Last update: 9/7/2021
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Central America, you’re in luck. This guide will show you which countries in Central America you can travel to right now, as well as current entry requirements.
There are lots of countries open for tourism, but if you’re wondering where to go in Central America, keep reading to see which countries have opened their borders.
We’re updating this list of places to travel to in Central America as the pandemic progresses, so check back often to see the latest travel restrictions.
Map of Countries in Central America reopening to tourists
Check this map of countries in Central America to see which ones are open to tourism now.
Central America map
Below, you’ll find our list of travel restrictions in Central America. Remember, certain countries may have different entry requirements based on nationality or origin.
You can also check our specific guides on:
Before diving in, I want to point out how essential it is to have COVID-19 travel insurance. I recommend this coverage no matter your destination. Besides, several Central American countries require it for tourists.
5% OFF your travel insurance
Also, remember that if a country required travelers to have a valid tourist visa before the COVID-19 pandemic, that rule still applies. You can check whether you need a visa to travel to Central America below.
Finally, keep in mind that some countries might enter a lockdown phase even after opening their borders to tourists. We have specific guides to all the countries to visit in Central America so you can find the latest entry restrictions, quarantine and testing requirements, curfews, and open attractions.
Best countries to visit in Central America
1. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the top destinations in Central America, thanks to its rich biodiversity and ecotourism options. While it’s considered one of the safest countries in Central America, it’s not the cheapest one.
Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the myriad of activities in Costa Rica, including ziplining, bungee jumping, rafting, and snorkeling. Wildlife photographers will find paradise here since many unique species inhabit this country.
It has plenty of beautiful natural spots, such as Manuel Antonio and Corcovado National Parks, Monteverde, Arenal Volcano or Tortuguero. If you want a beach vacation, the country also has many wild beaches you should check out.
As of August 1, 2020, Costa Rica is one of the countries in Central America that is open and welcoming visitors, but all travelers must arrive by air.
You can get more information on our guide on Costa Rica’s reopening plan.
Panama is one of the countries in Central America that relies heavily on tourism. Not only does it offer beautiful beaches and the famous Panama Canal, but its cities are full of cultural attractions.
Among the archaeological sites and natural parks, be sure to check out the islands of Bocas del Toro and the spectacular coral reefs. The country is one of the best destinations in Central America to get the PADI scuba diving certificate.
Thankfully, Panama is one of the travel destinations in Central America that is open to tourists.
All travelers must have a negative PCR or antigen test result that was obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival in Panama. They must also complete an Electronic Health Affidavit.
Unvaccinated travelers that are arriving from or have transited through high-risk countries must also get tested at the airport on arrival in Panama at their own expense. If the test is positive, they will have to quarantine for 14 days in a Hotel Hospital designated by the Ministry of Health at their own expense.
If the test is negative, unvaccinated travelers will have to quarantine for 72 hours, either at an authorized hotel of their choosing at their own expense if they are a tourist or at home if they are a Panamanian citizen or resident. At the end of the 72-hour quarantine period, they will get tested again. If that test is negative, the traveler may end their quarantine.
Fully vaccinated travelers from high-risk countries are exempt from testing on arrival and quarantining as long as they present a valid negative PCR or antigen test result that was obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival in Panama and proof of vaccination.
For the latest information, check our guide on Panama’s reopening to tourism.
Belize may be small, but it’s one of the best places to travel to in Central America. Among its highlights is the Blue Hole Natural Monument, where you can experience some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world.
You should also explore Belize’s barrier reef, natural caves, and Lamanai Maya temples. There are plenty of things to do in Belize, plus it’s one of the safest countries to visit in Central America, and it’s not too crowded yet, so give it a try!
Moreover, Belize is one of the travel destinations in Central America open to tourism without nationality restrictions.
Travelers must download the Belize Health App and provide their information within 72 hours of arrival. Unvaccinated travelers must also present a negative PCR test taken within the same timeframe. Rapid Antigen, Sophia, SD Biosensor, and ABBOT (Panbio) test results from within 48 hours of arrival are also acceptable.
You can check our guide on Belize’s reopening for tourists for more information.
Guatemala is another popular place to visit in Central America. There are some beautiful Mayan ruins in the country, like the ones at the Tikal National Park. I also recommend you check the beautiful Semuc Champey Park and the different volcanos that dot the country, including the Volcán de Fuego, which is active and spectacular to see at night, and the Acatenango, Pacaya, and San Pedro Volcanos.
Besides, you can find white and black sand beaches here, as well as coral reefs and great food. Guatemala is also one of the countries in Central America that speaks Spanish, and it’s a popular destination for students that want to improve their skills in this language. They say that the Guatemalan accent is one of the easiest to understand!
Moreover, Guatemala is one of the places in Central America where you can travel from almost every country in the world.
All travelers must either present a negative PCR or antigen test result from within 3 days prior to check-in at the airport, a medical certificate that confirms your recovery from COVID-19 within the last three months, or proof of full vaccination, with the last dose having been received at least 2 weeks prior to travel.
You can get more information on our guide on Guatemala reopening for tourism.
Nicaragua is one of the top places to visit in Central America. There are many sights to see, including volcanoes, such as the Masaya volcano, cloud forests, like the one surrounding the Mombacho volcano, and many beautiful beaches, especially if you visit the Corn Islands.
Many say it has all the beauty of Costa Rica but at a more affordable price. Nicaragua is one of the cheapest countries in Central America and perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. However, it also has some popular attractions for those who are interested in more cultural activities. For example, you can’t miss a visit to Granada, a beautiful colonial city.
Nicaragua is one of the destinations in Central America where you can travel regardless of nationality.
All tourists must be able to present a certificate for a negative RT-PCR COVID test result from within 72 hours of arrival in Nicaragua.
For more information, check our guide on Nicaragua’s reopening for travel.
6. El Salvador
El Salvador is a tropical paradise and a haven for surfers, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the best places to visit in Central America.
You can take some time to explore the beaches, volcanoes, and archaeological sites with Mayan and Olmec ruins. The Pyramids of San Andres, Cihuatan, and Tazumal are major pre-Columbian sites worth visiting. Also, you can do several cultural activities and tourist routes to see El Salvador’s monuments, such as the National Palace.
If you decide to visit this country, you can’t miss a visit to the Coatepeque Lake, or the Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site. Besides, visiting the Santa Ana volcano or Izalco volcano, the “Lighthouse of the Pacific”, is one of the best things to do in the country.
Luckily, El Salvador is one of the countries in Central America with open borders.
All tourists must present a medical certificate with a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of their trip to enter the country, but they won’t be required to quarantine.
You can find more information on this website.
Honduras is one of the best countries to visit in Central America because you can experience a distinct culture, delicious food, and a beautiful landscape. Some consider it a dangerous place to visit in Central America, but if you stay in the touristy areas, including Roatan Island, the Copan Ruins, or Utila, you have nothing to worry about.
Whatever your interest, you’ll find it in this country. For history buffs, Honduras has plenty of archaeological sites and museums. If you want some time in nature, the country boasts black and white sand beaches, beautiful coral reefs in the Bay Islands, and hundreds of native species in its national parks and forests, including Pico Bonito National Park.
Moreover, Honduras is one of the places in Central America that’s open for tourism.
Travelers must submit a medical certificate with a negative PCR result or rapid COVID-19 test issued within 72 hours of their flight. Before their trip, they’ll have to fill out an online immigration form.
For more information, check out this website.
These are the best places to travel to in Central America right now, but this list is subject to change as the pandemic progresses. Make sure you check back before your trip to see the latest information. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll be happy to help!