The Best of Antigua

The Basics
Typical arrival is flying in through Guatemala City airport. We got a ride from a friend, but mini shuttles seem to be a good option for rides to Antigua. Keep in mind that traffic is worst in the early morning and late afternoon. If you have the option to book your flight to land in between these times, you can cut hours off your commute to town.

We began our stay in Posada Juma Ocag. It sits across from the bustling market but also has its own quiet terrace and well cared-for rooms (doubles for $30/night plus tax).

On our way back through Antigua, I splurged to stay at Hotel Cirilo as a surprise birthday gift. Their attention to detail, impeccable care, thoughtful response to e-mails, and unique lodging made this place a huge WIN in my book. Only a couple blocks from downtown, it’s amazing how secluded we felt in this hotel built into ancient church ruins.

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The pool at Hotel Cirilo outside our suite room

Eats & Drinks
Frida’s: I’m a huge fan of traditional Mexican food (and Frida Kahlo), and this place did not disappoint. Best meal on our trip included tamales with mole, enchiladas with red sauce, green sauce, (and more mole), alongside creative mezcal cocktails.

Samsara: Great for veggie eats and robust options for smoothies. Bring your gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan friend!

Pappys BBQ: For Central America, this was some well-done brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, and fries. Top it off with ALL the dipping sauces..YES.

Café Condensa: Variety of breakfast dishes, fresh pastries, and coffee drinks. Homemade granola for on-the-go travel was our favorite.

Angie Angie: Quality Argentinian food paired with a Tempranillo house wine. We especially loved the pizza Argentina.

Get Your Adventure On
Mercado: Choose your own adventure here! Wind through the stalls until you get completely lost, seeking out produce, fish, meat, spices, clothing, or household items. Stumble upon the bustling bus stop behind it for another view of local life.

City tour: My favorite start to a new town is wandering and stumbling upon sites. There is plenty to see here, including churches, ruins, the famous arch, plazas, fountains, mini markets, and locals selling food on the streets. You may follow a specific route or do as we did, and see where you end up!

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Photo: Jonathan Keeler

Market Nim Po’t: I preferred this market for its set prices, bountiful options, and less hassle from sellers. I would recommend it if you plan on buying a lot of souvenirs and don’t have much time to spend bartering.

Acatenango Volcano Hike: For experienced hikers, this is a Can’t Miss-Must Do-Top 5 Experiences kind of trek. A 5(ish) hour hike up and we made it to our base camp for the night. We settled in for the night and prepared for an early wake-up and summit to the top of Acatenango. Our morning hike was about 1.5 hours as the sun rose over the volcanoes surrounding Antigua. The big ones include Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. From the top, we saw the sunrise and Volcán Fuego erupting. Incredible!
We booked through Guilmer Soy and his family company ($300Q for transport, camping gear, park fee, guide, hot meals; extra costs include: $25Q jacket, $10Q each for hat/gloves, $5Q hiking stick). His guides spoke very little English but took great care of our group. They went out of their way to help us out. They gave us plenty of breaks on the way up, showed concern for those who were feeling ill, and even held our tent to the fire to dry it out when they found it was damp. To top it off, they delivered dinner to our tent because it was raining. If that wasn’t enough, we were especially convinced of their service when we learned that these are the guys who do rescues on the mountain when needed. I can’t recommend them enough! Support the locals and book with them.

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View of Volcán Fuego erupting from the top of Acatenango

What Next?
We headed onward to Lake Atitlán, Xela, and more trekking. Check back for future posts!

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