• Katrina Julia

Top 10 Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala is an incredible cultural and colonial city to explore in Central America.

Whether you simply love bright and bold colors, or like to learn about historical and cultural cities, you will love Antigua, Guatemala!


While I was in San Jose, Costa Rica, I ended up deciding I would visit Antigua, Guatemala and Lake Atitlan for my next country on my travel to 7 Continents. When I read on various blogs and sites, my excitement for visiting Guatemala started to build.


From the moment I arrived in Guatemala, my awe increased. Antigua with it's walkable and colorful streets, limitless cultural and historical experiences, and incredibly warm Guatemalan people captured my heart!


My Top 10 Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala includes city walks, church and historical sites, nature experiences, and foodie favorites!


Soy Chilero!






Antigua, Guatemala Choco Museo


Antigua, Guatemala Stays & Transportation

I arrived in Antigua, Guatemala on March 22, 2021 starting with my Airbnb Stay at Dido's colonial home in the center of the city.


While most travelers and tourists spend a few days in and near Antigua, Guatemala, I am taking a slower pace as a digital nomad and global traveler. I decided when I left Atlanta, GA the end of 2020, I wanted a slower pace of travel for safety and sanity.






All shots are my own on Canon EOSM100, Sony A330, and/or my iPhone 12 Mini or via Airbnb.


For transportation, I arrived at my Airbnb in Antigua, Guatemala from the International Airport in Guatemala City for about $20. During my approximately two week stay, I spent approximately $12 in transportation with Ubers in and around the city. Keep in mind, I love to explore and Antigua, Guatemala is very walkable.


In addition, I typically love to stay grounded 2-4 days, and then go for an adventure. However, with how walkable Antigua, Guatemala is, I found myself exploring Wednesday - Saturday afternoons. In addition, this was my first place with about 8 10 people in and out of the colonial home every day. I definitely felt a shift in my energy on Saturday through Monday. I unplugged Sunday and Monday. I increased my space for both alone and work time for the following week.


If you are coming in and near Antigua, Guatemala for a short stay, I recommend you check out my One Day in Antigua, Guatemala and how I spent my time creating what I love during my first week in Antigua.





Top 10 in Antigua, Guatemala

You will find culture, history, nature, and foodie favorites, and adventures including Santa Catalina Arch, La Merced Church, Cerro de La Cruz, Street Markets and much more!


I am sharing what I experienced, and logistical things to consider in planning your visit. This is something I keep in mind always to save time and money whether you are walking in a city like Antigua, or traveling with a car and paying for gas, or with taxi's/Uber's.


In putting together the Top 10 in and near Antigua, Guatemala, I considered how I would experience the place knowing what I know now, and to make it easy, efficient and enjoyable!



1 Santa Catalina Arch

You can't visit Antigua, Guatemala without seeing the Arch! It is not only stunning, but has historical significance as it originally connected the Santa Catalina convent to a school, allowing the nuns to pass from one building to the other without going out on the street.

Whether you spend One Day in Antigua, Guatemala or longer, this is a MUST!



 

2 Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross)

Hill of the Cross is the best place to go to see views of Antigua, as well as get and stay healthy when you travel! The stairs leading up from the street to the Hill of the Cross are a paved walkaway and doable for most in less than 20 minutes.


The 1930's cross at the top, views of Antigua's colonial city, and El Agua Volcano are well worth the effort! Did I mention it is currently free in 2021 too?


During my entire time in Antigua, Guatemala for 2 weeks, I noticed the sky was always the clearest in the am to early pm so I recommend you go up earlier rather than later.



Cerro de la Cruz

Cerro de la Cruz

Cerro de la Cruz



 

3 La Merced Church

One place you don't want to leave off your list during your time in Antigua, Guatemala is La Merced Church. I loved being in Antigua right before and during Holy Week and seeing the beautiful traditions including the rugs, or alfombras.

Although Semana Santa or Holy Week was not the same I imagine as previous years, the city did a beautiful job still honoring the traditions. I loved seeing the rugs (alfombras) made out of sawdust in the church's like La Merced and around Central Park on Good Friday.






La Merced Church






 

4 Los 3 Tiempos

Calling all my rooftop lovers! In less than 5-10 minutes walking distance from La Merced Church, you will find Los 3 Tiempos! If you love views, you will love Los Tres Tiempos! I loved the colorful ambiance and garden surrounding me! The fresh Jamaica juice and Ceviche I had here was amazing too!


For my fashionista's and those creating Instagram Reels Like a Boss, I did not plan for my outfit to match their decor! It divinely aligned!


Los 3 Tiempos Antigua, Guatemala





 

5 Central Street Market

No matter where you are in the world, a street market visit is a great idea! If you have read or tuned in to my One Day in Antigua and Top 10 Guides before like San Jose, Costa Rica, you know I love street markets!

Antigua, Guatemala with it's plentiful options does not disappoint! I visited the Central Street Market, Market in Central Park on Thursday evenings, Carmen's Artisan's Market and more!


I have traveled since I was a baby. I learned early on in 95% of countries you bargain at markets with souvenirs and artisan goods. Do not haggle on fruits and vegetables. They are very very cheap.


I used to not like bargaining, but now I embrace it. I keep it sweet and playful, and ask things like "is this your best price" or "if/when I walk away you won't chase me with a better price". I usually get a price lower by anywhere from 30-75% depending on the country and place.


Even if you are not in the mood or market to buy, it is a great and free activity to do!


And, can we talk about all these amazing colors and crafts?



 

6 San Francisco Church and Ruins

One of the most beautiful churches and ruins I have ever visited is San Francisco Church in Antigua.

Built in the 16th century, and severely damaged in the 1717 earthquake. It is one of the most visited churches in Antigua for its Spanish Baroque architecture, as well as shrine of Santo Hermano Pedro.






7 Central Park

One spot you don't want to miss in Antigua is Central Park. It is great for so many options if you want to sit by the fountain, grab a bite, visit the Cathedral, taste AND create yummy Chocolate at ChocoMuseo, and grab an Instagram worthy shot at El Portal Cafe to name a few things to do at Central Park!





If you are visiting on a Thursday, they have a weekly market starting at 4pm on Thursdays.


Choco Museo in Central Park

For my cacao and chocolate lovers, experiencing the Choco Museo hands-on demonstration are FREE as of March 2021* subject to change! You can either reserve for the longer experience during designated times and/or ask for their mini 30 minute experience when you come!


If you are facing the Cathedral, Choco Museo is to your left across the park in the stores under the arches.





World's Most Beautiful Holy Week

Antigua, Guatemala is known world-wide for being the world's most beautiful Holy Week, or close to it! Although in 2021, Semana Santa may have looked different with no processions and less people, Antigua did a beautiful job honoring its traditions with music, lights, and rugs surrounding the park from Thursday on during Semana Santa.





Holy Week Antigua, Guatemala Rugs

Semana Santa Sawdust Rugs Antigua, Guatemala

Semana Santa


Antigua, Guatemala Holy Week

Semana Santa







 

8 Caoba Farms

Caoba or Mahogany Farms Organic Farm and Restaurant is a great way to start your day in Antigua, Guatemala. You will love the farm, shop, and to die for breakfast! I experienced the avocado toast and smoothie chia bowl. Where are my breakfast lovers at?


They host events and markets as well so be sure to check out their events calendar!