Let in the charms of Antigua and you will be rewarded. Something about it’s cobblestone streets, courtyards and atmosphere puts you at ease. You may well find yourself lingering.
It took us a while to warm to Antigua but it only got better the longer we spent there. After a week it felt like home. There’s a lot to like about the place from the dramatic surrounds of the 3 looming volcanoes, the colonial architecture, ruined churches, general warmth of the locals to the excellent Spanish schools and rich history. If you’re planning on going to Antigua for Semana Santa check out our page dedicated to this amazing celebration.
After wandering the streets, getting your bearings and appreciating the local there are a few places to see.
Near the main square; Catedral de Santiago is well worth visiting (Q8pp) with gorgeous exposed arches towering where long collapsed roofs once were. Explore the crypts and maybe find yourself in one of the frequent services.
The church of San Francisco is also well worth visiting and is the resting place of the much revered Brother Pedro. The connected ruins host gorgeous crumbling floors, walls and ceilings. The place feels like a movie set, well worth spending sometime exploring the nooks and crannies.
If you’re feeling the need to get out of Central Antigua for a bit, the Valhalla Macadamia Farm. The farm is quite small (4.5 hectares) and not a huge tourist attraction which is quite nice in itself. The farm provides a nice half day break from the centre of town. The owners invite you onto the property with a free tour and massage. You can buy macadamias and macadamia based products including a range of beauty products. Consider eating lunch out here under the beautiful trees if your budget can manage it (around Q60 per person). To get to the Valhalla Macadamia Farm take any bus marked San Miguel Dexas from the bus station behind the markets in Antigua (Q4, 10 minutes, half hourly departures) and return on the same route by waiting for the bus at the entrance to the farm.
If you’re wanting to get out of Antigua a bit but don’t want to catch a bus then the Cerro de la Cruz look out is a good option. To reach the look out follow 1a. Avenida Nrte. in the opposite direction of Volcan de Agua and follow the track up the hill. The walk takes about 20 minutes and is well worth it! Volcan de Agua towers over the city below. The almost birds eye view gives you a good glimpse into the impressive houses and colourful courtyards that are otherwise invisible from the streets below. To the right take in the views of Volcan Fuego and Volcán Acatenango, if you’re lucky the former may be in the middle of one of its small but frequent eruptions. Make sure you pick a fine day to enjoy the views!
After a good meal? Hit up Rincon Tipico: NO.3, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala. Q25 per person. You. Will. Not. Be. Disappointed. Alternatively, Por Que No? Corner 2a Av. Sur and 9a. Calle Oriente have great vibe and delicious meals. The place is tiny though so be prepared to wait for a table. A bit pricer at Q90 per person (main and alcoholic drink).
Hostal Imperial (7 Avenida Norte #34):
5 Bed Room: Q60pp, we had 6 people in the room
Facilities include an adequate kitchen, rooftop terrace/ hang-out space (nice views of the volcanoes) and adequate bathrooms. It’s well located (everything close by here though). Staff are helpful and can handle bookings for transport etc (almost anywhere can though). Decent internet.
There are a wealth of hostels in Antigua. If you’re not travelling in the high seasons you’ll have the pick of the bunch for a much lower price.
Getting there from Semuc Champey:
From Semuc Champey there aren’t many options to get back out and as there is limited internet access making research difficult. All the hostels offer shuttles to major destinations including Flores (Q215), Antigua (Q175), Rio Dulce (Q185) and Panajachel (Q275). They make money on the fact they know your options are limited so get over it. The perk to taking a shuttle is that you get to share the ride to your destination with new friends you’ve made over the communal dinners. You may even keep travelling with them!
Getting away to El Salvador:
Click here for information on travelling from Antigua to El Salvador through the Las Chinamas border.
Supermarket – Dispense Familia. Corner of 5a. Calle Poinente and Alameda de Santa Lucia, almost opposite the markets.