Markets in Guatemala

Market days in Guatemala are alive with colour and each community is characterized by unique clothes and crafts. Simply wandering through the labyrinthine stalls amid the frenetic throng of colour, noise, aromas and movement is a potent and memorable experience.

Markets run the gamut from low-key indoor bazaars to massive, sprawling outdoor events that draw traders from across the country. The most famous takes place in the town of Chichicastenango, an hour north of Lake Atitlán, where Maya and visitors converge in a twice-weekly frenzy of produce and textile shopping. It is a superb venue for souvenir purchases and the quintessential Guatemala market experience. 

Sololá, 20 minutes from Panajachel, hosts a Friday market that is always crowded with locals but rarely visited by foreigners, so it’s an authentic slice of Mayan culture. 

For sheer size and scope, don’t miss the Friday market at San Francisco de Alto, the largest, busiest and best stocked open-air market in Central America.

When shopping, bartering is the norm and almost expected; sometimes, unbelievable discounts can be obtained. You won’t do better anywhere else in Central America, but getting the discount is less important than paying a fair price. Woven goods are normally cheapest bought in the town of origin. Try to avoid middlemen and buy direct from the weaver. Guatemalan coffee is highly recommended, although the best is exported; coffee sold locally is not vacuum-packed.

Our Guatemala Handbook is available now: 

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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