Probably Guatemala’s most famous destination, thousands of travellers flock to the colonial city each year to marvel at the delightful architecture and stunning backdrops. Antigua is beautiful, there’s no doubt about it. But once you’ve had a walk around and have revelled in the charming old buildings and determined which of the overlooking volcanoes is Fuego, Agua and Acatenango, you might be searching for other ways to see the city. Here’s my round up of the best:
- Climb up the steps to Cerro de la Cruz
Climb up 302 steps to Cerro de la Cruz (or find a tuk tuk that will take you up the incline) and catch an astounding view of the sprawling city below and the volcano straight ahead. And best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.
2. Take a trip to the local market
If you’re not visiting any of the other highland towns of Guatemala, Antigua’s street market is a must see. It boasts every kind of Central American fruit and vegetables you could think of, at rock bottom prices. The perfect place to find some breakfast!
3. Whizz around the city on a tuk tuk
An Antiguan tuk tuk can take you from the markets, to the parque central, to the steps leading up to Cerro de la Cruz… and anywhere else! Riding in a tuk tuk gives you a unique chance to explore the city: faster than walking and without the responsibility of working out where you are, you can relax (as much as possible in one of these crazy vehicles) and get your bearings of the city.
4. Visit Earth Lodge
See Antigua from the clouds! Earth Lodge is an avocado farm located about 3.5 miles north of Antigua- and 6000 feet above sea level. The lodge focuses on socialising with other travellers and delicious food, and sometimes have live music and BBQs. It’s a great place to gaze down over Antigua and the surrounding areas, whilst snugly located on one of the hilltops.
5. Hike to the top of Acatenango
This one is about an hour away from Antigua, but you get the opportunity to see Antigua’s twinkling lights during the night and make out the cluster of buildings that belong to the city in the day. On a clear day, you can even see the whole way to Lake Atitlan! During the 24 hour trip, you hike up to a base camp and stay there overnight, watching Volcan Fuego erupt lava opposite. Then you have the chance to trek to the summit of Acatenango for sunrise. You can read about my experience hiking up it here.
While Antigua is renowned for its colonial grandeur, there are plenty of other ways to see it once you’ve strolled the cobbled streets. With buses leaving from Guatemala City and shuttles direct from the airport, and easy links to Lake Atitlan and further afield, Antigua should definitely be on any Guatemalan itinerary.
Where next? Head south to Honduras (where my footsteps haven’t reached yet… but one day they will!) and Nicaragua or north to Semuc Champey, Tikal and Belize. For some inspiration, check out my ultimate guide to Nicaragua and my Caye Caulker guide!