Travel Guide To Antigua, Guatemala

Travel Guide To Antigua

The cobbled stoned streets and old Spanish architecture of Antigua make it both a popular and charming little place to visit, but what’s left to do once the photos of quaint little houses have all been taken? Despite being an immensely popular place to visit we met many travellers that had trouble finding things to keep them entertained during their stay.

With that in mind,  here is our list of things worth checking out around Antigua. Work out how long it will take you do complete this list, tick them off and you will have an entertaining and unique experience…

View from Cerro de la Cruz

View from Cerro de la Cruz

  • Visit Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

This is the view that convinced me we had to visit Antigua. As the name and picture would suggest, Cerro de la Cruz is a cross on a hill offering fantastic views of Antigua. The lookout shows Volcano Agua looming over Antigua and an interesting perspective of the colonial buildings and ruins of the town itself.

There is some confusion online as to how to get up to this lookout. The walk it actually quite short and simple, It takes about 10 minutes from the edge of town and 20 minutes if you are walking from central park. You can walk up the hill by yourself during the daylight hours and there are four  tourist police that patrol this route. Alternatively you can catch a taxi.

View from Volcan de Acatenago

View from Volcan de Acatenago

  • Hike A Volcano

Antigua is surrounded by four volcanoes, each within an hour from town, and each with a slightly different level of fitness and adventure required.

  • Pacaya (2,552m/8,373 ft) is by far the most popular, an easy couple of hours walking, with the possibility of lava and great views.
  • Volcan de Acatenago (3975m/13,041 ft) is best suited to a two day hike. It takes 8 hours to reach the summit, so why not stick around the sunset and sunrise? A fantastic hike, see our account of it here and our tips on how to climb it (what to bring, what to expect etc).
  • Volcán de Agua (3,761m/12,339 ft), which dominates the Antigua skyline but has a reputation that you might get robbed will climbing it. There are no scheduled tours up this one but tour companies can organise special excursions (as long as you are willing to pay extra for 2 security guards carrying shotguns to accompany you). If you are, it reportedly takes approximately 13 hours up and back down again.
  • Having watched Volcan de Fuego (3,763m/12346ft) erupt approximately 10 times in the space of 2 hours I don’t know how keen I would be to climb this one, but apparently it is safe to climb up until a certain elevation.

Ox Expeditions offers several kinds of adventure activities around Antigua if you are looking for something a little different.

  • Tour the Coco Museum

Great little 2 hour tours run out of this chocolate Museum. The tour runs through the history of chocolate – it is a hands on tour where they show you how make (and then let you taste) each of the different of chocolate that have come through the ages (from rather humble beginnings to what we have today..). Part of what makes this tour fantastic is the enthuisam of the   – as they sing the chocolate making song “la la lalala la” (it was in spanish, I forget the words). To finish off, see what you have learnt during the course by making your own chocolate and eating the results.

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Downtown Antigua

  • Go Walkabout 

Antigua is a great place to hit those cobblestone streets and spend a morning or afternoon exploring. Things worth checking out:

  • Head in any direction and you are likely to find something interesting. For a more structure approach, think about a walk that takes in some of the following … Wander and explore the town. Markets, food markets,  archway, a couple of churches and a couple of old ruins.
  • There is a sizable market to the east of town. If you head out the back, Antigua’s bus terminal is located here, you will find the best collection of chicken buses/old American school buses  – all painted up and great for photos.
  • Somebody tried to tell us that Antigua had the most beautiful Macdonalds in the whole world. We went to investigate, it is set  around a beautiful garden and water feature, certainly the customers got more dressed up than back home.

Try not to get overly lost, Antigua streets can all start to look the same and you will have a hard time (if not impossible) time of finding any street signs to help you out.

Lava Terrace Bar

Lava Terrace Bar, above Ocelot

  • Meet a real life ex-pat

Or more specifically,  check out Ocelot Bar for a dinner and a drink. Ocelot Bar is part of a complex of about 5 or 6 restaurants and bars, normally has one of the nicest atmospheres in town. Located about 100m from Central Park, the place is popular with ex-pats so if you want to hear what it is really like to live in Guatemala, start up a conversation with them –  they are likely to have some interesting stories.

Sights of Antigua

Sites of Antigua

  • Get religious at Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week)

Antigua is regarded as the largest celebration of Semana Santa in all of Central America. There are processions, reenactments, elaborate alfombras (carpets) and so on. Good chance you have never been to a festival quite like Semana Santa in Antigua.

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  1. March 18, 2014

    […] Travel Guide To Antigua, Guatemala […]

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