35 BEST Things to Do in Antigua for Culture, History & Food Lovers (2024)

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Guatemala, Travel

Planning a trip to Guatemala?

Looking for some ideas on what to do in Antigua?

In this guide, I’m going to share with you the best things to do in Antigua. This list is ideal if you love history, culture, food, and a bit of adventure when you travel. You’ll find food tours, walking tours, museums, volcano hikes, hobbits, ATVs, and much more.

I’ve also included information on getting to Antigua as well as getting around the city. You’ll find a list of my favorite places to eat and tips on getting a SIM card and using ATMs.

This list of Antigua attractions and tours is based on the one month I spent studying Spanish in the city.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website’s Disclosure for more info.

About Antigua

Antigua is one of the top destinations in Guatemala. There’s so much to see and do in this former Guatemala capital that you could spend 5 days in Antigua exploring its culture, history, food, and natural beauty.

Antigua is also a great city for travelers because it’s so small (population: 59,000). You can walk from one end of the city to another in a couple of hours.

map of Antigua

In the above map, the historic center is the orange part. This is where you’ll find most of the beautiful colonial buildings, monuments, and ruins.

You can also see in the above map that Avenues called Avenidas, run north and south, while streets, or Calles, go east and west.

Almost all of the streets are covered in large stones. They’re beautiful to look at but terrible to walk on and a nightmare to drive on.

ruins of a church in Antigua
the ruins of Convento la Recoleccion

Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala, but it was abandoned by the government and most of the citizens after the devastating earthquake of 1773. Many of the remaining buildings just stood there. The churches and convents continued falling apart but no one bothered to bulldoze them. Today the ruins of many of these religious structures are still in the city and you can easily visit them.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the government started restoring Antigua to what it was like in centuries past. Today you have a small city that looks on the surface as if you’ve stepped back in time to the eighteenth century when Antigua was still the capital of Guatemala.

Volcano Agua
Volcano Agua

Surrounding the city are 3 volcanoes: Agua, El Fuego, and Acatenango. You can climb El Fuego and Acatenango, but Agua is unsafe due to crime. There have been cases of hikers getting robbed by bandits.

Lava running down El Fuego at night in Antigua
Volcano El Fuego

Only El Fuego is active. You can see the volcano spewing smoke during the day and lava running down it at night. Stay in a hotel or hostel with a rooftop terrace for the night spectacle of El Fuego. I have a guide on a list of hotels and hostels with good views of the volcanoes.

North of the city is a range of mountains that is fun to explore on your own or a tour.

South and West of the city are several villages that you can also visit on day trips or a tour. There are 2 tours to take to do this: the ATV Villages Tour and the Street Food Tour.

Check out my 2023-2024 Guatemala Travel Guide for more tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration for visiting the land of eternal spring. You’ll find over 15 travel articles to help you explore the history, culture, food, and natural beauty of Guatemala.

Top 35 Things to Do in Antigua

This list of things to do in Antigua begins with the top attractions in the historic center. It then jumps to some of the more adventurous activities around Antigua like climbing Acatenango. Next, you’ll find a whole bunch of things to do for food and history lovers. We end with day trips from Antigua.

Now let’s get to the top things to do in Antigua. I’ve arranged this list by topics.

1. Plaza Mayor

mermaid fountain in Plaza Mayor in Antigua Guatemala
Mermaid fountain in Plaza Mayor

The first Antigua attraction to visit is Plaza Mayor, the main square in the historic center of Antigua. It’s the perfect place to get a feel for the city and watch the comings and goings of the people: the vendors selling souvenirs, the tour guides offering their tours, kids blowing bubbles, families and friends hanging out on the benches, and tourists and locals snapping photos of themselves in front of the fountain.

At the center of the park is a beautiful water fountain adorned with mermaid sculptures. The fountain was originally placed off to the side to make room for bullfights, horse races, and other activities. It was moved in 1738 to the park’s center.

The park is surrounded by some of the city’s grandest buildings: a church, the Palace of the Captains General, the City Hall Palace, and loads of shops, restaurants, travel agencies, and cafes.

2. Real Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales

  • COST: Free
  • OPEN: 9:00 – 4:00 pm (Th & F); 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (Sa & Su) closed on M, T, & W
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Palacio de los Capitanes
Palacio de los Capitanes

Before you leave Plaza Mayor, head to the next major Antigua attraction: the Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales (Palace of the Captains General). Before the capital moved to Guatemala City, this grand building was where Guatemala was governed.

Completed in 1764, the building used to include courtrooms, the treasury, council chambers, stables for horses, a jail, a torture room, and other rooms that carried out services for keeping the palace going like kitchens and laundry rooms.

When the capital moved in 1773, the governor-general stripped the building of its architectural decorations. He even tried to take the stone columns with him to Guatemala City, but fortunately, they were too heavy.

Restoration of the palace began in the 1980s.

Today the building houses government offices and a history museum. To find out more about the museum, jump to the section on Museums.

There are two flags on top of the building. The blue one is Guatemala’s and the green one is for Antigua.

TRAVEL TIP: Want to travel more deeply and understand the people and culture of Antigua and Guatemala? Check out this list of books on Guatemala and this list of books on the Maya.

3. City Hall Palace (Palacio del Ayuntamiento)

cars driving past City Hall in Antigua
City Hall

Across from the Palacio de los Capitanes is the beautiful and historic Palacio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall). In the colonial era, this was where you’d find the police, prisoners, and council chambers. Today it houses city government offices.

According to Lonely Planet, you can enter and get a nice photo from the balcony on the second floor. I tried to do this, but I was not allowed inside. Perhaps it was due to COVID restrictions.

4. Cathedral of San Jose

Cathedral of San Jose
Cathedral of San Jose

The next thing to do before leaving Antigua’s main square is to visit the Cathedral of San Jose. The church was built where the entrance to the old Cathedral of Santiago was located and which now lies in ruins (see the section on ruins for more info on the old Cathedral).

Wait until the afternoon to photograph the cathedral. That’s when the building is covered in pigeons and when the light from the sun shines on it.

The style of architecture is Baroque, the typical style of Latin American churches. However, it’s quite understated for Baroque.

Above the door is a carving of Saint Michael, above him is the Virgin Mary, and the third carving is God.

The interior of the church is plain. However, there are a few works of art inside that are worth seeing: paintings depicting the apostles by Juan de Correa and the processional figures from the 1600 and 1700s.

5. Santa Catalina Arch

Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua

One of the top things to do in Antigua is to visit Santa Catalina Arch. I’m sure you’ve seen the famous Antigua photo of a cobble-stoned street and an arch with views of a volcano in the distance. That is the Santa Catalina Arch. You’ll find it two streets away from Plaza Mayor.

If you’re looking to get a good shot of both the arch and the volcano, try and visit it several times. Sometimes the volcano is covered in clouds, while other times the street is covered with people taking photos. The volcano is usually clear of clouds in the morning, but the evening is when the light is the most spectacular.

The arch has a fascinating history. Back in the 1600s, there was a cloistered convent on one side of the street. The nuns wanted to expand their convent, but the city refused to let them on their side of the street. So, the nuns built another wing across the street and because they were cloistered, they built an arch and walkway for the nuns to get from one building to another without being seen by the public.

6. Iglesia de la Merced

  • COST: to visit the monastery ruins: Foreigners – Q20; Locals – Q10
  • OPEN: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (M-F); 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (Sa & Su)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Iglesia de la Merced
Iglesia de la Merced

One of the most ornate religious structures in Antigua is Iglesia de la Merced. It is BOTH a church and a monastery. The façade is like a yellow wedding cake covered in white icing.  It’s worth a visit!

La Merced means “The Mercy” in Spanish and is another name for the Virgin Mary. Its construction was completed in 1767 (just six years before the 1773 earthquake).

The church and monastery didn’t suffer a lot of damage during that earthquake, but an aftershock weakened the structure enough. It was later abandoned when the capital moved to Guatemala City. The Fathers of La Merced built a replica of the Antigua church in Guatemala City and took all the works of art with them to the new building.

The church was restored in 1850.

You have to pay to get into the monastery but not the church. The most interesting feature of the monastery is the largest water fountain in Antigua in the middle of the monastery’s courtyard.

large stone fountain
fountain in the La Merced Convent

You can walk up the stairs to the empty second floor. The rooms on the floor are all gone now and instead, is a rooftop with views of the fountain below and the mountains surrounding the city. Other than that, this monastery is one that you can easily skip with little regret.

The interior of the church is not all that special, though, so if you can’t get inside, don’t fret.

TRAVEL TIP: After 4:00 pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, there is a food market in the park beside Iglesia de la Merced. You can get delicious street food for a reasonable price.

7. Casa Popenoe

  • ENGLISH TOURS: 10:30 – 11:45 am (Th) – no minimum; maximum 5 people
  • COST: Q100 (US$14); Q150 (US$21) with curator
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

The one thing on this list I regrettably didn’t do is to visit to Casa Popenoe.

Casa Popenoe is a restored colonial house that was originally built in 1650. Over the years, earthquakes and Mother Nature destroyed parts of the house. However, some of the original 1650 parts still exist today.

It was purchased by Americans, Wilson and Dorothy Popenoe, and restored to what it must have looked like in the 1600s.

You can tour the house on Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:45. However, don’t just show up. You’ll need to book your tickets online ahead of time.

This looks like a great thing to do in Antigua for architecture and history lovers.

If you do get a chance, let me know what you think in the Comment Section below.

8. Explore the colonial architecture of Antigua

Calle de Los Pasos

The thing I loved to do the most in Antigua is just wander the streets taking photos of the beautiful and colorful buildings, the cobblestoned streets, the volcanoes, and the people.

a cobblestoned street lined with colorful colonial buildings

My favorite architectural spots are the following:

  • Calle de Los Pasos, the small park next to Iglesia San Pedro Apostal that contains Tanque la Union (where people used to do their laundry)
  • 5A Avenida Norte
  • Poniente Street

TRAVEL TIP: Get the money shot at McDonald’s. Yes, I’m not kidding here. Everyone who’s anyone says that the best shot of Volcano Agua is from McDonald’s (Google Maps). You don’t actually have to eat there, though. McDonald’s has a courtyard, and you can just go in and snap your photo without spending a dime.

9. Explore the Ruins of Antigua

  • COST: Q40 (US$5.21) for foreign tourists; Q20 (US$2.61) for locals
  • OPEN: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (every day)
ruins of cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala

When you think of ruins in Central America, you probably think of Maya pyramids, right? Well, Antigua has a completely different set of ruins. They are the ruins of churches, monasteries, and convents from the famous earthquake of 1773. This is the one that destroyed Antigua and led to Guatemala’s capital permanently moving to Guatemala City.

The earthquake left many of Antigua’s grandest buildings in ruins. When everyone moved to Guatemala City, they left the churches, convents, and monasteries as is. Over the years, the buildings decayed even further. But no one thought of completely bulldozing them and replacing them with condos and shopping malls. Thank goodness!

Today as you walk around Antigua, you see these ruins all over the city. They look kind of magical. They are an absolute joy to explore and take photos of.

If you love history, architecture, and photography, visiting the ruins is a not-to-miss thing to do in Antigua.

The tour operator, Elizabeth Bell, offers a guided tour of the church ruins.

Here are some of my favorite ruins:

  • Cathedral de Santiago (Google Maps) – cool ruin near the main square
  • San Jeronimo (Google Maps) – this has nice views of the Volcano Agua
  • Convento la Recoleccion (Google Maps) – really cool ruins, you can climb over them
  • Convento Capuchinas (Google Maps) – a very interesting circular building and museum
  • Convento Santa Clara (Google Maps) – this one has tunnels
  • Convento Santo Domingo (Google Maps) – it’s now a set of museums on the grounds of a hotel
  • La Merced Convent (Google Maps) – beautiful water fountain

10. Take a Walking Tour with Elizabeth Bell

  • COST: US$28 (includes the price of 2 museums and the cathedral ruins)
  • TOUR TIMES: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm (Tu, F, Sa)
  • BOOK YOUR TOUR: book and pay for your tour online at Antigua Tours
  • LOCATION: Google Maps and Google Maps
a street lined with colorful Spanish colonial buildings leading to a volcano

If you’re a history and culture nerd like me, one of the BEST things to do in Antigua is to do a walking tour with historian and author, Elizabeth Bell.  Bell is an American who has been living in the city since 1969. She has written several books on the history of Antigua, including one for tourists that I highly recommend called Antigua Guatemala: Its Heritage.

On her 3-hour walking tours, you visit the ruins of the Cathedral of Santiago, an art gallery, the Jade Museum, and the museums of Santo Domingo. The tickets for the museums are included in the tour price. What a great deal!

11. Take a Free Walking Tour

  • COST: FREE – but you should tip your guide at the end of the tour
  • TOUR TIMES: 3:30 pm (M, Tu, W, Th, F) in English; 9:15 am (W & F)
  • BOOK YOUR TOUR: Free Tours
  • MEETING POINT: Iglesia La Merced
Igelsia San Pedro Apostol at dusk

For those on a budget, the FREE walking tour with Klaudia is another fabulous thing to do in Antigua. I went on both her tour and Bell’s Tour, and I enjoyed both.

Klaudia is a Guatemalan who moved to Antigua from Guatemala City. Like Bell, she’s also a wealth of information on the history and culture of Antigua and Guatemala. However, because she’s lived her whole life in Guatemala, she can give you a local perspective, which is something that Bell can’t do.

a park with palm trees and a yellow structure that used to be a public laundry

Our 3-hour tour started at Iglesia La Merced and then proceeded to visit the famous arch, Nim P’ot, Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral, the old University of San Carlos, the ruins of Santa Clara, Obras Sociales Hermano Pedro, Tanque la Union, Calle de Los Pasos, and finally ending at Iglesia San Francisco.

Taking a walking tour is one of the best things to do in Antigua if you want to learn about the history of the city.

12. Hike Acatenango and El Fuego Volcanoes

  • COST: Varies from US$90 – $129 for group hike or US$339 for private guide
  • START and END TIMES: 7:00 or 8:00 am leave Antigua – return around noon the next day
  • BOOK YOUR TOUR: Wicho and Charlie or OX Expeditions
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
El Fuego Volcano errupting and lava flowing down its sides at night

One of the most popular things to do in Antigua is to climb to the summit of Volcano Acatenango and then if you wish to Volcano El Fuego, an active volcano that erupts multiple times a day.

This is NOT an easy climb and requires you to be physically fit. Acatenango is 3,976 meters high (Mt. Everest is 8,848 meters high).

It’s a 4 to 6-hour climb to base camp, where you’ll spend the night in either tents or huts. It’s a difficult hike as you are continuously walking uphill.

From the base camp, you can see and hear El Fuego erupt and spew lava.

You can pay extra and hike to El Fuego that evening. It’s another 4 hours round-trip. The hike to El Fuego is at night and it’s not easy to hike in the dark, cold, and wind.

The next morning, you wake up before dawn and hike 2 more hours to the summit to see the sunrise. You can choose to just stay at base camp, however. You’ll still see the sunrise.

Then everyone hikes down. It’ll take about 3 hours.

Several tour companies lead hikes to Acatenango:

  • Wicho and CharlieUS$119 – $339 – you stay in cabins at base camp; includes 4 meals, snacks, guide, cabin with camping gear, essential personal gear, and transportation; you can also rent clothes from them if you don’t have a warm jacket, gloves, trekking poles, headlamp. They have a list of gear that they rent out on their website.
  • OX ExpeditionsUS$99 to the summit of Acatenango or US$129 for both Acatenango and El Fuego – includes 3 meals, guide, tent, camping gear, and transportation

Everyone I’ve met who has done the Acatanengo hike says it was one of the most difficult hikes they’ve ever done but it was also one of the best things they’ve ever done in their life.

You’ll need warm clothes for the hike up to the top of Acatenango. Check out this Foolproof Guatemala Packing List for tips on what to pack.

13. Hike the Pacaya Volcano

  • COST: Q100 (US$14) for the entrance fee and US$35 – $165 for guide and transportation
  • START: 6:00 am or 2:00 pm pickups
  • WHERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR: Get Your Guide or Viator
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
people on the top of a volcano at dusk

If you’re not keen on climbing 3,000 meters but still want to hike up a volcano, then one of the BEST things to do in Antigua is to hike up Pacaya Volcano.

This volcano was last active in May 2021. You did not read that wrong. The volcano erupted and lava flowed down one side. As I write this article, you can climb the one side that didn’t experience lava sliding down.

Pacaya is a moderately difficult hike, so you don’t need to be super athletic. You can also go up by horse if you so wish.

Tours generally pick people up at their hotel at 6:00 am or 2:00 pm. If you do the afternoon hike, you’ll be going down in the dark.

It takes about an hour to drive to the base of the volcano and 2 hours to climb to the top.

When you get to the top, you’ll get to the lava part. Here you can roast marshmallows and see views of the valley below and where the lava turned the ground black.

There are lots of tour operators who do this hike. Here are the highest rated tours:

  • Pacaya Hike and Marshmallow – This tour includes a hotel pickup and drop-off. You can choose to either hike up on your own 2 feet or ride a horse to the crater. You’ll be able to roast marshmallows over the lava fields. READ REVIEWS & BOOK YOUR TOUR
  • Pacaya Hike with Lunch or Dinner – This tour includes 2 options: morning (8:00 am) or sunset hike (4:00 pm). You’ll either get a picnic lunch or a picnic dinner at the top. READ REVIEWS & BOOK YOUR TOUR

What to bring: Good hiking shoes, water, and a flashlight. For more ideas on what to pack to stay warm in Antigua check out this foolproof Guatemala packing list.

14. Get Stunning Views of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz

  • COST: free
  • OPEN: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
Volcano Agua, the city of Antigua and a wooden cross

For a spectacular view over the city of Antigua that doesn’t require too much hiking or driving, head to the hill on the north side of the city called Cerro de la Cruz.  It’s a hill topped with a huge cross.

Not to worry. It’s a short walk from the center of the city and then a short hike up the hill to the top (it took me 8 minutes!). You can safely do it by yourself during the day. I was told that it’s not safe after sundown.

Many ATV tours include a stop at Cerro de La Cruz on their tours.

15. Hang Out with Hobbits at Hobbitenango

a person sitting in a giant hand overlooking a valley and volcano

One of the most unique places to visit in Antigua is Hobbitenango. Yes, just as the name suggests, it is a replica of a Hobbit village with amazing views of the valley and mountains surrounding Antigua.

Located 8.5 kilometers from the center of Antigua, Hobbitenango contains a café and restaurant, trails to walk around, hammocks to lie in, and a rope swing.

There’s also a giant hand overlooking the valley below. It’s popular to get your photo taken while you stand or sit on the hand.

You can also stay overnight at Hobbitenango. They have a few rooms that resemble Hobbit houses.

How to Get to Hobbitenango:

I visited Hobbitenango on an ATV Tour and it was a lot of fun! You drive an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) up windy roads into the mountains above Antigua. It was one of the BEST things I did in Antigua. The tour also includes a visit to these places:

  • Cerro de la Cruz: views of Antigua
  • Hobbitenango: food, drinks, photos, and games
  • Dinner at Earth Lodge or Restaurante La Montaña del Hato, a local avocado plantation.

If you’re afraid of driving an ATV (it’s not easy!), you can do a tour of Hobbitenango with a 4W-Drive car.

You can also visit on your own without a tour. A shuttle leaves from the Hobbitenango office in Antigua (3rd Avenue North #20A). It costs Q45 Round-trip. Book your space via WhatsApp (3090-8812) and show up 15 minutes beforehand. You can also book transport from your hotel (Q250) or certain hostels (Q100).

This is one of the best places in Antigua for seeing amazing sunsets and taking photos.

16. Immerse Yourself in Nature at Earth Lodge

  • COST: Q290 – Q350 (US$37 – $48) night stay in a tree house; US$10/dish; Q60 for yoga classes
  • RESTAURANT OPEN: 8:00 am – 7:30 (daily)
  • BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
  • HOW TO GET THERE: Uber or Earth Lodge can arrange transportation for you
a balcony with sitting area

Another way to escape the hustle and bustle of Antigua is to spend a day or stay overnight in a tree house at Earth Lodge.

Located in the mountains outside of Antigua, the lodge is not just a hotel. It also has an avocado farm, a yoga studio, a restaurant, hiking trails, and stunning views of the volcanoes and Antigua.

Volcano El Fuego and Acatenango

This is one place in Antigua where I wish I had spent more time.

17. Explore Antigua on an ATV Tour

El Fuego and Acatenango and the city of Antigua at sunset
The view of El Fuego and Acatenango Volcanoes and Antigua on the Sunset ATV Tour

One of the most exciting and fun things to do in Antigua is to go on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour and explore the mountains, farms, and villages around Antigua. You get to drive your own ATV around windy and hilly roads while enjoying the amazing views of the mountains, volcanoes, and valleys around the city.

Popular ATV tours:

  • Antigua Sunset Tour – (US$63); 2:30 pm – 7:30 pm) – (1) El Cerro de la Cruz for beautiful views overlooking Antigua (2) Hobbitenango for sunset views, food, drinks and games. An optional stop is at el Hato and el Tambor for dinner. I did this tour and loved it! RATING: 5.0/5.0 (230+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE
  • Antigua Mountain Tour (US$68 | 9:00 am – 3:00 pm) – (1) Visit a chocolate factory in San Juan del Obispo (2) El Cerro de la Cruz (3) Hobbitenango (4) Earth Lodge or La Montaña del Hato for lunch. RATING: 5/5 (220+ Reviews) | BOOK TOUR HERE
  • Sky High ATV Adventure Tour(US$63 | 9:00 am – 3:00 pm or 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm) – (1) Hobbitenango (2) Alta Mira (3) Earth Lodge (4) Cerro de la Cruz. RATING: 5/5/ (40+ Reviews) | BOOK TOUR HERE
  • ATV Villages Tour – (US$63 | 9:00 am) – I did this tour but when I did it, we visited 4 villages. Now they only visit 2 villages (1) San Antonio Aguas Calientes (2) San Juan del Obispo (3) Restaurante El Tambor (4) Cerro de la Cruz. RATING: 5/5 (80+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR

The tours are held every day and they don’t have a minimum number of people. When I did my Sunset Tour, I was the only one.

The quality of guides varies. For my Sunset Tour, Diego was my guide, and he was so kind and friendly and he made me feel very comfortable. His English is excellent. I did another tour called Villages Tour with the same company, and my guide was terrible.

Is it worth taking these ATV tours?

The ATVs are fun! And I loved my guide, Diego. But the tours are expensive, and you can very easily visit some of these places on your own. See my sections on Hobbitenango and Earth Lodge for info on how to do it.

18. Explore the Villages around Antigua

  • TOUR COST: US$63 per person or US$36 per passenger
  • TOUR TIME: 9:00 am every day
  • BOOK YOUR TOUR: Viator or Get Your Guide
a person sitting on an ATV in front of a church
ATV Village Tour – San Pedro de las Huertas

A great way to learn about the culture and experience the beauty of Guatemala is to visit the villages around Antigua.

You can explore the villages in 2 ways:

  • on your own by chicken bus
  • with an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour

I did an ATV tour and it was fabulous. You get to see so much of the countryside around Antigua.

The tour currently includes a visit to:

  • San Antonio Aguas Calientes – a textile museum and souvenir bazaar + fabulous views of Acatenango and El Fuego
  • Ciudad Viejo (the second capital of Guatemala) – visit the main square and oldest church in Guatemala
  • San Pedro de las Huerta – visit a jade factory
  • San Juan del Obispo (foothills of Volcano Agua) – a chocolate factory and wine store that sells nispero wine
  • Cerro de la Cruz – views of Antigua
  • Restaurante El Tambor – lunch

Exploring the villages is one of the most unique things to do in Antigua!

19. Try Traditional Guatemalan Food


Guatemalan food might not be as famous as its neighbor to the north, Mexico, but it does have some delicious street food and traditional dishes.

Some foods that you should try while in Guatemala

Here are some places in Antigua where you can try Guatemalan food:

  • Street Food Market next to La Merced Church – A great place to try Guatemalan street food. Opens after 4:00 pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. The food stalls are clean and the food is delicious and inexpensive!
  • Rincon Antigueño – Wonderful and inexpensive traditional Guatemalan meals that are so filling that you won’t need to eat for the next 24 hours.
  • Santa Clara Bakery – Delicious Guatemalan empanadas and pastries. I ate here almost every day when I was studying Spanish
  • La Cuevita de Los Urquizu – They serve traditional Guatemalan food cafetería style, so you can try a lot of different dishes at one time. A bit pricey but very delicious. Just point at what you want.
  • La Fonda de Calle Real – A sit-down restaurant that has been around for several years. They serve traditional Guatemalan dishes.
  • Los Tres Tiempos – They have some traditional Guatemalan dishes and wonderful traditional desserts.

20. Join a Street Food Tour

  • COST: US$84
  • TOUR TIMES: 7:00 – 10:00 pm
  • BOOK YOUR TOUR: Cuscun (RATING: 5.0/5.0 (100+ Reviews)
  • LOCATION: They’ll pick you up at your hotel
street stall with 2 people preparing food and bowls of food on the counter

One of the best decisions you’ll make on your trip to Antigua is doing the street food tour with Cuscun Experiences. It is a great way to understand the food of Guatemala.

You get to try foods that you normally wouldn’t know about if walking around on your own. If you ask a local about them, they’ll tell you that they eat them all the time.

On the tour, you get to visit 2 other cities by van: Jocatenango and Ciudad Viejo, and sample 8 different foods and drinks. My tour had only 3 people on it and our guide, Jose, was enthusiastic, friendly, and knowledgeable.

This food tour was one of the best things I did in Antigua.

If you don’t want to do a street food tour, but still want to try the street food of Antigua, head to La Merced Church after 4:00 on weekdays and at noon on weekends for a street food market.

21. Take a Cooking Class and Do a Market Tour

  • COST: US$90
  • CLASS TIMES: 9:00 am or 2:00 pm
two people standing at a table preparing food
Ingrid and Lydia preparing food in the kitchen at Cuscun Cooking School

The cooking class with Cuscun was THE #1 best thing I did in Antigua. This is no exaggeration.

For one thing, the Guatemalan food that we made was incredibly delicious. More importantly, the owner (Joaquin), the chef (Ingrid), and her assistant (Lydia) were so amazingly kind and patient that I felt completely relaxed.

I was picked up by the owner, Joaquin, and given a tour of the market. Then we went to the school to begin cooking. The kitchen is on the school’s rooftop terrace with great views of the volcanoes.

After that, Ingrid showed me how to cook the three dishes that we were to eat. I got to chop, roast, fry, and take part in all the cooking activities. We had a wonderful meal altogether of salsa verde, mole with plantains, tostadas with guacamole, and wine.

I adored this experience. If you have the time and money to do this class, don’t hesitate. Book the class here!

22. Make Chocolate at a Chocolate Workshop

a counter with bowls, cups, a glass of water, and a burner for making chocolate

Don’t leave Antigua without doing a chocolate workshop. I’ve done them all over Central America: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Belize and the one I did in Antigua was the best by far! It beats them for price and for the number of chocolate foods and drinks, you get to sample.

There are 2 places where you can do a chocolate workshop:

  • Ek Chuah (US$21 for a 90-minute workshop or US$14 for a 45-minute workshop; I did the 90-minute one. Their classes are at 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:00 pm | BOOK YOUR WORKSHOP
  • ChocoMuseo (US$26 -2 hour workshop); their bean-to-bar workshop is very popular. They have workshops at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. RATING: 5/5 (140+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR WORKSHOP

During my course, I learned all about the role of chocolate in Maya culture, the different types of cacao, and the process of making chocolate.

However, the best 2 parts of the workshop for me were making my own chocolates and sampling the different chocolates and chocolate drinks. I think I sampled 10 chocolate drinks and 10 different kinds of chocolates.

The class is worth it!

23. Learn All About Coffee from Seed to Cup

red fruit

If you love coffee, don’t skip doing a coffee tour in Antigua. However, even if you’re not a coffee fanatic, it’s still one of the not-to-miss things to do.

Coffee is a big part of Guatemalan culture, history, and economy. To understand the country, you’ve got to understand how coffee is made.

Luckily, there are 2 coffee farms just an Uber ride away from the main square:

  • Finca Filadelfia
  • Finca La Azotea

Both offer coffee tours. I visited Finca Filadelfia.

Finca Filadelfia Coffee Tour:

Finca Filadelfia has been producing coffee for over 150 years. They have a hotel, restaurant, store where you can buy the coffee they grow, coffee fields, and production facilities.

Finding information on their tours is not easy. When I was in Antigua, they had tours at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 2:00 pm.

They have 2 kinds of tours:

  • 60 minutes long. It’s on foot and you mainly visit the facilities for turning the cacao beans into coffee. You do get to see some coffee plants near the facilities.
  • 90 minutes long. You get to take a truck up to the coffee fields along with a tour of the coffee production facilities. There needs to be a minimum of 4 people to do this tour.

You get to learn what the different kinds of coffee are, how coffee plants are grown, and how coffee is made and sold At the end you get to try a cup of probably the finest coffee you will ever have in your life.

More Unique Coffee Tours in Antigua:

  • Coffee Finca + Macadamia Finca Tour: (1) Finca La Azotea to learn about coffee (2)  Valhalla Experimental Station to learn about how macadamia nuts are grown. RATING: 4.5/5 (40+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR
  • Biking + Coffee Tour: (1) Bike to Finca Azotea to learn the history and production of coffee | Visit the Mayan music and textile museums to sample a variety of high-end coffee. Lunch is included. RATING: 4.6/5 (11 Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE

24. Take a Tour of a Macadamia Nut Farm

a person holding macadamia nuts in his hand

What is the most expensive nut in the world?

The macadamia nut.

It’s also incredibly delicious. One of the most unique things to do in Antigua is to visit Valhalla Macadamia Farm and learn all about this delicious nut AND eat macadamian nuts! Imagine: macadamian nut pancakes!

What can you do at Valhalla Macamadian Farm:

  • Take a tour of the farm and learn how macadamia nuts are grown and sample nuts that have just been harvested
  • Eat in the Valhalla Restaurant – the main ingredient of most of the dishes is macadamia nuts. Try the unforgettable macadamia pancakes and waffles and the macadamia smoked barbecue.
  • Get a macadamia oil facial massage – It’s heaven!

I visited Valhalla on the ATV Villages Tour but I don’t think the farm is no longe on the itinerary.

You can get to Valhalla by joining the Coffee + Macadamia Finca Tour. This tour includes (1) Finca La Azotea to learn about coffee (2)  Valhalla Experimental Station to learn about how macadamia nuts are grown. RATING: 4.5/5 (40+ Reviews) | BOOK YOUR TOUR

25. Visit Caoba Farms

a field of vegetables under a white tent

One of the most relaxing things to do in Antigua is to have lunch at Caoba Farms. Located just a short walk on the outskirts of Antigua, Caoba Farms is a farm, a community gathering spot, a market, yoga studio, and farm-to-table restaurant. They grow all of their fruits and vegetables organically.

Have Lunch at Caoba Farms

a bowl of french fries, a hamburger and a beer on a table

The restaurant uses only local or organic ingredients, most of which are grown or raised on their farm. They bake their own bread as well. It was one of the best meals I had in Central America.

Get the Buffalo Burger with French fries, one of their artisanal beers, and the raspberry and strawberry pie.

The setting is also another reason to eat here. If you’re lucky you get to sit in the garden in your own private space surrounded by bushes, plants, flowers, and trees.

The restaurant is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Wednesday to Sunday.

Drop by Caoba Farm’s Weekend Festival

On Saturday, they hold an organic festival with live music, games, and activities, a farmers market with local vendors, and food and drinks in their restaurant.

Tour the Organic Farm

You can also get a 1.5-hour tour of the farm. They charge Q125 for 1 to 3 people and Q50 for each additional person. Book your reservations by contacting them at [email protected] or by WhatsApp at 3019 4310.

Tour the Butterfly Garden

You can take a tour of their Butterfly Garden. It’s open from 10:00 to 4:00 pm and costs Q40 for adults and Q25 for children under 15 and free for those under 3.

26. Explore the Central Market

piles of different vegetables at a market in Antigua, Guatemala

One of the few free things to do in Antigua for those who love food is to explore the central market. It’s filled with local fruits, vegetables, and cheeses that you’ve probably never seen before – chicos, nisperos, mamays, granadillas, and more.

And their avocados are sooooo cheap!

Go to the market with a sense of adventure and accept that you’ll probably pay twice or three times as much as a local. But try fruit that you’ve never seen before.

A local told me to avoid the street food at the central market. Stick to the street food sold in front of La Merced.

If you want to take photos of the food and people, ask first. Sometimes they will let you and sometimes not.

27. Enjoy the Antigua Skyline from a Rooftop Bar

a street lined with colorful Spanish colonial buildings and cars at dusk

Don’t leave Antigua without stopping for a drink or dinner at sunset at one of its many rooftop bars and restaurants. You can see the skyline of Antigua as well as the three volcanoes surrounding the town. If you’re lucky, el Fuego is erupting and you can see the lava coming out of its top! It’s pretty spectacular.

The bar I usually went to when I lived in Antigua was Sky Bar. It has some decent happy hour specials. Rooftop Antigua is another excellent place to catch the views. But Antigua Brewing Company supposedly has the BEST rooftop bar with not only great views but also great beer.

Alternatively, if you were smart and you booked a hotel or even a hostel in Antigua with a rooftop terrace overlooking the city, then you can get your own drinks from the supermarket or liquor store and camp out on your hotel’s rooftop and enjoy the views.

28. Museum at the Hotel Santo Domingo

a display of 2 clay pots and 2 glass pots

If you go to just one museum in Antigua, make it to the museums at the Santo Domingo Hotel.

The Hotel was built on the site of the ruins of the Santo Domingo Church and Convent. The ruins have been beautifully incorporated into the hotel grounds. Six museums were added as well within the ruins. Some museums focus on religious art while others focus on pre-Hispanic and contemporary art and archaeology.

The standout museum of the six is the very unique and unforgettable Museo Vigua de Arte Precolombino y Vidrio Moderno.

Six FABULOUS museums at Santo Domingo:

  • Silver Museum – This museum contains religious objects made of silver. It’s a worthwhile visit just to see the stunning statue of Saint Michael.
  • Colonial Museum – The Colonial Museum is sort of hidden away behind the church ruins. It contains beautiful religious paintings and sculptures.
  • Chapel of the Rosary and Crypt of the Calvary – Underneath the chapel is a crypt and a mural from 1636.
  • Museo Vigua de Arte Precolombino y Vidrio Moderno – It’s no exaggeration when I say that this is one of my favorite museums in the world. The museum was created by Edgar Castillo, the person who cofounded Gallo beer company and from one of the wealthiest families in Guatemala. Castillo liked to collect both glass and ancient Maya artifacts. The museum displays both of his passions beside each other. For every ancient Maya artifact, you’ll find a modern glass object that resembles it. The juxtaposition of the ancient and modern is fascinating and beautiful.
  • Archaeological Museum – a small room with more ancient Maya artifacts


29. Museum of Colonial Art

  • COST: Q50 (US$7) for foreigners: Q5 (.75) for locals – no that is NOT a typo!
  • OPEN: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Tu – Su)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a large hall with large paintings on the wall

In the former location of the University of San Carlos, the Museum of Colonial Art is interesting for both its Moorish architecture and its works of art.

The museum houses a collection of paintings, sculptures, and furniture from colonial times. The religious sculptures are supposed to be the best collection in Latin America and the large paintings are the works of several famous Mexican painters.

There is also a replica of a classroom when this building was a university.

It’s interesting historically and artistically, but the huge difference in price between foreigners and locals is a bit of a turnoff.

30. Jade Maya Museum

a man working at some machines for carving jade

One of the best ways to learn about the culture and history of the ancient Maya while in Antigua is to visit the Jade Maya Museum.

Jade was an important part of the culture of the Maya. It was considered to be more valuable than gold and silver. When Hernan Cortes arrived to conquer Mexico, the Aztecs gave him a gift of jade. He thought it was the gift of the devil and had the jade carvers put to death.

Jade Maya is part museum, part workshop, and part jewelry store. The museum part teaches you about the history of jade, the different types of jade, and its importance to the Maya.

You can also watch the jade jewelry being made, buy some jade jewelry, and EVEN carve your own jade necklace or bracelet!

Yes, there’s a jade workshop that teaches you how to carve your own jade jewelry. You get to carve a piece of jewelry that you can then take home with you and give as a gift to someone or keep it for yourself.

I haven’t done the workshop myself but reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Had a lovely time creating my jade necklace! Highly recommend booking this experience. I now have a beautiful necklace that I can take back with me. Filled with memories and an unforgettable experience. Will definitely come back”


You can also do what I did and visit the museum on the Elizabeth Bell History Walking Tour.

31. Museo Nacional de Arte de Guatemala (MUNAG)

  • COST: Free
  • OPEN:  10:00 am – 7:00 pm (Tu – Su)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps
a courtyard surrounded by two-story buildings

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Guatemala and didn’t have a chance to take Elizabeth Bell’s tour, check out Antigua’s newest museum, the Museo Nacional de Arte De Guatemala. It’s inside the Palace of the Captain’s General. The museum is dedicated to the history and art of Antigua.

When you enter the museum, you’ll find yourself in not just a museum but the ruins of the Palace of the Captains General.

Get the audio guide when you enter the museum. It will explain what you’re seeing in each room. Unfortunately, the speaker on the audio sounds like she’s bored to death, making you bored too! But at least you know what you’re looking at.

The whole museum seems like it’s telling you a watered-down version of the history of Guatemala. It’s quite superficial and boring, to be honest, and if you already know something about the country’s real history, you might find yourself disappointed like I was.

The best part of the museum is the building itself, the views of the volcanos, and the view of the Plaza Mayor.

32. Learn Spanish in Antigua

  • COST: US$160 – $220 / 20 hours per week
  • OPEN: M – F, usually mornings
  • LOCATION: all over Antigua

Guatemala is one of the most popular countries to learn Spanish in. Classes are reasonably priced. For US$8 – $10 an hour, you get your own private teacher.

Guatemalans also supposedly have one of the clearest Spanish accents making it easy for beginners of Spanish to understand.

Antigua has loads of schools. All vary in price and quality. Because there are so many, you can often just show up in the city and start classes the following Monday.

You can study for one week or several weeks and you can study intensively for 4 or 5 hours a day or you can study for 1 or 2 hours.

I studied for 3 weeks at a Spanish school in Antigua, but I can’t recommend it. The teachers weren’t that good and the homestay was terrible. However, I know of other people who have had good experiences.

33. Visit the Market in Chichicastenango

A K'iche' woman walking at the Chichicastenango market
A K’iche’ woman walking through the market

For those who want to learn about the Maya culture, don’t miss the Thursday and Sunday markets of Chichicastenango. The city of Chichicastenango is about 2.5 hours by car from Antigua. From Antigua, it’s not practical to do the tour by public transportation. You’ll need to have your own private car or join an organized tour.

Visiting the market was one of the top 3 highlights of my trip to Guatemala.

The Chichicastenango market takes place on Thursdays and Sundays and the people of the Highlands descend on the town to buy and sell their goods. You’ll find loads of local fruits and vegetables, the traditional clothing of the Maya, everyday household items, and souvenirs.

The city also has 2 fascinating churches and a colorful cemetery where you can observe the rituals of the indigenous religions.

For more details, visit my guide to visiting the Chichicastenango market.

34. Do a Day Trip to Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan with 2 volcanos in the distance at sunrise
A view of Lake Atitlan from Santa Cruz village

One of the BEST things to do in Guatemala is to visit Lake Atitlan – there are so many things to do!

If you don’t have time to book a night or two at a hotel in Lake Atitlan, you can do an organized day trip from Antigua.

With the volcanoes surrounding it, the lake is beautiful. A visit to the lake is also a great way to experience the indigenous Maya culture of Guatemala. The towns surrounding it are the home of the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel people, who still retain many of their traditional practices.

Make sure your tour from Antigua goes to the villages of Santiago for the lake’s traditional culture, San Juan for its handicrafts and art, and Panajachel, San Marcos, or Santa Cruz for views of the volcanoes.

Here are some highly-rated tours from Antigua to Lake Atitlan:

  • Lake Atitlan Day Tour – this tour stops at some of the best cultural attractions in Lake Atitlan (1) Breakfast stop (2) Viewpoint of Lake Atitlan (3) Panajachel village (4) Boat tour of the lake with stops at (5) San Juan village – great art (6) San Pedro village – backpackers and hippy central (7) Santiago village – Mayan culture| RATING: 5/5 (100+ Reviews) | READ REVIEWS & BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE
  • Magic Towns of Lake Atitlan Tour – This tour stops at some different villages from the above tour (1) Panajachel village (2) take a boat across the lake to (3) San Juan – art galleries, weaving, and chocolate (4) San Pedro village for views of the lake (5) Santa Catarina Palopo village for its colorful architecture and hot springs | RATING: 5/5 (12+ Reviews) | READ REVIEWS & BOOK TOUR HERE

35. Visit the Ruins of Iximche

ruins of Iximche
Ruins of the pre-hispanic Mayan town Iximche, Guatemala

Iximche was the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its defeat by Pedro Alvarado in 1524. The Spaniards then established their first capital at Iximche before moving it to present-day Ciudad Viejo in 1527. That didn’t last long when a volcano destroyed the village, causing the Guatemalans to move to present-day Antigua.

Today you can see the ruins of that Mayan capital at a site not far from the city of Tecpan. It’s called Iximche.

You can visit the ruins in several ways:

  • On your own by taking chicken buses or a private car
  • Iximche + Chichicastenango Tour – (1) Chichicastenango Market (2) Iximche Ruins | RATING: 5/5 (7 Reviews) | READ REVIEWS & BOOK TOUR HERE
  • Iximche Ruins Tour from Antigua – This is a reasonably priced tour but you need a minimum of 3 people to book (1) Iximche guided tour (2) tour Iximche on your own | RATING: 5/5 (9 Reviews) | READ REVIEWS & BOOK TOUR HERE

How to Get to Antigua

You can get to Antigua by shuttle bus or by chicken bus. The more comfortable, faster, safer but more expensive way is to take a shuttle.

  • From Guatemala City to Antigua
  • From Lake Atitlan to Antigua
  • From Quetzaltenango to Antgua
  • From Flores to Antigua

From Guatemala City to Antigua

Shuttle – You can take a shuttle from the airport or your hotel in Guatemala City to Antigua by using GuateGo. For a public shuttle, it costs US$19. Shuttles currently (January 2024) leave at 6:00 am, 9:30 am, 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, 4:30 pm and 7:30 pm. It takes 1 hour 15 minutes to 2 hours. They pick you up at your hotel in Guatemala City and drop you off at your hotel in Antigua.

GuateGo also has private shuttles. Prices depend on how many people are in your group – US$59 (1 – 3 people) to $160 (10 – 12 people).

Antigua Tours has private shuttles starting at US$75 for 1 – 2 people and $25 for each additional person. They also can take you to Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenango, and Copan, Honduras.

Uber or taxi – Another way to get from Guatemala City to Antigua is by Uber or taxi.

From Lake Atitlan to Antigua

Shuttle – The easiest way (but not the cheapest) is to take a tourist shuttle from Lake Atitlan to Antigua. You can book a shuttle with GuateGo or just book a shuttle from the countless travel agencies on Calle Santander (the main drag) in Panajachel or possibly through your hotel. They currently leave at 5:00 am, 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 4:00 pm. The shuttle costs US$25 per person.

Chicken Bus – The cheapest way to get from Lake Atitlan to Antigua is by chicken bus. There is one chicken bus a day that leaves at 10:45 am from Calle Principal in Panajachel at Lake Antigua. It takes 2.5 hours and costs around Q35 (US$5). 

If you miss this bus, you’ll need to take 3 buses to get from Lake Atitlan to Antigua. You’ll need to take a bus to Solola and then another bus at Los Encuentros.

Are chicken buses safe in Guatemala? Lots of locals and ex-pats who have lived in Guatemala for a long time recommend avoiding chicken buses due to crime, the reckless driving of the drivers, and the high number of accidents the buses get into. Actually, every local I spoke to told me to NEVER take a chicken bus in Guatemala if you can avoid it.

From Quetzaltenango to Antigua

Shuttle – You can get a shuttle from your hotel in Quetzaltenango to your hotel in Antigua for around Q200 (US$28). The shuttle meets up with the one coming from Lake Atitlan along the way. Either you or the ones coming from the lake or both groups change vehicles at the meeting point.

From Flores to Antigua

Shuttle – You can catch an overnight shuttle from Flores. I paid Q480 (US$60) to go in the opposite direction. The trip can take up to 12 hours depending on traffic and construction. Book your shuttle through your hotel or hostel or a travel agency in Flores. If you want to get from Antigua to Flores, I bought my ticket from A Viajar Guatemala Travel Agency (Google Maps)

Bus – You can also get a bus to Flores by first traveling to Guatemala City and changing buses at one of the bus stations there. This can be even more expensive than taking a tourist shuttle.

How to Get Around Antigua

Antigua is a really small city, so you can easily get around on foot from one end to the other.

However, if you need to go far or you’re carrying a heavy backpack or suitcase, you can call Uber. Just be aware that on the weekend, you’ll often have to wait a long time to get anywhere by vehicle. Plus, Uber drivers like to accept your ride request and then cancel.

an old white car driving past a Spanish colonial building

Where to Stay in Antigua

The BEST area to stay in is the historic center. Get as close as you can to the Plaza Grande. This is where you’ll find most of Antrigua’s attractions and restaurants.

These are some of my favorite places to stay:

You can get more ideas on where to stay in Antigua here.

Where to Eat in Antigua

Antigua has some pretty good restaurants including ones that serve traditional Guatemalan food.

Café Sky (Google Maps) – Rooftop bar and restaurant; great views of the city; good happy hour drinks; decent bar food

Caoba Farms (Google Maps) – farm-to-table restaurant; serves burgers that are super yummy; great atmosphere

El Viejo Café (Google Maps) – Super yummy bakery; Really delicious food in their restaurant as well

street food vendor at La Merced park

Food Vendors at Parque La Merced (Google Maps) – After 4 pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, you can get inexpensive street food

Hecho en Casa Café (Google Maps) – quesadillas, sándwiches, pizza; Delicious and inexpensive food

La Bodegona (Google Maps) – a large supermarket

La Cuevita de Los Urquizu (Google Maps) – local Guatemalan food that’s delicious but a bit pricey

Panaderia (Google Maps) – I don’t know the name of this bakery and neither does Google Maps, but I absolutely adored the banana bread here (Only Q5); they have loads of other delicious and inexpensive bread and pastries here as well

Pappy’s Barbecue (Google Maps) – American-style barbecue; very delicious; expect to spend over US$10

Pollo Campero (Google Maps) – Super popular Guatemalan fast-food chain; IMHO, it was just ok.

roast chicken piece, salad, and roast potatoes

Rincon Tipico (Google Maps) – Best restaurant in Antigua for inexpensive, traditional, and delicious Guatemalan food! Locals and foreign tourists both love it! You get huge portions for Q35 (US$5)

Santa Clara Bakery and Cafeteria (Google Maps) – I went here nearly every day during my month in Antigua; inexpensive empanada-style food and bakery; also has a sit-down restaurant along with the bakery; looking for a quick takeaway, THIS is THE place!

What ATM MACHINES to Use in Antigua

In Guatemala, thieves like to install a device on ATMs that steal your data. Before you know it, they’re using your card and your bank is canceling your debit card.

Don’t use ATMs that are outside on the street. Use ones that are inside banks, shops, hotels, or pharmacies.

When withdrawing money from an ATM in Guatemala, you’re usually limited to a maximum of Q2,000. However, the ATM at the Porta Hotel Antigua allows you to take out Q3,000 per transaction. This is great because you avoid having to do two withdrawals and paying 2 withdrawal fees.  

For more tips on money and ATMs check out this list of things to do to plan a trip to Guatemala.

Where to Get a SIM Card in Antigua

You have 2 options for using the internet on your phone in Guatemala when you don’t have WiFi:

  • Get an eSIM before you arrive in Guatemala. An eSIM is a digital SIM.  Airalo has eSIMs for many countries around the world. Their SIM cards have been known to be very reliable.
  • Get a local physical SIM card in Guatemala. The problem with this is that you need to swap out your regular SIM card for a Guatemalan one. That means you can’t use your home country phone number.

Guatemala has 2 main mobile phone carriers: Tigo and Claro. I had Tigo and was very satisfied with their service.

To get a SIM card, go to a Tigo or Claro shop in Antigua. There are lots of Tigo and Claro phone shops on Poniente Street near the La Bodegona Supermarket (Google Maps). If you need to buy electronic items like a new charger, this area is a good place to do it.

You generally need your passport when buying a SIM card.

I was in Guatemala for over 3 months, so I got a 30-day data plan at 12 GB for Q120 (US$17). To recharge, go into a convenience store or if you’re using Tigo, you can do it on Tigo Guatemala website, which is what I did.

For more information on getting and using SIM cards in Guatemala, check out this guide to planning a trip to Guatemala.

Staying Safe in Antigua

Antigua is a relatively safe place to travel solo.

That being said, if you’re out and about late at night and you need to walk in an area without a lot of traffic, call an Uber or take a taxi or tuk-tuk.

You can get more safety tips in this Guatemala trip planning guide.

a street lined with colorful Spanish colonial buildings and motorcycles

Final Thoughts

So that’s the 35 best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala for culture, history, and food nerds.

When planning your Guatemala itinerary, add enough days to enjoy the many tours and attractions that Antigua has to offer. There’s so much to do and see in this magical city that you could spend 4 or 5 days in Antigua and not run out of things to do. You just need to know what there all is to do in Guatemala’s old capital.

If you have any questions about planning your Antigua itinerary, figuring out where to stay in Antigua, or deciding where to go and what to do in Guatemala, leave a question in the Comment Section Below.

Where to Go After Antigua

After visiting Antigua, where to go next?

You’ve got several options in Guatemala: Lake Atitlan, Rio Dulce, Chichicastenango, or Semuc Champey. Don’t leave Guatemala without seeing the ruins of Tikal–check out my guide to Flores and Tikal here.

You could also head to El Salvador, starting with a visit to Santa Ana, where you can hike the Santa Ana Volcano and see the Ruta de Las Flores.

Another option is to head to Honduras. There’s a direct shuttle from Antigua to Copan for Q480 (US60). You can see the famous Copan ruins and then head to the Bay Islands (Roatan or Utila) or Lake Yajoa.

There are also direct tourist shuttles to San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico.

Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to Guatemala

Book Your Flight:

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re guaranteed to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations:

The best hotel booking site is Booking.com. They have the most choices and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels with the lowest prices. Another site for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World – they’re a great site for finding hostels.

Book Your Tours

Viator has the most tour choices of any site in Guatemala. They’re reliable and trustworthy. Plus! If you have trouble with your tour operator like they don’t show up, you can contact Viator.  If your guide isn’t responsible, patient, friendly, or enthusiastic, you can leave a negative review.


  1. Awesome list! Antigua looks beautiful!

    • Thanks! Yes, Antigua is beautiful. I don’t think the photos capture how beautiful it really is.

  2. We were sorry we missed Antigua when we had a short visit to Guatemala. I can see why it is a top spot to visit and wander for hours. Amazing to see the volcanos ringing the city. We definitely need to plan a return visit.

    • Yes, definitely return. Antigua is worth it.

  3. This is such a great list of things to do! Thank you for sharing it.

    • You’re welcome!

  4. Guatemala holds a special place in my heart, but I haven’t given Antigua the proper time to explore! This makes me want to go back for a third visit to the beautiful country!


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About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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