Transport in Guatemala

Travelling around Guatemala
Updated 2017-09-18 09:38

Without passenger trains running on the national railways, air and road transport are the main means of transportation available to get around Guatemala, the latter being by far the most used. An overwhelming majority of passengers trips throughout Guatemala is made on second-class, so-called “chicken buses”.

Air transport in Guatemala

La Aurora International Airport, south of Guatemala City, is serviced by many high-profile international airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, TACA Airlines, Copa Airlines, etc.. Guatemala's flagship airline, privately operated, is Avianca.

A single domestic route connects La Aurora to the other passenger airport of the country, Flores. Guatemala being a captive market, fares tend to be on the expensive side.

Road transport in Guatemala

A network of large highways extending east-west and north-south across Guatemala represents the primary means of transportation. The national road system has witnessed significant improvement over the past few years, nevertheless dirt roads still remain predominant in rural areas.

Contrary to motorbikes, bicycles are quite common in Guatemala, but you should be warned that many roads include potholes, and that you will often face steep climbs.


Few being able to afford a car, a majority of passengers travels by bus. Convenient and very comprehensive, with routes to the tiniest, most remote settlements, buses are also extremely cheap (a trip in a luxury coach will cost you USD 1.5 an hour - just imagine the price of lower-scale options!)

You will find two main types of buses in Guatemala. By far the most numerous, second-class buses, known as camionetas or 'chicken buses', are old US school buses; infamous for being crammed with passengers (humans and chickens), uncomfortable, noise- and fume-filled, and driven in a reckless way, they represent the most common means of transportation in Guatemala. The ride may be bumpy, but chicken buses will have you live an authentically Guatemalan experience!

You can get on a chicken bus at public bus terminals within towns, or just hail one from the road. Tickets are purchased directly from the driver.

So-called pullmans, more comfortable, are first-class buses which ply the main routes, connecting the main cities between themselves as well as with the Mexican border. Actually fast, they are generally punctual and safer. They also allow advance booking and allocate each passenger a seat. Pullmans will generally depart from the premises of private bus companies.

In more remote parts of the country the service is complemented by microbuses and country pick-ups (picops), operating in a similar fashion to the chicken buses.


Taxis, pretty cheap by Western standards (on average USD 3 a ride) are available in every town. Metered taxis are an exception, be prepared to ask for a quote and to bargain it before setting off. Additionally, Asian style tuk-tuks working as taxis have lately made their appearance in Guatemala, especially in mid-sized towns.

Useful links:

Guatemala Transportation

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