With colorful buildings, old Baroque churches, powerful volcanoes, and a rich history, Antigua is brimming with charm and beauty. There are so many incredible things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with it (seriously, I dare you to not).
Antigua is one of Guatemala’s most visited destinations (along with Lake Atitlan), and it’s easy to see why. The entire historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is filled with quaint cobblestone streets, beautiful colonial architecture, and fascinating ruins.
The city has a unique geography, surrounded by three mighty volcanoes, including the most active in Central America (Volcan Fuego). You can even hike to Volcan Acatenango, which stands right next to it, to get a closer glimpse to it – it’s one of the most exciting adventures you’ll have in the area.
Thanks to this geography, the city is very prone to earthquakes. Antigua once used to be the old capital of Guatemala, but it was moved when it was destroyed by a major earthquake. You can see the ruins of the old buildings that used to stand here, which are fascinating to explore and a sign of the city’s resilience.
I spent three days in Antigua on my Guatemala itinerary, and absolutely fell in love – with its stunning natural beauty, its charming streets, the fascinating culture, and the friendly people.
Keep on reading for all the best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala!
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Things to Know About Visiting Antigua, Guatemala
Is Antigua, Guatemala worth visiting?
YES!!! The city is incredibly charming, with colorful colonial buildings that line the cobblestoned streets. In fact, the entire historic center of Antigua was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site!
The city used to be the capital of Guatemala, and also has a rich history and unique geography, with fascinating ruins as a result of the fact that it had to rebuild after a series of major earthquakes.
Antigua is also surrounded by three volcanoes, including Volcan Fuego, the most active in Central America. You can see it erupt and spew out lava from a distance from many points in the city, which is a truly incredible sight!
Not only that, Antigua also has a rich culture, friendly people, and delicious food.
How long should you spend in Antigua, Guatemala?
There are plenty of things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, so I suggest spending a minimum of three days there to get a sense of the city and experience all of its highlights.
Add an extra day to do the Acatenango hike (or the Pacaya hike), which is one of the most epic experiences in the area!
If you are short on time, you can condense it to two days, but it would feel a bit rushed.
Best time to visit Antigua, Guatemala
Guatemala is called the “land of eternal spring,” which refers to the year-round, spring-like temperature that it experiences. Because of this, there really isn’t a bad time to visit!
However, do note that Guatemala does experience a dry season and a rainy season. The best time to visit Antigua is during the dry season, which runs November to April. This will give you the most sunny days and dry weather, which offers the ideal conditions for outdoor activities, such as going on one of the epic volcano hikes that Antigua is known for.
The rainy season runs May through October, and it is still worth visiting Antigua during those months. Expect clear mornings, overcast skies as the day goes on, and pouring rain for an hour or two in the late afternoon. One plus of visiting during the rainy season is that it results in cheaper accommodation and tour prices, and draws less crowds.
Traveling to Antigua
To get to Antigua, you first must travel to Guatemala City. The city’s La Aurora International Airport (GUA) is Guatemala’s main international airport, and offers connections to many destinations around the world.
Coming from Southern California, I found that there were plenty of flight options and they were super affordable as well. I initially booked a flight for $400 RT, but it ended up dropping to $200 the next day, so I ended up canceling and rebooking.
From Guatemala City, you have the following options for getting to Antigua:
- Tourist Shuttle: This is a common way to travel around Guatemala, and a relatively affordable option, costing about $15-20 for a one-way trip. Two recommended companies for shuttle transportation are GuateGo and Atitrans. Check the shuttle schedule to see if the departures are convenient for your flight schedule. In my case, it wasn’t, so I ended up taking an Uber.
- Uber: What I used and recommend. This is the fastest option and cost ~$30 USD. I also prefer using Uber over a traditional taxi because of the tracking capabilities, and because it avoids any confusion due to language barrier. It was easy to call for a ride right outside of the airport terminal, do note that you will have to use data the airport does not have WiFi (luckily, international data is included in my T-Mobile plan at no additional charge). The trip can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours – the traffic to get out of the city can be insane – for me, it took about an hour. Try to avoid traveling during rush hour, if possible.
- Private transfer: Hiring a private driver is an easy, direct, and reliable way to get to your accommodations in Antigua. This may be more cost-effective than taking a shuttle if you are traveling as a group.
- Chicken bus: The chicken buses are iconic in Guatemala, and are the cheapest (and most adventurous) way to get to Antigua. However, unless you’re *really* on a budget, I’d avoid it. The buses are crowded, uncomfortable, and not always safe. They also don’t have room for luggage, so they usually throw your stuff onto the top of the bus without strapping it down.
Getting around in Antigua
Many of the top Antigua tourist attractions are located in the historic center, which is very compact and walkable – you can get from one end to the other in 20 minutes.
However, do note that many of the streets here are cobblestone and VERY bumpy and uneven (especially compared to Europe, and even Mexico). Be sure to wear proper footwear – flat sandals or sneakers are your best bet here, not those fancy wedges or heels. You might also not want to be wheeling around a giant suitcase, either.
Uber service is available in Antigua, and is an ideal choice when wanting to visit attractions right outside the city (i.e. Hobbitenango), continuing on to Lake Atitlan, or getting back to the airport in Guatemala City. You can also take it within town, but I felt it was not necessary – however, it is definitely an option if you have mobility issues.
Another option to get around in town is via tuk-tuk, which can also help you reach the hillier points in the city, like the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint.
Is Antigua, Guatemala safe?
Yeah, I know – Guatemala doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world. So, you may be wondering – is it safe to visit Antigua?
Guatemala has had a complicated and turbulent history, and there are still many places in the country that are not safe for tourists to visit. Crime is still an issue, although things have improved over the years.
However, the areas of Guatemala that are frequently visited by tourists, including Antigua, are considered generally safe to visit. Not once did I feel unsafe during my time in Antigua. I even spent a day here alone, and while I was initially kinda anxious about it, I felt fine once I was on my own.
I know that the perception of Guatemala is that it’s a super dangerous country, and people may talk you out of traveling there. And while there are still definitely parts of the country that are still considered dangerous, don’t believe everything you hear about it – especially from people who have never been there.
I’m not saying it’s 100% safe – nowhere is (even at home), but as with traveling anywhere, you should always take basic safety precautions to help keep yourself safe. Always be aware of your surroundings, and never let your guard down!
Some other things to keep in mind:
- Always let someone at home know where you’ll be at all times and give them a copy of your itinerary
- Keep a close watch on your belongings and don’t flash any valuables (jewelry, expensive electronics, etc)
- Avoid walking around at night
- Don’t consume too much alcohol
- Don’t go off with strangers
- Try to avoid being on the roads at night – if your flight into Guatemala City arrives at night, I’d stay in a hotel near the airport and then take a shuttle or Uber in the morning.
More things to know about Antigua, Guatemala
Money + Currency
The official currency of Guatemala is the Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ). $1 USD is roughly ~8 GTQ (or 100 GTQ is roughly ~$13).
While there are many places around town that accept credit cards (especially those that cater to tourists), it is still a good idea to have cash on hand for those that don’t. You will need cash for entrance fees, shopping at the local markets, street food, tips, and tuk-tuk or taxi fares.
I generally take out money once I land at the airport. In Guatemala City, there is an ATM in the ticketing area, however, I couldn’t find a way there once I was landed in arrivals. However, there is a second ATM in the parking garage across from the terminal. There are also plenty of ATMs around town.
The most common ATMs you will see around Guatemala are the yellow 5B machines. These usually accept foreign debit cards with no problems – I’ve heard instances where other ATMs don’t. However, do note that the convenience fee on the 5B machines is HIGH – I think it was 60 Quetzales (~$8 USD), so be strategic about how often you’re taking out cash because that adds up FAST.
The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. While you may find a little bit of English spoken in Antigua, I found that I mainly had to bust out my Spanish during my time here (and in Guatemala in general).
Therefore, I *highly* recommend that you brush up on your Spanish on Duolingo as it will be immensely helpful to know a bit of basic Spanish! I was thankful that I took Spanish in high school. If anything, being in Guatemala made me want to get better at Spanish!
Antigua is also a fantastic place to practice your Spanish – the locals are super friendly and there are plenty of Spanish schools in town (it’s one of the most popular Antigua activities).
Other Antigua, Guatemala travel tips
- The water is not safe to drink in Antigua (and Guatemala). Many accommodations will provide filtered drinking water, but otherwise drink bottled water, or pack a LifeStraw or Steripen.
- The city sits at over 5000 feet in elevation. If you find yourself struggling to catch your breath – well, now you know why! If you’re sensitive to altitude, bring some meds.
Where to Stay in Antigua, Guatemala
You’ll find no shortage of accommodation options in Antigua to suit any taste and budget, whether you’re looking for charming boutique hotels, hostels, and everything in between.
In general, the accommodations in Antigua (and Guatemala in general) tend to be pretty affordable – you can find boutique hotels for $100/night, and even the luxury hotel in town was less than $200/night during our dates.
Here are some recommended places to stay in Antigua:
- Hotel Aurora: Where we stayed, and we loved it! It’s such a lovely boutique hotel, with beautiful grounds, with a gorgeous courtyard and garden. It’s right in the center of town, so you are super close to everywhere you’d want to go! The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and there’s also a free breakfast included.
- Good Hotel: I love the concept of Good Hotel and would’ve stayed here if they had availability during my stay. Not only is the property super boutique with a very aesthetic design, they also do a lot of good in the community, donating their profits to support local community initiatives – in this case, helping disadvantaged children attend school.
- Ojala: We stumbled upon Ojala and had coffee here, and I ended up spending a night here at the end of my time in Guatemala. I loved the beautiful courtyard here! It’s a boutique hostel, but they have private rooms too (in which I stayed) – the beds are super comfy, and the room even had a rain shower!
- Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo: This is Antigua’s most luxurious hotel, built on the grounds of a former monastery. The entire property is beautiful, and has a restaurant, gardens, a pool area, museums, and more.
Awesome Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala
Join a walking tour
If you’re wondering what to do in Antigua, Guatemala, going on a walking tour is a good place to start. The best way to explore Antigua’s charming historic center is on foot – and I highly recommend taking a walking tour to get acquainted with it!
You’ll get to discover the stories behind the colorful colonial architecture, the historic ruins, the unique geography, and the powerful volcanoes that surround the city, told through a local perspective.
Taking a walking tour is the best way to get acquainted with the city, and to learn about its fascinating history!
Snap a photo with the Santa Catarina Arch
The Santa Catarina Arch is *THE* most recognizable landmark in the city (and one of the most famous in Guatemala), so obviously snapping a photo here is one of the top things to do in Antigua, Guatemala.
The iconic yellow arch is obviously super Instagrammable, but it’s got a fascinating history behind it as well. It was originally built in the late 17th century as a means for nuns, who took an oath of seclusion, to travel in between two convents that were on either side.
It’s also one of the few structures in the city to have withstood many earthquakes over the years, including the devastating 1773 and 1976 quakes that destroyed many of the buildings in the city.
I suggest coming in the morning to admire and photograph the Arch – not only will avoid the crowds (and dodging the cars that drive through, since this is an active street), you’ll have the clearest view of Volcan Agua, which is framed perfectly by the Arch.
Admire the Iglesia de la Merced
While the city has a number of beautiful churches around town, the Iglesia de la Merced is one of the beautiful, and was one of my favorite Antigua, Guatemala attractions.
The church is characterized by the ornate yellow facade, which you definitely need to spend some time admiring (and taking photos of). The church’s Baroque architectural style was specifically designed with a lower height and wider columns for the purpose of withstanding earthquakes. It’s survived two major earthquakes, and is a symbol of the city’s resilience.
The ornate exterior of the church is stunning, but it’s worth exploring the inside as well, which has a beautiful cloister area.
Explore the city’s ruins
Because of its unique geography, Antigua is a city that is prone to earthquakes. Countless earthquakes have shook the city over the years, including a devastating one in 1773, which destroyed many buildings in the city.
Some of the buildings have been rebuilt, showing the resilience of the city. You can also see the ruins of the monuments that used to stand here, which are some of the most fascinating places to visit in Antigua.
Here are some of the ruins to check out in Antigua:
- Catedral San Jose (Also called Antigua Guatemala Cathedral or Catedral de Santiago): This Roman Catholic church has stood here since the 1500s, and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. It was only partially rebuilt after the great quake of 1773, but what remains here is beautiful, with its tall arches. This was one of my favorite Antigua attractions!
- Convento de las Capuchinas: The convent was once home to a thriving community of nuns, but was abandoned after the great earthquake of 1773. Today, it is one of the finest examples of an 18th century convent, with tranquil gardens, colonial architecture, and rooftop views.
- Convento Santa Clara: Founded around 1700, the Convento Santa Clara was damaged by two earthquakes, and was abandoned after the devastating earthquake in 1773. You’ll find plenty of ruins, including the beautiful church interior, as well as gardens.
- Iglesia de San Francisco: The Iglesia de San Francisco was built in the 16th century, and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times thanks to multiple earthquakes over the years. Not much of the original structure remains, however it is known as one of the of the most important religious and cultural sites in the area, known for the shrine of Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur inside the church.
- El Carmen: El Carmen was a lavish Catholic church that survived the 1773 earthquake relatively well, thanks to its seismic Baroque facade. However, it was damaged by other quakes in the 20th century and the church is no longer active. The church can only viewed from the outside, but there is a popular handicrafts market that takes place here.
Go rooftop hopping
One of the best ways to appreciate Antigua’s beauty is to hang out at one of the many rooftops that are located in the city. You can sip on a cocktail or enjoy a meal while admiring the views of the city and its fascinating ruins below.
It’s also one of the best places to witness the magnificent volcanoes that surround the city – on a clear day, you can even see Fuego go off in the city, and it is truly a powerful sight!
Here are some rooftops to check out while in Antigua:
- Cafe Sky: Cafe Sky may have had my absolute favorite view in Antigua – you’ll get a picture-perfect view of all of the volcanoes in the city. We came for both early dinner/drinks and breakfast, and preferred coming for breakfast as the views tend to be clearer in the morning. It was so cool to see Fuego sending out puffs of smoke while eating – can’t beat that breakfast view!
- Rooftop Antigua: We loved the cocktails here! You’ll find some excellent views of the ruins around the city, as well as the volcanoes (which finally made an appearance after sunset!). They also have pastries, coffee, sandwiches, and more.
- Antigua Brewing Company: Antigua Brewing Company is located right in the middle of the historic center, so you can see the entire city and its volcanoes. We came for dinner, and we had the surreal experience of seeing Fuego casually spewing out lava in the distance – so cool! They have a menu of pub classics, as well as craft beers brewed in-house (get a flight to sample a few).
- Cafe Boheme: You’ll find a cozy terrace with a French vibe, with distant views of Acatenango and Fuego. Their menu has sandwiches, salads, coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, pastries, and more.
- Cafe Estudio: Find incredible views of the city and all three of its volcanoes here, with string lights giving it a particularly romantic vibe.
Grab a cocktail at a speakeasy
Did you know that Antigua is home to its very own speakeasy, if you know where to look? The Ulew Cocktail Bar is nestled into the Antigua Brewing Company, and offers up creative cocktail creations.
There’s no menu to order from here – just tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for, and they will whip up the perfect drink for you.
You can access Ulew from the phone booth located downstairs at the brewery. I wish I knew about it when I was in Antigua – I found out about it from a friend right after I left – but I’m telling you now so you know about it!
Conquer the Acatenango volcano hike
The Acatenango volcano hike is one of the most thrilling things to do near Antigua, Guatemala. It is not for the faint of heart, but gives you the unforgettable experience of climbing up to the top of one of the tallest volcanoes in Central America (Acatenango) to get an up-close view of its most active (Fuego).
It’s one of the most memorable travel experiences that I’ve had to date – it’s an experience of a lifetime to be able to see and feel Fuego’s thunderous explosions, and to get a front row seat to see it spewing sparks of lava every 15 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it!
Of course, getting there is no easy feat, and involves conquering a steep, relentless hike with over 5000 feet in elevation gain. I started questioning myself at every turn, while climbing up sandy trails, while meandering through the rainforest, sliding backwards on volcanic sand, and then ending up above the clouds – then FINALLY catching the first up close and personal glimpse of Fuego, then all of it was suddenly worth it.
The hike can technically be done in one day, but I highly recommend doing the overnight hike, which gives you the unique experience of seeing Fuego go off at night, which will take your breath away (in more ways than one, lol)! Going with a tour group is highly recommended – I went with Wicho & Charlie’s and recommend them 100000% (they also have A-frame cabins built right into the mountain, which makes it a much more comfortable experience).
You can read more about the hike, tips for conquering it, and how to prepare for it in my guide to hiking Acatenango.
Toast marshmallows on The Pacaya Volcano
If you don’t feel up to conquering the Acatenango hike, that’s ok – there’s another volcano hike that’s another one of the top things to do near Antigua! The Pacaya hike also gives you the thrilling experience of hiking a volcano, but with much less effort.
Volcan Pacaya is located about an hour and a half outside of Antigua, and is considered to be one of the most accessible volcanoes in the area. You can either take an overnight hiking trip to Pacaya, or take a sunrise tour.
The hike to the top is about 5 kilometers (~3 miles), with an 1500 feet elevation gain. It is rated as medium difficulty, and takes about two hours.
Pacaya’s formation allows you to get close to the crater without risk. Once you arrive at the top, you also get to have the unique experience of roasting marshmallows – right on the hot volcanic rocks! So cool!
Hike to Cerro de la Cruz
Cerro de la Cruz is Antigua’s best viewpoint, from which you can see the entire city and the volcanoes surrounding it. It’s anchored by a large stone cross at the top of the hills, which is how it gets its name.
While you can take a tuk-tuk or an Uber to the viewpoint, I suggest hiking there. The hike is only about a mile long, and takes about 30 minutes to the top. It is a bit steep with plenty of stairs, but it is not a hike at all.
I thought it was an ideal way to get my bearings and sorta “train” for my volcano hike the next day…although I was a bit concerned when I found myself huffing and puffing my way up to the top, hahah (don’t worry, I survived Acatenango).
To get here, go north 1A Avenida from the city center. You’ll eventually see a sign that says “Bienvenidos a Cerro de la Cruz.” Follow the trail up to the summit from here.
While some people say that Cerro de la Cruz is one of the best places to visit in Antigua at sunset, I think that morning is better, as it’s usually clear and the clouds tend to roll in as the day goes on, covering the volcanoes.
Go on a food tour
I’ve become a huge fan of going on food tours when I travel, because it not only lets me sample all the food at the top eateries in the city, you also get a larger understanding of a city’s unique culture.
One of the best things to do in Antigua is to go on the Antigua Foodie Tour, which includes 10 tastings at some of the top restaurants in the city. You also get a crash course into the traditional dishes of Guatemala, as well as learn more about its flavors, textures, ingredients, and influences.
Wander the Mercado Central
Antigua’s Central Market, or Mercado Central, is a hub of local life, a labyrinth of vendors selling anything and everything you can possibly imagine – fresh produce, meats, spices, flowers, clothing, housewares, electronics, medicines, and much much more.
It can be a bit overwhelming (it is HUGE), but it should be at the top of your list for what to do in Antigua if you want to get a sense of local culture and get a glimpse into daily life. I found it truly fascinating!
If you’re feeling hungry, the market also has plenty of food vendors where you can grab a bite to eat and try some traditional Guatemalan street food.
The market is open every day from 8am to 5pm, but market days are on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. This is when you’ll see the biggest flurry of activity – which can be a good or bad thing, depending on what you’re looking to experience.
Shop for traditional handicrafts
There’s just something about the vibrant colors and the beautiful textures of Guatemalan handicrafts that make them truly incredible. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t help but take home some traditional handicrafts as souvenirs.
Bargaining is common here, but don’t remember to pay a fair price – don’t lowball! These artisans work hard at their craft, and don’t make much.
A few artisanal markets I stopped at:
- Mercado de Artesanias: Located right across from the Mercado Central, and around a beautiful courtyard. You’ll find tons of vendors here selling anything and everything from traditional textiles, pompoms, leather goods, jewelry, handmade dolls, wooden paintings, and much more.
- Mercado de Artesanias El Carmen: This market is located at the El Carmen ruins, and has a good mix of items on sale. The market is held indoors during the week, but takes place in the actual ruins on the weekends.
- Nim Pot’: This is actually a retail store where artists sell their goods on consignment. It’s a good place to get an idea of what crafts you’ll see on sale elsewhere, and to gauge a fair price, but I recommend buying directly from the artists elsewhere.
Take a trip to the Chichicastenango Market
Chichicastenango is *THE* market to go to in Guatemala, and one of the most famous in all of Central America. If you find yourself in town on a Sunday or Thursday, then you may want to experience one of the most unique things to do near Antigua!
Locals from nearby regions flock to the market to sell their wares, and you’ll find anything and everything from colorful textiles, wooden boxes, pottery, paintings, local food, medicinal plants, chickens, and much more.
While you can take chicken buses there, I recommend going as part of an organized tour.
I unfortunately wasn’t in town on the market days, but I am dying to check it out on a return trip to Antigua!
Dine at the local restaurants
Antigua has a reputation for being a foodie city, boasting many delicious restaurants featuring both traditional Guatemalan and international cuisine.
If you’re wondering what to do in Antigua, be sure to add some of these restaurants to your list:
- Los Tres Tiempos: Located near the Santa Catarina Arch, you’ll find an array of traditional Guatemalan dishes here – try their Pepian, which is sorta like the national dish of Guatemala. They’ve got a pretty terrace upstairs, but the interior space of the restaurant is really cute as well!
- Rincon Tipico: You’ll see ladies making tortillas outside, and chicken roasting over a fire as you walk in, and you know it’s going to be good! We got a plate of chicken, potatoes, and salad for 35 GTQ and we were not disappointed. There’s usually a line out the door (and spilling into the street) so be prepared to wait. It’s worth it!
- Frida’s: We really loved the fun, lively vibe of Frida’s, which (as the name implies) has a Frida Kahlo theme. The tacos here are awesome (order a sampler!), and the margaritas and mezcal cocktails are amazing!
- Santo Spirito: We actually weren’t able to dine here as they were closed for a private event, but it came so highly recommended by several people that I had to include it on this list! They do upscale Italian food with a Latin twist. They have a really beautiful patio here, and it’s the place to go if you’re looking to eat somewhere with a romantic vibe.
Take a cooking class
Taking a cooking class is a fantastic way to learn about the local cuisine and food culture. You’ll not only be able to try the most popular dishes of Guatemala – you’ll get to learn how to make them!
Guatemalan cuisine has its roots in Mayan culture, and uses unique flavorings, textures, and ingredients. In this cooking class, you will learn how to make several authentic Guatemalan dishes (like pepian), and get to enjoy your hard work afterwards with a relaxing meal on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city’s volcanoes.
You’ll get to learn about traditional cooking techniques and ingredients, but also learn about the culture and daily life.
Make your own chocolate bar
Chocolate lovers rejoice! As one of Guatemala’s main exports, chocolate is a big thing here. So why not learn more about it – and make your very own chocolate bar to take home as a souvenir?
The ChocoMuseo is a small museum and shop dedicated to chocolate in the center of town. They have all kinds of chocolate products, including some with exotic ingredients like chili. You can taste some samples, shop for some bars and treats, and even stop for a chocolate beverage!
For one of the most fun Antigua activities, I recommend signing up for the bean-to-bar workshop, during which you create your very own chocolate bar to take home! You’ll learn about different kinds of cacao beans, and the production process, and see exactly how they are transformed into chocolate.
Take a day trip to Hobbitenango
Taking a day trip (or even a half-day trip) out to the quirky Hobbitenango is one of the best things to do near Antigua. Even if you’re not a big Hobbit fan (I’m not), you’ll get a kick out of seeing this cool Hobbit-themed eco theme park.
You’ll find plenty of photo-worthy backdrops, fun activities, and stunning mountain views at Hobbitenango.
The park is famous for the highly Instagrammable giant stone troll hand that overlooks the volcanoes and valley. However, it offers much more beyond that, and you’ll find plenty to do to keep you occupied for a day.
Some of the activities at Hobbitenango include a tree swing, archery, axe throwing, mini golfing, walking on the trails, and shopping at the artisan markets. There’s also an on-site restaurant and bar as well.
In addition, they have the coolest little hobbit houses that you can stay in overnight for a truly unique accommodation experience!
Hobbitenango is located about 10km outside of the city. Shuttles are offered from the office in Antigua – more information here. The shuttles were not running when we went, so we took an Uber from the city. There aren’t usually any Ubers available in the immediate area on the way back, so we ended up taking a taxi to get back to town.
However you decide to get there, you’ll get dropped off at the main ticket office, where you’ll pay the 50Q entrance fee. From here, you have to take a 4×4 shuttle to get to the actual park. It was, let’s just say, a very adventurous ride lol – the dirt roads are very narrow and steep, and it was super bumpy!
Visit Caoba Farms
Located 10 minutes outside Antigua’s historic center, Caoba Farms is an organic farm, restaurant, and marketplace. They are known for their farm-to-table brunch, which is made using fresh, organic ingredients sourced right on property (like Flora Farms in San Jose del Cabo)!
You can enjoy a meal in their beautiful patio space, surrounded by lush greenery. They have live music on the weekends as well.
They also have a farmers market, a butterfly sanctuary, farm tours, and put on various events such as sunrise yoga and aerial silk classes.
Explore Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
Yes, you read that right – one of the best Antigua tourist attractions is a hotel. But, Hotel Casa Santo Domingo isn’t just your average hotel!
The Casa Santo Domingo is one of the most luxurious hotels in town, standing on the site of a former monastery. In its heyday, the monastery was one of the most significant and impressive in all of the Americas.
As with many other buildings in town, it was destroyed during the 1773 earthquake. You can see the ruins of the convent, as well as various artifacts and relics that were recovered from it.
Aside from that, there is plenty more to explore at the Casa Santo Domingo, including a garden, crypts, an archaeological museum, art galleries, a restaurant, a spa, and much more.
Ride a chicken bus
The chicken buses of Guatemala are iconic. If you ever wonder what becomes of old school buses in North America – well, they end up here, get painted in bright colors and garish designs, and serve as public buses.
And if you wonder about the name “chicken bus” – they get the name from the fact that people, in fact, do often transport chickens in them.
If you don’t want to navigate the chicken buses on your own, one of the most unique things to do in Antigua, Guatemala is to go on a chicken bus & schools tour. In this experience, you get to take a chicken bus to the nearby town of Cuidad Vieja, which is known for its chicken bus factory – you even get to tour one yourself!
You also visit schools run by Niños de Guatemala, a nonprofit dedicated to giving local children access to education. The profits from the tour are donated to the organization, so you’re supporting the local community by participating in it.
It’s a wonderful way to get a look into local life, and do some good at the same time!
Wander around Parque Central
The lush Parque Central is one of the central gathering places in the city. The square dates back to the 16th century, so you’ll find lots of historically significant buildings that surround the park, as well as a number of restaurants, cafes, shops, and attractions.
You’ll find both locals and tourists hanging out here. There’s plenty of trees and shrubs, along with benches so you can sit in the shade, relax, and people watch. There’s also a fountain in the center of the park, decorated with mermaids spouting out water.
If you want to try some Guatemalan street food, this is an excellent place to do it, as there are plenty of vendors selling all kinds of yummy things! There’s also an artisan market, with vendors selling traditional handicrafts.
Visit the Cooperacion Espanola
I ended up stumbling upon the Cooperacion Espanola, and thought it was such a pretty spot! It’s a former monastery that’s been beautifully restored and turned into an arts and culture center that’s run by the Spanish embassy.
It’s got a gorgeous courtyard and gardens, along with a number of galleries that house art, photography, and cultural exhibits. They also put on various events as well, from cinema nights, dance shows, lectures, and more.
The best part? Admission is free, and it’s not very crowded, so it’s well worth a stop!
Take Spanish lessons
If you’re looking to brush up on your Spanish skills, and are planning to spend an extended amount of time in Antigua, then I recommend looking into taking some Spanish lessons during your stay.
Guatemala is a popular destination for taking Spanish classes, especially in Antigua. I met several people at my accommodations who were taking a week-long Spanish class, and they raved about it!
The lessons are super affordable, and one-on-one, and tailored specifically to your level.
There are many Spanish schools in town, but one of the most highly recommended is Antiguena Spanish Academy.
Admire the courtyards of Antigua
One of my favorite things to do in Antigua was to admire all of the beautiful courtyards around town – there were so many of them in the city!
Many of the top Antigua attractions have pretty courtyards built into them, but there are courtyards built into many restaurants, hotels, and cafes as well.
I also highly recommend that you stop at Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Starbucks. Yes, they are your typical chains, and I would not normally tell you to go to them, but trust me on this. They’ll be the most beautiful ones you’ll ever see!
Try Guatemalan coffee
Guatemala is known to have some of the best coffee in the world, so you absolutely need to try some! One of my fondest memories of being in Antigua was savoring my cup of coffee every morning, because it was some of the best that I’ve had.
There are plenty of cafes scattered around the city, but some of the best are Fat Cat Coffee House and Artista de Cafe.
Those coffee fiends who want to take it a step further and learn more about coffee culture and production in Guatemala can also take a coffee tour. This tour takes you to a local coffee plantation in an ATV, where you can taste some local coffee and learn more about how it’s made.
I didn’t get to do one while in Antigua, but did a similar tour in Nosara, Costa Rica and it was seriously such a cool experience – you really do start to appreciate the amount of work and effort that goes into the production of coffee.
Take a day trip to Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is known for being one of the most beautiful lakes in the world – its waters are a stunning shade of blue, and the lake is flanked by three majestic volcanoes. Surrounding the lake are over a dozen vibrant villages, each with its own unique culture and personality.
If you can, I’d spend more than one day in Lake Atitlan – there’s sooo much to experience there! But if you can only swing one day, I still recommend going, as it is truly one of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of Guatemala!
If you are only visiting as a day trip, I suggest booking a one-day tour. This is an efficient way to experience Lake Atitlan, as you get round-trip transportation from Antigua, and get to go on a boat tour so you’ll get a little taste of the villages.
It’s an excellent way to get a taste of the area, witness its beauty, and experience the traditional Mayan culture.
Have you ever been to Antigua? What are your favorite things to do in Antigua, Guatemala?
More Guatemala content you may enjoy:
The Perfect 7 Day Guatemala Itinerary
The Acatenango Volcano Hike: Everything You Need to Know + Tips
The Lake Atitlan Villages You Need to Visit
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