20 Best Things To Do In Antigua, Guatemala | One Of The World’s Best Kept Secrets

Antigua, Guatemala is one of the best cities in the world to visit and it has to be in your plans for your next vacation.

the Antigua, Guatemala bucket list

It truly is in my top 3 favorite areas I have ever visited and might be #1 as it offers some adventures and sites you won’t find anywhere else on earth.

Antigua best things to do

Antigua is a stunning colonial city that offers visitors a unique blend of culture, once-in-a-lifetime adventures, natural beauty, remarkable architecture, vibrant markets, and breathtaking landscapes that not many places on earth can offer.


Not to mention is it one of the safest & cleanest cities in Latin America while also being ridiculously cheap… we are talking 1/2 the price of Mexico or Costa Rica tourist areas and 1/4 the price of Canada & The USA.

You can travel like royalty in Antigua all while keeping a pretty tight budget.

Antigua best things to do

I always say visiting Antigua is like taking pieces of Rome & the Cusco, Peru area and Rome blended with pieces of other stunning places to visit.

If you want to see more of Guatemala, as you should, here is our article on the 6 best things to do in Guatemala.

Antigua best things to do

If you prefer to listen here is our Podcast on best things to do in Guatemala available on all platforms.

I would plan at least 5-7 days in Antigua to really enjoy all it has to offer as it truly is a wonderous city with so much to offer.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

With all of that said, here are the top 20 things to do when you visit this enchanting city.

1. Hike An Erupting Volcano and Sit On Top Of the World

Hiking Acatenango & Fuego volcano isn’t just one of the most amazing things you might ever do in Antigua but the entire world.

Antigua best things to do

This very difficult hike offers one of the most stunning rewards of any hike as you climb right up next to a volcano that is erupting in front of your eyes.

If you are able bodied please be sure to do this hike as it will be one of the highlights of your life.

Antigua best things to do

I suggest using Wicho & Charlies for a variety of reasons to do the hike.

It is a 2-day adventure and be sure to schedule a massage or a spa day in the afternoon when you arrive back in town.

Antigua best things to do

2. Walk The Town With No Set Plans

This seems like such a simple idea but if you want my best advice this is it. 

Antigua best things to do

There are a plethora of ruins, shops, museums and sites to see so on your first day just take your own walking tour.

Start the day at a cute coffee shop for breakfast and then stroll around the perfectly walkable city. Have your map and you can always walk in the direction of things you want to see but do it at your own relaxing pace.

Antigua best things to do

Stop and eat when you want to eat, dip into a spa for a massage if you want to be pampered, grab another espresso or get a beer when you want one and meander the streets at your own leisure.

I mention it reminded me of a small little Rome in terms of how each corner you turn there is some new breathtaking ruin, structure or view.

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On your walk you will of course come across some of the main attractions, so visit them along the way then add the ones you didn’t see to your list to other days.

3. Visit The Antigua Mercado & Mercado de Artesanías

I asked my friends who have traveled as much or more if this was maybe the largest market in a the heart of city they have ever come across … and the answer was yes.

I am sure there probably are larger markets in the world and even Chichicastenango in Guatemala is bigger but not right in the heart of a walkable place like Antigua.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

You actually will get lost in this market and easily can end up spending a few hours meandering around its stalls.

Right up next to the main Mercado is the Mercado de Artesanias, which really are one in the same but the Artesanias of course offering more art, handmade goods, crafts and other things you would expect in an arts market.

Antigua best things to do

4. Visit La Merced & Street Food Market 

La Merced is a stunning Catholic temple built in 1767 and the views from the roof are some of the prettiest in Antigua.

Antigua best things to do 2

While many churches and ruins could occupy this place on my list as they offer as similar experience, La Merced is also home to the main street food corridor, which adds to its flair.

best things to do in Antigua guatemala

While the entire plaza outside La Merced is absolutely filled on the weekends, you can even swing by at night to see many stalls up serving sandwiches, tacos, empanadas, street corn, quesadillas, soups, meats and a plethora of other street food options.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

The food is safe as I ate most everything but a local did say to be leery of chicken as often it can be left out over a long time. With that said, locals are eating it so it should be good, however they do have harder stomachs.

I would definitely try it but maybe wait until after your hike up Acatanengo.

5. Stay At Hobbitenango 

This would be #2 on the list but I assume not everyone is a Lord Of The Rings fan.

Antigua best things to do

However, even if you are not at LOTR fan, it is such a cool place to stay and very cheap considering what you get!

Staying in the Hobbitenango hobbit house casitas you get views of the volcanos, a living room, a fireplace and your personal butler who starts your fire, brings you breakfast anywhere on the grounds and is a radio call away for anything you might need.


The grounds are a nice day trip as well with unique photo opps, rope swings, a good restaurant and bar and overall a fun experience to visit.

6. Visit Convento La Recolección

There are a few must visit ruins that are all equally impressive and this is one of them. I will cover the other 2 as well and it is impossible to pick between them as they all are different and offer their own unique views.

Antigua best things to do 2

La Recolección is a must-visit as not only is there the main area but then to the left you can walk around the massive grounds that are equally as magnificent.

7. Rooftop Hop

As you know by now Antigua has some of the most unique views in the world with the towering volcanos and colonial designed rooftops decorating the city.

With that said, no better way to enjoy them then to grab a coffee, beer or some food and relax taking in this magnanimous place.

8. Watch A Soccer Game At Estadio Pensativo

If you are ever in Latin America of course watching a soccer game is a must!

Antigua best things to do 2

The local Antigua team is typically in the top half of the main league in Guatemala so you will be privy to a solid team and an incredibly unique atmosphere.

As with all of Antigua the stadium itself is so unique as you are in the stadium with the gorgeous landscape and volcanoes towering in the distance.

Antigua soccer stadium

As with most of Antigua the stadium is also very walkable from town so it is an easy couple of hours of something to do and unique experience to take in.

9. Visit the Cathedral de Santiago, Antigua

This stunning 16th Century cathedral is another magnificent example of the colonial architecture you will find in Antigua.

Antigua best things to do

This is another of the aforementioned ruins you must stop by even if just for a 30 minutes of a quick in and out.

10. Relax, Grab A Coffee & People Watch At Parque Central

The heart of Antigua is the very alive and bustling Central Plaza.

It is surrounded by historic buildings, including the Catedral de Santiago and the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales and will often be home to many community ongoings throughout the time you are there.

best things to do in Antigua guatemala

The park is a perfect spot to have a seat, grab a drink and take in the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

11. Grab A drink in a hidden speakeasy

Antigua is a great place to get a cocktail and is home to a couple of the coolest hidden speakeasies you might ever come across.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

You can visit one through a phone booth or the other through a fridge door so be sure to save a night or two to explore Antigua at night.

If you want to visit these gems as well as a ton of other amazing places to grab a drink, see our article here on best 10 bars in Antigua.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

12. Visit the Ruins of Iglesia y Convento de las Capuchinas

The third of the must-visit ruins mentioned in this article might be the most interesting and historic site.

Antigua best things to do

It was home to a group of Capuchin nuns and offers a fascinating look into Antigua’s religious history. The stunning ruins include a circular tower, cloister, rooftop view, library and underground rooms that really are a sight to behold.

best things to do in Antigua guatemala

13. Eat As Much As You Can

There are so many incredible places to eat in Antigua whether you want fine dining, a meal with a view, farm-to-table while on the farm, street food, local fare and so much more.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua 21

You must eat at Caoba Farms & Rincón Antigüeño but for 13 other must eat places see our article for best places to eat in Antigua here.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

14. Visit A Coffee Plantation

Even if you don’t like coffee, taking a walk through the plantation like Finca La Azotea can be such a fun couple hours… especially if you visit their bar and grab an espresso martini to-go as you meander around the grounds.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

There actually is a plethora of things to do at Finca La Azotea with museums, chocolate shop, buy fresh coffee in their shop, eat at their outstanding restaurant, explore the grounds & factory, ride horses and much more!

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

15. Walk Through the Iconic Arco de Santa Catalina

I left this late on the list since it is so well known, however of course you must visit one of the most iconic landmarks in Antigua.

Maybe you can even tip a tuk-tuk driver and get a unique pic like this.

Antigua best things to do 2

The Arco de Santa Catalina was built in the 17th century and originally created to allow nuns to pass from one building to the other without going outside. 

Try to visit it earlier in the morning or at night for less people if you want a perfect picture.

16. Eat Marshmallows Cooked In Pacaya Volcano

For another unique hike, visiting the active Pacaya Volcano is another spectacular site.

The trek offers stunning views and the opportunity to see dried lava up close where you can see the where the lava recently flowed from eruptions.

Of course be sure to pick a tour that let you roast marshmallows over the hot lava for a once in a lifetime experience.

Antigua best things to do 2

If you are hiking Acatenango then Pacaya isn’t a must do but if you have lots of time it is worth checking out. 

17. Hike Cerro de la Cruz

For another majestic view of Antigua and its surrounding volcanoes you can hike up to Cerro de la Cruz.

Hike Cerro de la Cruz

The trek is relatively easy, which you can walk from town easily enough or get a tuk tuk or uber to drop you off on the steps.

18. Volunteer with Maximo Nivel

If you have the time I always suggest volunteering in the countries to give back. 

Antigua best things to do

Not only is feeling and experience that is impossible to replicate, it gives you insight into the local culture and also is a great way to meet people.

I have worked with Maximo Nivel countless times and is a great organization to work with if you want to do a week or month-long+ volunteering trip.

Antigua best things to do

19. Have A Drink Of Quezalteca

For something unique buy a bottle of the surprisingly tasty Quezalteca, local guatemalan liquor that comes in a variety of flavors.

Drink quezalteca local guatemalan liquor

20. Visit An American Fast Food Restaurant

I would of course never suggest this but Antigua I believe has a law where if a fast-food chain comes into Antigua they need to blend it into the local vibe.

The result… are maybe the prettiest Mcdonalds, Starbucks & Taco Bell you might ever see in your life.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

Plus, a little comfort food never hurt anybody if traveling for 2-4 weeks in Guatemala.

21. Take A Day Trip To Lake Atitlan

Honestly, you need to spend at least 2-3 nights in Lake Atitlan as I think a day trip is a waste of time but if you are on a tight schedule and want to wake up very early in the morning to tour the lake be my guest.

Lake Atitlan best things to do

I would try to stay on the lake though for a few days and walk around all of the small towns surrounding the lake.

Other things to add if you have done all above!

If you have done all of the above a few other unique things to see are touring Casa Santo Domingo, Convento Santa Clara, Jada Museum, Royal Palace, pamper yourself with the very cheap spas, visit a chocolate museum and make chocolate, learn spanish in the many spanish schools in town or take a cooking class.


  • Do not just visit Antigua as a stopping ground for Tikal or Lake Atitlan as I think it truly is the best place to visit in Guatemala.
  • Go right to Antigua when you land in Guatemala City via uber or pre-arranged shuttle. Even if you land in the middle of the night, this is better as no traffic means you can get there in 40 minutes vs. 2-3 hours if you go during the day fighting the horrendous Guatemala City Traffic.
  • Use uber to get around, cheaper than tuk tuks.
  • If you have the chance you should experience Semana Santa (Holy Week) around Easter. The city comes alive with processions, vibrant carpets made of colored sawdust, and is a sight to behold.best things to do in Antigua guatemala

Where to stay

Here are a few places for each price range.

As mentioned I loved Hobbitenango and is a must stay if you have the chance. It also is very affordable for having your own casita in the mountains even if you are not a LOTR fan.

Antigua best things to do

The Good Hotel is an amazing place to stay due to their commitment to the local community. 

The Good Hotel puts some of their profit to their charities and is a great cause. The hotels themselves are also very contemporary and nice places to stay in their own right.

Antigua best things to do

If you are searching for a hostel arguably the best one is Adra for its contemporary style and stunning rooftop.

It has a few different bars on its ground and is a great place for all hostel searchers.

best places to eat and restaurants in Antigua guatemala

Hotel Casa Santo Domingo is the nicest and best higher end hotel in Antigua, El Convento is another gorgeous hotel as is Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo and finally for a middle ground place Hotel Eterna Primavera Antigua is a solid spot.


You truly must visit Antigua, Guatemala with its adventures, rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture as it will be sure to captivate you.

Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, hiking active volcanoes, or simply enjoying the local cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this historic and miraculous city.


Hola! I’m Fraser & this site is a guide to help you reach your goals, travel the world and create amazing food in between. Get inspiration for travel, recipes & to follow your dreams.

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