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Best Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala in 2019

Tips for the best things to explore in the vibrant city of Antigua, Guatemala.

By Kate Ruddell | Jul 11, 2019, 10:44 AM

Antigua is a vibrant city rich with grace, culture, and history. It is a colonial city, that was once capital to the Kingdom of Guatemala. Bright buildings paint the city in different shades of pastels, the cobblestone streets date back to the 1500s, and it’s even a UNESCO World Heritage Centre site. If you are up for an adventure, consider booking your next trip to Antigua, Guatemala.

Things to Do in Antigua

Visit the Volcanoes

You can see several volcanoes from different vantage points throughout Antigua. Guatemala is home to 37 volcanoes and volcano hiking is a very popular activity. The Volcano of Pacaya is one of the most accessible volcanoes to Antigua, only being an hour and fifteen-minute drive away. It is also a live volcano with the most recent occurring eruption in July 2015. While it is rare to see the red-hot running lava, the volcano occasionally spews hot rocks. Tour groups allow you to toast marshmallows on the rocks. We recommend booking a half or full day tour with a local tour provider to avoid the headache of planning your own hike and transportation.

Eat Authentic Guatemalan Food

You cannot go wrong with beans, rice, and corn tortillas in Antigua. The tortillas are handmade and fresh daily at the local restaurants. Plantains and rice are staples to every meal. The meals and flavors are based on Mayan cuisines. Guatemalans also love to include soup with the meal. Pelan is a national Guatemalan dish, a chicken stew that is seasoned with lots of paprika. Keep in mind that in Central America, the service industry operates at a much more relaxed pace.

Antigua Dinner
Dinner at Fonda Calle De Real in Antigua, Guatemala

Visit Parque Central

Parque Central is the center of Antigua. It is a beautiful park lush with greenery, people, shopping, and restored buildings. On the weekends, you may even catch a young girl taking pictures in the historic fountain for her quinceanera. As you make your way around the park block, you’ll notice shops filled to the roof with souvenirs to bring back home. There are street vendors that carry fresh fruit and even street performers featuring music, dancing, and even magic shows.

Antigua Fountain

San Jose Cathedral at Parque Central

The San Jose Cathedral was constructed in 1680.The cathedral suffered damage from an earthquake in 1773. The city was able to fix the front façade, but the rest of the church is in ruins. In the ruins behind the church, there are crypts of conquistadors and other important Mayan people. At night, the front of the church is beautifully lit up making it one of the most photographed destinations in Antigua.

Antigua Cathedral

Antigua Ruins

Ride the Chicken Bus

The chicken bus is the public transportation system in Guatemala. These refurbished school buses are repainted in beautiful vibrant designs and amped up with truck engines. This is a very inexpensive way to get around the city. Try to sit in the back as once the bus schedule reaches peak hours, they pack the buses as full as possible. Hence the name “CHICKEN” bus, because you are packed in like chickens.

Antigua is a lovely city to visit. I cannot wait to plan my return. If you are looking for an affordable trip in Central America, you should consider Antigua at the top of your list.

Don’t forget, as you plan your trip to Antigua, to make sure you are protected with travel medical insurance. Learn more about the travel insurance and travel medical plans that IMG offers and get a quote!

Antigua Pinterest

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