The third capital of Guatemala was named Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala. After moving the city again, to the place where it is today, it was abandoned by the authorities. Everybody began to call it “Antigua Ciudad” (old city), and that is how its name stuck.
Surrounded by volcanoes, as in many places in Guatemala, and home to many colonial buildings, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
Many of the travelers arriving in Guatemala go straight to Antigua, because of its more relaxed atmosphere and picturesque surroundings. The best way to get to know it is by strolling it.
There are many things to do in and around Antigua Guatemala. You´ll find a great variety of places to eat, have a cocktail, or just hang out.
Just sitting on a bench in the park and observing the life around you is one of the best ways to enjoy Antigua.
As a Guatemalan living near the capital, Antigua was always a nice weekend getaway for us as a family. One of our favorite places was Santo Domingo del Cerro, where we stayed in an airstream in the mountains.
Some spots you can’t miss when coming to Antigua:
- The Santa Catalina Arch. Probably the most emblematic place in Antigua. If photography is one of your hobbies, try to come early in the morning to have more chances to find a clear picture.
- Central Park. The center of social life, where locals and visitors come together.
- Cerro de la Cruz. An amazing view from a hillside, where a stone cross stands. It is a nice hike and a popular place among locals as well.
- Casa Santo Domingo is a 5 stars hotel, museum, and sightseeing attraction located on the grounds of the Santo Domingo Monastery.
- The central/artisanal market is full of street food, fresh produce, artisanal goods, and anything you can think of. The place to go to get a glimpse of local culture, and everyday life. Or where you can bargain for colorful souvenirs to take back home.
If you still have time, there are plenty of things to do:
- A coffee tour. Guatemalan coffee is worldwide renowned and Antigua is one of the main growing regions and one of the most popular as well. You can take a coffee tour in one of the many farms, like Finca La Azotea and Finca San Cayetano.
- I love to visit the cultural park Santo Domingo del Cerro, part of Casa Santo Domingo, where you can see the art history of Guatemala with its impressive collection, or just enjoy the nice views and gardens, and have fun doing zipline.
- The Jade Maya Museum. Jade was significant to the Mayans. Antigua Guatemala is the perfect place to learn more about how the ancient civilization appreciated jade stones as ornaments, tools, and burial artifacts.
- You will find amusing places on the outskirts of the city as well. Cervecería 14 produces craft beer and you can take a tour to learn how the manufacturing process works. Located on a farm with a view of all the volcanoes that surround the Panchoy Valley.
- Hobbitenango is a hobbit-inspired eco-park in the mountains overlooking Antigua, the valley, and nearby volcanoes.
- Hiking the Acatenango Volcano is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A 2-day overnight trek where you’ll likely witness Fuego Volcano erupting. It is a demanding journey, so it’s important to be well-prepared.
Is it time to have a cocktail and grab something to eat? I can also give some recommendations:
- Saberico, comfort food.
- Pappy’s BBQ, Texas-style smoked barbecue.
- Pitaya Juice Bar, yummy healthy food.
- Barriga Llena is cheerful and popular street food, well done.
- Casa Santo Domingo, is there something you can’t do here?
- Nana has a small menu, a nice vibe, and good food.
- In Ulew Cocktail Bar you won’t find a menu, the cocktails are fully personalized.
- Rama Natural Cocktail Bar, great ambience, delicious cocktails.