Antigua Guatemala Travel Guide: the Best Tips from a Local

In this Antigua Guatemala travel guide, you will find what makes Antigua a unique and must-visit destination. I also share my personal recommendations for things to do in Antigua, where to eat, when to visit, tips, and things to avoid. Most importantly, I share some of Antigua’s hidden secrets.

What makes this guide to Antigua, Guatemala, truly valuable and unique is that a native Guatemalan writes it. Most Antigua Guatemala guides you will find are written by travelers who spent just a few days there and now claim to be experts.

Guide to visiting Antigua Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala, is a city I’ve known and loved since childhood. It is a mesmerizing blend of history, beauty, and vibrant culture. Stepping onto its cobbled stones feels like walking back in time. Nestled in the central highlands of Guatemala, this UNESCO World Heritage site will captivate you with its unique well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture, referred to as Barroco Antigüeño,  and stunning volcanic backdrop. For me returning to Antigua always feels like revisiting a beloved friend and I am so excited to share with you why I love Antigua so much and why you’re sure to fall in love with it too.

This city is more than just a tourist destination; it’s a living, breathing testament to Guatemala’s rich history and enduring spirit. From the cobblestone streets and colorful facades with wrought iron window cages, Antigua invites you to immerse yourself in a world where modern life beautifully intertwines with historical charm.

Antigua Guatemala arch of Santa Catarina
Antigua Guatemala arch of Santa Catarina

Why I Love Antigua

Growing up in Guatemala City, we would visit Antigua often during my childhood; my fondest memories are of stopping at Doña Maria Gordillo to get the most amazing Guatemalan candy (more on that later). While I was in college, my mom and stepdad had a house in Antigua and spent most of the week there. I loved escaping the hustle and bustle of the city and roaming the cobblestone streets early in the morning. As an architecture student, I would stop in front of churches and ruins and marvel at the intricate baroque details and take hundreds of photos of Antigua’s doors and windows. I always felt like I was stepping into another world when I visited Antigua and that made it easy to leave any stress or worry behind, the city still has that effect on me to this day. 

Guide to visiting Antigua Guatemala

Now that I live in Florida, I travel to Guatemala at least twice a year, and no matter if we’re going to Guatemala to visit family or I’m there to write about new hotels or destinations from Semuch Champey to Tikal I always make time to spend at least one day in Antigua. What amazes me is that it doesn’t matter that I’ve been there hundreds of times there is always something new to discover. From an intricate door or a hidden courtyard with a new restaurant to a cute little store, exploring Antigua always results in new discoveries. And if you’re looking for beautiful souvenirs, there’s nowhere better to shop for unique handmade Guatemalan crafts than Antigua. From shoes made with Mayan textiles to handpainted wooden toys and jade, there is always something beautiful and unique.

Antigua’s History 

Antigua, founded in the early 16th century, is a monument to Guatemala’s colonial era. Despite facing natural disasters, such as devastating earthquakes in 1773 and 1976, and the test of time, Antigua’s unwavering dedication to safeguarding its architectural heritage remains resolute. These catastrophic earthquakes, especially the one in 1773, caused widespread destruction, leading to the abandonment of many buildings. However, the resilience of its people and the meticulous restoration efforts that followed have allowed the city to maintain its historical charm. Today, as you stroll through Antigua’s cobbled streets and admire its well-preserved colonial architecture, you witness a testament to the city’s determination to blend the beauty of the past with the vitality of the present, making it an exceptionally unique destination in Central America.

San José Cathedral ruins, Antigua Guatemala
San José Cathedral ruins, Antigua Guatemala

The city’s churches, convents, and plazas each tell a story of a time when Antigua was the capital of the Spanish colony. The city’s historic significance is reflected in the preservation of its ancient structures and the stories of resilience and strength that have shaped its identity. Antigua serves as a living museum, where history is not only preserved but celebrated in daily life.

The Colonial Charm of Antigua

Antigua’s architecture is a testament to its colonial past. Wandering through its streets, one can’t help but be in awe of the intricate designs, vibrant colors, and historical significance each building holds. The city’s preservation efforts have maintained its colonial elegance, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the grandeur of yesteryears.

Antigua is more than just a historical landmark; it’s a city with a distinct character. Unlike other places, Antigua has a way of embracing its past while welcoming the future. Its streets resonate with the sounds of traditional marimba music, the aromas of local cuisine, and the warmth of its people. In Antigua, tradition is cherished, and cultural heritage is a source of pride. With their deep-rooted customs and vibrant celebrations, the city’s residents breathe life into its historical streets, making Antigua a city that’s not just about sightseeing but about experiencing a rich cultural tapestry.

Best Time to Visit Antigua Guatemala

The best time to visit Antigua depends on what you’re looking for. From November to April, the dry season offers clear skies and pleasant temperatures, ideal for outdoor exploration. This period also includes the famous Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations, a spectacular time to witness the city’s vibrant religious processions and artistic sawdust carpets. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds. From May to October, the rainy season brings fewer tourists and lush greenery, with afternoons typically marked by short rain showers. If you want to avoid crowds and experience the city’s tranquility, the rainy season might be your best choice.

Antigua Festivals and Dates

Whether it’s the solemnity of Holy Week or the lively hues of the Flower Festival, Antigua’s festivals offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Guatemalan heritage. Here’s your guide to the most notable festivals in Antigua, complete with dates and what to expect.

  • Antigua Jazz Festival (February/March): A gathering of local and international jazz musicians, offering performances in various venues around the city. It’s a great event for music lovers and those interested in cultural exchange.
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week)(March or April, changes): The most famous festival in Antigua, celebrated with colorful street carpets, religious processions, and traditional music. It’s a week-long event leading up to Easter, showcasing the city’s rich religious heritage and artistic expression.

    Semana Santa alfombras sawdust carpets in Guatemala
    Semana Santa alfombras sawdust carpets in Guatemala. 
  • Chorpus Christy Celebration (May 30th/changes): Just 30 minutes from Antigua Guatemala in the town San Antonio Aguascalientes, the celebration of Corpus Christi is a vibrant and culturally rich event. The highlight includes spectacular folk dances like ‘Toritos’, ‘La Conquista’, and performances featuring ‘Animals Fieros’, ‘Moros’ (Moors), ‘Convite’or masked dancers, ‘Gigantes’ (giant big-headed figures), ‘Diablos’ (devils), and ‘Judios’ (Jews). 
Los Gigantes or Cabezudos folk dance in Guatemala
Los Gigantes or Cabezudos folk dance in town of Parramos Guatemala near Antigua Guatemala. Giant puppet folk dancer called a gigante walks past church & processional carpet during Corpus Christi mass.
  • Saint John the Baptist Celebration (June 24th): In San Juan Alotenango, located just 30 minutes from Antigua Guatemala, the celebration honoring Saint John the Baptist is a lively blend of social, cultural, and sports events, including an array of folk dances, including ‘El Torito’, ‘La Conquista’, ‘Moros’, ‘Venados’, ‘Convite’ or masked dances, the “Diablos” (devils), and Napoleon. 
El Torito folk dance in Guatemala
El Torito folk dance in Guatemala. The Torito (bull) is made with a wooden frame that holds fireworks.
  • Celebration of Antigua’s Patron Saint Santiago Apóstol (Saint James) (July 25th): Antigua Guatemala celebrates its patron saint with a vibrant mix of social, cultural, and sporting events. This festive day is marked by an exhibition of local handicrafts and features a range of folk dances, including the ‘Convite’ or ‘Enmascarados’ (masked dances) and ‘Gigantes’ (giants) or ‘Cabezudos’ (big head),  which are dances involving large, oversized figures.
Antigua Guatemala festivals and folkloric dances
Antigua, Guatemala -Folk dancers wear traditional masks & costumes on St Jame’s Day, Antigua’s patron saint day, outside cathedral.
  • El Festival del Maíz (Corn Festival) (August): A celebration of one of Guatemala’s staple foods, featuring corn-based dishes, traditional dances, and music. It’s a tribute to the agricultural heritage and culinary traditions of the region. 
  • Independence Day Celebrations (September 15th): Marking Guatemala’s independence from Spain, this day is celebrated with parades, music, and cultural events. Streets are filled with patriotic decorations and festivities.
  • Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango (November 1st): Held on All Saints’ Day, the Giant Kite Festival takes place in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez and features huge, vibrant colored kites made of paper featuring intricate designs. Following the festival, these kites are usually displayed in Antigua’s Parque Central on November 2nd and 3rd, adding a colorful touch to the city. You can also take a day tour to the Sumpango Giant Kite Festival. You can learn more about the Day of the Dead celebrations in Guatemala here
  • Festival de las Flores (Flower Festival) (November 16 &17 of 2024 changes): This vibrant festival celebrates the beauty of flowers and their significance in Guatemalan culture. Antigua streets come alive with floral decorations, parades, and art installations, turning the city into a colorful tapestry. The festival includes workshops, concerts, and a flower market. Check the Festival de las Flores website for the latest information on events and check out my Complete Guide to the Flower Festival in Antigua for dates, tips and what to expect! 
Flower Festival Antigua Guatemala
Flower Festival Antigua Guatemala.
  • Christmas Celebrations (December): Antigua transforms into a festive wonderland with lights, nativity scenes, and special events. Posadas, or processional reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging, are common.
  • La Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil) (December 7th): A unique tradition where locals burn effigies of the devil to cleanse their homes of evil spirits and prepare for the Christmas season. Learn more about this tradition in my article Quema del Diablo and see a photos of the Quema del Diablo here. 
Quema del Diablo Guatemala
Paper Devils burning during the Quema del Diablo celebration. Photo by Pedro Pepió. All Rights Reserved.

How to Get to Antigua Guatemala

  • Flying into Antigua Guatemala. You can use Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport, which has good connections to major cities. From the airport, it’s just a 45-minute drive to Antigua.
  • Getting to Antigua from the airport. There are a few transportation choices from the airport: taxis, shuttle services or ride sharing services like Uber. You can also also rent a car. You will find car rentals and shuttle services at the airport as soon as you exit from picking up your luggage. The drive itself is quite scenic, giving you a glimpse of Guatemala’s diverse landscapes as you get closer to the city surrounded by volcanoes.
  • Take a local chicken bus: If you’re looking for a more local experience or want to save some money, buses regularly run from Guatemala City to Antigua. Although it’s a slower option, it’s budget-friendly, but I would not recommend this unless you are quite adventurous and have experience riding in public transport in Latin America and know at least basic Spanish. Public transportation is not considered very safe in Guatemala and you should be very aware of your surroundings to avoid pick pockets. 



Best Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala

There are so many great things to do in Antigua, here I will share a few of the main attractions, some of my favorite hidden gems in Antigua, and the best day trips and weekend trips from Antigua.

Take a walking tour

Antigua, with its cobbled streets and rich history, is a city best explored on foot. The first thing I would recommend is to take a walking tour, this will help you familiarize yourself with this small city and highlight the most important historic buildings so you can later revisit some of the things you liked the most in the walking tour. Don’t miss the parque Central and the iconic Santa Catalina Arch, a symbol of the city’s heritage.



Explore Antigua’s colonial ruins

Don’t miss the chance to explore the ruins of Antigua’s numerous churches and convents, like La Merced, Capuchinas and San Francisco, each telling a story of the past. A visit to Casa Santo Domingo, a hotel and museum showcasing a blend of colonial art and modern installations, is a must for art lovers. You might encounter street musicians and local artisans while strolling through the vibrant Parque Central.

Get the best views of the city.

For a breathtaking view of Antigua and its surrounding volcanoes, hike up to the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint, which is especially enchanting during s sunset. You can also enjoy lunch while watching the volcanos. Some of my favorite restaurants with great volcano views include El Tenedor del Cerro, Café Sky, and Lava. 

Cerro de la Cruz view point in Antigua Guatemala
Cerro de la Cruz view point in Antigua Guatemala.

Visit a museum

There are a few museums in Antigua Guatemala, but without a doubt, the new MUNAG museum is a must-see! The MUNAG, Antigua Guatemala’s latest museum, opened in 2021, and offers a captivating journey through 3,000 years of Guatemalan history. Housed in the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales in the Parque Central, it showcases an impressive collection of pre-Hispanic, Colonial, and Republican era artifacts. The museum includes remarkable jade pieces from King K’utz Chman’s burial at Tak’alik Ab’aj, stucco faces from El Mirador Basin, and exquisite paintings by Thomas de Merlo, Cristóbal de Villalpando, and Juan José Rosales. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm, it provides audio guides in Spanish, English, and Kakchikel. 

A few other options include Casa Popenoe, a restored colonial house museum, Centro Cultural La Azotea which is located in a coffee plantation 5 minutes from Antigua and includes a textile exhibit, a musical instrument exhibit as well as a coffee museum. Hotel Museum Casa Santo Domingo is also a great option, the hotel housed in at the ruins of a 18th century convent has six permanent museums and two art galleries, all of them are free. 

Take a class

Learn to cook local dishes like rellenitos de plátano, Guatemalan tamales colorado or Guatemala’s national dish pepián or you can learn about the importance of cacao in Mayan culture, make a traditional Mayan cacao drink, and chocolates. I have taken the pepián class and the Chocomuseo bean to bar class; both were fantastic!



Cooking class in Antigua Guatemala

There are also many other exciting ways to get hands-on experience and get immersed in Guatemalan culture, from taking a carve your own jade class to learning to make worry dolls or even trying your hand at designing and making your own leather sandals; these experiences are truly unique and so much fun.



Try Local Coffee

In Antigua, you’re in the heart of one of the world’s best coffee regions. The city is famous for its high-quality coffee, renowned for its rich flavor and aroma. Take the opportunity to visit one of the many cozy local cafés and savor a cup of freshly brewed Guatemalan coffee. You can also visit a coffee finca to learn more about local coffee, participate in a coffee workshop or do a coffee workshop.

Visit the Craft Markets

When you’re in Antigua, a visit to the local markets is a must-do. These vibrant spaces are brimming with unique souvenirs, beautifully crafted textiles, and handmade items that reflect the rich culture of Guatemala. As you browse through the stalls, don’t forget to engage in a bit of respectful haggling – it’s part of the fun and tradition here. It’s a great way to interact with local artisans and find some special gifts to take home.

Explore the Surrounding Villages

Venturing into the villages surrounding Antigua Guatemala offers a unique and authentic glimpse into local life. These nearby communities, each with their distinct charm and traditions, provide a less touristy and more genuine experience. You can observe traditional weaving techniques, taste homemade foods, and interact with the friendly locals. Each village has something special to offer, from the vibrant textiles of San Antonio Aguas Calientes and the beautiful and colorful church in Jocotenango to the pottery of San Juan del Obispo.



Best time to visit Guatemala
Jocotenango church, near Antigua Guatemala.

Where to Eat in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua’s food scene is as colorful as its streets. The city’s culinary offerings are a feast for the senses, from traditional Guatemalan dishes to innovative fusion cuisine. The local markets are a hub of activity, where one can savor the freshest produce and traditional delicacies. Restaurants and cafes tucked away in charming colonial buildings offer a gastronomic journey through Guatemala’s diverse flavors. Whether it’s enjoying Guatemalan tamales or indulging in a cup of world-renowned Antiguan coffee, the city’s culinary landscape is vital to its allure. I have written an entire article about the best restaurants in Antigua, one that I update often, but here are some of my favorite ones:

The Best Restaurants for Traditional Guatemalan food

  • La Fonda de la Calle Real: For a taste of local food, try La Fonda de la Calle Real, which is known for serving some of the best authentic Guatemalan dishes. They make the best pepián, Guatemala’s national dish, a chicken stewed in a tomato-based sauce with toasted seeds and chiles. This restaurant has been so successful with locals and visitors that it has opened three restaurants in Antigua Guatemala; my favorite is the original one located on la called del Arco (the street of the arch) referred to by locals as La Fondita.
  • La Cuevita de los Urquizú: For a more affordable option, La Cuevita de los Urquizú is a favorite with Antigueños. As you enter the restaurant you are greeted with different stews showcased in huge ceramic pots so you can choose. Here you will have the opportunity to try truly unique dishes like revolcado, a stew made with pig’s head and offals cooked in a thick and delicious tomato base sauce or tongue in tomato sauce, my favorite! Check out my guide to Guatemalan food so you know what to order, and if you’re truly adventurous, you can try one of Guatemala’s unique and bizarre foods
La Cuevita de los Urquizú restaurant in Antigua Guatemala
La Cuevita de los Urquizú restaurant in Antigua Guatemala serving traditional Guatemalan dishes.
  • Doña Maria Gordillo’s candy store: This is a Guatemalan institution; Doña Maria Gordillo has been making candy and using their secret recipes for over a 100 years. Many stores sell traditional candy in Antigua, and if you’re on a tight budget, you might want to try the candy at El Sombreron instead, but although pricy, the candy at Doña Maria Gordillo is sublime! Try the nuegados, the canillitas de leche, the candied figs, the naranjitas (little orange balls), the chilacayote, the cocadas realescocadas reales and the tamarind balls (my favorite). 

Dulces tipicos Guatemala Doña Maria Gordillo

Other Great Restaurants in Antigua

There are so many restaurants in Antigua it’s hard to choose just a few, but here are some of my favorite ones. 

  • Epicure: With outdoor seating in the beautiful garden and great food, Epicure is where I take visitors every time. This farm to table restaurant also has a gourmet store and an international menu. 
Best restaurants in Antigua Guatemala
Epicure restaurant in Antigua Guatemala.
  • Cafe Sky: For some of the best volcano and sunset views,, head to Café Sky. This rooftop terrace has great breakfasts and is famous for its nachos and drinks. It’s very popular, so if you’re planning to watch the sunset, be there early to grab a table.
  • El Tenedor del Cerro: With beautiful views of the active Pacaya volcano, don’t be surprised if you get to witness some volcanic activity like puffs of smoke or maybe even some lava. The breakfast here is great and mornings are usually less cloudy providing better views. The restaurant is a bit overpriced but remember you’re paying for the views. If you go on a weekend there is usually a long wait so reservations are recommended.
El Tenedor del Cerro restaurant in Antigua Guatemala
El Tenedor del Cerro restaurant in Antigua Guatemala with smoking volcano in the background.
  • Samsara: With lots of delicious vegetarian and vegan options as well as gluten-free dishes, including gluten-free bread and desserts, the menu has something for everyone, and every single dish is delicious.
  • Café Condesa: Facing the Parque Central, Café Condesa is tucked away behind a bookstore and has so much colonial charm. It’s one of those restaurants that has stood the test of time, I have been going there since I was a kid. It’s the best place to enjoy a cup of coffee and some homemade pie.

Cafe Condesa home made pie in Antigua Guatemala



Where to Stay in Antigua Guatemala

When it comes to accommodations in Antigua, the city offers some of the most exquisite hotels in Guatemala as well as quaint B&Bs and fun hostels, there’s something for every budget.

  • Hotel Museo Casa Santo Domingo: This is a wonderful resort-type hotel set in the ruins of a fifteenth-century monastery. The location is excellent, the grounds are exquisite, and besides the hotel being an important historic landmark, it also houses various museums and art galleries. The charming pool area is set among the colonial ruins, the restaurant is excellent, and their spa is the best one in Antigua. The hotel itself is an art gallery showcasing modern art from the best Guatemalan painters and sculptors. If you want a luxury experience in a breathtaking historic setting, this is your best choice. 
  • Hotel Mesón Panza Verde: For those seeking a beautiful boutique hotel, the Hotel Panza Verde Hotel is a fantastic choice. Known for its artistic flair and elegance, Hotel Panza Verde is a favorite among creative souls and romantic travelers and perfect for couples or solo travelers. Its exquisite décor, rooftop terrace views, and fine dining make it a top choice for a sophisticated stay in Antigua. This is also one of my favorite hotels to stay at, it’s chic and cozy ambiance keeps me coming back and the fantastic restaurant has been a favorite since I was a kid and ate there with my parents.
  • Porta Hotel Antigua: Perfect for families and travelers seeking a blend of tradition and modernity. Porta Hotel Antigua provides spacious rooms, the largest pool in Antigua, and beautiful gardens, ensuring a comfortable and relaxing stay amidst the city’s historic charm. It’s a great choice if you’re traveling with children, and it’s where I stay when I go to Antigua with my kids. You can see my complete review of Porta Hotel Antigua here.
Porta Hotel Antigua
Porta Hotel Antigua
  • The Good Hotel Antigua: A private mansion in the heart of Antigua turned boutique hotel with an innovative concept, offering premium hospitality with a cause. Good Hotel Antigua provides a luxurious hotel experience while making a positive social impact on the local community.
  • Adra Hostel: Considered the best hostel in Antigua, Adra has a fun vibe without being noisy at night. The rooms and common areas have a fun design and are always clean. The breakfast is great and they have a nice rooftop bar with great views of volcan de Agua. 

Best tips for visiting Antigua Guatemala

  • Pack for Cobblestone Streets: Antigua is famous for its cobblestone streets and the sidewalks can also be uneven. Wear comfortable walking shoes that can handle uneven surfaces.
  • Stay Hydrated at High Altitudes: Antigua sits at a high altitude. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help prevent altitude sickness, specially if you are not used to high altitudes.
  • Be Prepared for Volcanic Activity: With several active volcanoes nearby, it’s wise to stay informed about any volcanic activity during your visit. Don’t worry, none of the active volcanoes are really a safety threat as Antigua is not too close to them but increased volcanic activity could interfere with flights, road closures and once every 20 years or so volcanic ash from an eruption will reach Antigua making it hard to get around.
  • Respect Local Customs: Antigua has a rich cultural heritage. Be respectful of local traditions, especially during religious festivals like Semana Santa. 
  • Use Local Currency: While many places accept dollars, it’s often better to use Guatemalan Quetzals for smaller purchases. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of ATMs in Antigua before heading to other destinations or smaller towns as ATMs are limited and you may have trouble exchanging money or getting cash when traveling to destinations that are less popular.
  • Beware of Pickpockets: Like in many tourist destinations, watch out for pickpockets, especially in crowded areas
  • Learn Basic Spanish: Knowing some basic Spanish phrases will enhance your experience and interactions with locals.
  • Plan for the Weather: Antigua’s weather can be unpredictable. Bring layers and a raincoat, especially if you’re traveling during the rainy season (May to October).
  • Be Early at Tourist Spots: Popular sites like La Merced Church or Santa Catalina Arch can get crowded. Visit early to avoid the crowds.
  • Learn How to Haggle and Where to Haggle: Haggling is common and expected at local markets but prices at shops, stores and restaurants are not negotiable. When haggling take into consideration how much you would pay for the craftsmanship and offer artisans a fair price. 


What Not to Do in Antigua Guatemala: Things to Avoid

Avoid the weekends, if possible.

Antigua is a very popular weekend destination for Guatemalans. On Saturday and Sunday, people from Guatemala City, a sprawling urban metropolis with millions of people, flock to Antigua Guatemala. The cobblestone streets are packed with cars, and the best restaurants are packed with people. It’s hard to walk on the narrow sidewalks without bumping into someone or hitting your head on the protruding wrought iron window cages, seriously look out for those. Although a lot of people visit just for the day, many people stay the entire weekend, which means hotels will usually be substantially more expensive on the weekends. If you are spending more than a few days in Antigua, which I recommend, opt for taking a day tour to destinations that are not as popular with locals during the weekends. Some recommendations include visiting the Mayan ruins of Iximche, which are less than two hours away, taking a tour to climb the Pacaya volcano, or taking a tour of a nearby coffee plantation. 

Best guide to visiting Antigua Guatemala
Best guide to visiting Antigua Guatemala

Don’t visit Antigua without doing a little research.

Before arriving in Antigua, a bit of research goes a long way. The city’s unique architecture, characterized by thick walls encasing homes and historic buildings, often conceals its most enchanting sights. Many of Antigua’s exquisite fountains, gardens, and colonial ruins are tucked away, easily missed if you’re not looking carefully. Exploring beyond these walls reveals a world of hidden beauty, so it’s worth peeking inside or joining guided tours for a deeper understanding and appreciation of Antigua’s rich heritage.

Don’t take photos of the locals without their permission.

Be respectful when taking photographs, especially of the local people. You may come across residents dressed in traditional Mayan attire, adding to the city’s picturesque charm. However, it’s important to remember that these are not just images; they’re people with their own stories and privacy. Always ask for permission before photographing locals, especially children. This respectful approach not only ensures you’re being considerate but often leads to more meaningful interactions and understanding of the vibrant cultures in Antigua.

Best Things To Do Near Antigua

While Antigua is a treasure trove of attractions, its surroundings offer equally enchanting experiences. The nearby villages, each with its unique traditions and crafts, provide a glimpse into Guatemala’s rural life. The majestic volcanoes surrounding the city, like Volcán de Agua and Volcán de Fuego, are natural wonders that beckon adventurers.

  • Climb an Active Volcano – Climbing Pacaya Volcano:

    Embark on an adventurous climb to the summit of Pacaya, one of Guatemala’s most active volcanoes. This experience offers not only a thrilling yet relatively easy hike but also the chance to witness volcanic activity up close. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking, making it a rewarding challenge for nature enthusiasts.

Pacaya volcano hike
My husband and teen son hiking the Pacaya volcano.


  • Take a Day Trip to a Mayan Ancient City – Iximche Archaeological Site:

    Just an hour’s drive from Antigua, Iximche offers a glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization. This well-preserved archaeological site features ruins, temples, and plazas that tell the story of a once-thriving city. It’s a fascinating and educational excursion for those interested in history and culture.

Ultimate Guide to the Iximche Mayan Ruins in Guatemala
Iximche Mayan ruins, Guatemala


  • Visit the Viewpoints Near Antigua Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala is surrounded by several developed viewpoints, each offering stunning vistas of the volcanoes that frame this historic city. Whether you’re planning to spend a leisurely half-day, enjoy a meal, or just capture the perfect photo, these viewpoints with their restaurants and Instagram-worthy props are a must-visit.

    • Hobbitenango: A dream destination for J.R.R. Tolkien fans, Hobbitenango is a hobbit town-inspired retreat. With two restaurants, 26 different areas to explore, and three hobbit-style houses available for overnight stays, it offers incredible views of the valley and volcanoes. On weekends, enjoy activities like axe throwing, mini-golf, and archery. It’s a great place to disconnect and immerse yourself in a fantasy world and in nature.

    • Altamira: Altamira is the perfect spot for relaxing with family and enjoying the majestic views of the Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango volcanoes. This park features accommodation and a restaurant, making it ideal for an extended visit. The wooden hand and golden hand viewpoints are particularly popular for Instagram photos, offering a unique perspective over the valley.
    • Los Celajes: This ecological park boasts breathtaking panoramic views of Antigua Guatemala and its volcanoes. With a restaurant on-site and various Instagram props including wings, a heart, and a door, Los Celajes is the perfect spot for those seeking a picturesque setting for their social media. It’s an excellent choice for capturing those memorable moments against a backdrop of natural beauty.
Los Celajes volcano viewpoint near Antigua Guatemala
Los Celajes volcano viewpoint near Antigua Guatemala


  • Take a Day Trip to Lake Atitlán:

    For those pressed for time, a day tour from Antigua to Panajachel provides the perfect opportunity to witness the beauty of Lake Atitlán. Panajachel serves as a gateway to the lake’s magnificent scenery and vibrant local culture. The journey to this lakeside town itself is an experience, offering stunning views and an insight into the region’s natural beauty.



Other Articles About Guatemala

The Festival De Las Flores In Antigua Guatemala (Flower Festival In Antigua)

The Festival de las Flores, a vibrant celebration of blossoms and beauty, fills the historic buildings and streets of Antigua Guatemala with a rainbow of fresh flowers. This enchanting festival, held annually in November, is not just a feast for the eyes but a profound expression of Guatemala’s deep-rooted love for nature and cultural traditions. This is definitely a Guatemalan festival you need to add to your bucket list. Get tips for enjoying the Festival de las Flores in Antigua from where to stay and how to plan your trip to the best activities to enjoy during the festival. 

Flower Festival in Antigua Guatemala, Festival de las Flores

Best Colonial Ruins In Antigua Guatemala

Exploring the colonial ruins of Antigua Guatemala should definitely be at the top of your list of things to do in Antigua. From convents with gorgeous courtyards and crumbled cathedrals to stunning baroque churches this list of the best colonial ruins in Antigua has it all!

Santa Rosa Church ruins in Antigua Guatemala. Photo by youngrobv on Flickr. Creative Commons License.
Santa Rosa Church ruins in Antigua Guatemala. Photo by youngrobv on Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Semana Santa In Guatemala: Traditions And History

Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, holds great importance and is widely celebrated in Guatemala. This week-long event is a time for religious contemplation and also an opportunity to display the country’s vibrant cultural heritage. Semana Santa has been observed for centuries. These Guatemalan Easter traditions are deeply rooted in the social fabric of Guatemala.

The Good Friday Procession during Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Antigua Guatemala
The Good Friday Procession during Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Antigua Guatemala


Why Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán Needs To Be On Your Travel Bucket List

Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Located in the western highlands of Guatemala, the lake encircles spectacular dormant volcanoes and picturesque Mayan villages. What makes Lago Atitlan truly special and unique is its breathtaking natural beauty. In addition, it has a relaxed atmosphere, colorful and rich Mayan culture, and an almost perfect climate. Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán is easily accessible and only about 3 hours from Guatemala city. 

Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.
Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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