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Antigua Off the Beaten Path

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Antigua is a beautifully preserved colonial town in the highlands of Guatemala. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the spectacularly restored colonial architecture makes the town a popular tourist destination. Another factor that drives tourists to Antigua is its stunning location; the town is encircled by volcanoes! Despite the fact that Antigua is a popular tourist destination however, it is still possible to wander the path-less-trodden. By looking slightly beyond the tourist trail, visitors can observe traditional local life in a variety of settings and can immerse themselves in the beautiful highland landscape, which envelops the town.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Like a Local

10 Places

10 City Tips

Print
Map

10 Places

Cerro de la Cruz

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Street market

Flea & Street Markets

Ninos De Guatemala

Cultural Tours, Historical & Heritage Tours, Coffee & Tea Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Archaeology Tours

Earth Lodge

Hotels

OX Outdoor Excursions - Day Tours

Private Tours, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks, Bike Tours, Kayaking & Canoeing, Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing

Acatenango Volcano

Volcanoes

Pacaya Volcano

Volcanoes

YogAntigua

Yoga & Pilates

Lake Atitlan

Volcanoes, Bodies of Water

Mercyfcb's City Tips

  • Basic Spanish is very useful.
  • The grid pattern of central Antigua makes it easy to navigate, however many street names are not signposted, which can lead to some confusion.
  • Head to the main plaza (Parque Central) should you need to get a taxi.
  • ATMs can be found all around the main plaza.
  • The presence of the "tourist police" makes Antigua safer than most of Guatemala, but take care when walking around the outskirts as there is less of a police presence there.
  • The tap water in Guatemala is not safe to drink, take care not to consume any water when taking a shower or cleaning your teeth.
  • Don't just limit yourself to exploring the town, be sure to explore the surrounding areas too.
  • Be careful with your belongings; Antigua is a popular tourist destination and pick-pocketing can be an issue in busier areas (especially during Semana Santa).
  • It can get cold at night so bring a warm layer.
  • The best way to explore Antigua is on foot so be sure to pack comfortable shoes.
  • Cerro de la Cruz
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    Cerro de la Cruz overlooks Antigua and provides stunning views of the city and the surrounding volcanoes. It is a 30-minute walk from the center of Antigua but you are more than rewarded for your efforts upon arrival. And if you are lucky you may even see Volcano Fuego erupting!

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Robberies have been an issue here in the past, but it's now much safer due to the "tourist police" — however, still be careful with your valuables.
    • Be sure to walk as part of a group: don't set off alone. (It is also possible to get a taxi or tuk tuk from the plaza if you don't feel up to the 30-minute walk.)
    • Go on a sunny day to be sure you get the best views.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #9 of 57 things to do in Antigua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice viewpoint worth a trip 03/11/2020
    • Superb views of Antigua and its Volcán de Agua! 18/08/2020
    • Cerro de la Cruz
    Address:
    Antigua, Guatemala
    Al final de la 1ª Avenida Norte
    Antigua 03001
    Guatemala
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 18:00
    Other:
  • Street market
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    The street market in Antigua is a mass of color and people. Head here for a true taste of Guatemala; sample the street food, admire the handicrafts, and explore the maze of stalls. The fruit and vegetable stalls are beautiful riots of color that make for excellent photographs. The chaos of the market is somewhat juxtaposed with the sanitized beauty of Antigua and that is exactly why it is worth a visit. Watch local life unfold as you take a break from sightseeing.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Explore deep into the market, don't just browse around the edges. The most beautiful stalls selling fresh produce are located further in.
    • The bus station is just behind the market, head here to see rows of colorful chicken buses.
    • Be careful with your belongings, wear your bag on your front to protect your valuables and to deter pick-pockets.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 57 things to do in Antigua
    • this place is a trip 29/02/2020
    • So big we got lost in it 27/02/2020
    • Street market
  • Ninos De Guatemala
    Cultural Tours, Historical & Heritage Tours, Coffee & Tea Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Archaeology Tours
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    Ninos de Guatemala offer tours that strive to demonstrate to visitors both the beauty and the challenging realities of life in Guatemala. Ninos de Guatemala fund local schools in a bid to help break the cycle of poverty, which many are trapped by. The tours are both a humbling and an enlightening experience; from visiting a chicken bus refurbishing workshop to visiting a local school, the tours will certainly lead you off the beaten track and provide you with a different perspective of life in Guatemala.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • These tours are not especially physically demanding so are more accessible than others.
    • After your tour you may wish to become more actively involved with the cause; it is possible to volunteer, donate, or sponsor a child. Check the website for details.
    • The guides are extremely knowledgeable so feel free to ask questions!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 32 Food & Drink in Antigua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Terrible communication and customer service - deposit of unavailable tour not returned! 17/03/2020
    • Amazing tour! Join if you would like to get a real insight! 09/03/2020
    • Ninos De Guatemala
    Phone:
    +502 7832 8033
    Price range:
    US$270 - US$270
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    08:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Earth Lodge
    Hotels
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    For those wanting to escape the tourist crowds in Antigua; Earthlodge is the perfect retreat. Located on the mountainside above Antigua, Earthlodge offers stunning views of both Volcano Fuego and Volcano Agua, and its restaurant - with both indoor and outdoor chillout areas — is pleasantly quiet during the week. Earthlodge is both an eco-hotel and a functioning avocado farm; the tree house cabins and any of its delicious home-cooked meals are not to be missed! Enjoy hiking the surrounding trails, lounging in a hammock with a book and a fresh smoothie, and — if you're lucky — watching Volcano Fuego erupt!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Try anything featuring avocado — you can taste the organic difference!
    • Explore the Mayan villages around the Earth Lodge in order to experience a more authentic side to Guatemala.
    • Don't take valuables with you if you go hiking.
    • Attend the morning yoga classes, the yoga platform overlooks the valley below and will undoubtedly be the most scenic yoga class you will ever take!
    • Earthlodge offers a private shuttle service from the center of Antigua - by far the easiest way to get there. Call or email ahead to book.
    • Weekends are generally much busier here, and there are often special events on Sundays including live music and BBQs. Check the website or Facebook page for event updates, or visit during the week for a more retreat-like experience.
    • The restaurant is open 8am-3pm daily; a family-style dinner is served at 7pm and is available to non-residents who book in advance.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #6 of 168 Accommodation in Antigua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing Place To Stay 18/11/2020
    • Hidden Gem 16/11/2020
    • Earth Lodge
    Address:
    Aldea El Hato
    What3words: ///rums.juggles.adoring
    Antigua 03001
    Guatemala
  • OX Outdoor Excursions - Day Tours
    Private Tours, Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks, Bike Tours, Kayaking & Canoeing, Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    O.X. Expeditions offer a wide variety of outdoor excursions: Make the most of the fantastic scenery surrounding Antigua by engaging in one of their many activities. From volcano hiking and mountain biking, to paragliding, zip line tours, and paragliding, O.X. Expeditions caters to both adrenaline junkies and those simply searching for a unique experience off the tourist trail. The guides are both knowledgeable and experienced and the vast array of excursions they offer are perfect for anyone looking to do something a little bit different whilst visiting Antigua.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Bring ample water and snacks.
    • Wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.
    • The weather in Guatemala is very changeable; both sun cream and a raincoat would be useful.
    • Be careful with cameras and phones as they may get broken.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 8 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Antigua
    • Amazing day - Acatenango 23/02/2020
    • Very professional tour operator - Gareth as a guide: top! 02/02/2020
    • OX Outdoor Excursions - Day Tours
    Address:
    7a Calle Poniente # 17
    between 5th and 6th Avenues
    Antigua 03001
    Guatemala
    Phone:
    +502 7832 0468
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    08:00 - 17:00
    Sat - Sun
    08:00 - 13:00
    Other:
  • Acatenango Volcano
    Volcanoes
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    Hiking up Acatenango Volcano is a fantastic way to get off the beaten track and to experience the fantastic nature surrounding Antigua. But be prepared for a challenging climb and being completely filthy by the time you complete it! Beside the Acatenango Volcano lies Volcano Fuego (the most consistently erupting volcano in the world), where at night it's possible to see the glow of lava when it erupts. Acatenango is the tallest of the volcanoes ringing Antigua and on clear days provides spectacular panoramic views.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The climb is long and arduous, so make sure you are physically fit enough for the challenge!
    • It gets very cold at night on the side of a volcano so bring plenty of warm layers.
    • Many tour groups offer similar trips so do your research before picking one.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 57 things to do in Antigua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing time 24/08/2020
    • OX Adventures and Acatenango Volcano 26/03/2020
    • Acatenango Volcano
    Address:
    Volcan Acatenango
    Chimaltenango Sacatepequez
    Antigua 03001
    Guatemala
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
  • Pacaya Volcano
    Volcanoes
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    Head to Pacaya National Park to climb this active volcano, complete with visible lava pockets! From the summit there are impressive views of the surrounding volcanoes; the Agua, the Fuego, and the Acatenango. Climbing the volcano is an opportunity to experience lava and volcanic activity at extremely close quarters; you can even use the heat of the lava to toast marshmallows!

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Be prepared to pay an entrance fee when entering the national park.
    • On later tours you may get to see the red glow of lava against the night sky. If you are doing a later tour, a torch or flash light would be useful for the descent.
    • The surface of the volcano is uneven and unsteady so be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes.
    • There are many companies offering similar tours so there is no need to book before you arrive. Enquire in person for the best deals.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 57 things to do in Antigua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great trip 26/04/2020
    • Amazing! 31/03/2020
    • Pacaya Volcano
    Phone:
    +502 2421 2810
    Other:
  • YogAntigua
    Yoga & Pilates
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    For those searching for a bit of respite from a busy few days of sightseeing; head to YogAntigua to relax and rejuvenate in a beautiful setting. YogAntigua is also a great place to stretch out sore muscles after completing one of the challenging Volcano hikes. A variety of classes are offered and there are appropriate classes for all levels.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Friends
    • Couples
    Tips
    • After a yoga class head to Samsara for a slice of raw vegan cheesecake. The kale is my favorite flavor!
    • YogAntigua sometimes holds yoga events at Earthlodge (an eco-lodge and restaurant set on the mountainside, 20 minutes from the center) and these are not to be missed!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 20 Spas & Wellness in Antigua
    • Great Teachers, Great Space 04/03/2019
    • Shockingly excellent classes Panza Verde 05/01/2019
    Address:
    5th Avenue
    Antigua 03001
    Guatemala
    Phone:
    +502 5262 8161
    Other:
  • Lake Atitlan
    Volcanoes, Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    Mercyfcb Says:

    Although this guide is about Antigua, I felt Lake Atitlan deserved a mention as it is an area of immense natural beauty, and is extremely accessible from Antigua. Those wishing to experience all that the Mayan highlands has to offer shouldn't leave without a visit here. The views are exceptional and the street food in the surrounding villages is delicious. San Pedro is the most popular lakeside location, however the stretch closest to the lake is full of tourists so I would advise you to head further up the hill for a more authentic experience (the town becomes progressively more beautiful the further up the hill you go.) For those craving some peace and quiet, take a boat across the water to San Marcos; the prettiest lakeside town.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • When swimming in the lake be sure not to consume any water as it can be contaminated.
    • The roads between Antigua and Lake Atitlan are extremely slow and can be prone to landslides during the wet season. Journeys often take significantly longer than advertised.
    • Take care on the roads between villages as robberies are sometimes reported.
    • Hire kayaks for the day and explore the lake, but be sure to go on a still day.
    • It is possible to hike up "The Indian's Nose" (a mountain overlooking the lake) for spectacular sunrise views.
    • Hop on one of the "lanches" — small boats which act as the lake's public transport system - to visit other villages across the lake. An experience in itself!
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 54 things to do in Lake Atitlan
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Unmissable at any visit to Guatemala! 30/08/2020
    • Lake Atitlan Boat Ride 04/03/2020
    • Lake Atitlan
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