Guide to Antigua, Guatemala
Aside from Tikal, Antigua is the place to visit in Guatemala. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with beautiful colonial architecture. The city is also very safe and has modern amenities including western restaurants, trendy coffee shops, yoga studios and more at prices much lower than in the USA (but much higher than elsewhere in Guatemala). Antigua is a tourist HUB filled with ex-pats, so you’re unlikely to get a true feel of Guatemala if you visit here alone. We liked it, but honestly, it wasn’t our favorite. Still, if you’re visiting Guatemala you should stop by for a few days on your way to see Guatemala’s truly impressive and diverse nature.
Where to Stay:
A beautiful, modern, totally Instagrammable hotel just steps away from Antigua’s downtown. While it is a bit pricier than other options in town, Good Hotel is a social business, meaning all of their profits go to charity. In their case this means training and giving jobs to locals in need and educating Guatemalan youth. The hotel’s design and decor elements are sourced from local artisans, whom they pay fair wages.
~$100-$200/night depending on room choice + season
There are lots of nice-looking hostels in Antigua, but private rooms were ~$60, so we chose to spend a bit more and be in a proper hotel.
go here for: vegan burgers, fries + empanadas (emphasis on the empanadas).
sporadic hours- check they’re open before heading.
~$10 USD for meal including burger, side + drink
go here for: delicious vegetarian + vegan eats in a hippie chic setting. The most established vegetarian place in town with a bit of a scene. open late.
*beware of raw vegetable noodles, we suspect we got food poisoning from them
$5-8 USD per meal
A small vegan takeaway spot with the same owners as Samsara. Located right on the main park. Wachuma is a good place to stop for a quick bite (grain + vegetable noodle bowls with various toppings) while exploring.
$5-6 USD per meal
This is our favorite coffee shop in town. There are endless amounts of delicious coffee in Guatemala, but this place has vegan milks (win), wifi, and a great deck that overlooks the city. It is the perfect place to hang out for a bit with friends or bang out some work.
~$3 USD for large latte w/ non-dairy milk
Stela 9 is a cute clothing boutique, cafe + airbnb in a quaint neighborhood close to the city center. The clothes are very stylish and come with American price tags (but everything is ethically made and fair trade). Their outdoor patio area is very cute and Instagrammable. We ordered avocado toast with soup and spent some time taking photos and posting on the gram here.
Walk Around Town
Antigua is known for it’s beautiful colonial architecture and is a very walking friendly city. I would recommend taking one long afternoon to wander around the streets and just explore. Spend some time weaving through the stalls of the chaotic ‘mercado’ to get an idea of how locals live. If you’re interested in purchasing souvenirs, check out the touristy, but still cute Mercado de Artesanías.
Sites to see include:
Santa Catalina Arch (most iconic landmark)
Convento de Las Capuchinas ( you can go in here and walk around for a fee, but we didn’t)
La Merced + San Francisco Churches
We went here one morning with very few expectations and were pleasantly surprised. The farm is small but gorgeous and they give a great complimentary tour (tip!). Be sure to check out their plant-filled bathroom.
We ate at their restaurant and they were able to accommodate us and make vegan macadamia flour pancakes with chocolate and macadamia butter on top. heaven. We also got nachos with avocado and macadamia nut cheese (we asked for this on the side). The prices were a little higher than elsewhere in Antigua, but completely fair and worth it.
We also stocked up on some products in their shop. Their macadamia nut dark chocolate is vegan and honestly some of the best I’ve tried in my life. I’m also currently using their oil on my face. The products are $$ (what you would pay in the USA).
The coolest part about this place is that the profits go to supplying local Guatemalan farmers with macadamia nut trees and teaching them how to cultivate the nuts. This gives them stable, reliable income as macadamia nuts are pretty pricy.
Take their coffee tour to learn a bit of history of coffee and it’s present day cultivation. Their coffee is really good, so be sure to stock up for gifts to bring home.
~$7 USD per person
Hike to Cerro de La Cruz
A quick walk out of the city center and a ‘hike’ up some stairs will reward you with a great view overlooking the entire city. Perfect for your vacation picture needs. You absolutely do not need a tour to do this.
We didn’t get a chance to stop by for class, but Antigua seems to have a nice little yoga scene. Joseph Armstrong is an Ashtanga teacher in town, and we’d recommend dropping into his class to get your yoga fix.
He’s the real deal. Joseph trained with Kino McGregor and Tim Feldmann at Miami Life Center in South Beach, where we took his class before he moved to Antigua.