A broad picture of Guatemala City Airport from the outside

Is Guatemala City Airport Safe?

Guatemala Airport is often frequented by travellers as Guatemala becomes one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central and South America. Guatemala City Airport is one of the biggest airports in Central America. It is one of just two international airports in Guatemala, but the Mundo Maya International Airport in the north of Guatemala serves very few routes. If you’re flying into Guatemala, chances are you’ll be flying into Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport. But the question is… is Guatemala’s main airport safe?

Is Guatemala City Airport Safe? The Short Answer:

Yes, inside the airport in La Aurora International Airport is safe. Pretty much as soon as you head outside of the airport you could be walking into dangerous territory, so I’d recommend booking your onward travel in advance or having a plan of how you’re going to get to your accommodation, whether thats in Guatemala City or not. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t, but it turned out ok in the end!)

Read six ways to get from Guatemala Airport to Antigua.

Is Guatemala City Safe?

No, Guatemala City (The capital city of Guatemala) is not generally considered safe for tourists. There is quite a lot of violent crime and gang activity in the city. I have heard from some locals that there are safe neighbourhoods, but they’re few and far between, and you really need to know where you’re going. It’s more normal for travellers and foreigners to fly into Guatemala City Airport and go straight onto another, safer city or area such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan or Quetzaltenango. These cities are safer, more frequented by tourists, and have plenty of tourist areas to visit and stay.

A woman backpacking in Central America with a rucksack and walking sticks

Read more about Central America…

What to Pack for Backpacking in Central America

Violent Crime in Guatemala City Airport

Armed robbery isn’t something you usually need to worry about in any international airport. The arrivals area in Guatemala City Airport is quite small and always full of people, and the departures area is too secure for anything like that to happen! If you’re especially worried, try to travel during peak times, like during the day, when you know you’ll always be surrounded by other travellers and staff from the airport. 

There is quite a lot of gang activity in Guatemala City, but this goes on inside the city rather than close to the airport. 

Read my full guide to Guatemala City Airport for more information on safety, getting cash and onward travel.

Piles of Guatemalan currency Quetzals

Read more about Central America…

A Guide to Currencies & Getting Cash in Central America

Petty Crime

Again, you’re quite well protected within most international airports, so petty crime isn’t something to be too worried about. However, remember that as a foreigner you’re always more likely to be seen as an easy target. As long as you have some common sense about you, you’ll be fine! I arrived into Guatemala City Airport straight from Madrid, and it was the first time I’d been in Latin America in a couple of years, so I was extra cautious. I split up my cash between various bags, in case I lost one, and kept my phone and passport close to my body. But, I never really felt at risk of being robbed or pick-pocketed.

Thanks to security checks, like in every airport, you’re pretty safe in the main terminal for departures, too.

When you arrive, you’ll probably want to pick up some local currency! Be aware of common scams and don’t change your money with anyone in the airport unless they’re behind a desk with clear credentials. See Everything You Need to Know about Guatemala City Airport for more information on getting cash out. But, remember that most transport options from the airport will accept US Dollars, so you can wait until you get into the city before picking up the local currency (Guatemalan Quetzals) if you feel more comfortable that way. That’s what I did!

​There is a small waiting area in the arrivals hall of the airport, which is a safe place to wait for your onward travel. 

Taking Public Transportation from Guatemala Airport

Public transportation in Guatemala City is not very safe, and this starts at the airport. The main roads that lead out of the city are often heaving with traffic due to congestion problems, so if you’re heading out of the city you could be stuck on the public buses for hours.

I’d strongly recommending taking some kind of private transportation to wherever you’re going, whether that’s inside the city or somewhere else. There are a whole bunch of private transport options available to suit your budget, from shuttle buses to getting a private driver. Read this article on six ways to get from the airport to Antigua Guatemala for more info! (You can use most of these options even if you’re going to other tourist destinations in Guatemala)

In some parts of Guatemala the chicken buses can be doable (and I say doable, not necessarily safe!) but I wouldn’t recommend it from Guatemala City, especially if you’re going to be tired from a long flight. 

Are there Police Officers in the Airport?

I saw a few police officers inside the airport, but they were mostly checking people’s bags as they arrived. In the arrivals hall, where you’ll take your onward transportation from, you probably won’t find anyone from the local authorities (even the information booth was closed). You don’t need to worry, though, the arrivals hall is generally busy with booths of people selling rental cars and other onward travel options.

Weather and Altitude in Guatemala City

Although altitude can be somewhat of an issue in other areas in Guatemala (mostly when you want to go hiking up a volcano, which I highly recommend!) Guatemala City sits at 1,500m above sea level, so you’re very unlikely to have any issues with high altitude.

Heavy rains can sometimes cause travel warnings and flash flooding in Guatemala city, especially in the rainy season in July and August. However, this is quite rare and doesn’t tend to affect the airport or any major roads leading away from it. It could cause you to be re-routed on your way to another city, but it’s not a huge risk. Natural disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, so listen to what the locals tell you and you should be fine!

1 thought on “Is Guatemala City Airport Safe?”

  1. It’s great that you outline the safety aspects here, as even with the airport generally being a safe spot, there are things to be aware of and know (like private transportation from the airport being the safest option). It’s important that we know about where we are travelling to, so this is helpful!

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