Zunil Who is San Simon (Maximon)

Top 5 Things to Do in Zunil, Guatemala

In Guatemala, Places of Worship & Ruins by SheenaLeave a Comment

Zunil, Guatemala may not have a large Monday market anymore but you can still find San Simon and soak in Fuentes Georginas – find out the top things to do & how to get there from Xela.

We originally went to Zunil, Guatemala on Monday to take advantage of their large weekly market, one of the top things to do in Zunil.

Typically, these center around the main plaza. You can imagine our surprise when the square was empty besides chicken buses… Oddly enough, we went to San Andres Xecul to see its famous yellow church but it was blocked by a tent.

This just proves you never know what to expect when traveling in Guatemala!

Find more inspiration in one of the Guatemala guide books below! 

Things to Do in Zunil, Guatemala

1. Soaking up the Views

Buses to Zunil will drop you off on the main road that runs parallel to a raging stream.

When crossing over the bridge, look down, and see how much foam is created from the churning water.

You also get excellent views of Santa Maria Volcano.

Zunil Bus Stop and Santa Maria Volcano
You have arrived at your destination: Zunil.

2. Main Plaza

If you continue down the road and make a right at the T-intersection, this street will bring you to the main plaza.

There is a fountain, and yet another yellow church with vines as décor however this one is a lot classier than the one at San Andres Xecul.

The vines and figures are completely white, which is a pleasant contrast.

Zunil Central Church
Finally, a tasteful church around Quetzaltenango (Xela).

3. Zunil Market

Make a left whenever possible while heading back on the same street.

This will take you to the Zunil market that occurs every day, so there is no need to time a visit anymore.

Thankfully, many locals and vendors still wear traditional garments so it is still interesting and one of the main attractions in Zunil.

Zunil Market Traditional Outfits
I wonder how much longer the locals will continue wearing traditional clothes.

While there, grab some cheap fruits to eat while searching for San Simon.

Strawberries and blackberries cost Q3/ $0.40 lb, you can get 20 small bananas for Q5 / $0.70 and rambutans range between Q0.33-0.50 / $0.07 each.

Peanuts will set you back Q5 / $0.70 for a medium bag.

Zunil Daily Market Interior
Definition of daily market…not special.

The weirdest item being sold at the market were white rocks. I’m guessing they are somehow used for cooking, but I’m not positive.

Please be sure to comment below if you have an idea…

Zunil Market White Rocks
They sell rocks at the market in case you have a ‘rock eater’ from The NeverEnding Story as a pet.

4. Finding San Simon

Who is San Simon, and why do I need to find him? Good questions!

San Simon, also known as Maximon, is a revered god to Guatemalans in the highlands.

He is part Mayan gods, Jesus, and even the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado.

Zunil San Simon Maximon
Please pay your respects in the house of San Simon (Maximon).

With that broad a following, it is hard to imagine anyone not asking San Simon for a blessing.

When we visited, people came all the way from Todos Santos to pay their respects (4-5 hours by bus).

Zunil San Simon (Maximon) Worship
San Simon (Maximon) is everything to everyone in the Guatemalan Highlands.

The main purpose of finding San Simon is that he is a bad-ass. Each village has different customs, but he usually likes offerings of tobacco, alcohol, and of course money.

How many gods do you pray to that have as many bad habits?!

San Simon moves locations year to year in order to maintain equilibrium in each village he resides. I could tell you where he is in Zunil in 2016, but that takes away part of the fun. Think of this challenge as an Amazing Race episode…

He’s in more than one place too – you can also try finding San Simon on Lake Atitlan!

You will instantly know you found him when it occurs. There will be people suspiciously hanging around, and the room will be blazing with candles.

Zunil San Simon House
Welcome to the house of San Simon (Maximon)!

San Simon in Zunil looks like a bandit cowboy dressed in a suit and carrying a pimp walking stick. You just can’t make these things up!

Hopefully this description has inspired you to find San Simon yourself…

Zunil Finding San Simon (Maximon) Badass
Donations appreciated. Bad habits aren’t cheap!

5. Fuentes Georginas

The most popular attraction around Zunil is Fuentes Georginas (Q50 / $6.85). Every driver around will offer to take you there.

The private hot springs have a series of pools with different temperatures, and are surrounded by walls filled with lush vegetation.

We read mixed reviews, and decided the entrance fee was too steep for us.

This section of Central America is awash with geothermal activity so Fuentes Georginas was not a do-or-die attraction for us.

Zunil Streets
Tucked up in the hills overlooking Zunil is Fuentes Georginas.

How to Get to Zunil

Zunil is an easy day trip from Xela.

Buses (Q5 / $0.70) originate at La Rotunda, and can be caught along Avenida la Independencia  and 7a Avenida until 8a Calle.

Return buses from Zunil to Xela can be found near the bridge on the main road.

Zunil to Quetzaltenango (Xela) Chicken Bus
Your chariot awaits.

Those heading to Fuentes Georginas can choose to negotiate with the touts, or head to the single road that climbs 10 km to the hot springs.

It is possible to either hitchhike, or take a colectivo up from there.

Most people pay between Q10-15 / $1.35-$2.05 each way in a shared truck, or Q50 / $6.85 for a tuk tuk.

Try to have a plan for your return as there may not always be an option outside of walking.

If you're traveling to Xela, Guatemala be sure to make a day trip to the quaint town of Zunil - find out how to get here and the best attractions it has to offer #zunil #xela #quetzaltenango #guatemala

*** The Final Word – With a few interesting attractions, Zunil makes an excellent day trip form Xela ***

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Visited in August 2016
Updated February 2020

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