Central America

Travel Guide Central America





© ChantelleS

Central America is the relatively narrow strip of land straddling the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific between Mexico and Colombia. Most of the countries in Central America were part of Spanish Empire except for Belize, which was a de-facto British colony until the 1800s when it was made officially into a colony.

During modern times Central America has hosted several brutal civil wars and some horrible dictators. In the last 10 years the governments have stabilized a fair amount, although there are some areas in certain countries that are still very unstable and should be avoided. On the brighter side Central America is home to numerous indigenous cultures, stunning ruins and colonial churches. This area is very popular with budget travellers because of numerous options to experience culture and nature while not breaking the bank.




The political boundaries of Central America are the southern border of Mexico and the northern border of Colombia, where the Isthmus of Panama ends. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west while the Caribbean Sea borders the northeast and the Gulf of Mexico borders the northern area. Between these areas lies a land mass of around 592,000 square kilometres.

Most of the interior is made up of mountains home to dense jungle. Many of these mountains have stunning lakes and are volcanic making eruptions and earthquakes quite common. The ash from the eruptions make the soil rich making the jungle grow denser and helping local farmers grow their crops. Lastly along both coasts are amazing sand beaches to die for.




Sights and Activities

panama city

panama city

© paperix72

Major Cities


See also: Famous Landmarks

Beaches and Islands

There are many choices when opting for a secluded beach or island, especially on the Caribbean side, but don't overlook the Pacific beaches.



Getting There and Around

It is easy to travel to Central America, you can fly from major cities in the United States such as Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Orlando to San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Managua, Panama, Mexico City, Cancun and several other places. Numerous airlines fly these routes and for more information visit the respective country or city guides. There are also options of getting there overland from the USA. There are a few buses which cross the border and otherwise you can take a car. From South America, it's best to fly or take a boat between Panama and Colombia.
Buses are the way to go across Central America, and a great overview of options (both in and between countries) is thebusschedule.com.
Overlanding in your own vehicle is possible. There are a few more items to consider like choosing, buying and outfitting your vehicle. Gas prices, itineraries and insurance. There are many resources online to help you plan such an adventure.



Best Time to Visit

Much of Central America has two distinctive seasons. From November to April, most areas experience their driest weather and temperatures are slightly lower as well. Northern parts of Mexico can get a little chilly though, especially at night and higher up. Days are generally sunny and mild though. From May to October, Central America seas its rainy season and the slightly higher temperatures combined with higher humidity is not the best time for a visit. Still, for some countries like Belize and Costa Rica, this is still peak time as it coincides with the longer holidays of North Americans and Europeans.




Spanish is the official language of all the countries in Central America apart from Belize where English is the official language. But even there, Spanish is widely spoken.
Travellerspoint members have put together some phrase books that can help travellers pick up some basic phrases, grammar and pronunciation skills before their trip.

The Spanish Phrasebook would be of use before visiting Central America. Find out about contributing to or starting a new phrasebook on our project page: Project:Language Phrasebooks.

Learning Spanish

If you want to combine your travels with some study, consider taking a Spanish language course. More general information is found in Learning Spanish in South America.


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Central America Travel Helpers

  • TakeOnTheWorld

    I have spent the last few months in Central America, I started in Cancun :( and have made my way with a friend through Belize and south. Central America is a stunning area and would recommend a visit to anyone and everyone. We have been travelling with no plans, only with a vague idea on where to go, and booking only a few days in advance, sometimes the night before. We have found that sometimes a little prep would have been better. Any questions, I will do my best to help you out.

    Ask TakeOnTheWorld a question about Central America
  • campeador

    I live in El salvador, in its capital San Salvador. I am 48. I want to help anyone that be visiting or crossing this little country. Whatever you want to know or wonder, just ask me. I will give you the best advice .

    Ask campeador a question about Central America
  • mary_costarica


    Ask mary_costarica a question about Central America
  • BeatrízL

    I have family in Guatemala, I have lived in Guatemala the last 23 years and I work for a Tour Operator where I organice and plan trips to Guatemlaa for holidays, business and health.
    The Agency is Travel & Health Guatemala. I love Guatemala and I like to travel with people who want to discover this wonderful country!

    Ask BeatrízL a question about Central America
  • i c e

    Just spent alot of time in Central America! Drove the pan-am. Speak spanish. Love this part of the world!!
    Helpful reliable info!! Ask and you shall recieve!


    Ask i c e a question about Central America

This is version 55. Last edited at 8:49 on Aug 7, 18 by Borisborough. 60 articles link to this page.

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