What To Do In Antigua, Guatemala: 25 Things Not To Miss
Wondering what to do in Antigua? Find yourself thinking is Antigua, Guatemala worth visiting? Let’s just cut to the chase. Antigua is 100% worth visiting! Antigua, Guatemala is one of the best cities in all of Central America. So, whether you spending one day or three days here, there is a wonderful list of AMAZING things to do in Antigua!
This 16th-century Spanish-colonial city is full of ancient churches, colorful houses, fascinating history, exceptional restaurants, and views that will make you swoon. From volcano hikes to walking tours, artisanal markets, and amazing rooftop restaurants, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t visited Antigua sooner! We sure did.
We spent two weeks exploring this UNESCO world heritage site, and we’re here to give you our take on the best things to do in Antigua! So don’t you worry! We have you covered. After reading this travel guide you’ll know exactly what to do in Antigua, Guatemala! So let’s get to it, shall we?
Learn how to spend three amazing days in Antigua, Guatemala right here!
What To Do In Antigua, Guatemala
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1. Watch Volcan De Fuego Erupt
Starting the list off with the coolest and honestly most unique thing to do in Antigua, watching an active volcano erupt from 12,362 ft / 3767 m. We’re talking about the hike to Volcan De Fuego or Fuego for short.
Hiking to Volcan De Fuego can be done as either a day trip or an overnight trip. If you have the time (2 days), we recommend the overnight option as you’ll camp along the side of Acetenango and witness the MASSIVE lava spewing from the crater of Fuego.
You’ll get as close as your guides (we used OX Expeditions and can’t recommend them enough) deem safe. For us, we stood on Feugeo’s ridgeline, about 1,000 – 1,500 feet away from the active crater. From here, you’ll have exceptional views of Volcan De Agua, Volcan De Acatenango, the villages below, and the whole reason you trekked, eruptions from El Fuego!
2. Spend The Night on Volcan De Acatenango
If hiking Volcan De Fuego sounds like something you are going to do, we highly recommend adding Acatenango to your list too!
Acatenagno is the third tallest volcano in Central America. Hiking Acatenango can be done as a day trip or overnight, and just like Fuego, we recommend the overnight option if time allows.
The coolest thing about opting to hike Acatenagno (outside of saying you summiting the third tallest volcano in Central America), is you can combine the hike to hike both Fuego and Acatenagno in one go (known as the double whammy)!
On day 1, you’ll hike to Fuego and stay for sunset on its ridgeline where you’ll watch the mighty volcano erupt. Then that same night, you’ll hike back over to Acatenago, where you’ll make camp and stay for the night. Around 3:00AM that following morning, you’ll be off hiking again. This time, it’s a race against the clock to get your butt up to the summit of Acatengango to watch the sunrise.
All of this makes for nothing short of an epic adventure and memorable experience!
Now, if the double whammy sounds like a bit too much. We hear ya. You can skip the Fuego hike altogether and just opt to hike Acatenango. The best part? If you stay overnight on Acatenago, you’ll see Fuego erupt from your tent 🙂 A win, win if you ask us!
3. Cool Off In Aqua Antigua’s Pool
During our 2 weeks in Antigua, we spent a day poolside at Aqua Antigua. Costing $20 USD per person for a day pass, Aqua Antigua is a restaurant, cocktail bar, and pool lounge.
A place where you can easily spend a few hours beating the Antigua heat, enjoy some lunch, and a few cerveza’s poolside. A perfect place to unwind and relax (perhaps recover from your volcano hikes?!) before you continue exploring the list of other things to do in Antigua.
4. Enjoy Craft Beer at Antigua Brewery & Antigua Cerveza
If you love craft beer, then you’re in luck. Antigua is home to a few craft breweries for you to enjoy.
The first is Antigua Brewery. Enjoy a selection of local craft beer from their rooftop patio. Or, opt to partake in their weekly brewery tour on Sundays at 2 pm or look to book one of their beer tastings. However you plan to spend your time at Antigua Brewery is up to you, just make sure you pay it a visit.
The second brewery is Antigua Cerveza. Home to two locations in Antigua, one located a few steps away from Santa Catalina Arch, while the other is engulfed in a forest on the edge of town.
Antigua Cerveza Cerveteca is a shotgun-style bar with a few seats and 10-ish beers on draft. While its second location, Antigua Cerveza El Bosque, is a compound. Located in a forest with yard games, live music, beer on draft, a few specialty cocktails and not to mention food, you’ll find that El Bosque is a local favorite on the weekends!
5. Experience A Fine Dining Meal at Quiltro
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind fine dining experience in Antigua, look no further than Quiltro.
Chef Rodrigo Salvo has crafted unique 10 or 12-course tasting menus for you to choose from. Each dish that leaves their kitchen is inspired by Guatemala’s iconic ingredients and flavors.
If you’re a foodie, and have the budget to spare, making a reservation at Quiltro is highly recommended! We went with the 12-course meal and it was phenomenal! A memorable dining experience for sure!
6. Take a Coffee Farm Tour with De La Genta
Calling all coffee lovers! You happen to be in one of the best coffee-producing countries in the world. What better way to not only enjoy an amazing cup of coffee but learn about it too?
A coffee farm tour with De La Genta will do just this! You’ll be guided through a small coffee farm where you’ll learn everything about the coffee process. Planting, harvesting, roasting, and production, you’ll be educated on it all. Plus, at the end of the tour, you get to enjoy a cup of coffee as well as get a bag of beans to take home.
Not to mention, De La Genta is an NGO that provides fair wages and resources to local farmers throughout Guatemala.
TIP: If a tour with De La Genta is sold out, we have friends who booked an ATV coffee tour with La Azotea Cofee Farm and loved it!
7. Climb Up To Antigua’s Best Viewpoint, Cerro De La Cruz
To see Antigua from above, hike up (or catch a tuk-tuk ride) to Cerra De La Cruz. Cerra De La Cruz (or Cross on The Hill) is a scenic viewpoint north of Antigua that provides expansive views of Antigua below and the looming Volcan de Agua.
The hike up to Cerra De La Cruz is about 0.5 miles (one-way), taking on average 20-25 minutes. You’ll traverse on a paved path (with stairs) through the woods until eventually reach the end of the trail where you’ll be greeted with amazing views of Antigua and its surrounding hills.
To avoid the heat of the day, and for the best light for photos, opt to hike up to Cerro De La Cruz in the morning or late afternoon.
8. Have Dinner Amongst Antigua Church Ruins
If you didn’t know, Antigua is home to amazing churches. Some of which are operational, others are just mere ruins. From Tartines charming terrace you can enjoy a meal as you overlook the ruins of the Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace.
9. Watch The Sunset From Cafe Sky’s Rooftop
Arguably one of the best rooftops in Antigua, Guatemala is Cafe Sky. While their food may not be the best meal we had in Antigua, the views from Cafe Sky’s three-story rooftop are pretty hard to beat.
Located on the east side of town, you’ll have up-close views of Volcan De Agua not to mention, views of Acatenango and Fuego in the distance. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see Fuego erupt from Cafe Sky’s rooftop!
Plan to arrive before sunset, and have a few drinks before making your way to another location for dinner. We loved the views from Cafe Sky we visited several times during our few weeks’ stay in Antigua!
10. Take Your Photo With Santa Catalina Arch
The most iconic structure in Antigua, Guatemala has to be Santa Catalina Arch. Built in 1694, the Arch connected the Santa Catalina convent to a school, allowing the cloistered nuns to gain access from one building to the other by passing through the Arch without going out on the street and being seen.
Today, cloistered nuns no longer use the arch as a passage, but visitors still flock to 5th Avenue North to get their photo in front of the impressive yellow Santa Catalina Arch with Volcan De Agua looming majestically in the background.
11. Souvineer Shop At Local Markets
Antigua is home to several amazing local markets. So whether you’re looking for a traditional market to wander through or a market catered to tourists that offer locally made goods, there is a market for everyone in Antigua.
- Mercado Central Antigua Guatemala: A true local market. If you are looking to experience an authentic market in Antigua, Mercado Central is it. From produce to meat, and everything in between, get a local feel from Antigua and wander through Mercado Central.
- Mercado de Artesanías (Artisan Market): Full of colorful textiles, woven blankets and purses, and jewelry, Artisan Market is an incredible place to wander around, shop and take photos.
- Centro de Arte Popular: A museum with a focus on art from Guatemala’s Mayan heritage.
- Nim Po’t: Located right next to Santa Catalina Arch, Nim Po’t is a huge hall that is a cooperative for artisans. From masks to clothes, to pottery, and textiles, you’ll find it at Nim Po’t.
12. Take A Tuk-Tuk Ride
A fun way to get around town is to hop in the local tuk-tuk’s that you’ll see whizzing down the cobblestone streets of Antigua. Flag down the driver and let them know where you want to go and vroom, you’ll be off!
Just make sure you have cash (Quetzales) on you as that is the only form of payment tuk-tuk drivers accept. You can expect a tuk-tuk ride within the city of Antigua to cost around 30 Quetzales. However, if you are looking to take a tuk-tuk to the top of Cerro De La Cruz, the price goes up.
13. Have A Farm-To-Table Brunch at Caoba Farms
Looking for a restaurant in Antigua that does brunch?! DO WE HAVE A RECOMMENDATION FOR YOU! Caoba Farms. We’re salivating just thinking about it.
Picture this. Three acres of farm that is home to rows of organic produce, cute farm animals, a butterfly garden, and fresh flowers. Their locally grown, fresh, organic produce is served right to your table. A true farm-to-table dining experience in Antigua.
Enjoy your meal in an outdoor oasis, surrounded by plants, flowers, and live music. After your meal (or before!) wander their farmers market and on-site local store or opt to take a yoga class.
Without a doubt, Caoba Farms was one of our favorite meals we had in Antigua.
14. Book an Antigua City Walking Tour
One of the best things about Antigua (if you can tell by now, there is lots!) is how walkable it is. Antigua is a very pedestrian-friendly city, making walking not only the best way to get around but also the best way to see and experience the history and architecture of this place!
Antigua has so much history. Sure, you can walk the city yourself, hitting popular attractions and taking in the colorful houses, but you’ll be missing all the “behind the scenes” tidbits and factoids.
One of our favorite things we did in Antigua is partake in a city walking tour. We were whisked about town for 3 hours, learning about and going to all the top sights like Iglesia de La Merced, Santa Catalina Arch (Arco de Santa Catalina), Real Palacio, The Plaza Central Park, Cathedral de Santiago, and Casa Santo Domingo.
Taking a walking tour is a great way to spend a morning around town! And if you can time it right, we suggest making it the first activity you do in Antigua as a way to get your barrings of the new place you’re in!
15. Enjoy Antigua’s Rooftop Restaurants & Coffee Shops
Rooftop restaurants and coffee shops are alive and well in Antigua! In fact, you have a decent amount to choose from. During our two weeks, we got to sample a decent amount and if you choose to have lunch, dinner, or an afternoon pick-me-up at any of the below places, you truly can’t go wrong.
Antigua Coffee Shops With A Rooftop View:
- Cafe Boheme
- Rooftop Antigua
- Cafe Estudio
- Serve Hope Café GT
Antigua Rooftop Restaurants:
- Luna de Miel
- Los Tres Tiempos
- Lava Terrace (inside El Barrio)
- The Snug
- Tartines (as previously mentioned above)
- Antigua Brewery (as previously mentioned above)
- Cafe Sky (as previously mentioned above)
16. Indulge In A Chocolate Making Class
For those with a sweet tooth or just looking for something fun to do in Antigua, a chocolate-making class with ChocoMueso is for you! Yes, that is correct. There is an entire museum dedicated to Chocolate in Antigua, Guatemala.
Chocolate (or the cacao bean), played a very vital role in Maya Culture. Seeing that half the population is of Maya descent, it’s only right that chocolate is still a part of Guatemala culture.
Learn everything about chocolate as you make your own chocolate bar to take back home with you! This is also a great family-friendly activity to do in Antigua. So if you’re traveling with kids, get them some chocolate why don’t ya 🙂
17. Have A Night Cap at Bar Ulew, A Speakeasy in Antigua
Located on the first floor of Antigua Brewery, you’ll see an unsuspecting red telephone booth (like the kind you’d find in London), tucked in a corner near the building entrance.
If you just so happen to enter the booth and pull back the draped curtain inside, you’ll enter a small, stone bar with high ceilings where you’ll find mixologists shaking off-menu drinks behind the bar.
Bar Ulew is a speakeasy. Offering no menu, drinks are custom-made to your liking and taste profile. Your friendly waiter will ask you a series of questions and before long, you’ll have a “made-for-you” cocktail at your table.
While Bar Ulew is a not-so-budget-friendly bar in Antigua, it is such a FUN and unique experience. Epic music plays over the speakers, the vibe is lively, and the drinks are catered to you. Definitely give it a try if you’re able!
18. Learn How To Cook Traditional Guatemalan Food
Regardless if you’re in Antigua, or another city in the world, one of our favorite ways to experience a new country and culture is eating our way through it. Taking a cooking class is not only fun, but you’ll learn about staple ingredients while making traditional dishes of the country.
A cooking class with Cuscun, will teach you how to make traditional Guatemalan dishes like Pepián, Jocón, Kak’ik, Subanik, Tamales, and Chiles Rellenos. After you’re done cooking, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor by eating what you just cooked from a terrace balcony in Antigua. Sounds pretty great, right?!
19. Visit The Historic Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
Among the most luxurious hotels you can stay at in Antigua, Casa Santo Domingo is so much more than a hotel and spa.
In the 17th century, the Santo Domingo Convent was one of the largest in the Americas until the Santa Marta earthquake nearly destroyed it in 1773. It wasn’t until over 100 years later, in 1989 that Casa Santo Domingo reopened but this time not as a convent, but as a hotel.
The hotel took great care in not only building upon the ruins of the convent but expertly preserving what still remained. Baroque architecture with ancient stone walls, impressive archways, gardens, old fountains, and courtyards.
This 128-room hotel is not only open to hotel guests but the public as well. Visitors to Casa Santo Domingo can opt to eat amongst the old convent ruins at El Refectorio, have a drink at Bar Cabildo, visit six museums, enjoy the hotel’s spa, or wander the hotel grounds.
However you choose to spend your time here, one thing is certain, you cannot deny the exquisite beauty and history Casa Santo Domingo holds.
20. Enjoy Fresh Fruit From Street Vendors
As you walk the cobblestone streets of Antigua, you’ll notice vendors in wheeled carts selling freshly cut fruit and juices. Popular around Parque Central, the local fruit vendors sell tasty fruit to anyone looking to buy. If you’re looking for a snack as you wander the city, bop over to a fruit cart and take a pick!
21. Toast Marshmallows On A Volcano (Volcan Pacaya)
Of the other two Antigua volcano hikes we talked about above, a hike up to Volcan Pacaya is the easiest. Or, skip the hiking and take an ATV to the top!
Located 15 miles (25km) outside of Antigua lays Volcan Pacaya. Sitting at 8,000 ft. (2,500 meters) in elevation, you can opt for a 6-hour public hiking tour or a private hiking tour up to Pacaya to take you to the plateau from where you can see the main crater of the volcano. Plus, we’re told you even get to roast marshmallows over its lava!
22. Have An Ice Cream in Parque Central (Central Park)
A simple and very easy little piece of Antigua enjoyment is walking through THE park in Antigua, Parque Central. A place where you’ll find vendors selling, families enjoying the shade the massive trees provide, and the tranquil sounds of the park fountain.
On certain Sundays of the month, you may even find a market in the park! One of our favorite ways to enjoy Parque Central is to buy an ice cream cone from the street vendors on either corner of the park, find a park bench, and people-watch. Simple and frankly a wonderful way to take in the culture of Antigua.
23. Take a Free Salsa Dancing Class in Antigua
New Sensation Salsa Studio offers a free introductory group class to those interested in discovering Salsa. Every Monday and Tuesday from 5 PM to 6 PM New Sensation Salsa Studio opens its studio doors to locals and tourists alike providing a welcoming, encouraging, and fun atmosphere!
Great for first-timers or those just looking to learn a few steps of a new dance genre, give New Sensation Salsa Studio a try for a unique thing to do in Antigua!
24. Wander Through Parque Union (Union Park)
Parque Union might just be our favorite park in Antigua. While it’s significantly smaller than Parque Central, Parque Union is literally surrounded by something in every direction.
On the east end of the Parque Union, you have Tanque La Unión (Union Tank; a colonial bath used for laundering clothes) and Convento Santa Clara (ruins of a church and monastery).
On the west end, you have Iglesia San Pedro Apóstol, a beautiful yellow church. And on the south end, you’ll find views of Volcan De Agua peeking through amongst palm trees.
In the center of Parque Union, you’ll find locals enjoying the night, scattered about on park benches. And just to be comprehensive, the Snug, an Irish rooftop bar, is located on the north end of the park. Just saying 🙂
25. Head Out On A Day Trip From Antigua
Located about 30 minutes north of the city of Antigua is Hobbitenango. Home to exceptional views over the valley, two restaurants, and 2 hobbit-style casitas (looking at you, you Lord of The Rings fans!) that you can rent to stay the night. Hobbitenango is a great place to spend a few hours, have a meal, and take photos in a different area of Antigua!
Mixco Viejo is the former capital of the Poqomam Maya kingdom. Built on a mountain-top to be a defensive location in the 12th century AD, Mixco Viejo is believed to once be home to as many as 10,000 Mayan people. Today, Mixco Viejo is a well-preserved archaeological site with remains of over 120 structures such as temples, palaces, and Mesoamerican ballgame courts.
Chichicastenango (or ChiChi for short) is an indigenous town in the Guatemalan Highlands that is home to the largest market in Central America. Explore the vendor-filled streets that seemingly never end. You’ll walk past stalls of colorful textiles, leather-made goods, handcrafts, jewelry, and of course plenty of street food to keep your bellies full!
Iximche Mayan Ruins
From 1470 to 1524, Iximche was the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom. Today, you can tour the archeological site of Iximche to explore its temples and palaces. This is also a day trip option from Lake Atitlan if you plan on heading to Lake Atitlan for a few days (which you should!)
ATL OPTION: You can visit Chichicastenango and Iximche in one day trip from Antigua! It’ll make for a full day, but totally doable!
Now, we are listing this as a day trip ONLY under the guidance that you can truly only do a lot one day in Lake Atitlan. However, if you have more days to spend here, you 1000% should! Lake Atitlan is breaktaking. In the running to be one of the wonders of the world, Lake Atitlan is surrounded by 12 Maya villages for you to wander through and explore.
To learn more about what there is to do in Lake Atitlan, read our latest travel guide!
Want More Info On Guatemala?!
How To Spend 3 Days in Antigua
8 Lake Atitlan Towns Not To Miss
The Essential Guatemala Itinerary (7 days, 10 days, 2 weeks)
17 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Atitlan
5 Epic Lake Atitlan Hikes & Trails
The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Semuc Champey
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stus)