This is an article about things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
Antigua is arguably considered the cultural and spiritual capital of Guatemala. It’s a place of historical significance, with cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, and natural wonders like volcanoes and waterfalls. The city is also one of the country’s best destinations for foodies, with a wide range of restaurants featuring local specialties.
If you want more outdoor activities, head to the Mayan ruins at Tikal or hike the trails. Antigua has something for everyone in its Central American capital — from colonial architecture to modern art galleries and live music venues. Here is a list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
How to Get to Antigua Guatemala
To visit Antigua Guatemala from outside of the country, you will fly into the airport in Guatemala City. From there, it is a 2-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) to reach your destination. The Guatemala City airport is small, clean, and easy to navigate so you can feel comfortable arriving at any time of day.
However, it is strongly recommended to book your airport transfer prior to your arrival. Book this ground transfer to Antigua from Guatemala City airport or with Bayron Franco of Destinos Turisticos. Bayron has great rates, is a lifelong native of the area, and is also available for excursions in and around Antigua Guatemala. He can be contacted on What’s App at +502 4767 7372.
Solo female travelers visiting Antigua: visiting and exploring Guatemala is generally safe, but if you’d like the presence of a Spanish-speaking local, Bayron of Destinos Turisticos is especially recommended.
Things to Do in Antigua Guatemala
Visit the Pacaya Volcano
The Pacaya volcano is located about an hour from Antigua, Guatemala, and is one of the most popular things to do in Antigua Guatemala. It is the most active volcano in Guatemala. You can climb to the top of the mountain, which offers excellent views of the city and surrounding area.
Simplify this excursion with a guided tour with a local hiking professional. They’ll pick you up from Antigua, drive you to the Pacaya Volcano and take care of all the details for you.
There are several trails to explore the area around the volcano. The easiest one begins at the park entrance and leads up to an observation platform that views the crater lake below.
You can also hike up to the top of Pacaya Volcano using switchbacks or a cable car ride up to the top station. The latter option is more expensive but provides better views of the surrounding landscape. There are several other things to do here, including a museum and a church. The museum has exhibits on natural disasters and volcanoes.
Have an Adventure in Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is a destination for travelers from all over the world. The lake has a very long and rich history and is full of natural beauty. It is also home to an abundance of wildlife and plant life. The lake is one of Guatemala’s most popular tourist destinations and for good reason.
The villages around the lake are about 1-2 hours from Antigua and once you’re there, you’ll have to arrange transportation on one of the boat options. Be sure to bring cash! Or simplify your whole experience by booking a guided tour to Lake Atitlan.
The lake’s shores are lined with volcanoes, which create beautiful views from the water making it one of the most scenic things to do in Antigua Guatemala. There are many beaches along the shoreline, where you can relax under the sun or swim in the calm waters. Most of these beaches have restaurants, bathrooms, picnic tables, and other amenities where you can spend your day on the lake.
Wander the Cobblestone Streets
Antigua is an old city that has retained its charm and character. The cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and Spanish-style buildings make it a unique place to visit.
The cobblestone streets of Antigua are a delight for walkers. If you’re looking for exercise, take a walking tour along one of these promenades. You’ll find many shops selling local crafts and artwork and restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy an espresso or two.
Visit the Agua Volcano
The Agua Volcano (or Volcan de Aqua) is active in the mountains of Antigua, Guatemala. It is one of the most visited attractions in Guatemala, so you can expect to see many people. The volcano has an elevation of 3,760 meters above sea level and is visible from many parts of the city.
Agua Volcano is a great place to visit if you want to relax and enjoy nature. There are several trails around the volcano, so you have plenty of choices for where to go hiking.
Try the Famous Churrasco Steak
Antigua is home to some stellar dining establishments so of course eating would be on this list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala. Antigua is known for its churrasco, a dish that combines beef or chicken with avocado and onions. Churrasco is served on a wooden board and cooked with various spices. It is often accompanied by other typical dishes, such as piquín sauce (a spicy sauce made with onions and peppers) and fried potatoes.
Antigua has dozens of restaurants that serve churrasco-style meat, but this is not just a local delicacy: It’s also one of the most popular dishes in Central America. You can savor the meal as you enjoy the city’s view at some of Antigua’s best restaurants.
Visit the Jade Maya Museum
The Jade Maya Museum is a must-see attraction when in Antigua, Guatemala. This museum is dedicated to the ancient Maya civilization. The museum has many artifacts from this ancient culture and features various statues, sculptures, and paintings.
You can also learn about the rituals that were performed by the ancient Maya people, such as bloodletting, human sacrifice, and other religious ceremonies. The museum displays various pieces from pre-Columbian cultures, including Mayan and Zapotec artwork and some recent examples of traditional Guatemalan art.
The museum also features several halls dedicated to different topics, such as natural history and pre-Columbian art. Some of these halls also include children’s areas where families can enjoy themselves while learning about Guatemala’s rich history.
Hike Around Fuego Volcano
The hike around the Fuego Volcano is a must-do on the list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala. This is one of the most impressive volcanoes you will see in Central America, and it’s also a great place to visit if you want to get a feel for Guatemalan culture.
The hike takes about four hours and begins at sunrise, so it’s best to start early! The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. You’ll have a fantastic view of the volcano and its surroundings and some great photo opportunities. You can even stop by a coffee shop on the way up if you get hungry.
Prepare Guatemalan Cuisine at a Cooking Class
Antigua, Guatemala, is home to some of the best food in Central America. The city has abundant culinary options, from traditional restaurants to trendy cafés and street food stalls.
If you’re unsure where to start, consider taking an authentic Guatemala cooking class in Antigua with one of the many local cooking schools. You will be able to hone your skills and learn from experienced chefs who teach people how to cook their favorite dishes from around the world. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet other travelers while you are there.
Shop Artisan Wares at the Antigua Markets
There are many local markets in Antigua Guatemala and they are a great place to go for traditional Guatemalan wares. Many of these markets have been around for hundreds of years and are a popular thing to do in Antigua Guatemala. They sell everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to clothing and souvenirs.
The local markets in Antigua are similar but have unique touches that set them apart from the others. But please note that some can be hard to locate. If you really want to explore the markets, consider booking a market experience with a tour guide that can help.
If you want to give it a go on your own, the main markets in Antigua are:
- Mercado de Artesanias El Carmen
- Mercado Central Antigua Guatemala
Feel Like a Local in Central Park
Embrace the local vibe of the city by hanging out in its hub Central Park. This plaza is located right in the heart of the city and is in the middle of many of its main tourist attractions. But more than that, it is a congregation spot for many of the city’s locals. You will find everything from merchants selling wares to young children chasing pigeons.
If you want to immerse yourself in the feel of Antigua, this is one of the top things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
Visit Iglesia de San Francisco
Iglesia de San Fransisco is a must-see for any visitor looking for things to do in Antigua Guatemala. It is one of the largest churches in the world and is located just outside of town on a hilltop overlooking the city.
The structure has become an icon of Antigua with many tourists having this on their list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala. Visitors can take photos of its massive walls and intricate stonework and climb to the top of the church for an impressive view of the city. There is even an old city wall that you can walk around the top of.
The Iglesia de San Francisco is one of the many stops included in this 2-hour guided photo walk around Antigua.
Visit El Calvario Church
El Calvario is the largest church in Antigua and ranks as one of the most important landmarks in Guatemala. The church is located on a hill above the city and has been rebuilt several times since its construction.
The interiors of El Calvario are filled with paintings and sculptures from different periods in its history. The most exciting part of El Calvario is its main altar, which contains an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is the first altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Americas.
There are also several other chapels within El Calvario, including one dedicated to San José (and another that honors Our Lady of Carmel.
Take a Salsa Dancing Lesson
Salsa is the most popular dance in Antigua. It is a great way to burn calories, learn new steps, and make new friends. The steps are simple, easy to learn, and fun to dance to. Check out one of these places to take a (sometimes) complimentary salsa lesson:
Take a Day Trip to Guatemala City
Guatemala City can get a bad rep in comparison to its nearby city of Antigua. But the truth is that Guatemala City has a charm all its own. Consider taking a day trip into the city to explore the museums, shopping centers, and cultural hubs Guatemala City has to offer.
Make the most of your time in the city with a guided afternoon tour of Guatemala City.
Take a Day Trip to Panajachel
Panajachel is a beautiful town on the north shore of the infamous Lake Atitlan. Most use the city as a thoroughfare to other villages around the lake but it truly is worth exploring on its own. Filled with cute shops, tasty eateries, and vibrant street culture, a day trip to Panajachel is a fun thing to do in Antigua Guatemala.
Save the headache of coordinating the trip on your own. Book a private taxi that will transport you from Antigua to Panajachel.
Learn to Make Chocolate
Chocolate and Antigua Guatemala are almost synonymous. Okay, that might be taking it a bit far but you can still enjoy tasting chocolate and even learn to make your own as a thing to do in Antigua Guatemala. Take a 2-hour workshop at the ChocoMuseum of Antigua, learn all about the process used to make delightful candy bars, and take home some of your own tasty creations.
Tour Hotel Casa Domingo
Hotel Casa Domingo is more than just a 5-star hotel in the heart of Antigua Guatemala. It’s also a museum, restaurant, and tourist destination all its own. The former convent was transformed into a picturesque landmark in the city that is free to explore.
Seek out the parrots, purchase local wares, visit one of the many museums inside, grab a meal at one of the eateries, or just enjoy the ambiance there.
Acatenango Volcano Hike
Hiking the Acatenango Volcano isn’t for the faint of heart but if you’re up for the challenge, this is a must-do thing to do in Antigua Guatemala. It is the third highest volcano in all of Central America with a summit of over 13,000 feet (almost 4,000 meters). The entire climb requires at least an overnight stay.
There are many logistics to arrange for a hike up the Acatenango Volcano. For that reason, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. They will pick you up from Antigua, coordinate your hike, help you set up a base camp for an overnight stay, and then bring you back safely.
Be Picture Perfect at the Infamous Santa Catalina Arch
If you go through your list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala but don’t take a picture at the Santa Catalina Arch, did you even go? This iconic landmark is one of the most recognizable in the city. Visit early in the day for the best chances of clear streets and the best pictures.
Antigua really is one of the most picturesque cities in Guatemala. Explore all the best photo opportunities by taking this 2-hour guided photo walk around Antigua.
Tap Into your Inner Hobbit at Hobbitenago
Speaking of photo opportunities in Antigua, there are few others as Instagrammable as the floating hand at Hobbitenango. The eco-park is about an hour or so outside of Antigua but is an easy day trip. While there, you can swing on tree swings, explore hobbit-sized habitats, and, of course, scale the floating hobbit hand. (Don’t worry – it is totally safe).
The park is built up into the mountains of Antigua so think twice if you are scared of heights. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the entire park is grass terrain. Cards are accepted here but bring cash as a precaution.
Scale the Golden Hand at Altamira
Altamira is a nature park located high in the mountains outside Antigua. If you love movie-themed eco-parks, then this is definitely one of the best things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
With a visit here, you are guaranteed jaw-dropping panoramic views of the area, intriguing walking trails, and fun activities like mini-golf and rock climbing. It also has a golden gilded hand that makes the perfect Pinterest-worthy photo too!
Find Your Adventure with an ATV Tour
When you’re in a city surrounded by volcanoes and mountaintops, it’s easy to tap into your inner adventurer. Climb aboard an ATV four-wheeler and traverse the cobblestoned streets of Antigua and its neighboring villages.
It’s one of the most ideal ways to see the city and you can choose from an ATV, motorcycle, or scooter. And if you’d prefer not to drive, you can always take a backseat to the guide.
Get your Java fix by Touring a Coffee Plantation
Central American coffee has a worthy reputation of its own so of course, trying it should be one of the things to do in Antigua Guatemala. The country’s largest coffee producers are right there in the area and are open to visitors.
Learn Sustainability at the Macadamia Nut Farm
Macadamias might be an Australian nut but they have found a home right in the heart of Antigua. Valhalla Farm is an organic macadamia nut farm about 15 minutes from the center of Antigua.
It started as an economic experiment of sorts to introduce an income source to the local economy. Since then, it has flourished into sustainable agriculture with an on-site spa, restaurant, and glamping spots.
Antigua Guatemala is a beautiful city with tons to see, eat, and do. With this list of things to do in Antigua Guatemala, you can have a fun-packed holiday.