Antigua is an island located in the eastern Caribbean. It’s a spectacularly unique place – rich with heritage and cultural identity.
As Guatemala’s top tourist attraction, it’s not only visited by digital nomads but also frequented by those with a love for authenticity and wonder.
The UNESCO world heritage site is renowned for its Baroque-style architecture built along cobblestone streets. It is a colonial-style city bursting with culture, amazing views, delicious food, great markets, and plenty of drinking opportunities.
You’ll also discover the opportunity to hike a safe volcano with live lava. Not a bad place to check one off the bucket list.
There are plenty of cool things to do in Antigua. You can spend a month here and barely scratch the surface.
As a hint, the most popular areas are centralized so even if you can only explore for a short period of time, you’ll be able to visit many amazing places.
Here are some of the can’t miss highlights of Antigua.
Hiking the Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya, an active volcanic mountain, is about an hour and a half drive from Antigua and is very popular for camping and hiking.
An early morning tour may be preferable to reduce the chances of encountering mists and clouds which may obstruct your view of the stunning area.
The road to reach its base is lined with remarkable scenery, rolling hills, verdant pastures, and wildflowers all around. The volcanic mountains Acatenago, Fuego, Agua are all visible from Antigua.
Explore the Tikal Jungle Ruins
Tikal is the top tourist attraction in Guatemala.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, It’s the largest archeological site of the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization.
The most sought after point in the Tikal is the temple of the double-headed serpent, the tallest surviving ancient Maya structure. If you’re looking to make the trip, be on the lookout.
Visit a Black Sand Beach
Guatemala's Pacific coast is full of black sand hidden gems.
The three most popular beaches are Monterrico, Champerrico, and Playa Tilapia.
Monterrico is a favorite place for backpackers, surfers, and weekenders from Guatemala city. It’s also a quiet place where you can chill out, explore a lagoon, and ride the waves.
Visit the Chocolate Museum and Chocolate Workshops
Guatemala’s fertile land is great for cocao, offering the opportunity to dabble extensively in chocolate making.
While you are here, you may embark on atour of cocoa plantations.
Also, two chocolate museums provide the chance for travelers to experience a creative array of sweet activities.
You can learn to make chocolate, or purchase an incredible assortment ranging from chocolate bars to truffles to liqueurs.
Visit Casa Santo Domingo
This is a must-see on your visitAntigua.
Casa Santo Domingo has a tremendous amount of history and currently operates as a five-star hotel. It boasts multiple restaurants, a spa, and a total of six museums on the site.
It is a great place to spend an afternoon. Plus, if you don’t mind spending a bit, you can explore all the six museums.
Explore the Central Park
You can think of Central Park as the hub of Antigua. It has a lot of activities and restaurants surrounding it. You will also find a large fountain in the center of the park along with plenty of benches to sit down. You will find lots of people selling ice cream, so it’s a perfect place to grab an ice cream as you watch the locals just going about their businesses.
Go on a Coffee Tour
You’ve likely heard of a bar crawl. Well time to get acquainted with the coffee tour, a popular Antiguan pastime.
There are several coffee tours available in the area.
This includes a walkthrough to a coffee farm where coffee beans are grown; the milling and the drying area where beans are sorted and processed; and an opportunity to learn coffee growing and making.
If you don’t mind a bit of caffeine, plenty of samples are provided. Plus, the tour lasts for a few hours.
Take a Day Trip to Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan is about two hours from Antigua.
It’s known as the “Eternal Spring“ due to its constant temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
Due to its elevation, the area is quite warm. But this shouldn't be a deterrent.
The lake provides the opportunity to mix with the friendly locals who live around the lake. Get a taste of real Antiguan culture.
Visit Caoba Farms
A quick 15 minutes walk from Antigua, Caoba farms started as an organic farm but is now an important gathering point of the community.
Stroll the beautiful gardens and examine how food is grown before you dining in their on-site farm-to-table restaurants.