Nebaj Main Plaza

Things to do in Nebaj: Welcome to the Ixil Region

In City Guides, Guatemala, Traditional Villages & Marketsby ErikLeave a Comment

Nebaj is a small town and the base for exploring the Ixil Region in Guatemala. Check out our travel guide & find out the best budget accommodation & food options as well as all the things to do in Nebaj. 

Things to Do in Nebaj

There are very few attractions in Nebaj besides observing the Ixil way of life – we here at DIY Travel HQ loved this relaxed, traditional mountain town.

Consider visiting Nebaj as one of the top places to visit in Guatemala.

Only the Ixil women wear traditional clothing.

This is marked by red skirts, and brightly colored, woven huipiles. Greens, yellows, red, and oranges make up geometric patterns.

The main focal points to do so are at the central plaza, church, and market.

Nebaj Traditional Clothing

The red skirt is a staple of Ixil traditional clothing.

Nebaj Kid Shoe Shiners

As sad as it is to see kids shining shoes, even worse is these skills don’t cross over to adulthood.

  • Central Plaza

The central plaza is the place to be, and be seen if you live in Nebaj.

Everyone congregates here at some point during the day since it has:

  • street food
  • place of worship
  • plenty of open space with benches
  • all the key businesses surrounding it
Nebaj Main Plaza with Sheena

Everyone that’s anyone is at the main plaza. That’s why Sheena is there.

The place is full of entrepreneurs as well from ice cream vendors and kid shoe shiner, to magic elixir hustlers.

The central plaza really has it all.

Take your time people watching before checking out the white-washed church next to the colorful mural.

Nebaj Main Plaza and Church Iglesia Catolica

Look at that fresh coat of paint on the church!

  • Church

The church in Nebaj is a simple affair, but the religious are very dedicated.

Watch the faithful crawl on their knees to and from the altar in a sign of deference.

Others light candles in the porticos of their favorite saint.

This is a great place to hide from sudden shower as well.

Nebaj Local Woman Praying at Church

Pick your saint, and claim your altar.

  • Market

The other big attraction in Nebaj is the market, with Thursday and Sunday being the best days to visit.

Chichicastenango & San Francisco El Alto are also big market towns to visit in Guatemala.

Grab some fruits to snack on, see the women’s traditional clothing, or just head to the ‘chicken’ bus terminal.

The alleyways are jammed with vendors on both sides, and locals pushing their way through as tarps hover just above you.

Don’t visit if you are claustrophobic.

Busy Nebaj Market

You better not be in a rush going through the clogged market.

We visited on a Thursday, and got to witness school children playing during recess.

We had to climb over a pile of used clothes from the US and shoot through a wire fence, but the pictures of kids being kids were priceless.

Nebaj School Children Playing During Recess

Ah…the joys of not having anything to worry about.

  • Museo de Arqueologia

For those in need of a real attraction, you can always visit the Museo de Arqueologia (Q20 / $2.75).

We chose not to, but they cover the region’s history and culture.

Nebaj Museo de Arqueologia

Only visit this museum if you really need something to do.

  • Streets of Nebaj

Since there aren’t many things to do in Nebaj, you’ll probably do several laps of the town.

The most interesting things we found were the popularity of pinball machines with teenagers, and a small girl collecting wood scraps from her family’s woodshop.

The streets aren’t particularly nice, but they help pass the time when you aren’t doing day trips.

Nebaj Teenagers Playing Pinball and Girl Collecting Wood Scraps

Sometimes the best attractions are observing daily life.

Things to do in Nebaj: Day Trips

You can do a 4-6 day hike from Nebaj to Todos Santos Cuchumatan, but the two best day trips are to Chajul, and hiking to Acul.

View of Nebaj from the hiking trail.

Nebaj looks pretty from far, but is far from pretty.

Things to do in Nebaj: Accommodation

There are definitely nicer places to stay in Nebaj, but Popi’s Hospedaje fit our needs well.

Not only were they the cheapest (Q35 / $4.80 dorm, Q80 / $11.00 double) we found, but they had reliable hot showers, and the fastest Wi-Fi.

All the rooms were basic with shared bathrooms.

Nebaj Popi's Hospedaje Room

Popi’s Hospedaje has basic rooms, but everything we needed.

The restaurant downstairs had a variety of dishes and nice atmosphere, but we did not eat there.

Many expats frequented during the day to take advantage of the Wi-Fi.

However, the Wi-Fi is part of the restaurant and was turned off each night at 9:30 pm when it closed.

Plan your use accordingly.

Popi's Hospedaje and Restaurant

Visit Popi’s if you want to meet expats, or use fast Wi-Fi.

Things to do in Nebaj: Food & Drink

Nebaj is a great place for Guatemalalan street food and cheap set meals since very few tourists make it to this region of Guatemala.

Around the main plaza you can find:

  • Mexican style corn (Q3-5 / $0.40-0.70)
  • Fried chicken and fries (Q10 / $1.40)
  • Steamed and grilled tamales (Q1-2 / $0.15-0.25 depending on filling)

Our favorite tacos (3 for Q10 / $1.35) were on 5 Avenida, though.

A vendor near the main plaza also served a chocolate rice drink (Q1 / $.015) similar in composition to congee.

Nebaj Street Food

Nebaj is one of the better towns to eat street food in Guatemala.

For set meals (Q16 / $2.20), there are a handful of comedors located around the city.

You can also get a breakfast dish of eggs, rice, beans, and coffee for Q12 / $1.65 in the market.

A bakery across from Popi’s also provides quick eats for breakfast.

Nebaj Set Meals and Bakery

Set meals are your cheapest option to feel full.

Things to do in Nebaj: Transport

The easiest way to reach Nebaj is from Coban.

A microbus (Q50 / $6.85) departs at 6 am and 1 pm each day from their bus station.

Coban to Nebaj Microbus

Catch the 1 pm Coban to Nebaj microbus at the bus station.

Heading to Todos Santos Cuchumatan requires three legs.

The first stretch is in a microbus from Nebaj to Sacapulas (Q15, 45 minutes / $2.05), which can be found 1 block behind the church.

The first connection was easy as the driver’s assistant let us out directly across from the departing microbus to Huehuetenango (Q20 / $2.75, 100 minutes).

Huehuetenango Bus Terminal

Todos Santos Cuchumatan buses run frequently from Huehuetenango Terminal.

At the bus terminal in Huehuetenango, find the ‘chicken’ bus for Todos Santos Cuchumatan (Q20 / $2.75, 2 hours).

Purchase a ticket at the Transporte Flor de Maria office directly behind the bus, and mark your seats with pegs in the wooden board.

Buses depart at 10:20 am, 11:20 am, 2 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:15 pm.

Huehuetenango Chicken Bus to Todos Santos Cuchumatan Peg Board

You don’t get much simpler than this for keeping track of bus seats.

Buses (Q5 / $0.70) and microbuses (Q7 / $0.95) leave regularly for Chajul at the ‘chicken’ bus station located on the far side of the market.

Return microbuses from Acul cost Q7 / $0.95, and can be caught across from Hacienda San Antonio.

Nebaj Chicken Bus Station

The Philippines have Jeepneys. Guatemala has Chicken Buses. All are derived from the US.

Things to do in Nebaj: Getting Around

Everything in Nebaj is walkable, but tuk-tuks cost Q5 / $0.70 for anywhere in the center of town.

Nebaj Tuk-Tuks

Don’t worry if someone grabs the first tuk-tuk. There is a whole fleet waiting for you.

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***The Final Word – One of the best things to do in Nabaj is making a day trip to Chajul ***

What was your favorite part of visiting Nebaj and the Ixil Region?

5 Shovels

Super easy DIY travel around city centres

Visited in July 2016

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