I was only in Guatemala City for two nights and three days so this isn’t a comprehensive safety list. When you read online about the safety of Guatemala City, you will often hear that it’s drug infested with gangs running the streets. While this may be true in some areas (none that I’ve seen), I felt very safe in certain zones. Please be mindful that I only went out during the day time and avoided going out during the night.
Introduction to Guatemala City
Delta Air Lines LAX-GUA 757-200 Business Class
Westin Camino Real Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 1
Westin Camino Real Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 2
Radisson Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 1
Radisson Guatemala City Hotel Review Part 2
The Sights and Sounds of Centro Historico (Zona 1) in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Parque Central (Zona 1) in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of the Mercado Central in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Plaza Barrios in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of in Zona Viva (Zona 10) Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of Plaza El Amate in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of La Linea in Guatemala City
The Sights and Sounds of El Trebol in Guatemala City
Is Guatemala City Safe for Tourists?
Scam City: Guatemala City Edition
The Various Eats in Guatemala City
La Aurora International Airport Los Anejos Lounge
Delta Air Lines GUA-LAX 757-200 Business Class
Guatemala City is separated by different zones from Zona 1 to Zona 13. It’s often said that the higher the zones, the safer the area is. Conversely, the lower number zones are the most dangerous. To tell you the truth, I spent a lot of time in Zona 1 which is the historic center of Guatemala City. I didn’t find the city-center dangerous at all during the daytime. Everyone was minding their own business and a lot of shops and restaurants have armed guards outside. It’s common to see a Guatemalan security guard armed outside a McDonalds. It’s even common to see a lot of Guatemalan police officers patrol the streets in their pick-up trucks.
One of the safest zones for tourists is Zona 10 which is basically called “Zona Viva” or the Entertainment Zone (Live Zone). This is where you would want to stay if it’s your first time in Guatemala City. It’s an easy cab ride to Centro.
I will highlight some of safety concerns in Guatemala City.
Airport Arrivals – There weren’t any taxi hawkers trying to beg you for a ride in their taxi. I took a free hotel shuttle van since my hotel (The Westin Camino Real) was in Zona 10 which is close to the La Aurora International Airport in Zona 13.
Public transportation – I found the Transmetro bus system easy to use. Each station is also armed with a Guatemalan police officer. There are also chicken buses all over town and are considered “unsafe” because they can be randomly stopped and forced to pay gang money.
Taxis – You will need to negotiate a fixed fare with the taxi driver before getting into the vehicle. It helps to speak Spanish because they won’t know a lick of English. Take authorized taxis from “taxi stands” in front of public places like parks, malls, and touristy areas. Sometimes I found it hard to find “taxi stands” and I hailed a street taxi. There are some concerns about taking a street taxi, but I always look for the right decals, tags, and placard inside the taxi. It also helps to choose an older driver.
Overall, I felt safe in Guatemala City during my short stay as there is a huge police presence. I’m not sure if I would feel the same way if I went out during the night time. There are seedy areas in Zona 1 such as the red light district in La Linea, but police often patrol that area. El Trebol is another red light district area that I probably wouldn’t wander around during the night time. As you would in any large metropolitan city, use common sense and don’t carry valuables with you. Wearing flashy clothing, jewelry, and anything that sticks out as tourist is a great way to attract danger. There isn’t much to do in Guatemala City, but it makes for a great base city for Antigua.