Antigua is a small Guatemalan town with cobblestone streets and a breathtaking view of the nearby volcanoes. The Centro area is one of the very first instances of city planning in Latin America, which is why the street layout looks like a grid.
This small city used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see many museums, churches, and other buildings that are representative of the 18th-century Spanish baroque architectural style.
Antigua is a charming city and you are going to love the busy and colorful Mercado, the popular Parque Central, the narrow streets of the Centro area, and the majestic volcanoes. Your trip won't be complete until you try local delicacies such as fried plantains and sliced mangoes, or take a tour of a coffee farm.
Walking through the Centro area is like traveling back in time. The City Hall, the St. James Cathedral, the Church of San Francisco, and the ruins of La Recolección are only a few examples of the 18th-century Spanish baroque buildings you can see in the area. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the Centro.
Antigua is located in the highlands of Guatemala, which are famous for producing and exporting jade and coffee. You can take a tour of a coffee farm and see how artisans work with jade to create gorgeous jewelry.
The Volcán de Agua and the Volcán de Fuego tower over Antigua at more than 12,000 feet high. The nearby Acatenango peak is more than 13,000 feet high. The Volcán de Fuego is active and you can actually see steam if you hike in the area.
The Parque Central is at the heart of the Centro area. This is a popular place among locals and tourists and is perfect for people watching and for enjoying nature. The Arco de Santa Catalina is one of the most interesting architectural landmarks and is right next to the park.
Antigua has a wide range of restaurants to choose from and you will find every cuisine in the world represented in this small city. However, visiting Antigua is the perfect opportunity to try traditional Guatemalan food in one of the many small eateries or to try some of the delicious street food sold in the Centro area.
At Guatemala's historical heart, this Central Park is the starting point from which to see Antigua's greatest sights. The time-worn facade of the Antigua Cathedral sets the tone for the colonial lore that awaits in the streets beyond, while the adjacent Captain General's Palace offers a lavish political perspective. Explore the surrounding streets and let the history wash over you, find some context in the Colonial Art Museum, and take some time out to relax on the park benches too.
Visitors to Antigua will find themselves drawn to this hill tin the north of the city. Wander your way past the memorably yellow La Merced Church and the ornate Convent of las Capuchinas to the foot of Cerro de la Cruz. A staircase leads you past the delights of local flora and fauna and to the peak beneath a canopy of trees. The top is unforgettable - a stoic cross overlooks the city, and beyond the enormous Volcano Agua looms over the valley.
It is hard to walk away from this market empty-handed. Dozens of stalls line the streets, both indoors and out, with craftspeople creating local delights before your very eyes. The colors are as vibrant as the people behind the stands, which offer souvenirs of all kinds. Whether you want to bargain for artwork, grains, textiles, or tasty treats, there is something for everyone here. For a dose of regional history, be sure to check out the vendors of Mayan handiwork.
Once the city's most celebrated monastery, Casa Santo Domingo has been restored from earthquake damage and converted into a hotel-museum. The ruins and the artifacts within are now preserved in galleries that dot the premises, open to all visitors. Explore pre-Columbian art, discover on-site archaeological findings, and marvel at contemporary work inspired by this magical city. Using a hotel shuttle, tourists can also reach the sculpture gardens and murals atop the hill at Santo Domingo del Cerro.
Antigua Guatemala is surrounded by marvelous volcanoes which form the mystical backdrop of every view. The most popular to visit is the nearby Pacaya Volcano, offering tourists an unforgettable trek along the Mars-like landscape. Choose between hiking the challenging but rewarding trail, or hiring a horse "taxi" to bear you to the top. There, visitors delight in the chance to roast marshmallows over steaming crevasses while letting the views wash over them.
The busiest season typically lasts from December to March. Visiting Antigua between May and October is not ideal because of the rainy season. Plan your trip to Antigua during the Holy Week, during Lent, or around Christmas if you want to see celebrations and processions.
La Aurora International Airport (GUA) is 23 miles away from Antigua in Guatemala City. You can get from the airport to Antigua by taking a shuttle for Q80 or a taxi for Q180. You can also drive to Antigua by following RN-10. The trip should last between 45 minutes and an hour.
You can drive to Antigua by following RN-10 if you come from Guatemala City or another area northeast of Antigua. Follow RN-14 if you come from the northwest or southwest.
Chicken buses are a popular method of transportation between cities in Guatemala. This is a slow and uncomfortable way to travel, but it is definitely an authentic experience. You can catch a chicken bus in Guatemala City for Antigua for Q8 and take a chicken bus between Escuintla and Antigua for Q10.
The Hotel Casa Antigua and the Palacio de Dona Leonor are excellent upscale options near the Parque Central. There are more hotels in the area located south of the park, including the Hotel Soleil La Antigua and the Porta Hotel Antigua.
Centro - this is where you will find the Parque Central, the Mercado, and most attractions. The Centro is typical with its narrow cobblestone streets and its many churches, including El Carmen and the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. You will also find the Museo de Arte Colonial in this area.
Promenade Parque Perimetral - here lies another relaxing green space in the eastern portion of the city. This area is typically calmer and is bordered by the Río Pensativo. Make sure you visit the Santa Inés del Monte Pulciano church.
Volcán de Agua - the Volcán de Agua is located six miles south of Antigua. The trip to the volcano is very scenic, and this is the perfect area for hiking.
Trolley tours of Centro are available for Q75 per person, or you can see the sights by hiring a horse-drawn carriage to ride around in.
Tuk-tuks and taxis will take you anywhere within the Centro for Q10 or less. You need to agree on the price in advance and negotiate. Head to the Parque Central area to find a taxi.
Driving in Antigua is not ideal because of the narrow streets and lack of parking but renting a car is a good option if you want to visit other towns. You can rent a car from Alamo or Hertz in Antigua but there are more options available at the airport in Guatemala City. Renting a vehicle should not cost more than Q300 a day.
El Mercado is the best place to shop, try some street food, and for people watching. The market stretches from 1a Calle Poniente to 4a Calle Poniente. Head to the southern portion of the market to find souvenirs, textiles, clothes, jewelry, home decor, and wooden crafts. There are also several jewelry and gift shops in the Centro area.
El Mercado is the best place to shop for fresh fruits and meat. The western portion of the market has many vendors who offer fresh fruits. You will find two supermarkets near the eastern portion of the Mercado called La Bodegona and Despensa Familiar. A gallon of milk should cost Q40, a dozen of eggs should cost Q13, and a pound of red meat should cost Q26.
El Mercado is the best place for street food, including chuchitos, tacos, and sliced mangoes. Hector's Bistro and Rainbow Cafe are great options if you want traditional food and a cozy experience. Rincon Tipico and Taqueria Dona Lupita are two of the best affordable eateries. Try Toko Baru for a unique mixture of Indian, Asian, and Guatemalan cuisines. If you want a more upscale experience, try Casa Escobar Restaurant or Angeline for French cuisine. An eatery should cost around Q20, a mid-range restaurant should cost Q40, and an upscale meal should cost Q90.