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Travel to Antigua: Day trips, Things to Do and Tips

arc and clock in antigua guatemala

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Travel to Antigua: Day trips, Things to Do and Tips

some cars on the streets of antigua guetamala

Antigua Guatemala is a colonial city in Guatemala, it’s one of the few that is really truly still intact, and it’s just a beautiful, colorful little town or village, whatever you wanna call it. It’s a small UNESCO site of 10 blocks squared with cobblestones and amazing restaurants and very touristy with this beautiful Central Park and cathedral. Today, we’re going to be talking about traveling to Antigua, Guatemala.

Whenever you come to Guatemala and I have a podcast that covers an entire episode that covers traveling to Guatemala and the best places to visit when you come to Guatemala, Antigua is without a doubt going to be number one on your list to stay. 

💡 You can listen to the full Guatemala podcast here

Where it’s located?

First, it’s only about one hour from Guatemala City. You do not need to stay in Guatemala City when you arrive at the airport, it’s actually quite convenient to just arrive straight in Antigua. It is also the central hub where you will be taking the majority of your trips from either day trips or even going to your next location which could be Lake Atitlan, which is also one of the most popular places to visit in Guatemala when you are visiting. 

Antigua, like I said it’s a hub for the rest of your travels throughout Guatemala. If you want to go and visit Guatemala City, it’s about an hour, hour and a half depending on where you go in the city, and it’s also about 2 to 2.5 hours to Lake Atitlan. You could take a collective shuttle, you could go by private shuttle, whatever is the best for you, and it’s not a very far drive. 

old building in antigua guatemala

Getting Around

Antigua like I said is this tiny little colonial town that you could pretty much walk to anywhere you are if you are seeing in the center of Antigua. So if you read someplace in a hotel or an Airbnb that says five minutes from Antigua? I would really recommend staying right in Antigua because that five minutes can really make a difference why do you want to spend money on a tuk-tuk or an Uber when you’re right there and five minutes you really don’t want to be walking that much outside of the center of Antigua.  

That’s one of those little things that people don’t mention. I truly recommend it, and Antigua also has this huge bus terminal so that a lot of the public buses come and go from there. It could be okay to do, but you know, traveling by chicken bus or public bus in Guatemala can be tricky. It could be a bit dangerous. Not only that, but it’s just really not worth that. 

I would recommend doing either a private shuttle or one of those collective shuttles that Hotels or hostels have because they’re just much safer, and they really aren’t that much more. They’re really not that expensive. I shouldn’t say that it’s much more expensive, but they’re like $10, you know, to go someplace. 

a street in antigua guatemala

Things to Do in Antigua

Walk Around Antigua

When you are in Antigua, the most popular thing to do is obviously just to walk around the town because it’s really adorable. It’s very walkable. They have this really fun Central Park where the cathedral is and where a lot of really cool shops and restaurants and coffee shops and all the other good stuff is located right there. 

square antigua guatemala

Pacaya Volcano Tour

The most popular day trip to take from Antigua is to visit Pacaya, which is a volcano that you can see, it’s always a bit active. So you can literally hike up to the top. It’s not a tough hike, or you could take a horse. They do take, they do have horses that could take you to the top, and you could roast marshmallows right there off of the Lava But yet still walk on it. So it’s relatively safe. 

It’s about 45 minutes to an hour drive from Antigua, and it’s definitely a fantastic one-day trip. 

Artisan and Central Market

Also, Antigua has this amazing central market, it’s definitely one of the biggest in the area, and it’s always open. You could go and visit, and you could buy fruits and all this other stuff, and right next to the central market is the artisan market. However, the best time to visit the market is on a Monday, Thursday, or Saturday. Those are market days, and they are just bustling with fruits and flowers and energy and colors and everything you could imagine. 

I would recommend definitely going and visiting. You only need like three or four hours max. You do need to be careful with your belongings because pickpockets are on the loose and this is a very good place, especially if they’re noticing that you are a visitor or a tourist definitely recommend keeping as little on you as possible and whatever you do have on you, make sure that it’s really close to your body so that you don’t have to worry about being robbed. 

street market in antigua guatemala

Holy Week

Now there are some really cool holidays in Antigua, Guatemala. It’s world known for Semana Santa which is Easter week or holy week, and it is one of the few places in the world that holds these processions and carpets. So if you’re going to visit, and you want to see the Semana Santa celebration or festivities, I recommend arriving that week before easter, or if you can’t do an entire week definitely from Wednesday so that you get a good Thursday.

I think it’s holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter and there because that’s when the best processions, these carpets, this ornate, Everything happens. 

Day of Dead

The other big holiday in Guatemala is the day of the dead, which is November first. However, the way that it is celebrated in Guatemala is with this massive amazing Kite festival, which is held in this town called some Sumpango which is about 45 minutes from Antigua, and it is something that you need to see. 

It is the only place in the world that is celebrated like this. So when you come to Antigua, if you could come for November one for a day of the dead, definitely recommend going and visiting Sumpango and seeing the kite festival. It is something that you will absolutely love. 

Chichicastenango

Also, another really cool place to visit is Chichicastenango, which is the largest central market in all of Central America, and it’s actually on the way to Lake Atitlan. So you might want to do that, take a little stopover, hang out there for like four hours and then continue on to Lake Atitlan. 

Again you can work this out with many shuttles or private, whatever works best for you. So everything you can pretty much access and if you don’t want to go to Lake Atitlan and just want to go and visit. So it’s pretty much the same day as market day. They are also on Sunday. 

Hike Acatenango Volcano

The cool thing about Antigua is that it is in a valley and the valley is literally surrounded by the ring of fire, which is three volcanoes. And the other one of the most popular day trips to take. It’s actually an overnight trip to go and hike up the Acatenango Volcano which is right next Fuego volcano which is always erupting and always gives you this magical show. 

💡 You can listen to the full Acatenango podcast here

I have an entire episode talking about Acatenango and Fuego Volcano tour. I recommend that you listen to it so that you understand better the logistics of that

Another great thing to do for a day trip is visiting Jardines de Provenza, a la lavender field. It’s beutiful and will make a great day trip.

two guys sitting on top of Acatenango volcano

How much time to spend in Antigua

As you understand Antigua itself, maybe 2 or 3 days is really all you need. But because of all these really cool day trips, I would recommend maybe five days in Antigua, and then if you’re going to be going onto Lake Atitlan of these two or three days, their Lake Atitlan, which I have a podcast for as well when you go and visit it, especially with the villages.

💡 You can listen to the full Lake Atitlan podcast here

But if you are going to be flying out from the city in the later afternoon flight, you can certainly do it from Lake Atitlan and any time that you are flying out from Guatemala City, you could definitely leave from Antigua.

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