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Antigua, Guatemala for Gringas

antigua

Flying into Guatemala City International Airport, I was one of many travelers making a beeline for shuttles to Antigua, bypassing the city entirely. I’d come back to explore later, but for now, my focus was on making my way to the most popular destination in the country. My sister was living there, working at a bar and for a tour company. I’d seen beautiful images of colorful houses with volcanoes in the background, so I added four days to my itinerary.

If you’re traveling in Guatemala, Antigua is the perfect place to start, easing you into the country. Shuttles run frequently and cheaply and many people speak English in town. There are also Spanish schools that offer classes to travelers, helping you with the language before you continue on to Atitlan, Flores, and beyond. Sevilla is just one of many, a short walk away from the San Francisco ruins.

antigua

antiguaantigua

antigua

Founded as the first capital of the country in 1543 by Spanish conquistadors, the previous capitals had been destroyed by volcanoes. Built on a grid, the city is still laid out in much the same way. Spanish Baroque style buildings are found on every block, draped in bougainvillea, along with churches built by the Franciscans. Many are in ruins because of the earthquakes caused by the fault lines. Today, the city is known for its religious celebrations, especially Semana Santa. It’s highly developed for tourism, especially cruise passengers and day trips to the nearby volcanoes. It’s also one of the safest destinations in the country.

antigua

antiguaantigua

antigua

Santa Catalina Arch is the most iconic place in Antigua and a photographer’s dream. At all times of day, you’ll see people posing underneath it. Parque Central is another, the meeting place for the city, surrounded by a fountain. You can tour the San Francisco Church Ruins, built in the 1600s, for Q7. They have a small museum about the area’s history with signs in English and Spanish. Make the steep walk up to Cerro de la Cruz for the best views of the city, pictured below.

antigua

Perhaps the most western-friendly (or gringa-friendly) city in the country, you’ll find all the comforts of home like co-working spaces like Impact Hub Antigua, gyms, vegan restaurants, and yoga studios. Free WiFi is also found everywhere, as are places to fill up your water bottle with eco filter-cleaned water. Guatejava, Refuge, and Unión Café & Juice Bar were my favorite places to grab a coffee, especially the homemade limeade with chia seeds at Union. Samsara, Toko Baru, and Y Tu Pina Tambien carry healthy and hearty dishes for cheap. Taco Doña Lupita was great for cheap tacos and El Barrio is a complex with multiple restaurants and bars.

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Antigua was certainly charming, but I was looking for the “real” Guatemala, whatever that meant. To actually have to speak Spanish to get by and to eat what the locals ate, rather than Israeli or Thai food. But if you’re looking for a place to get your feet wet, photogenic Antigua is it.

Where to Stay

There are many great accommodation options in Antigua, but I recommend Cucuruchos Boutique Hostel, a small hip hostel with a rooftop patio. I also liked the look of Somos and Matiox as well as the food at Zoola hostel. Outside of town, Hobbitenango and Earth Lodge come recommended.

Have you ever visited Antigua, Guatemala? What did you think?

Mentioned in this post
  1. Santa Catalina Arch
    Attraction in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    5a Avenida Norte
    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    http://www.visitguatemala.com/
  2. Cerro de la Cruz
    Attraction in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
  3. Impact Hub Antigua
    Attraction in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    12A 1a Avenida Nte
    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    7758 9544
    http://antigua.impacthub.net/
  4. Unión Café & Juice Bar
    Restaurant in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    7832 2032
  5. Samsara
    Restaurant in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    7832 2200
  6. Toko Baru
    Restaurant in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    1 5 Avenida Sur
    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
  7. Y Tu Pina Tambien
    Restaurant in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    #10B 1a Avenida Sur
    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    http://ytupinatambien.com/
  8. Cucuruchos Boutique Hostel
    Hotel in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    3a Avenida Sur
    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    7832 1479
  9. Zoola hostel
    Hotel in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    7832 0361
  10. Hobbitenango
    Hotel in Antigua Guatemala Guatemala

    Antigua Guatemala Guatemala
    3090 8812
    http://www.hobbitenango.com/

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One Response to Antigua, Guatemala for Gringas

  1. KareninCalabria April 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    Wow, love the volcanoes – a place to remember for a future visit.
    KareninCalabria recently posted..Easter in Calabria, The Processions of BadolatoMy Profile

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