Main Claire's Itchy Feet logo

Antigua Travel Guide

After a few years, since I lived in this beautiful city, I wrote this Antigua Travel Guide to give you some tips on how to move around, the best time to visit Antigua, things to do, and where to stay in Antigua. Antigua Guatemala is a colonial style and small city declared as world heritage by UNESCO in 1979. You will find baroque facades and ruins almost in every corner. Nothing to complain about that, it is a very enchanting city. When I first arrived in Antigua, the plan was to stay only for a few weeks which ended up being months!

The weather, the friendliness of the people, and the slow pace make you feel as if the world stops.

It is easy to move around and find your best time to go to Antigua. It is a tourist city with pleasant weather. So, you can choose any time to visit Antigua and you will find hotels, restaurants, transportation, Spanish schools, yoga studios, and all sorts of things that make it very easy to make you not want to leave.

If you are planning a journey to Central America, you will go through Antigua at least one time since from here you can get bus tickets to almost everywhere in Latin America. You also can’t miss these 13 Things to Know Before Visiting Antigua Guatemala I have prepared.

An archway leading to a church in Antigua, Ecuador.

Did You Get Insurance Yet?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!

The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover.

Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about the companies. 

Pin For Later

antigua travel guide
13 Things to know before visiting Antigua Guatemala

Click for other Guatemala guides

Guatemala Placeholder
Guatemala

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 

Best Antigua ToursClick here to check out the top Antigua tours
Best Antigua Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Antigua
Best Antigua Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Antigua

Top 10 Things to do In Antigua

Hike a Volcano in Guatemala

1. Camp at a Volcano

There are two volcanoes close to Antigua you can hike, and the best time to visit Antigua if you want to go here is the dry Season. The weather is drier and it will give you clear skies and better visibility. You’ll have a good chance of enjoying unobstructed views of the volcano, especially at sunrise and sunset.

If you are looking for a challenging adventure, try the Acatenango hike. If you are looking for a more mellow hike, try Pacaya. It will make your Antigua visit adventurous!

2. Take a Walk around the Historic City

The best time to go Antigua if you want to walk around the historic city is early in the morning or late afternoon. The weather is cooler during these times, making it more comfortable for walking.

Choose whether you want to explore the small city on your own, or you can go to the central square where all the local guides gather. You can hire one of them for a walking tour of Antigua.

However, I would recommend that if you pay for a walking tour, you book it in advance at a tour agency that manages your trips to Antigua

3. Have a Meal with a view

There are a lot of good restaurants that you can find during your trip to Antigua. For a nice breakfast, I would recommend Café el Portal which is at the central square. The mornings are often quiet in Antigua and the view of the square is very relaxing.


For lunch and dinner, there are tons of options to choose from. Take a look at the list of Food in Antigua below!

4. Try Artisanal Beer

Over the past few years, artisanal beer has become quite a big deal in Antigua. The places you would be looking for are Antigua Cerveza, Antigua Brewing, and Cerveceria 14. All of those have a great ambiance and the beers are really nice.

The best time to go to Antigua to try this Artisanal Beer is in the evenings or weekends. 

5. Go to a Chocolate Museum

If you travel through Central America and don’t try chocolate the way the Mayan lords used to before the cocoa was exported outside the continent, you would be losing a big deal of history, deliciousness, and fun (there are also alcoholic beverages made with cocoa.)

6. Explore the Colonial Ruins

I have created a walking tour of all of the key ruins in Antigua. You can download the map at Walkli and it starts at Cerro De La Cruz. You will need to pay a small fee if you want to enter some of them, but for most of them, you can have a great look only from the outside.

The best time to go to Antigua to explore the ruins would be in the morning.

7. Join a Yoga Class

I have written an entire article about this because there are so many good things to say about the Yoga community in Guatemala. You can read here my Guide to Yoga in Guatemala.

8. Find your Favourite Coffee Shop

You may have heard about Guatemalan coffee before. Antigua is the perfect place to let your senses go wild when it comes to coffee. There are great coffee shops in almost every corner. This is not a weird thing after all, since the coffee from the Antigua region is well known worldwide for its chocolate, sweet, and citrus notes.

9. Take a Day Tour

There are many activities the tour agencies offer, from cooking classes, coffee tours to the actual coffee plantations, and village tours in four weels motorcycles. There are plenty of activities to choose from.

Though it is good to mention that tourist activities are once again back in business, the tour agencies have taken safety protocols such as accepting a fewer number of participants for each tour, this means that the prices of the tours have increased in order to cover the costs.

10. Volunteer for a Day

No matter how nice the Antigua life is, Guatemala is still a third-world country that receives a lot of help. There are very interesting NGO’s in Antigua where you can volunteer for a day, this would also be the best time to visit Antigua for the experience of the culture.

One very interesting NGO is Niños de Guatemala which works to provide education to children of low resources towns around Antigua.

Acatenango Volcano hike from Antigua

Food in Antigua

Your Antigua visit will not be complete without a food tour! Antigua has many comfort foods during the rainy season which is between May to October, this could be your best time to go to Antigua.

Pappy’s BBQ

This is a Texan-style restaurant for all sorts of barbecue and smoked pork meat lovers. The perfect place to hang out with friends and have a beer during your Antigua visit.

Toko Baru

An Indian/Middle East type of restaurant with very tasty food excellent for lunch or dinner.

La Pasta Nostra

If you are searching for good Italian food, this is your place!

Guatelaria

If you are looking for authentic Guatemalan food during your Antigua visit, this is your place.

Las Antorchas

Once upon a time there were two excellent restaurants that you can find during your trips to Antigua. Then, Covid-19 happened and the owners of the two restaurants joned forces and now the menu is a mix made in heaven that includes stakes, and gourmet dishes.

Vegetarian and Vegan friendly Restaurants in Antigua

Turns out 90% of the restaurants I found when I visit Antigua are vegetarian and vegan places. So here’s a list of my top ones:

La Bruja

Owned by an Argentinian couple, this is a restaurant filled with vegan options. Their signature dishes are vegan burgers. To be honest, this is the type of place you go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or only for a snack! Also, if you are looking for mate tea, this is the place you are looking for.

Pitaya Juice Bar

Have a healthy Antigua visit by drinking Pataya Juice Bar. You can guess by the name that you can get healthy juices here. They also have a small menu with delicious food and friendly staff.

Once Once Antigua

This is a vegan option with delicious food you can find during your trip to Antigua. Honestly, the staff is not the friendliest but if you are having a good day and don’t mind the attitude of the staff, my recommendation is to try the dumplings.

Cafe Boheme

Pamper yourself with delicious vegetarian food during your trip to Antigua. Owned by a French couple, the french pastry is excellent. They also offer vegetarian options, delicious tea blends, and coffee to spend a nice afternoon on their terrace.

Kabuki

Craving Japanese food when you visit Antigua? Make sure to try Kabuki!

Antigua Money Saving Tips

Antigua is a small city, which means that you can walk everywhere you go and save money on moving around while you stay there. If you want to visit one of the nearest towns, you can call an Uber.

At the local market, you will find all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies at much better prices than at the supermarket. Take your hand sanitizer and go to the local market which is open every day.

Take Some Spanish Classes 

If you want to save money then one sure-fire way to do so is to take some Spanish classes. It’s amazing how things magically become cheaper when you speak to the person selling those things in their language. From getting the right fare from the taxi driver to haggling at the market, think of the money spent on learning Spanish as an investment. Read this to learn more about my experience of learning Spanish in Guatemala. You can also now take a basic travel Spanish course completely online with Heart of Travel. This way you will already have a decent foundation before you arrive. Click here to learn more.

Guatemalan food- Antigua Market vegetables

Antigua Packing Advice

Guatemala is called the country of the eternal spring for one reason, that’s why most of my best time to visit Antigua recommendation is during dry season (November to April). In Antigua, the weather is nice all year round. The coolest nights range in 55 F°/13 C° and during the day 80F°/27C° or 86F°/30C° on the warmest days. The rainy season is from May to October, so keep this in mind.

In terms of shoes, you will need very basic things when you prepare your trip to Antigua. A pair of sandals, sneakers to walk around, or in case you want to do a volcano hike, bring some hiking boots. The sneakers are fine too but maybe they won’t work after the hike anymore.

Now, for clothing. Anything you feel comfortable with and a raincoat. The rainy season is from May to October but you never know. To maximize your Antigua visit, pack a raincoat if you have space in your bag.

Since the weather is relatively warm, bring some mosquito repellent. Those buggers are a pain. Also, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Quick Tip: View my full Guatemala packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Guatemala Essentials shopping list here.

Where to Stay in Antigua

If you visit Antigua because you have a wedding, you are making your way through Central America, or like me, you are a slow-paced traveler, Antigua offers an option for pretty much everyone. 

Antigua offers impressive options for where to stay in Antigua, ranging from charming boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels and luxurious resorts. With so many choices, you won’t be confused anymore about where to stay in Antigua.

Luxury Hotels

Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo

Hotel Camino Real Antigua

Porta Hotel Antigua

Boutique Hotels

El Convento Boutique Hotel

Meson Panza Verde

Good Hotel Antigua

Other Nice Hotels

Meson de Maria

Hotel las Farolas

Hotel Las Camelias Inn by AHS

Hotel Selah

Hostels

Selina Antigua

Maya Papaya

Adra Hostel

The Purpose Hostel

View from Cerro de La Cruz- Antigua Guatemala

How to Get to Antigua (and how to get around)

I don’t know how many times I have received emails of people asking this question during their Antigua visit. That is why I wrote an entire article about How To Get From Guatemala Airport To Antigua Safely And Cheaply, and if you ask me about how to move around from Antigua to other places in Guatemala, my recommendations would be the same.

Coworking in Antigua

There are only three places on this list, nonetheless, these places are really nice:

  1. Selina Hostel
  2. Impact Hub Antigua which is now located inside Lemon Tree Hostel
  3. I work in Antigua

Antigua Safety Advice

This is another big theme in the emails I receive from people planning to visit Antigua, and I can understand why based on the news you see everywhere about Guatemala. I remember my past trips to Antigua, I didn’t know what to expect. The truth is that I ended up staying in Guatemala for nine months and felt really safe during the entire time. There was only one time I thought I was going to die from a scorpion sting, you can read all about that story here The Night I Thought I was Going to Die from a Scorpion Sting in Guatemala.

Other than that, nothing ever happened to me in terms of having my belongings stolen or being in a dangerous situation. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that you should not be precautious, here is my Safety Advice For Solo Female Travelers In Guatemala. You’re welcome!

Antigua Travel Guide planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Antigua?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Antigua which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Antigua on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Antigua?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Antigua?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack

The Best Time To Visit Antigua

This is a tricky one. Antigua is a very small city with great weather, so if you are only visiting Antigua I would say that the least appealing time to visit is during the rainy season. This is because this is a colonial city that has been standing since 1543, and the drainage system is still the same… yes. The population and touristic affluence have increased considerably over the last ten years, not to mention the last 478 years! So this causes some of the streets to flood during the rainy season.

If you are visiting Antigua to hike a volcano, the best time to do this is from November to January. It is really cold camping up at Acatenango during this time (about 23F°/-5C°) but the views are really worth it. If you are camping in Pacaya, it is not that cold (about 41°/5°). BUT make sure to take the proper gear up there.

If you want to see the Holy Week activities, due to the sanitary crisis of Covid-19, the processions were canceled in 2020 and again in 2021. It is still too early to know anything about 2022.

PIN FOR LATER!

antigua travel guide

What to Read in Guatemala

I couldn’t not include this Lonely Planet Guide to Guatemala in the reading list. 

I’m not always a fan of these kind of travel guides as they are oftern out of date. I learned this more than once the hard way! But they do serve a purpose and it’s always nice to have one actual book that you can use to plan before your trip as well as having something to read when the battery dies on your kindle

Although you can also get most of these Lonely Planet Guidebooks free as part of a kindle unlimited subscription.

Rigoberta Menchú is quite possibly the most internationally well known Guatemalan.  She is a indigenous feminist and human rights activist who won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Her book I, Rigoberta Menchú is now a global bestseller and she has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of the Indigenous people in Guatemala both during and after the civil war.

This book is a reflection on her personal experiences during the civil war in Guatemala when her mother, father, and brother were murdered by the Guatemalan military.

If you have an interest in the history of Guatemala then read this book. It’s both heartbreaking and inspiring in equal measures. 

Memoirs from the Living Heart of a Mayan Village

I was given this book to read while I was dog sitting in Lake Atitlan and I can’t even tell you how much I loved it. I knew the Lake well by then so reading this book really brought those places to life for me. 

The book is based on the life of the author Martin Prechtel who somehow found himself on an incredible journey from New Mexico in the USA to a small Mayan Village in Guatemala where he became a shaman.

Read this book. You won’t regret it!

Ok so maybe A Short History of Guatemala isn’t the most riveting read. But it really is interesting, especially for all of you history buffs out there. 

It’s easy to read and gives you a good overview on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Guatemalas history. 

The book mostly focuses on the ninetieth and twentieth centuries. It is a little dates now, but it still does the job!

Check out My travel books

Guatemala Blog Posts