on the road? Check out my 5 tips for traveling alone.