Traveling by car is complex in most Latin American cities. And for tourists, it can be quite challenging to know the safest area to park our rental car. In this post you will find the safe parking lots in Guatemala City and tips for your personal safety.
Touristic areas in Guatemala City
Zone 1. Historical Center
The safest option in the Historical Center is to park your car in a private parking lot. Guatemalans call them “parqueo público” public parking. This, in fact, is a private property that has a fee depending on how long your car is parked inside the property.
Normally, the rates are:
6.00 – 8.00 GTQ (0.75 – 1.00 USD) for the first 30 minutes.
8.00 – 10.00 GTQ (1.00 – 1.25 USD) per hour.
I recommend the following parking lots due to their proximity to the Central Square and their security:
- Central Market parking (Parqueo del Mercado Central)
- Solana 5th on 7th avenue (5ta Solana de la séptima avenida)
- Central Square parking (Parqueo Plaza Central)
Parking in the Historical Center of Guatemala City requires special caution. So I do not recommend leaving your car on the streets of this area at all.
Zone 4. Cuatro Grados Norte
Cuatro Grados Norte is not exactly a tourist spot, but if you are looking for a place to have a cocktail, a good beer or a special dish, you will find it in this area. It’s the cultural, work and residential district with a hipster touch in Guatemala City. In addition, this area has several apartment buildings designated for Airbnb. So if you use this service, it’s very likely that you will stay here. I advise you to choose an option that offers you parking included.
The prices of private car parks may be a little higher:
8.00 GTQ (1.00 USD) for the first 30 minutes.
14.00 GTQ (1.75 USD) per hour.
Car parks located right in the heart of this district:
You will be able to park on the streets but finding empty spaces will be a challenge. Normally all spaces are taken. In addition, you should pay attention whenever there are car guards (cuida-carros). There’s no area in Guatemala City where it is totally safe to leave your car parked on the street.
Zone 10. Guatemala City hotel zone
This is the zone where 4 & 5 stars hotels are located, so parking service will be included when you stay in one of them. But if you are only visiting the area, you will have plenty of safe parking lots near any place you go. Fees are the same as in Cuatro Grados Norte.
The zone is not only well-known for its hotels, but also for its shopping malls, bars and restaurants. These places have private parking for those who visit and some of them are free of charge.
You may have a false sense of security because of how well-maintained and good-looking this area is and opt to park your car on the street and walk to your destination. But ironically, this is one of the favorite areas for thieves to commit armed robberies. So always prefer parking lots and do not walk long distances on the street.
Zone 16. Cayalá City
The most popular spot in zone 16 is Cayalá City (Ciudad Cayalá). This is the wealthy residential and commercial area of Guatemala City. If you visit, you will go directly to its designated visitor parking lots. The underground and open-air car parks have sufficient parking spaces. Its streets are guarded and only resident vehicles are allowed to enter.
Rates vary between weekdays and weekends:
Monday to Friday:
- First 15 minutes free.
- 15.00 GTQ (1.90 USD) for up to three hours.
- After three hours, 10.00 GTQ (1.25 USD) per hour.
Saturday and Sunday:
- 20.00 GTQ (2.50 USD) flat rate.
Personal safety tips for parking in Guatemala City
- Do not park your car on the streets in any zone of Guatemala City, except in Cuatro Grados Norte where the car guards are. It is dangerous to walk on the streets even during the day, with the only exception of Cayalá.
- Be aware of your surroundings: vehicles, security guards, nearby cameras and take note if there is anyone inside the cars. Loitering in parking lots is forbidden in Guatemala, so there should only be security guards.
- Park in a well-lit area and near elevators or entrance doors.
- Have your keys in hand before you get back to your car.
- If someone approaches you asking for any type of assistance, do not try to help them and do not make conversation while walking to your car. Walk to a door and look for a security guard for assistance.
Where not to park in Guatemala City
If you park your car in the wrong place, the fine can be high and the paperwork quite slow and annoying to complete. The municipal police also use wheel lock clamps as a way to force a quick payment.
The following are places and signs that will let you know where not to park:
- When you see a red line painted on the curbs.
- When you see a blue line painted on the curbs. This indicates that it’s a space designated for taxis.
- On a zebra crossing and speed humps. This is obvious.
- Within 5 meters from a street corner.
- When you see several parallel white lines painted on the space that could be for parking. This indicates that they are spaces for motorcycles.
- You will see that several houses and buildings will have a small “No parking” sign at their entrance door. Don’t even think about parking your car in front even for a couple of minutes. Within seconds the owners of the building will call the municipal police and there will be a crane truck to tow your car.
- You must not park your car against the direction of traffic.
Guatemala City parking tips
Whenever you can, choose private parking lots over parking on the street. Although it is more expensive, I assure you that it is worthy.
If you decide to park your car on the street (wrong decision), make sure there are car guards (cuida-carros). They ensure a relative level of safety of the cars parked on their streets. Normally they will charge you 20.00 GTQ (2.50 USD) regardless of how long you park your car there, plus the parking meter fee if there is one. This is not a guarantee that your vehicle will be completely safe, but if you refuse to pay the car guard it’s likely that your car will suddenly get some scratches.
Whether you park your vehicle in a private car park or on the street, never leave bags, backpacks or boxes visible in your car. If thieves see through windows that there are things they can take quickly, chances are high that they will break the windows or force the doors to enter and take them.
Guatemala City parking meters
There are few parking meters in Guatemala City. You will mainly see them in zone 1 and 10, which were the first zones that used them. Over time, the City Municipality installed them in the busiest areas.
Rates change from zone to zone:
- Zone 1: 2.00 GTQ (0.25 USD) per hour
- Zone 4: 3.00 GTQ (0.40 USD) per hour
- Zone 10: 4.00 GTQ (0.50 USD) per hour
- Motorcycles: 1.00 GTQ (0.12 USD) per hour throughout the city.
Active hours are:
- Monday to Friday: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
- Saturdays: 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM
- Sundays: free of charge
The parking meters accept coins of 0.25. 0.50 and 1.00 GTQ.
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