Flores seems a bit extinct and boring, but undoubtedly a beautiful town. Also, a starting point to the famous Mayan ruins Tikal. To the greatest extent, travelers based in Flores for Tikal, as some accommodations are offered. However, there isn’t much to do in Flores.
Also, Belize is close by, likely most of the travelers pursue their trip by crossing the border.
One may wonder why this place is so popular, not only for Tikal. The truth is: We have been touring in Guatemala for ten days. Travelers come from everywhere, but that is likely to happen if traveling in December. So many people from Europe, America, and Russia evade the cold winter. Going on a trip at this time of the year is indisputably the case.
Some Places are Not On The Tourist Trail
We visited four places in Guatemala, and one of the towns we visited really gave us a kick of surprise. The day before, we wandered through the small town of Rio Dulce and barely met any tourists. Such a superb feeling, tourists are not around. At first, we thought we were in the wrong place.
No, it was the right place. It is just that everyone follows the same route while traveling in Guatemala. And Rio Dulce is not on the tourist trail for most people.
Getting to Flores from Rio Dulce!
The travel time from Rio Dulce to Flores takes 4 hours. There is no bus station in Rio Dulce, and the bus ticket must book in advance at one of the hotel counters.
The bus came from somewhere and was usually scheduled at 3:30 pm. However, it was delayed and arrived at 5:00 pm. It was expectable as what we heard from other travelers.
We haven’t much experience with local buses in Guatemala; it is, in fact, the first public bus we had.
We use shuttles while touring in the country. Maybe not the cheapest way, but they are at least on time. There’s no shuttle from Rio Dulce to Flores, so we don’t have the options. By the way, to a significant extent, we reached Flores that day. Usually, I don’t appreciate arriving at night, mainly if I’m unfamiliar with the area.
Arriving in Flores at night
We reached Flores at 9:00 pm. Arriving at night in a place is uncomfortable. However, Flores is a pretty small town and safe for tourists. Thankfully, our hotel is just a short walk from the bus stop. I already emailed our hotel for our late arrival, ensuring we didn’t arrive at a closing door. It was pretty late, and we were hungry. Thank goodness there were plenty of restaurants near the hotel and still open late in the evening.
That is one thing I like in Guatemala; most establishments are open late at night, making everyone’s life much easier.
But the first thing we did after settling the bags in our room was a search for a tour agency, as we planned to visit Tikal the next day. Then, by chance, there was one next door; how blissful. So we could choose the morning or the afternoon, but we opted for the afternoon tour to Tikal.
Exploring the charming town of Flores
As our bus to Tikal is scheduled for noon, we still have time in the morning to walk around. Never leave Flores without seeing the historic village. As mentioned, there isn’t much exciting to do in Flores unless one will go on excursions. It is a tiny but lovely town.
Stroll to the central square
One will be jotting that the historic town of Flores is not entirely flat. From the lakeside to the main square, it is partially with cobblestone, which leads to the central square in the city.
There are several excellent sights to see — one of the essential sites in Flores is the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios. A Roman Catholic church with two beautiful bell towers on the domes. Pursue walking roundly, and find a discerning view over the lake and the outer surface of a building’s roof.
Take a Lake tour
Strolling at the lakeside, some will be dealing with the boatmen offering a lake tour. We did the river tour in Rio Dulce, and it was gorgeous. We skip the lake tour in Flores. The boatmen can be persuasive; if one will go on a boat ride, negotiate the price. That is simple. One can spend 30 minutes on the boat for up to one hour.
Visit the modern town Santa Elena
From the historic town, walk through the causeway. The center of Santa Elena offers a lot of shopping and dining opportunities. If shopping is not in one’s interest, strolling around it does not cost anything. Furthermore, what to see is just modern buildings — the contrast to the old town of Flores.
Visiting Tikal half or one day
The highlight of the trip to Flores is to see the Mayan ruins. Tikal is more than one hour from Flores, which you can easily visit. For convenience, we joined the tour. When booking the trip, we could choose the morning or the afternoon. As I’m not a morning person, we decide to visit Tikal in the afternoon, which departs in Flores at noon.
Getting to Tikal from Flores and Park admission
From Flores, the essential part is booking the shuttle. It cost 75 Quetzales for a return trip. Beware, the shuttle can be crowded and somehow an uncomfortable journey for more than one hour.
Once arriving at the park, the bus driver will stop at the ticketing counters and buy your tickets. The entrance fee to the park is 150 Quetzales and requires a passport when purchasing a ticket. From the ticketing booth, the shuttle will continue to the park’s main parking.
To be aware: it is a massive park located in the jungle, but there are options; going on a guided tour or going on your own. The choices are yours! We did it on our own.
What to bring if visiting Tikal park
Bring mosquito repellent. And for sure wear good walking shoes as you’ll do lots of walking around. Bring a torch if visiting Tikal in the afternoon if you don’t want to get lost in the dark. I was surprised by how dark it was when we went outside around 4:30 pm.
There are no vendors around the ruins, but before you start roaming in the jungle, you’ll find plenty of vendors outside. There you can buy some drinks, snacks, and souvenirs.
Spending half-day in Tikal isn’t enough. There’s a large number of things to see. I suggest you spend one day; it should be an appropriate time to see the whole park. I regretted that we only had a half day while there was so much to see.
Where To Stay In Flores
Although Flores is a small town, it offers plenty of lodging for every budget. That’s why most travelers stay in Flores before pursuing other places. The lakeside is very popular; it costs a little more if you want a lake view. So we stayed at the hotel Villa del Lago, located in the historic town of Flores, booked by booking.com.
We have a comfortable room with a private balcony facing the lake. The hotel has a tour desk, but it is sensible to go next door if you want to save a few bucks. The next building is a travel office, and across the street is a restaurant. Also, the bus stops are just a short walk. So it is one of the best alternatives to staying in Flores.