Flores (Guatemala)

The town of Flores on Lago Petén Itzá. The San Miguel peninsula behind is covered by an ancient Maya ruin with several large overgrown pyramids

Flores is a town in Petén, Guatemala. The town proper is an island on Lago Petén Itzá, connected to land by a causeway, on the other side of which lie the twin towns Santa Elena and San Benito. All three are often referred to as Flores, and are grouped in one article here accordingly.

Understand

For many, the main reason to visit Flores is its proximity to Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala, or as a starting point for trips around Petén. But the city itself is a wonder dense with colonial, red-roofed buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a historic church and Spanish plaza, and restaurants that are easy to stumble upon walking the city's charming streets. Most will find that this island city is more than just a take-off point, but a memorable attraction in itself.

Flores is a quiet and peaceful place, and probably one of the safest places in the sometimes wild north. Santa Elena and San Benito require a little more caution, but offer a more authentic experience of a Guatemalan town, complete with traffic, litter and street food.

Get in

Map of Flores island

By plane

Mundo Maya International Airport (IATA: FRS) is just outside Flores and is the only other international airport in the country aside from Guatemala City. This modern facility with its 10,000 ft. runway is courtesy of the US CIA. TAG and Avianca both run daily flights from Guatemala City, but are often delayed in both directions.

Tropic Air also offer an inexpensive option from Belize City in a light aircraft which, if you're lucky, flies low providing amazing views of the rainforest. They have daily flights from Philip Goldson International Airport to Flores at 8:30AM and 3PM, with return flights at 9:45AM and 4:15PM.

Avianca is used to fly from Cancún.

A taxi from the airport to Flores costs Q20 (or Q10 per person, whichever is larger). It is about two kilometers from the airport to the Flores causeway.

Shuttles to Tikal meet every flight.

By bus

Buses from Guatemala City and Belize City as well as various other destinations all over the country stop at the Fuente del Norte bus station in Santa Elena, a five minute auto-rickshaw ride across the causeway from Flores island (Q5).

From Guatemala City

From Guatemala City (travel time: 8 to 10 hours), you have the following options:

From Cobán

Monja Blanka Has a nice bus with movies for 50Q to Guatemala City from Coban

From Cobán (travel time: 5 to 7 hours), there are a few through Fuente Del Norte local buses, or you can use the frequent public microbuses (colectivos) that operate along the highway between Coban and Santa Elena. If you choose the microbus option (total fare: Q70) you will have to change to another microbus at Sayaxché after you take a quick boat or maybe the ferry across a river. The colectivo option may actuelly be quicker, because if there is a backup for the ferry, you can quickly pay a couple Quetzals for a boat ride across.

There are also tourists shuttles offering direct door-to-door service from Flores to Cobán for around Q100. The road from Cobán is very scenic; it's a smooth paved ride all the way (though windy for about an hour out of Coban).

From Belize City

From Belize City, you have the following options:

From other locations

There is also a direct bus from Honduras and El Salvador. See the "Get Out" section below for details on travel to Palenque in Mexico.

Get around

Walking is the most common way to get around, and circling the whole island takes about 15 minutes. It is an easy walk to Santa Elena and San Benito from Flores. Otherwise, auto-rickshaws (tuk-tuks), vans and buses are an option. The standard fee for an auto-rickshaw in the Flores/Santa Elena/San Benito area is Q5, but if you have a lot of luggage or squeeze in two people, the fare is 10. For a tuk-tuk from Flores to the Bus Station in Santa Elena expect to pay Q15 for two people with luggage.

The towns of San José and San Andrés, located on the northern shores of the lake, can be reached by hiring an expensive boat. The once-regular passenger boat service has been reduced following the improvement of the road - it's now easier to take the regular van or bus service there from the Santa Elena market, which costs Q7 and takes around 30 minutes. These buses leave when they are full, and will be packed to capacity and often beyond! A chicken bus goes once an hour; these are more comfortable and slightly cheaper at Q6, but take longer.

There are regular boats to San Miguel (Q4), a small village directly north of Flores. There is a gap between hotels east of Hotel Doña Luisa at the most northern part of the island.

Boats are moored behind Hotel Santana, and run to Petencito Zoo and are available for lake tours. Prices are not fixed, and haggling with the boatmen is a must.

See

Broken Maya stela in the central plaza of the Tayasal archaeological site

Do

Flores to San Jose

Learn

Buy

You can also get souvenirs in the shops in Flores, but the prices and selection are better elsewhere in the country, so only worth checking out if this is your only stop in Guatemala.

Two ATMs in Flores next to Hotel Petén and at the supermarket "Fotomart" at Calle 30 de junio allow cash withdraws from Visa cards. More ATMs can be found at the airport, as well as across the street from the airport. They support MasterCard as well as Maestro cards. Cross the street towards the Maxi Bodega supermarket and enter the mall left of the supermarket entrance. The ATM is a few meters down on the right side.

Eat

Wild animals are a common item on the menus in Petén. However, many of these species are killed illegally, so consuming them is detrimental to the local ecology.

Las Puertas

There's a supermarket on Calle 30 de Junio opposite Hotel Petén that is open 24hrs, and a large grocery store "La Torre" in the new mall just across the causeway towards Santa Elena.

Drink

Sleep

Almost all travelers will stay on the island of Flores, but there are a couple options in Santa Elena and San Benito if for some reason that strikes your fancy.

Flores island

Santa Elena

Connect

Internet

Go next

Map of sites around Flores

As of February 2007, for foreigners there is an entrance fee. Q80 per person. This fee covers Yaxha, Naranjo, and Nakum. The sites are very far apart and without a vehicle, impossible to do in one day.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 07, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.