Located only one hour from Guatemala City, the colonial town Antigua is a popular destination for travellers in the region. Either you come for a volcano trip or to relax in the quiet city, here are some of mine recommendations for Antigua.
What to see and do in Antigua?
There are not many big sights in Antigua, and you can basically see the whole city in one day. A must-do is to walk up to Cerro de la Cruz, a hill overlooking Antigua and its surroundings. The walk is easy and takes about 15 minutes from the center, and it is actually quite nice itself. The hill is a place where locals hang out and tourists go to enjoy the scenery. If you are lucky, the weather will allow you to see the majestic volcanoes flanking the city.
Antigua is a colonial city, and many say that Antigua is the only “real” colonial town left in Central America. The Spanish Baroque architecture has even made Antigua an UNESCO World Heritage site. Several colonial churches and buildings are well preserved and you can find ruins around the city center. Today, Parque Central is the heart of Antigua and a good place to start exploring the city. From here you can just walk around and soak up the atmosphere. The cobbled streets and the colorful houses make it all very picturesque. As Antigua is a popular tourist destination, this may also be the best place to do your souvenir shopping in the region as there are stalls and markets located all over the city center selling all kinds of local products and souvenirs.
If you have more than a couple days in the city, you should go on a hike. Antigua is as mentioned surrounded by three impressing volcanoes. Hiking these ones is supposed to be amazing (sadly I did not have time to do it this time).
To summarize it; Antigua is not a city with loads of things to see and do. Still, it is the perfect place to relax for a few days. Enjoy the atmosphere, eat great food and hang out in the bars. Antigua is a very popular backpacker destination, so there is always something going on.
Where to eat cheap in Antigua?
♥ Taqueria Dona Lupita: A small restaurant with a lovely staff and tasty Mexican food. The cheapest option is three tacos for 20GTQ.
♥ Rincón Típico and El Porton: These places do not have menus; they only offer a couple of BBQ dishes. Both are very cheap as you get a huge meal for about 25-30GTQ.
♥ Cafe Santa Clara: The best place in town for breakfast! They have loads of different options including pancakes, eggs and local dishes. The prices range from 20-35GTQ.
♥ Toko Baru: Need a break from local food? This place has Middle Eastern and Indian food. All items on the menu cost 34GTQ.
Where to drink and party in Antigua:
♥ Lucky rabbit: This is a pretty standard backpacker bar. The prices are OK, the music is good and they have a small dance floor. The place is crowded by both locals and travellers.
♥ Cafe de no sé: A small bar with a very cool concept! For example, there is one room in the bar where the door is so low that you nearly have to crawl in, and everyone in the room have to drink a special drink. They even have some cute bar dogs that love to cuddle.
♥ In Guatemala, all bars and clubs have to close at 1. Luckily, after parties are popular in Antigua. Talk to the locals in the bar to find out where it is happening tonight. If you are in Antigua on a Saturday, make sure to check out “The Pool Party“. When the bars are closing, shuttles drive hundreds of people to an abandon pool 20 minutes outside the city. The pool is empty so they have made a dance floor out of it. With a bar on site and a good DJ, this is such a cool place to party all night.
Where to stay in Antigua:
Three Monkeys Hostel has a great location, ok rates and an amazing atmosphere. Chill in the hammocks during the day and meet other travellers over a beer in the hostel’s cheap bar in the evening. If you are going to Antigua this is the place to stay! The hostel also has different events going on every night (either at the hostel or they recommend a place to go), so it is very easy to get to know people.
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