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Your guide to Antigua Guatemala
All About Antigua
With stunning, pastel-colored architecture visible on every street, Antigua is a historic city in the central highlands of Guatemala surrounded by active volcanoes. The city withstood massive earthquakes in 1541 and volcanic eruptions in 1773, and its remaining ruins are protected World Heritage sites. You can wander along cobblestone streets lined with jacaranda trees past buildings in the signature Barroco antigueño style — such as the governmental Palace of the Captains General, the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, and the convent and church Las Capuchinas — and note the distinctive decorative stucco and and low bell towers.
Beyond these stately structures, Antigua comes to life in its many markets, where you’ll find handmade purple corn tortillas, fresh mangos and pineapples, and other mouthwatering goodies as you wind through the indoor and outdoor walkways of the central market. Or browse the Antigua Mercado de Artesanías for traditional artisan goods such as rugs, jewelry, and handmade weavings.
As you wander the city’s narrow streets, popping into cafes and markets, the trio of volcanoes bordering the city beacons. These peaks, called the Three Sisters — Acatenango, Agua, and Fuego — can be explored along hiking or horseback trails. Outside the city, you can also explore local coffee farms, where some of the country’s world renowned beans are produced. Or just soak up the views from the elevated Cerro de la Cruz — the Hill of the Cross.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Antigua Guatemala?
With moderate weather year round, there is no bad time of the year to secure your rental house in Antigua. However, there is a rainy season that lasts from May until September, which is important to keep in mind when planning outdoor activities. The rain usually only lasts a few hours, however, giving you plenty of time to explore around the downpours. Pack rain gear if you’re planning to travel during this time.
In August, you can take in the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Asunción and observe the small parades and gatherings as people celebrate the patron of Guatemala. November through April usually brings much drier weather and is a great time to go on hikes or head out to explore one of the nearby volcanoes.
What are the top things to do in Antigua Guatemala?
Cerro de la Cruz
From the top of Cerro de la Cruz, you can get sweeping views of the town of Antigua, the surrounding emerald green hills, and the soaring silhouette of Volcán de Agua. You can reach the viewpoint, designated by a prominent cross, via a relatively steep climb from the historic center of Antigua, or you can take a taxi to the top.
A little over an hour south of Antigua is one of the region’s most-visited sites, the Pacaya volcano. The hike to the top takes around two hours, and along the way, you’ll get amazing views of the surrounding area. At the peak, you can admire the moon-like atmosphere, complete with lumps of hardened lava and rocks hot enough to roast marshmallows, or watch a spectacular sunset.
The Plaza Central Park
Antigua’s main square hosts beautifully landscaped gardens and fountains surrounded by imposing Spanish-style buildings, the most striking of which is the Santa Catalina Arch, a yellow archway that straddles Fifth Avenue North and is topped with a clock tower. The walkway above the street used to serve as a pathway for the cloistered nuns that resided at the Santa Catalina convent to pass from one wing to the other without interacting with the public. The square is a wonderful place to sit back with a coffee or ice cream and people-watch.