The incredible Antigua in Guatemala
Our minivan picked us up in Semuc Champey and dropped us off in the central square of Antigua in front of a beautiful church called the Cathedral of San Jose.
This is a colonial town that sits under the imposing shadow of the Volcán de Agua, so-called because of the lake that sits on top of it. It is full of coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants with international menus. Antigua is a place to take a pleasant stroll or to enjoy a tasty coffee and not to be in a hurry trying to see the things the city has to offer. Being located in the mountains keeps the climate relatively cool. So take a coat, some comfortable shoes, your camera and spend your day among the cobblestone streets of this beautiful city and admire the most well-preserved buildings located at the bottom of this huge volcano.
- What to do in Antigua:
– For a spectacular view, hike up a small hill for about 25 minutes to El Mirador on Cerro de la Cruz.
– Visit the Hotel Santo Domingo. Built on the site of an old monastery, the gardens, museums and chapels of this beautiful hotel are open to the public. You can visit the facilities for free or if you want you can stay in a room for $300 to $500 US for one night.
The market, located a few blocks from the central square, offers everything from fruits and vegetables to handicrafts and CDs.
– You can climb one of the volcanoes located around Antigua.
– Active volcano, is a half-day trip from Antigua that can take 1.5 to 3 hours to climb on easy trails. You can warm marshmallows on the hot lava that you can see reaching the top.
– A full day or even overnight camping (recommended). 8 to 10 hours climbing this volcano on somewhat difficult trails at an elevation of almost 4.000 meters above sea level. You can see Volcan de Agua and Volcan de Fuego from the top.
– Antigua is a popular destination for backpackers and similar travellers, so you’ll find everything from 5-star hotels to very cheap hostels. If you’re looking for very low budget hostels, there are plenty of options within a few blocks of the central square.
We stayed in a hostel called Villa Estela for 45Q ($6US) per person in a 4-bed dorm. The hostel had a fully equipped kitchen, a small living room with TV and movies and a terrace with hammocks and a spectacular view of the Agua Volcano. In addition to this, the staff was always very helpful, we shared with very nice guests and the hostel was a good choice. The only problem is that we were a bit far from the Central Plaza (it’s a 10-minute walk while there are other options 2-3 blocks from the plaza).