Quetzaltenango (Xela)

study spanissh in Quetzaltenango

Quetzaltenango is truly a beautiful city. Located high up in the Sierra Madres at an elevation of 2,335 meters (7660 feet), Quetzaltenango is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes and is laced with narrow, cobblestone streets built for walking and filled with the colorful signs of Mayan culture. Xela is much more than simply a place to study Spanish. For many students it becomes a second home ….

Xela is a university town with one large state university (San Carlos de Guatemala), and six private universities. Because of the large student population- both Guatemalan and foreigners studying Spanish- Xela is dotted with coffee shops and there is also an active night life with clubs, billiards and bars. There are also modern banks, grocery stores, hotels, internet cafes, bakeries, movie theaters and restaurants.

Throughout Quetzaltenango there are old classical buildings and monuments. The contrast between the old and the new is especially visible in the center of the city around “Parque Central” and this is what gives the city its charm….This is all within easy walking distance, although if you like, micro buses and taxis offer a very convenient and affordable alternative for getting around.

History of Quetzaltenango

quetzaltenangoQuetzaltenango, with a population of 250,000, is located 200km west of Guatemala City and is the commercial center for southwest Guatemala. Xela is the second largest city in Guatemala and one of the fastest growing cities in Central America. Although Quetzaltenango is located in the mountains, it’s only a 1 hour drive to the tropical pacific coast.

At 2335 meters above sea level, Xela’s climate is moderate. Temperatures year round average 70-80°F (21°C) during the daytime and 45°F(7°C) at night. Xela is green all year round, although during the rainy season everything really comes out into full bloom. Bring a heavy sweater for early morning as the nights are chilly, but also plenty of short sleeved T-shirts to wear during the day.

The People_MG_2526

While indigenous culture has no boundaries in Guatemala, Xela rightly claims to be at the heart of everything Maya, beautiful in its diversity. Xela is the second most important commercial city in the country and is the place where people come from small villages, many miles away, in order to sell their goods in the market. Women in their traditional dress fit in just as easily as men wearing smart-looking suits and carrying briefcases.

While you study Spanish in Xela, you will have many opportunities to practice your Spanish and expand your knowledge of the local & regional culture. At Celas Maya we take advantage of what the area has to offer, taking day trips to local attractions within Xela and the surrounding towns & villages. (visit activities & excursions)

Guatemala info
Western Highlands info
Lonely Planet article re: Xela
Xela vs. Antigua article

Use www.guatemalastory.com for travel information and trip planning in Guatemala.