Last Updated on April 21, 2019 by Bryony Clapperton
Looking for some suggested Central America itineraries for planning a 4 or 6 week backpacking trip?
Here’s an itineraries guide for Central America including all the popular Central America backpacking routes.
Perfect for budget travellers visiting Central America for 4 weeks or longer. Including everything you need to know before planning your Central America backpacking route.
Central America Itineraries
Planning Central America itineraries
In Central America you’ll soon learn that you can get from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific in under 10 hours. This makes planning your itineraries and Central America backpacking route very exciting.
You can cross through one country into the next in under 8 hours on a shuttle bus. You can easily explore jungle, volcanoes, beaches and more in this diverse area.
But as with planning any trip sorting out your route and your Central America itineraries is crucial.
To help with this I’ve pulled together some suggested 4, 5 and 6 week itineraries for a backpacking trip to Central America.
Planning for your backpacking trip to Central America can be really easy due to the accessibility of the countries and the available transport options and routes.
Border crossings are also very easy when you know the right information.
My Central America backpacking route
We had a lot of time to spend in Central America and managed to experience every country except Belize.
The below Central America route can be covered in roughly 8 – 12 weeks.
Obviously not everyone has 12 weeks to dedicate to planning their Central America itinerary but I have pulled together some options for 4 – 6 weeks itineraries in Central America.
Central America backpacking routes
2 – 4 weeks Central America backpacking route
Belize, Guatemala and Honduras
The above backpacking route it the ideal Central America itinerary if you only have 2 – 4 weeks. You can easily cover some of the gems of Central America in this time.
This popular Belize and Guatemala route in Central America incorporates two of the most popular countries in the region.
If you’re backpacking Central America for only a small time you will want to consider this route as you get a mix of coast, interior and Culture.
Caye Caulker is the place to be. Lobster, cocktails and diving and a big blue hole. For 2 – 4 weeks backpacking fly to Belize City and head straight to Caye Caulker to dive.
Spend one night the capital as mostly Central American capitals aren’t as tourist friendly as you’d wish. Head into Guatemala and enjoy the backpacker favourite of Semuc Champey.
Take an optional trip to Lake Atitlan or go direct to Antigua before going to Honduras. When in Honduras visit Copan Ruins another favourite on most Central America itineraries.
|Belize City, Belize||Yellow||2|
|Caye Caulker, Belize||Blue||4|
|Semuc Champey, Guatemala||Purple||3|
|Lake Atitlan, Guatemala||Optional||5|
|Copan Ruins, Honduras||Green||2|
5 weeks Central America backpacking route
The Islands of Central America
Some Central American itineraries are more tailored than others. This one is ideal for scuba divers and island lovers.
Take 4/5 weeks for your backing Central America route. Fly into Guatemala City and spend some time in Lake Atitlan.
Why not check out Antigua too? From Guatemala tick off the Ruins of Copan in Honduras. They are situated on the border between Guatemala and Honduras.
From here you can either head to Belize or The Bay Islands in Honduras for some more diving. If you enjoy the coast and the ocean then why not do both.
If you have a little longer for your Central America itinerary consider flying down to Little Corn Island, Nicaragua for some more world class diving spots.
This is a fabulous and extremely common itinerary for divers and if you can incorporate an internal flight, you can easily spend the ideal 5 weeks on this Central America backpacking route.
|Guatemala City, Guatemala||Optional||1|
|Lake Atitlan, Guatemala||Green||4|
|Copan Ruins, Honduras||Orange||2|
|Belize City, Belize||Optional||1|
|Caye Caulker, Belize||Yellow||5|
|Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras||Purple||4|
|Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras||Pink||4|
|Little Corn Island, Nicaragua||Optional||5|
6 weeks Central America backpacking route
Nicaragua Costa Rica and Panama route for 4 – 6 weeks
I’m cautious that I’m yet to include the Central American favourite of Costa Rica.
So how about a Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama Central America backpacking itinerary?
From Costa Rica head south and stop off on the coast, from here consider island hopping in Bocas del Toro in Panama.
Take your time travelling through Costa Rica to see some of the rain forest and wildlife with this Central America itinerary.
Or alternatively do this backpacking route in reverse and travel on to Honduras and El Salvador.
|San Salvador, El Salvador||Optional||2|
|Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua||Purple||4|
|San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua||Pink||3|
|Monteverde, Costa Rica||Green||5|
|Arenal National Park, Costa Rica||Optional||3|
|San Jose, Costa Rica||Orange||2|
|Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica||Blue||3|
|Bocas del Toro, Panama||Brown||5|
|Panama City, Panama||Optional||2|
Central America itineraries and flexible travel
Planning ahead for your trip is always good practice, but as many of us know this level of organisation and decisiveness often disappears as soon as you hit the road especially as a flexible backpacker.
The above itineraries for Central America should be used as rough guides, but there are many things that can be optional.
There’s something so unpractical about creating an itinerary before even seeing the country you’re about to visit, but it helps to have a rough outline of your Central America backpacking route.
How long to spend in Central America
Depending on how long you want to travel for your Central America backpacking route will change. I would say the optimal amount of time to spend in Central America is between 4 and 6 weeks.
We spent roughly 8 weeks in Central America and could have easily stayed longer as there is so much to see.
For shorter trips my advice would be to not pack too much in. The last thing you want is to be rushing your trip!
Getting around Central America
When it comes to getting around in Central America life is easy. I guess this is the main factor that impacts your itinerary so much when backpacking.
So whether it’s a chicken bus you need to catch, a collectivo taxi or a backpacker filled shuttle bus, getting from one place to another in Central America is very easy.