Antigua is often described as the most beautiful city in Guatemala and for good reason! It may have been our favorite city we visited the entire trip. It was once Guatemala’s capital city back when it was still a Spanish colony. Sadly an earthquake destroyed the city in 1773, but the ruins of a lot of buildings are still there. It has a chill, extremely laid back vibe and we felt right at home wandering the small colorful streets. Plus it has the perfect temperature all year long (22-26 degrees Celsius). Who wouldn’t want it to be spring all year long!?
What to do?
See the famous Arco de Santa Catalina: Probably the most famous spot in Antigua. This is surely the most photographed street in Guatemala. The best time to photograph it is on the weekend as then there are no cars. In the same street you can find artists, little shops and museums to visit.
Climb the Acatenango volcano: The climb takes a day, but you’ll want to take the 2 day tour to see the sunrise from the volcano. You may also want to add a day to relax afterwards. We didn’t do it, because we only had a week in Guatemala, but everyone we met that did it said it was amazing.
Explore all the ruins and churches in the city: On every corner of the street you can find another ruin or church to visit. The one pictured here is the Iglesia de la Merced. Convento de las Capuchinas is a convent and church that should be on your list of ruins to visit. Another one is La Recolección, a former church and monastery.
Cerro de la Cruz: Hike up this hill for a beautiful view of the city and the volcano. It’s a popular spot for sunrise, but the morning will give you the clearest view of the volcano.
People watch in the park: Parks churches and markets are all great for just strolling around. Especially when everyone is in their traditional outfits it’s a treat to see the local people.
Local Craft Market/Mercado de Artesanias: This market was my favorite market out of all the markets we visited in Central America. There were just so many beautiful leather bags and tons of cool jewelry. I scored a leather bag that I still wear every day.
Where to eat?
Rainbow Café: Best eggs Florentine I’ve had in a while. It has a lovely indoor patio to enjoy your food and a bookstore in front.
Cactus or Fridas: If you want a quick but good Mexican meal try Cactus or Fridas. Both are great! Frida’s theme is (surprise surprise) Frida Kahlo. They serve all the Mexican specialties, but also wonderful margaritas. Quite often you’ll be able to enjoy live music here too.
Cafe sky: I love finding rooftop bars in every city and going there for sunset. So head to sky for for drinks with a view.
Cafe Boheme: The place to relax with a cup of coffee and some cake or pie.
Where to stay?
Maya Papaya: We took a 18 hour shuttle from Nicaragua to Antigua in Guatemala and knew we were not going to in the mood for a party hostel. We booked this hostel because it looked nice, clean and had good reviews. It exceeded all our exceptions. Everything was so well thought out. You could tell the owners were concerned with making your stay as great as it could possibly be.