things to do in antigua guatemala

13 Things To Do In Antigua, Guatemala

Looking for the best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala? You’re in the right place!

Quick Rundown On Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala is a haven for those who enjoy traveling Latin America. It’s a cultural hub, home to the largest celebration of Semana Santa (Easter week) in all of Latin America!

One of the colorful alfombras for Semana Santa celebration
One of the colorful alfombras for Semana Santa celebration

The country of Guatemala is full of scenery and culture to soak up. Travelers come from all over the world to experience Antigua. It’s a haven for solo travelers and a popular relocation destination.

As the former capital city of Guatemala, there is much history to see and learn about. Part of the history is the ruins that are all over and put a face to the name of the city. The Spanish word Antigua translates to ancient or old in English.

There are also unforgettable experiences to be had in Antigua, Guatemala. Here, we’ll get into the 13 most epic experiences to make your trip to Antigua one for the ages!

13 Things To Do In Antigua, Guatemala

1. Walk up to Cerro de la Cruz

The perfect first thing to do is walk up to Cerro de la Cruz. From the top, you’ll be provided with a sprawling view of the city. You’ll see a lot of rooftop terraces, which many houses, bars, and restaurants in Antigua have.

Rooftop terrace view of Volcano Agua

You’ll also have a great view of Agua Volcano, which stands tall and picturesque from the viewpoint atop Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). The walk from the bottom of the hill takes about 10-15 minutes, and the stairs will likely have you sucking wind when you get to the top, but the view is rewarding and it’s a great way to start your trip to Antigua.

2. Explore Hobbitenango


Hobbitenango is an eco-park on the highest peak in Antigua, Guatemala. The theme is Lord of the Rings. The landscape has been made to mimic that of The Shire, the grassy home of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbits.

The buildings on the grounds resemble hobbit holes, sophisticated cave-like dwellings with round doors. There are even Lord of the Rings-themed activities like axe throwing, archery, and slingshots. 

Take advantage of the many photo ops that will have you feeling transported into the world of Tolkien. There are a few viewpoints where you’ll be able to see the eruptions of Volcano Fuego in the distance. 

3. Overnight Volcano Hike

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience while in Antigua, the overnight volcano hike is the king of such experiences. It’s strenuous, with a high degree of difficulty even for those in good physical condition.

The hike takes you up the side of Achetenango Volcano and provides stunning views of the neighboring Fuego Volcano. When the sun goes down, you’ll see bright orange lava spewing from the mouth of the volcano. 

Hiking and camping gear is available to rent from local tour companies, and porters are available to carry your bag up the mountain and make your excursion as easy as possible. Many tour companies send a cook with you also to serve food along the way.

It’s an incredible experience that will leave you exhausted and awe-inspired.

4. People Watch at Central Park Plaza

Central Park at sunset
Central Park at sunset

The plaza of Anigua’s Central Park is a bustling hub of activity. Like most main squares in Latin America and elsewhere around the world, the prices of the shops and restaurants are a bit higher in this area.

You’ll find vendors of food and handicrafts hustling around the square with their offerings of handmade goods. It’s a great area to sit and observe the people and the culture around you while you have some free time. 

Sometimes you’ll catch some live music from performers that get people off their park benches and on their feet to dance to a few songs. Don’t be shy, ask the locals to show you a few steps. The people of Antigua love to share their culture with travelers.

5. Make Chocolate at ChocoMuseo

One of Guatemala’s specialties is its chocolate. At ChocoMuseo, you can learn about how different types of chocolate are made. You can even get some hands-on experience making chocolate “from bean to bar” or a cup of hot chocolate with whatever fixings your chocolate-loving heart desires.

If you don’t have time for the full chocolate-making experience, there’s a store where you can buy chocolate with flavors and toppings you probably have never imagined. Keep in mind that chocolate makes a great souvenir to take home to friends or family!

6. Roast Marshmallows Over Lava

lava field
The lava field where marshmallows were roasted (no photos of the actual roasting, unfortunately)

Let’s talk about another once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’ve already gone over how to see a volcano from afar (Cerro de la Cruz) or get nighttime views of lava eruptions (Fuego/Achetenango hike).

But, during a hike on Pacaya Volcano, about an hour from Antigua, you’ll be able to come within feet of flowing lava. Don’t worry, it’s slow-moving. But it’s pretty wild to be that up close and personal to lava. The heat coming off of it will take you aback, I can guarantee that.

During this activity, the tour guides love to take you to an area where the lava has stopped flowing but is still quite hot under the surface. They’ll scrape off the dusty/ashy/rocky surface to get down where it’s still hot and allow you to roast some marshmallows over the lava. It feels a bit cheeky, but it’s certainly a unique experience! 

7. Shop Around Mercado Central

One of the great things about visiting any destination is shopping the local handicrafts. Every city near and far has its specialty offerings. Textiles, jewelry, decor, art, Antigua has it all, and they all have their stamp of Antigua’s uniqueness.

In the central market, you’ll find colorful art and textiles, along with jewelry and decor made from the unique volcanic rock that surrounds the city. Purchasing a few handmade goods is a great way to support the local economy and take a literal piece of Antigua home with you. 

8. Take a Photo at the Santa Catalina Arch

Santa Catalina Arch
Santa Catalina Arch

The postcard photo, if you will, from Antigua is the Santa Catalina Arch, located near the main square. It’s big and yellow and screams Antigua. It’s the most famous landmark in the city. 

It can get crowded during the day, but if you go early, you might be able to get a few photos before the crowds show up and find their way into your pictures.

9. Tour a Coffee Farm

You might know that Guatemala is famously known as a world-class location for the growth and production of coffee, one of its biggest exports. What you might not know is that top-tier Guatemalan coffee is easier for the average American to get than the average Guatemalan.

Why is this? Because those high-quality coffee products are pricey. Given that the average Guatemalan makes about $20 USD per day, those coffee products are out of the price range of most Guatemalans. 

While in Antigua, take the opportunity to visit one of the farms where high-quality coffee is grown and produced. If you’re a coffee fanatic (and who isn’t?!), then you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see this process and taste the results of centuries-old techniques for growing and making coffee.

10. Take a Spanish Class

If you’re looking to improve your Spanish skills, Antigua is the ideal place to do it. The city has some of the top-rated Spanish schools in Latin America. Antigua is regarded as one of the top locations to learn and practice Spanish.

Many of the schools for the locals in Antigua are bilingual, so many grow up speaking both English and Spanish. Perhaps because of this, many people in Antigua speak the clearest and easiest-to-understand Spanish you’ll ever hear, making it the perfect place to cultivate your own Spanish skills. 

11. Go on a Day Trip To Chichicastenango

Mayan crafts sold at Chichicastenango

About 2 hours and 15 minutes away from Antigua is Chichicastenango, the home of the king of all markets, the largest market in the country, and one of the largest in all of Latin America.

This market is open on Thursdays and Sundays when vendors and shoppers from all over the country flood into Chichi, as it’s affectionately called. The market is famous for its historic roots, which is evident from many of the offerings. The market is filled with vibrant colors of textiles and the savory aromas of food being made to order.

12. Take a Cooking Class

Along with Spanish classes, there are cooking classes available in Antigua that will teach you how to craft authentic Guatemalan dishes like pepian, caldo, and tamales (Guatemalan tamales are quite different from the Mexican-style tamales you might be accustomed to).

Classes are a great way to meet people while traveling, try something new, and learn about a new culture. Getting a hands-on taste of local cuisine is a must when visiting a new area. 

13. Take a Walking Tour

Walking tours of Antigua will teach you about the city’s origins and the culture that is rooted there, along with the most authentic places to eat and shop. You’ll see the most famous parts of the city and some lower-key hidden gems you might never have known about if not for the walking tour.

There are many walking tours to catch, but if you hang around the Iglesia de la Merced, about a block north of the Santa Catalina Arch, you’ll surely be able to catch one. It’s a nice way to learn about the city and maybe take note of some places to return to after the tour on your own time to explore further.

Summing Up Things To Do In Antigua, Guatemala

With these 13 things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, you’re sure to have an unforgettable vacation. You’ll see and learn about a beautiful country and the culture that comes with it.

That’s just from Antigua. There are many other parts of Guatemala that are worth visiting also! Flores, where you’ll find the Mayan ruins of Tikal is a beautiful area in northern Guatemala. Semuc Champey is a natural site with terraced turquoise pools in the jungle of Central Guatemala.

Whatever draws you to Guatemala, be sure to enjoy all the country has to offer.

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