Guatemala With Kids: The Market at Chichicastenango

Colourful masks for sale



Chichicastenango: The Market 

Fruit and veg for sale


Located in the country’s highlands, the small town of Chichicastenango is known for its colourful market held twice weekly on Thursdays and Sundays. In fact, locals claim it as the biggest market in the Americas (and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had the longest name in the Americas as well!)

Colours and crafts galore at #chichicastenango market! #Guatemala #familytravel Click To Tweet


Local produce for sale


The local population is mostly K’iche Maya, hence the town’s name “Chichi”. “Tenango” can roughly be translated as “the place of”. Chichicastenango is home to some 45,000 people but that number swells on market days when vendors (and their families) and visitors arrive in their hundreds, if not thousands.




The market can be roughly divided in two; the section selling artisanal wares aimed predominantly at tourists and the locals’ market. If you have time, it’s well worth wandering (or rather shuffling as there are so many people!) through both.


Market day


The locals’ market has sections dedicated to fruit and vegetables, another reserved for fish and yet another area where live cattle, chickens and turkeys are sold. Eggs, flowers and spices are for sale as is limestone to make tortillas. Simply put, this section of the market sells pretty much everything.


Textiles for sale


Too much choice?!


The more touristy side of the market is where you’ll find stalls selling textiles, embroidery, handicrafts, wood carvings, colourful masks, pottery, jewellery, bags and more. We were particularly drawn to the stalls selling row upon row of colourful woollen yarn. If I only knew what to do with it, I would have definitely bought some!


A rainbow of colours


Makes me want to take up weaving!


Embroidered dresses


The traditional local dress



Other Sights in Chichicastenango

Santo Tomas Church


The heart of the town is the church of Santo Tomas (Iglesia de Santo Tomas), a 400-year-old church built atop a Pre-Columbian temple. Maya tradition is very much alive in Chichi and although built as a Catholic church, Mayan rituals dominate. Mayan priests burn incense and candles and throw alcohol on the altars and whisper prayers into the flames. Each of the 18 steps leading up to the church represent one  month in the Maya calendar (the calendar has 18 months each with 20 days).


Santo Tomas sits in the heart of the town…and the market



How to get to Chichicastenango

A colourful cemetery sits in the far distance


As the quetzal flies, Chichicastenango is not far from Antigua or Guatemala City but the windy mountain roads mean that it takes a few hours to get there. Your best bet, particularly if travelling with kids, is to book a tourist shuttle. Your other option is to join the locals on a colourful chicken bus, which will be less comfortable but definitely more interesting!

From Antigua it takes around 3 hours.  From Lake Atitlan it takes approximately 1-2 hours depending on traffic.



Where to Stay in Chichicastenango

It’s easy to visit Chichi as a day trip but if you did want to spend longer then your best options are the Mayan Inn or Posada El Arco.


Colours and crafts galore at #chichicastenango market! #Guatemala #familytravel Click To Tweet


You May Also Enjoy the Following Posts:

To view all our posts in the series, Guatemala With Kids, see our Family Guide to Guatemala.

Things to do in Antigua with Kids

Take the Kids to Tikal!

A Guide to Guatemala with Kids

Off the Beaten Path in Xela

Where to Stay in Antigua with Kids

Antigua’s Best Restaurants for Families



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Guatemala with kids: Chichicastenango via @farflunglands

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