What To Buy In Guatemala

what to buy in guatemala
Richard Dean
Richard Dean 
| 4 min read

For the ancient culture enthusiasts and history buffs, the Mayan-rich culture, historical sites, and colonial architecture will excite and impress everyone. This vibrant and colorful country boasts a deeply rich history and this shows in the sights, sounds, people, and food. A place that’s truly worth visiting, and reserve a day for this, is the colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its vibrant rainforests, captivating ancient Mayan sites, volcanoes, ancient Spanish colonial architecture, and rich cuisines will make any traveler have no room for regrets for visiting. Scroll down to find out about the best souvenirs by checking out our list of what to buy in Guatemala.

1. Guatemalan coffee

Awesome Guatemalan Geisha coffee and brunch at Reuben Hills, Sydney
Source: Photo by user Bex Walton used under CC BY 2.0

Introduced in the country by Jesuit missionaries in the mid-1700s, Guatemalan coffee is now famous worldwide and has been reigning in the coffee industry for the longest time. Described as a rich, medium to full-bodied, toffee-like sweetness and a hint of cocoa flavor mixed in - Guatemalan coffee is a favorite of countless coffee connoisseurs and coffee lovers all over the globe. Although there are some slight differences in the flavors depending on the region it is grown, all variants have garnered equal love. The four main coffee-producing regions are Antigua, Coban, Atitlan, and Huehuetenango.

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2. Handwoven scarf

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AlejandroLinaresG... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Colorful, handwoven, practical, stylish, and versatile. These gorgeous handmade scarves are great as souvenirs and perfect as gifts for your family and friends. They are tagged as versatile because you can use it as a scarf, a belt, or a head wrap. The vibrant colors and creative patterns are sure to tickle your fancy - and those loved ones you gift them to. Using traditional techniques, these beauties are meticulously handwoven by women of the Guatemalan highlands.

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3. Guatemalan ceremonial masks

 Mask Guatemala
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user YoTuT used under CC BY 2.0

Over 1000 years, ceremonial masks have been made and worn for rituals, ceremonies, other special occasions, and for entertainment purposes. The way they are made and how they are made have gradually evolved over the years. Presently, ceremonial masks are often used by indigenous groups, performers, and pageant participants, usually to depict mythical stories historical events, and legends. This is a wonderful souvenir for those seriously interested in Guatemala’s history and culture. This is a great conversation starter or ice breaker when displayed in your home.

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4. Ron Zacapa (Guatemalan rum)

Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 anos
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user George Arriola used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ron Zacapa is a premium rum produced in Guatemala, named after Zacapa, an eastern Guatemalan town, to commemorate its 100th founding anniversary. Their recent bottles feature a handwoven band around the middle of the bottle. This is to pay homage to the early Zacapa bottles which came covered in petate (material made from palm leaves and handwoven) - a practice dating back to the Mayan period. Famous for being the first rum to be included in the International Rum Festival’s Hall of Fame, and having been awarded for years in a row (1998, 1999, 2000, & 2001). The Zacapa line boasts four products: Zacapa 23 (premium, aged between 6 & 23 years), Zacapa XO (super-premium, aged between 6 & 25 years), Zacapa Edicion Negra (aged between 6 & 24 years), and Zacapa Royal. Unless you’re a non-drinker of alcohol, don’t leave Guatemala without having a taste of Zacapa Rum. It’s like having a taste of Guatemala’s rich culture and traditions.

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5. Jade jewelry

Starlite Jewelry Designs - Jade Necklace - Jewelry Design
Source: Photo by user Naomi King used under CC BY 2.0

Of the two types of jades, Jadeite and Nephrite, the jadeite is rarer, stronger, and harder to get. It can be found only in four countries: Russia, Japan, Burma (Myanmar), and Guatemala. In Guatemala, there are several colors of jadeite to be found. Most of the jade in the country is sourced from the same place as where the ancient Mayans extracted theirs, from the municipality of Zacapa. The Mayans believed in the supernatural or good fortune attributed to jade. Nobles and wealthy Mayans had the privilege of having jade adorned or incorporated into their jewelry, headdresses, masks, mosaic artwork, and even in dental work. Now, jade jewelry is carved and polished by native craftsmen who use ancient carving traditions. The beautiful creations found today can be a truly unique and precious souvenir or gift for a loved one.

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6. Mayan pottery

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Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Anonymous Unknown... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Decorated with intricate images that usually tell stories of the gods, the deceased, or simple scenes from everyday life of the ancient Mayans, four distinct periods of the Maya civilization (late Preclassic, early Classic, late Classic, and Terminal Classic) show how the design evolved through those times. Nowadays, the local pottery industry has prospered and the local artisans sell their exquisite creations for tourists and locals alike. There are countless designs, shapes, and sizes to choose from, making it an amazing souvenir and it’s practical as well because you can use it for storing things while adding aesthetic value to your home.

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7. Tablecloth or runner

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Eric Walter used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A tablecloth or runner has vibrant colors that will pop out the minute someone steps into your home. Traditionally handwoven, Guatemalan fabrics add that perfect excitement of colors into any tabletop, dresser, console, or even a car’s dashboard (if you’re eclectic like that). It feels like you take a bit of Guatemala home with you. Indeed, your family and friends will love this as a gift from your trip. In that way, it will seem like you gave them a piece of Guatemalan culture and beauty.

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8. Quetzalteca

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Some advice is that you should be sitting down while drinking this not-for-the-mild-hearted classic Quetzalteca because, like a sneaky thief, it will hit you unexpectedly. Not surprising since it is 29- and 60-percent alcohol! This classic cane liquor is strong (to put it mildly) but it can be mixed with a juice of your preference - or be taken as shots. If you think you have the stomach - and the head - for this, go ahead and have a taste. Your Guatemalan adventure will be all the more memorable and complete because of that. There are two variants to choose from (or taste both!), the Quetzalteca Rosa de Jamaica (sweet moonshine), and the Quetzalteca Especial (grape flavor). Cap off your night off with a shot or two, or with a glass of juice mixed with this potent and flavorful liquor.

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Memorable Guatemala souvenirs

Guatemala’s culture and history are vibrant and exciting, so when you choose what to buy as souvenirs or gifts, you’ll want something that is representative of that. Colorful and beautiful - handicrafts like their pottery and handwoven fabrics bring life to anything they are put on. The influence of the ancient Mayans and the Spanish colonials both had a lasting effect on this CentroAmerican country that visitors adore and always remember.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Richard, a writer and traveler, is also passionate about biking. When not immersed in bike parts or computers, he can be found at the market, hunting for ingredients to fuel his love for...Read more

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