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Guatemala Antigua: Travel Antigua Guatemala Tips

If you’re thinking of visiting Antigua Guatemala, good job—you’ll LOVE it! Guatemala Antigua is one of the most visited places in the country, and most people traveling through Central America will pass through at some point, even if it’s just for a few days.

Whether you travel Antigua Guatemala for sightseeing, volcano hiking, or to learn Spanish at one of Antigua’s many language schools, there are some things to know about Antigua Guatemala travel. This Guatemala Antigua guide has tips on places to avoid in Antigua and traveling to Antigua Guatemala.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I 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 coverage starting at $45.08. 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 all companies. 

Guatemala Antigua Travel Tips

1. You’ll Probably Sprain Your Ankle When Visiting Antigua Guatemala

I managed to sprain mine not once but twice! It’s pretty standard to see people on crutches or walking with a limp. Antigua has cobbled streets with giant holes, making cycling uncomfortable and walking hazardous. Wear decent shoes, tread carefully, and pay attention to where you‘re stepping when you travel to Antigua Guatemala.

I can’t tell you how many pairs of flip-flops I went through while living there…

Things to know before visiting Antigua, Guatemala
My rather green and swollen ankle—watch out for the many potholes in Antigua!

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Guatemala ToursClick here to check out the top Guatemala tours
Best Guatemala Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Guatemala
Best Guatemala Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Guatemala

2. There are Many Guatemala Antigua Processions

As a predominantly Catholic country, many religious festivals include a procession—the biggest in Antigua is Samana Santa.

You can usually tell when it’s a holiday as you’ll hear fireworks going off through the night and most of the day. If it’s a big festival like Samana Santa, you’ll also notice them starting to “dress up the city” and block off roads. Suppose you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to travel to Antigua Guatemala during Samana Santa. In that case, you’re in for five weeks of processions that get bigger and bigger as the weeks go on. Most of the parades are on Sundays, but something happens each day during the week of Semana Santa.

A word of warning if you’re traveling to Antigua around Samana Santa: book your accommodation well in advance and be aware if you plan on leaving during any of the parades, you’ll likely have to go outside the city walls for your bus/shuttle.

Guatemala Guides | Things to know before visiting Antigua, Guatemala

3. Choose Your Antigua Guatemala Travel Tour Company Wisely

Don’t just go with the cheapest company offering tours to Acatenango and Pacaya—read my guide on choosing a tour company first. Luckily, many companies set a fixed minimum price for the Acatenango tour. Some were charging meager prices and running shady tours. Hiking Acatenango is a serious challenge and shouldn’t be taken lightly, so choose carefully!

I recommend Heart of Travel for booking tours within Guatemala. Click here to learn more about Heart of Travel and my partnership with them. You can also send them an inquiry using the form below. They do tours to almost anywhere you can think of in Guatemala!

Another company I recommend is GuateGo, a Guatemalan-run company that allows you to book tours within Guatemala. They’ve hand-picked the best companies to work with, so you can trust you’ll get a professional and insured guide.

4. Walk On the Opposite Side of the Road If You Need to Find Somewhere

I know this might sound strange, but trust me on this—it’s the best advice I received when traveling to Antigua. Building signage is strict because of Antigua’s UNESCO status, and it can be challenging to locate places. If you’re visiting Guatemala Antigua, walk on the opposite side of the road for a better look at the buildings and signs.

5. There Are Many Fast Food Chains

I was surprised by how many fast-food chains there are in Antigua! McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts…the only thing missing is Starbucks. I take my weekly Spanish classes in the McDonald’s garden. While fast food has its time and place, I recommend checking out local restaurants.

6. Guatemala Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—when you walk around its Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture, it’s easy to see why. For a free walking tour of all of the Antigua ruins, download the route I created on Walkli here.

How to spend a day in Antigua Guatemala

7. The Food and Drinks Are Pretty Good

Things to know before visiting Antigua, Guatemala

One thing you will notice when you travel to Antigua Guatemala is that the city is full of places to eat and drink. You can find anything you want here, including bagels, English muffins, Domino’s Pizza, sushi, and more. As a bonus, most offer home delivery.

Antigua is also a great place to enjoy a night out. If you’re around on a Monday, check out the Terrace Hostel’s bar crawl or download my Bars of Antigua Walking Tour on Walkli, which provides information on each bar.

8. Guatemala Antigua is Surrounded by Volcanoes

It’s hard to miss the volcanoes surrounding Antigua on a clear day. To the south is Volcan Agua—to the west, you’ll see Acatenango and Fuego. Pacaya is also close, but you can’t usually see it.

Guatemala Guides | Things to know before visiting Antigua, Guatemala

Thinking about hiking one of them? Don’t even consider Agua—it’s among the top places to avoid in Antigua since it’s very unsafe. Check out Volcan Pacaya for an easy hike or Acatenango if you want more of a challenge. If you’re feeling crazy, you can do a Double Whammy like I did and hike Acatenango and Fuego. Or do all three: the Trident!

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

9. Antigua is Home to a Lot of Street Food

How to spend a day in Antigua Guatemala

You can find some pretty good street food during your Antigua Guatemala travel experience, mostly around Iglesia La Merced or Alameda de Santa Lucia, close to the local market. It’s not the best country in the world for street food, but it’s not bad.

10. Yoga is Huge Here

There’s a big yoga community in Antigua. Most teachers are bilingual and will do their classes in English or Spanish (or both), depending on who’s taking the course. My favorite studio is Shakti Shala, headed by Irene and Lauren—I can’t say enough good things about them. If you’re traveling to Antigua and looking for a place to practice and connect with the local yoga community, Shakti Shala is an excellent option. They also have a fantastic juice and light bites bar! Guatemala also hosts many yoga retreats, mainly in Lake Atitlan.

Make sure to follow Shakti Shala on Instagram and Facebook.

visiting Antigua Guatemala,Guatemala antigua,traveling to antigua

11. Antigua is Home to Many Spanish Schools

There are so many Spanish schools in Antigua! I’ve written much about learning Spanish here, so read my posts for more information. The school I recommend is Union Language—I studied there and loved every moment.

Check out my post about learning Spanish here:

Learning Spanish in San Pedro Guatemala

Learning Spanish Abroad

If you don’t want to learn Spanish in such an intense way, check notice boards in places like Cafe No Se or Rainbow Cafe for teachers offering private classes. I also did Heart of Travel’s online Spanish for Travel Course, which was excellent. Click here to learn more.

12. Shop for Clothing at the Paca

If you need budget-friendly clothing, the Paca is the place to beat. This place is huge and crazy, but you can find almost anything there. Need a good waterproof coat or hiking boots for Acatenango? You‘ll find them at the Paca. Head to the local market and walk towards the top, where they sell fruit. As the path moves around to the left, you’ll see a narrow opening to your right in between stalls. Go through the gap and prepare to do some shopping!

13. You Must Pay for Accommodations with Cash

Most hotels and hostels in Guatemala Antigua are cash-only. You can expect to pay around $6-12 for a dorm room bed and $20 for a private room. I always use or walk around and ask places if they have vacancies.

Wondering where to stay? Check out these options!

Yellow House Hostel
Hotel Mesón de María
Barbara’s Boutique Hostel
Hotel Paseo de la Merced

You can also read my full accommodation in Antigua guide here.

Guatemala Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Guatemala?

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

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

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 Guatemala?

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, 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. 

Final Thoughts on Traveling to Antigua Guatemala

Before traveling, make sure you’re up-to-date on Guatemala’s visa policy. Most visitors will not need one if they stay under 90 days. Visit for more details. Hopefully, this Guatemala Antigua guide inspires you to plan a trip!

13 Things to know before visiting Antigua Guatemala