Antigua was the last stop on my Guatemalan adventure, and the first place that I traveled to with Shanti. It was the PERFECT place for both, and quickly become one of my favorite towns of anywhere in the world.
Oh how I love thee, Antigua, let me count the ways…
I love Antigua, Guatemala for its… PHOTO OPPS
Antigua is a photographer’s dream, and probably the most photogenic town I have ever visited. The cheery, multi-colored houses and shops paired with cobblestone streets are droolworthy. Don’t get me started on the plazas and historic buildings! All those beautiful DOORS! Even on a cloudy, dreary day like the one above — how bright are those buildings?
See more photos of Antigua here
I love Antigua, Guatemala for its… VEGGIE FOOD
Every single restaurant I visited had a good vegetarian options (and I’m not just talking a side of rice). That’s appreciated, especially when ya hear nonstop horror stories about the dearth of veggie options in Central America. That stereotype definitely doesn’t apply in Antigua (or anywhere else in Guatemala I’d visited, either).
I love Antigua, Guatemala for its… LOW PRICES
Antigua is extremely affordable. I ate at Del Arco, a bit fancy in an old convent with a beautiful view and one of the best vegetarian taco salads I’ve ever had, with a main dish for under 50Q. In the photo I’m having a cheap smoothie with a beautiful view at La Casaca.
When it’s time to leave, you can take a shuttle to Panajachel (for Lake Atitlan) for $11, or to the airport for $10, both of which are convenient, air-conditioned, and provide door to door service.
I love Antigua, Guatemala for its… CONVENIENCE
Antigua is around an hour from Guatemala City, meaning no matter what time your plane arrives, you aren’t forced to stay in the capital if you don’t want to. You can catch a flight the same day as you leave from Antigua, on any of the regularly scheduled shuttles.
Antigua is also the unofficial jumping off point to Lake Atitlan (via Panajachel) and elsewhere, with tour operators on every corner vying for lower prices and better service.
Further exploring the convenience factor, Antigua’s markets have everything you could hope to find, but maybe can’t around Lake Atitlan (and if you can, it’d be overpriced). Check them out for everything from an iPhone charger to exotic fruits.
I love Antigua, Guatemala for its… WALKABILITY
For me, falling in love with a town is definitely based on how easy and (solo lady) safe it is to walk around. Why do I get so hung up on walking? Well, it’s great exercise, saves money on cab or other transportation costs, and frees me from dependence on external forces (grumpy cab drivers, packed-to-the-brim buses, and other bummers).
Antigua fits the bill. It is big enough to be interesting, but small enough to be extremely walkable. It’s not too easy to get lost, and was extremely enjoyable to explore with Shanti on a leash.
On a scale of 1 – 10 for strollability, Antigua definitely earns its 10.
I love Antigua for its… DOG FRIENDLINESS
While everyone (including the vet) cautioned me that I’d only be able to find a TSA-approved dog crate in Guatemala City, I found Antigua to be full of options. For its small size, Antigua was absolutely bursting with pet supply stores, and I easily found the perfect crate and high quality food for Shanti.
The majority of pet stores are congregated around the market, and the market itself has a few stalls offering dog food and toys as well.
Aside from finding stores that cater to pets, it was also super easy to find hotels that welcome four-legged friends, and even some restaurants will let you sit on the patio or at a sidewalk table with a leashed pup.
I love Antigua for its… SUSTAINABILITY
More and more restaurants in Antigua are moving towards local and organic produce, while at the same time eliminating disposable paper products. This is a trend seen in many touristy towns throughout the world.
What’s unique is the availability of fresh, clean drinking water. Stations using the EcoFiltro have been set up throughout the city for use by both locals and tourists. All you need is a water bottle. This simple idea is saving money (from needing to buy water), saving the environment (by reducing plastic production and landfill space used), but also saving lives in the local community. Contaminated drinking water causes numerous gastrointestinal issues, especially for those in poverty without access to clean water. The EcoFiltro is revolutionizing water consumption in Antigua. I wish more towns would adopt this practice!
For more on the EcoFiltro, check out this article
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Guatemala is literally like paradise, would love to visit Semuc Champey and Antigua someday!
I didn’t make it to Semuc Champey on this trip, I really want to go back!
I was there in 2010. Had a great time seeing the country. I think we spent the majority of the trip tucked away in Antigua. Did you get a chance to visit Tikal?
Sadly, I didn’t. I was there for a month but spent the majority of the time in Yoga Teacher Training, so I only had time to visit Lake Atitlan and Antigua. I would love to go back.