Castillo San Felipe

published dec 30th, 2014

Eric Toupin, blogger & web developer

Castillo San Felipe is a 17th century defensive fort in Rio Dulce, Izabal, Guatemala that was originally built to defend the port of San Antonio de las Bodegas on the southern shore of Lake Izabal. The castle’s land approach is protected by a moat and drawbridge. Its artillery fortifications overlook the narrowest portion of the river, which gave its gunners a strategic advantage over naval vessels entering the Guatemalan inland from the Caribbean Sea.

Castillo San Felipe: The castle

Castillo San Felipe

Getting to Castillo San Felipe from Rio Dulce is very simple. The total round trip cost is Q21 per person, including transport and the entrance fee. It takes about 20 minutes to get there, starting from downtown Rio Dulce. The castle is inside a large INGUAT (Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo) park that offers swimming, boating, snacking, plenty of shaded seating, an artisan market and a tour of the castle. The park is very popular among national tourists.

Getting to Castillo San Felipe from Rio Dulce

Boats can take you directly to the castle from the public dock, but they’ll cost anywhere from Q25 to Q75 per person one way depending on how many people you’re able to round up for the trip. Taking a microbus is cheaper, and doesn’t take much longer.

The microbuses leave for Castillo San Felipe from the first major intersection in Rio Dulce, shown below on the map.

Castillo San Felipe: Google map

Microbuses to the castle are located at Rio Dulce's first major intersection

1. Walk into Rio Dulce along the main highway until you come to the first major intersection with a road leading off to the left. It’s marked by a big street sign.

Castillo San Felipe: Road sign

The road to Castillo San Felipe. Catch the bus here.

2. Board a microbus heading to Castillo San Felipe. Several microbuses (vans) will be parked around the area, most going to the right place. Ask a driver or ayudante to make sure they’re headed to El Castillo before boarding their bus.

Castillo San Felipe: Bus stop

The stop for Castillo San Felipe.

3. Get out at the Castillo San Felipe stop. The cost should be Q3. The ride is pretty short, just ten or fifteen minutes. The ayudante should announce the stop when you’ve arrived, but he may not. It’s the first “T” intersection, you’ll be able to see Lake Izabal, just barely, out the front window of the bus.

Castillo San Felipe: Park sign

Castillo San Felipe offers lounging, food, swimming, boating and more.

4. Walk to your left until you reach the entrance. The entrance fee is Q15 and is good until the park closes.

Have fun at the park! It’s a nice way to spend a few hours, especially when the weather is super hot. The shade, water and breeze help to make Castillo San Felipe a comfortable spot for a lazy afternoon.

Castillo San Felipe: The park

A part of the park at Castillo San Felipe

The last micros back into Rio Dulce are generally at 7:00 PM, but that can change some from day to day. It’s best to double-check with your bus driver. You’ll catch the bus back from the same place it drops you off at.

Like this article? A full list of Eric Toupin's contributions to Guatemala Hostels can be seen on his author page.

Area Lodging

Tortugal in Rio Dulce, Izabal, reception

Tortugal is a full service hotel, restaurant and marina located on the west shore of the tropical Río Dulce, just a five minute boat ride from the embarcadero principal. From Q 100.00.

Kangaroo's in Rio Dulce, Izabal, main building

Kangaroo’s is a large, comfortable and full service hotel just a five minute boat ride from the bustle and noise of Río Dulce. From Q 60.00.

Casa Perico, Rio Dulce: Bungalow

Casa Perico is a quiet, secluded hostel and restaurant located in the riverside jungle of Rio Dulce. From Q 55.00.

Hotel Backpackers in Rio Dulce, Izabal: Hotel front

Hotel Backpackers is a large and unique hotel, restaurant and bar just a five minute’s tuk-tuk ride from Rio Dulce’s major bus terminals. From Q 45.00.

Hotel Paraiso Tropical, Rio Dulce: Hotel grounds

Hotel Paraiso Tropical is a well managed and conveniently located hotel and restaurant just a short walk from the bridge that leads into Rio Dulce. From Q 100.00.

Contributing authors are a big part of Guatemala Hostels. Their perspectives help us communicate Guatemala's diverse culture, beautiful geography and exciting adventure travel opportunities. Do you write a blog or produce content relavent to travel in Guatemala? If you'd like to contribute, please Contact us.