Antigua Guatemala is widely known as a travel hub. By being less than an hour drive from Guatemala City most travelers choose Antigua as their jumping off point than the seedier, often more dangerous Guatemala City. Antigua offers a lot more than being just a transportation hub, however. There are plenty of things to in Antigua Guatemala, as well.
Backpackers and travelers alike are flocking to Antigua for its colorful streets, bustling squares and bits of history spread throughout. Costs are low here, which offers a great opportunity for travelers to recharge before heading out on their next adventure. Antigua offers a little something for everything when it comes to things to do. Check out this list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala, let me know if I missed anything!
But first, looking for somewhere to stay in Antigua? Check out my hostel recommendations here.
10 Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala
Wander around the city. Antigua’s streets are gorgeous in themselves. From the colorful buildings to the stone streets, Antigua’s charm is unmatched. It is an easy to navigate city with a gridline pattern and easily traversed in a few hours so don’t be afraid of getting lost.
Take advantage of the picturesque photo opportunities. The Parque Central is always bustling with locals and travelers alike. Grab a snack and find a spot on the steps and people watch the afternoon away.
Explore why Antigua is an UNESCO site. The many religious structures within Antigua are the reason for Antigua’s UNESCO classification. The Cathedral, the Convento do Las Capuchinas, Convento de Santa Clara, Iglesia La Merced, Iglesia de San Francisco, Casa Santo Domingo, La Recollection, and the Arco de Santa Catarina are just some of the structures to be seen. Many of the buildings are in various states of ruin but some are still actively in use today.
Check out some of the cities small museums. What city in Central America wouldn’t have ample museums? Antigua is no exception. Try the chocolate museum where you can get hands on chocolate making lessons or take a tour of a restored 17th century house.
Shop the market. Near the Pargue Central there are small markets built into the buildings, you have to look carefully, one’s entrance has quilts adorning the walls. The large market is on the edge of town and holds just about everything you could ever want. Although, it’s difficult to find actual homemade goods, souvenir shopping can be gold here if you’re willing to negotiate.
Climb the Hill of the Cross. This is a quick 30 minute ‘hike’ that boasts panoramic views of Antigua and the surrounding volcanoes from the top. Be extra cautious with your belongings on the walk, however, significant petty crime has been known to occur on the path. Recently, however, with the significant increase of locals with families taking the path, it is rumored that the crime rates have gone down.
Take a tour. Due to its standing as a transportation hub, there are plenty of tours targeted towards tourists. Try a coffee tour to a local plantation, or a traditional village excursion to see how life is for local Guatemalans. There are even tours to witness traditional Mayan ceremonies in nearby villages.
Go for a hike. Antigua is perfectly places near some of the best volcanoes in all of Guatemala. If you’re looking for a short hike, opt for the Papaya Volcano which takes a few hours. If you’d prefer a much more strenuous full day or overnight trip book a trip up Acatenango. At the top you can camp out and watch nearby Volcano Fuego’s eruptions all night long.
Venture out for a day trip. The surrounding area of Antigua is chock full of opportunities to get out of the city for a day. From birdwatching trips to zip lining or canopy tours, a day trip can take you to whatever you need. Even Lake Atitlan or the market at Chichicastenango are great longer day trips, although I recommend spending a few days exploring the towns of Atitlan.
Take a class. Guatemala is a an extremely cost effective place to learn a new skill. In Antigua, you can find salsa lessons, Spanish lessons or even cooking classes.
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Have you been to Antigua? Do you have any other recommendations for things to do, leave them in the comments.
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