What are the best things to do in Antigua Guatemala? One of the most amazing places in Guatemala is the beautiful colonial city of Antigua. The city of Antigua is located in the central highlands of Guatemala, is home to nearly 35,000 inhabitants and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The small town offers plenty of sights and should be part of any itinerary through Guatemala. Antigua is a small, picturesque village that captivates with its alleys full of colorful houses and the bumpy cobblestones.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
Hotel Recommendation in Antigua
If you want to stay in a charming and unique Hotel we can highly recommend the Meson Panza Verde*.
- Luxurious and Comfortable Rooms
- Amazing Pool
- Beautiful Backyard
- Excellent Restaurant
- Delicious Breakfast
#1 Hike to the Acatenango Volcano
The hike up Acatenango Volcano was definitely our highlight during our backpacking trip in Guatemala. The hike almost took us to our physical limits, but it was worth every drop of sweat and the sore muscles afterwards. Not only do you spend the night on an active volcano*, you also have a continuous view of the opposite volcano, Fuego, which spews ash, smoke and lava at regular intervals. At sunrise, it then goes up to 4000 meters on the summit of the volcano to see the sunrise above the clouds.
Our article with all the details can be found here: Acatenango Volcano Hike | All facts about the highlight of Guatemala
#2 Museo del Hermano Pedro
The Museo del Hermano Pedro is definitely one of the best things to do in Antigua. In fact, we came across the beautiful monastery ruins just by chance. We hadn’t read anything about it beforehand, so we were even more excited. We found the Museo del Hermano Pedro while walking through the streets of Antigua. At first we only noticed the church surrounded by high walls.
Walking around it, we came to the rather inconspicuous entrance of the garden and museum with its ancient ruins. The Museo del Hermano Pedro is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and costs only 8 Quetzales (about 0.80 Euro) per person admission. A real insider tip in Antigua. You find the museum here at Google Maps.
In the museum you will find a small exhibition with several religious objects. The explanations are unfortunately only in Spanish. However, we found the ruins and the garden much more exciting. The combination of both is just beautiful to look at and offers lots of great photo opportunities. In the back of the garden is also a large meadow with several tall trees, so you can take a longer break in the shade of the trees or even make a picnic.
#3 El Arco de Santa Catalina
The yellow triumphal arch Arco de Santa Catalina is the landmark and therefore also one of the biggest highlights of the colonial old town of Antigua and can be found on various postcards, pictures and other souvenirs.
The archway was built in 1693 as a connecting path between the convent on one side of the street and a school on the other, so that the nuns of the convent could move back and forth between the two buildings, protected from the eyes of the men. The Arco de Santa Catalina is particularly beautiful as a photo motif on clear days.
Then you can see the volcano Agua surrounded by clouds in the background of the arch. If it is also the weekend you should take the opportunity for a photo. On weekends the road is closed for cars, so the scenery looks even more beautiful.
#4 Viewpoint Cerro de la Cruz
You want to see Antigua not only from below, but also from a bird’s eye view? Then you should hike to the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz. The viewpoint is definitely worth every drop of sweat of the short but very steep hike. You can reach the viewpoint Cerro de la Cruz via two paths. This has the advantage that you can make a circular hike and do not have to take the same path twice. On the way there we took the western way. This starts like an easy walk and is really very, very steep on the last meters.
You are rewarded with a view of the huge cross on the hill, the colonial town of Antigua below with its dead straight streets, and the Agua volcano majestically behind it. What a great sight. Accordingly, it is also crowded here. The viewpoint is popular with tourists and locals alike. Therefore, at the viewpoint you will also find several stalls where you can buy souvenirs, drinks and snacks.
For the way back we walked along the eastern path. There is a well-built path that leads down many steps back to Antigua. At the end of the path, the tuktuk drivers are already waiting patiently for the tourists to drive them back to the center.
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#5 Streetfood Market at Parque La Merced
If you want to eat well and cheap, you have to go to the Streetfood Market in Antigua. The Streetfood Market takes place daily at Parque La Merced. Here you will always find one or more stands where you can buy mainly tacos, sandwiches and greasy pastries. You can usually choose between pollo, carne and veggie and then add some ingredients (avocado, beet, onions, pasta salad, potato salad, etc.).
Also with the sandwiches you can choose the ingredients and the sandwich will be freshly prepared for you. The best thing is that the super delicious dishes usually cost only 1.00-1.50 Euro per piece.
#6 Haggling at the many Souvenir Markets
If you are also visiting several countries in South and Central America and are looking for cheap souvenirs, Guatemala is the place to be. The souvenirs here are a lot cheaper than in the other South and Central American countries like Costa Rica. Also, Antigua is famous for the paintings (pictures on canvas) sold here. Nowhere else in Guatemala have we found such a wide selection of paintings at such reasonable prices. So if you want to buy a beautifully painted picture, you should do it in Antigua.
In the big market hall at the bus station or at the market place you will find a huge offer and you can test your bargaining skills. The market has on the one hand outside and also inside in a market hall some stalls. Here you can really buy everything. From everyday items to clothes, food and especially in the market hall a lot of souvenirs.
When buying souvenirs, negotiating skills are needed. If you also want to bring souvenirs for your loved ones at home, it is recommended to buy several souvenirs at one stand. This way you can get a discount on the amount of souvenirs you buy. You can find the market here at Google Maps.
Souvenir market at Arco de Santa Catalina
If you don’t like to negotiate and prefer to know the prices in advance, you can also go to the huge souvenir store right next to the Arco de Santa Catalina. Here you get a huge selection of souvenirs at sometimes extremely low prices. Each item is individually priced, so there is no haggling. But you don’t need to haggle for most things. Nowhere in South or Central America have we been able to buy cheaper souvenirs.
Mercado de Artesanias del Carmen
If the big market hall is too much for you, you can visit a smaller market, which is located next to a beautiful old ruin. Here you can stroll through the small, dark aisles and pick up all kinds of souvenirs for your loved ones back home at some of the stalls, from clothes, jewelry to bags.
Next to the market is also an old ruin that makes a great photo opportunity. You can find this small souvenir market in Antigua here on the map (Link to Google Maps).
#7 Take lots of Photos
Antigua offers endless photo opportunities. Just the colorful, chipped facades of the houses, the huge, heavy wooden doors and partly planted buildings offer themselves as great motives. In addition, there are lots of ruins, parks and majestic churches. Charge your camera batteries, because your camera will not stand still here!
What do you think are the best things to do in Antigua Guatemala? Feel free to comment or send us an email!