If you have been following my travel journey, you will know that I spent almost 3 months living in Antigua, Guatemala. Here is my ultimate guide on places to stay, where to party and things to do in this beautiful colonial town.
Places to crash
There are tons of places to stay in Antigua which fit all budgets – here are a few of my faves.
If you are a backpacker looking for a fun party hostel, then Tropicana Hostel is the one for you!
Probably one of the most talked about hostels in Antigua, you are guaranteed to make friends for life here. There is always something going on at Tropicana and even has a cool swimming pool to chill out at through the day.
Make sure you head to trivia night every Thursday on the terrace which is hosted by the lovely Jerzy for your chance to win a cash prize! There are quite a few drinking games involved, oh, and practice your planking!
Posada de San Jeronimo Hotel
If you are looking for somewhere a little quieter, then Posada de San Jeronimo is a good choice. Chris and I stayed here for a number of days when we first arrived in Antigua and was perfect for us.
The hotel is located on the main street just opposite from the market. Posada de San Jeronimo has a lovely rooftop and courtyard area where you can relax during the day and also a kitchen to make your own food.
Booking.com usually have special offers for this hotel so you can get rooms even cheaper by booking online.
Hotel Casa Santa Domingo
If you have some cash to spend, the best hotel is Hotel Casa Santa Domingo. This luxury 5-star resort features a spa, swimming pool, stunning gardens, and a fantastic restaurant. This place really is top of the range and will set you back a pretty penny. If like myself, you can’t afford to stay here, you can still visit and take a look around the stunning grounds.
A lot of people choose to live with a Guatemalan family which is known as a “Homestay.” People who come to Antigua to learn Spanish find this a great way to live as they can practice their Spanish with a local family and the cost of living here includes 3 meals a day except on Sundays. The cost of living with a homestay family is fairly cheap, but check around for various prices and always make sure you visit your family before agreeing to move in!
As we were sticking around for some time, we decided the best option for us was to rent an apartment. We found a little gem for only $350 a month which included electricity, water and Wi-Fi. This cute studio apartment had a roof terrace complete with views of the 3 volcanoes!
There are so many apartments for rent in Antigua and the best thing to do is join the Facebook group “The Real Antigua Guatemala Classifieds,” where people post apartments for rent and also room shares.
So many activities
Most people end up staying for at least a week in Antigua, here are some cool activities you can do to pass the time.
Hiking a volcano
If you are coming to Antigua, it’s more than likely you will be hiking a volcano. There are 2 main volcanoes to hike, Acatenango and Pacaya. If you have read my post hiking Acatenango, you will know how tough this hike can be! Prices range for this trip but if you want to spend a few extra bucks you can hike with Gilmer who’s profits go towards building schools for the local community.
If Acatenango sounds too tough for you, or you don’t have 2 days spare. Pacaya is an afternoon hike that is much easier. Located about an hour away from Antigua, you can book tours with pretty much every travel company. You can hike the volcano in the morning and also in the afternoon for sunset. The climb only takes around 1 and half hours to reach the top. You can’t actually go all the way to the summit due to the risk of eruption. When you see the amount of lava you will understand!
Most people stay in Antigua for a while to learn Spanish which is exactly what Chris and I did. We went to a private school run by Marco who has a small number of teachers who all provide one on one teaching. Marco’s rates are probably some of the cheapest in Antigua. If you want the contact, just drop me a message!
Cerro de la Cruz
Cerro de la Cruz is a cool view point which overlooks the city of Antigua and has unobstructed views of volcano Agua. To reach the view point you walk north on 1st Avenida until you walk past some ruins on your right hand side. Keep walking until you see the sign for Cerro de la Cruz and walk approximately 15 minutes up the steps.
Wander the cobbles of Antigua
The best thing to do in Antigua is walk. I loved just walking the cobbled streets and seeing what hidden gems live behind each door. You will be amazed at the amount of beautiful courtyards hidden through shop doors and the stunning churches and ruins you will stumble upon. Stop by Bella Vista on 7th Avenida for a coffee on the terrace, you can see all 3 volcanoes on a clear day. Central Park is a great place for people watching, so grab an ice cream from one of the street vendors and watch the world pass you by.
Hop on a chicken bus to Guatemala city for only 10Q (£1), people will warn you the chicken buses are unsafe but we had no problem and travelled by bus to the city and back almost every week. They are VERY fast, think of it as an hour long rollercoaster ride.
If you visit Antigua during Semana Santa (Easter week), you will see the city come to life with religious celebration. The streets are lined with artisan carpets also known as Alfombras, which are made from wood chippings, sawdust, flowers and fruits. These carpets are created for the processions which wind through the streets from early in the morning until well into the early hours of the following day.
The Choco Museo
Guatemala is famous for 2 things, coffee and chocolate. There are a few chocolate museums in Antigua where you can attend a workshop to learn all about the famous Guatemalan chocolate. The best part is, all the tasting chocolate is free!
Located a 15 minute walk south down 5th Avenue, you will find this cute farm. As well as being a café during the day and a restaurant at night, you can also walk around the organic farm and visit the animals that they have on site. A lovely get away from the hustle and bustle of Antigua. They have a farmer’s market every Saturday which is worth checking out.
Day trip to Montericco
If you are in Antigua for a while, you can take a a day trip to the beach! Montericco is around a 3 hour bus journey away but be warned, it’s absolutely boiling! The sand is black volcanic sand so it’s not the prettiest of beaches but still a fun day out. We found Johnny’s place which had a swimming pool so spent the day sipping Margaritas and chilling out in the pool. A nice place for food is El Delfin which has a cool bar and restaurant attached to the hotel. The day trip leaves at 8am and leaves the beach at 4pm. You only get a few hours or you could spend a night and return the next day.
Where’s the party at
Antigua is well known for its nightlife and I definitely had my fair share of party time in this town! Here are my hotspots that you need to try!
Tabacos Y Vinos
Ok, I’m a little biased as I worked here for 2 months but if you love wine, this place is the one!
On my first day in Antigua, I happened to pass by this little beauty which is located just beneath the famous arch on 5th avenue. The sign outside advertised the wine gets cheaper the more you drink. Already sounds like a winner right?
This quirky bar features one main table where you can sit, get drunk and chat to new friends over delicious wine. Even the walls are lined with bottles of wine from all over the globe.
El Barrio is a selection of bars which are located within a courtyard on 4th avenue, just by central park. This is one of my favourite night spots as you can go to 6 different bars without actually having to leave the building.
Each night of the week you will find promotions in each bar and if you’re a chick then Monday is ladies night which means you get 3 free drinks to use at any of the bars and then 5Q a drink after.
Within El Barrio you have Lava which has a great rooftop to enjoy the views of Central Park with one of their famous fishbowls.
Vudu is a speciality shot bar which is the perfect way to get the party started, make sure you spin the wheel to win free shots!
Bullseye is a sports and rock bar which is open throughout the day with happy hour and shows live sport from around the world. They have killer darts on Tuesday nights, karaoke on a Wednesday nights and a pub quiz on Sunday hosted by the infamous Andy McHugh!
The newly refurbished Ocelot is a Welsh Absinthe bar with over 50 different absinthes to try out, you will most probably find Sean the owner in here who will rate your efforts to pronounce the longest word in the Welsh dictionary.
There is also the whiskey den and a Rama which is a cocktail bar, so definitely something for everyone.
Ah Lucky Rabbit, I wish I could remember my nights out here but usually by the time I stumble into this party bar I am usually rather tipsy! Joking aside, I have had some of the best times in Lucky Rabbit. My favourite room is called “The Rabbit Hole,” where they play house and techno music but they also have a main area playing a mixture of party music.
Looking for a cool place to watch sunset? Sky café on 1st Avenida is a perfect place to chill with a cocktail and watch the sun go down over the city. This place gets busy and there aren’t many tables, so get down early! They also do food as well and although I never ate there, I’ve heard it’s really good!
Café No Se
Café No Se on 1st Avenida has a big reputation as being THE best place to see live music as they have live music every day of the week from 9pm. This cool, quirky bar is one of the best in Antigua and a great place to hang out with friends.
Small but perfectly formed, The Snug is everyone’s favourite Irish bar. There is no way you can pop in for just one, once you’re there you are committed to the cause! St Patricks Day 2017 at this bar was wild! They often have live Irish music throughout the week and next door they have a restaurant called The Travel Menu. Every Thursday is steak night where you can get one of the best steaks I’ve ever had and a glass of wine for only 69Q – That’s about £7!!
When hunger strikes
There’s no denying that I love food, and Antigua has some of the best food spots in Guatemala. I tried my best to try ALL the food in Antigua, you know, for research purposes! Here are my ultimate faves.
Los Tres Tiempos
I had my eye on this restaurant for a while but didn’t actually eat there until my final week. To make the experience even better, Chris and I were treated by our lovely friends Jana and Nandi. We had the most delicious starter of deep fried cheese. OMG heaven!
Por Que No
One of my favourite restaurants has to be Por Que No. This small restaurant gets busy, not just because it’s so small but because the food is delicious! A little pricey but if you’re a foodie you will love it. I can highly recommend the shrimp curry, you get so many shrimps and they are so tasty.
Every British person loves an English pub and The Londoner doesn’t disappoint when it comes to British grub. The menu is quite small but has everything you need including pie and peas, fish and chips and a weekly Sunday roast. If you want to eat here, get there early as the specials are that good they often run out!
If you love tacos, then you need to try here! Cactus is only a small restaurant but they serve big food! The shrimp tacos are out of this world and don’t get me started on the killer fries! You honestly need to try to believe.
Go Green is more of a healthy fast food place but I adore the food here. Everything is fresh, healthy and most importantly delicious! They have daily specials where you can pick up a huge salad, burrito, wrap or rice bowl for only 20Q. I can’t rate this place highly enough, especially when most places only sell unhealthy fried food.
So there we have it, my ultimate guide to Antigua! I hope you loved reading this post as much as I enjoyed living here. I really would recommend Guatemala to anyone!
Have you been to Antigua before? What are your top picks? Let me know in the comments below.
Keep on wandering!