What months are winter in Guatemala?
In Guatemala, there is no such thing as the four distinct seasons you may expect in other countries; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
Rather, there are two main seasons; the “dry” season, which lasts from November to April, and the “wet” season, which lasts from May to October. As a country with a tropical climate and year-round pleasant weather, the temperatures vary so little by month that the seasons cannot strictly be defined by how hot or cold it is.
The main differences you will find in terms of the temperature are largely geographic, varying depending on the altitude of a particular region.
Despite that, Guatemala is in the Northern Hemisphere so when we talk about winter in this article, we refer to the months of November to April, when the country is at its driest.
What are the coldest months in Guatemala?
As a country with a mountainous, volcanic landscape, temperatures are mainly dictated by altitude over season.
And did you know that Guatemala is known as the Land of Eternal Spring? With temperatures that are relatively mild throughout the year, even during the winter months you shouldn’t expect to get cold.
Having said that, the temperatures do get a little cooler during the winter months, despite being the driest time of the year. The rain clouds that exist during the rainy season actually act as a kind of blanket, somewhat insulating the lands below and keeping in much of the heat.
Furthermore, the lack of rain clouds means that the clearer skies of the winter time are less dense than during the rainy, summer months, which also contributes to the cooler temperatures.
So, just how cold does it get in Guatemala?
The truth is that Guatemala doesn’t really get “cold”.
In the highlands, such as Antigua and Guatemala, temperatures hover between 18-28°C/64-82°F during the daytime year-round, but they plummet quite significantly during the night so you should pack plenty of layers.
In more coastal areas the daytime temperature can easily exceed 30°C/85°F at any time of year and the humidity gets pretty high, too. It can be quite intense in these regions so many visitors to Guatemala find themselves heading inland after a few days on the coast to balance the hot, thick air with the freshness that comes at a higher altitude.
During summer, the temperature tends to be a few degrees higher, and often the daily, albeit brief, downpours are a welcome relief from the heat and humidity.
For many, winter is the best time to visit Guatemala thanks to the dry skies and lower humidity.
Visiting Guatemala in Winter
For visitors who are used to harsh winters in their home country, Guatemala is a welcome escape with its temperate climate and long, sunny days that make for a welcome escape from the typical crisp cold of the northern hemisphere.
The winter season is the most popular time to visit Guatemala and is considered the high tourist season, almost exclusively because of the lack of rain during these months.
With tourists, come hikes in pricing from travel operators, tour companies and accommodation providers so we recommend booking well in advance to get the best deals on your Guatemalan stay.
If you choose to visit at the start of the dry season, around November time, you will see Guatemala’s natural landscape at its finest; from the rain of the previous months the lush landscape simply thrives, the trees and vegetation glowing vibrant and green after getting a new lease of life thanks to the water.
This is a fantastic time to explore the great outdoors and see the rainforests, mountains, lakes and volcanoes at their finest as the surrounding foliage and flora is at its peak of beauty, revitalised and nourished from the rain of the wet season, all while remaining dry thanks to very limited rainfall.
Toward the end of the winter months, around March time, the heat will rise to its peak so it’s the ideal time to enjoy the country’s many natural swimming pools, lake towns, waterfalls and even the black-sand beaches of the Pacific coast.
Things to do in Guatemala in winter
Bizarre black sand at Monterrico Beach
Monterrico Beach is located on the Pacific Coast, and it is the closest beach to Antigua. Known for its black beaches, this will be your most unique day at the beach. Soak up the sun, or see if you can spot any of the local wildlife.
Each year between June and December, hundreds of sea turtles come ashore at night along Guatemala’s Pacific coast to lay their eggs. Hatching season falls between September and January, so you’ll have the chance to see the Tortugario Monterrico hatchery release the baby turtles into the sea – a truly mesmerising experience.
Read our guide: The Best Beaches in Guatemala
The dry season is the perfect time to hike to Acatenango
Little rain, warm days, cool evenings and more than 12 hours of daylight during the winter months mean it’s a great time to do some hiking. For outdoor adventurers one of the best hikes in Guatemala is up the Acatenango Volcano, which can be completed over the course of two days and is only suitable for experienced hikers.
As the third highest volcano in Central America, it’s a pretty epic trek and the views from the summit are out of this world during the dry season, as visibility is generally very good.
Experience the Caribbean-cool vibes lakeside in Izabal
Guatemala’s Caribbean coast may only be small, but it is mighty and rich in beauty. Lake Izabal is one of the highlights of the region and is also the country’s largest lake. Surrounded by lush green vegetation and with crystal blue waters, it is the ultimate destination for relaxation if you’re looking for a more laid-back vacation.
Events in Guatemala in Winter
All Saints Day, 1st November
All Saints Day – Guatemala’s answer to the Day of the Dead – sees Guatemalans across the country pay respect to the deceased, celebrating the lives lost with friends, family and loved ones.
Celebrations are held in Guatemala City, the country’s capital, which holds a massive parade and street party to honour this sacred day of remembrance. An important part of the celebration is The Kite Festival, an extravagant display of lavishly decorated kites flooding the sky, said by locals to be a way to connect with those who have passed.
In Santiago Sacatepéquez there is The Giant Kites Festival, which is incredibly popular with tourists as it is known to be the best of its kind in all of Guatemala.
Spend December in Guatemala City to join the Christmas festivities
Guatemala is a country that loves Christmas and there are plenty of traditional celebrations and cultural rituals that span the course of several weeks in the capital, Guatemala City. Expect christmas markets, day after day of street parades, plenty of fireworks and spectacular christmas feasts.
Read our guide: What to do in Guatemala in Christmas
Join the Ash Wednesday parade in Antigua in February
Guatemala is a religious country celebrating plenty of holidays of the church throughout the year. The first significant celebration is that of Ash Wednesday, which almost always falls in February. The biggest celebration in all of Guatemala is in Antigua, where you can expect processions with locals in costume carrying holy figures through the streets, as friends and family come together to enjoy this holy day.
Enjoy Easter in March or April, at the peak of the dry season
The week of Easter is one of the most celebrated times in all of Guatemala. This Holy Week is filled with festivals, processions, and church services. You can find celebrations happening all around Guatemala, especially in the big cities, such as Antigua. It is always a great idea to be mindful of the importance of these holidays for the local people, and to always respect the local ceremonies. If you really want to avoid religious celebrations, the week of Easter is not the best time.