Eco-friendly travel guide to Antigua Guatemala advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala.
- Air quality: 2.5 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3.0 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.0 / 5
- Public transportation: 3.5 / 5
- Parks: 3.0 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4.5 / 5
- Locals' English level: 4.5 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$15 - $150
- Budget per day: US$25 - $200
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
Guatemala is one of the best places to travel when you are considering exploring Central America. As Guatemala's country, the cities of this place are just as exotic as you would expect them to be. Filled with the sun's warmth and the stunning architecture, the country has an interesting background. In this article, we will be specifically talking about Antigua in Guatemala. Antigua is also known as la Antigua or just Antigua.
This city is located in the country's highlands, where one is sure to find the remaining parts of ancient architecture. When you are in Antigua, rich colonies, culture, and architecture are things that you are sure to spot. This lovely city was once known as the La Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de Los Caballeros de Guatemala. A name passed on to every city that used to be the capital of Guatemala – a Spanish.
Ones who like to visit places for their culture and heritage should note that this particular city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1979. However, the onus of exploring the city responsibly falls on us as we travel through the city of Antigua. Responsible travel can be tried out when you move around with a reduced carbon footprint.
- Cycling: Cycling in the city of Antigua is like a dream as the hills are low and gentle which makes the activity easy to do. The city is quite small in terms of area and the landscape typically resembles the mild slopes of any valley. There is greenery in bits as the village life exists in between them. The scenery of the place is rather varied while the outdoors is far more suited for observing the slow life of the locals. Tourists can hire bikes locally from the shops beside the roads.
- Walking: Antigua is one of the best places on earth to walk around. One is sure to find high cliffs, coastlines, a pleasant landscape, and lush greens. Explorers can carry a map and find their own place around the city while the tourists who appreciate tours in the place can opt for guided tours.
- Hiking and trekking: Hiking and trekking are top choices when people visit Antigua. The volcanic region in the country allows the place to have the best hiking routes for travelers. Take a hike to the summit of the Volcano Acatenango. This one activity that stays on every body’s bucket list when they are in Antigua.
- Pool cars: Car rentals and pooling in the same car is a popular option in Antigua. There are many car rental places in Antigua for good solutions to reduce air pollution.
While exploring Antigua, make sure to do so in a way that is responsible to the environment. Travelers should avoid littering in and around the city so as to help the government maintain low pollution levels and manage waste accordingly.
Air Quality and Pollution
Antigua's air quality is only satisfactory as there are a few causes of pollution in the city. The PM2.5 particles can irritate the eyes and make heart and lung diseases worse by stimulating the conditions. PM2.5 is the dominant pollutant in the air of this city. The air quality index is, on average, close to 60. However, on bad pollution days, any outdoor activity can worsen with breathing problems and exertion a part of the process.
Besides, there are pollen types suspended in the air making allergies a real problem. There can be pollen from trees, weeds, as well as grass. Travelers who have asthma as the main problem should consult their doctors before traveling to Antigua. Try to get a physical exam done to check the lung capacity and plan the places to visit accordingly.
Respect the Culture
Antigua is a country that had been declared as the World Heritage Site in 1979 by UNESCO. La Antigua Guatemala is rich in its culture and heritage. It provides for excellent travel destinations, by its pleasant climate makes it a wonderful place to reside in. One can travel to this place to take a look at the Acatenango and Fire volcanoes – the top attractions in this place.
Furthermore, the locals are very friendly with the tourists who visit the town. Visit the town of Antigua to take a look at the architecture and the monuments in the city. The houses tell stories of the colonial landscape and offer insight into the traditions of the place.
Top 10 Places to Visit
There are many attractions in Antigua that give travelers a sneak peek into the country’s heritage. Explore the central highlands of Antigua while walking through the ruins of the city. At one point in time, Antigua used to be the capital city of the country of Guatemala. However, after the volcanic eruption, the city was burnt down to ashes leading to the city's ruins. In this section, we will take a look at the top 10 attractions of Antigua's city in the country of Guatemala so that you know what you to keep on your list when you are there.
- Volcan Feugo
A volcano that you get to see erupting every once in a while – that is Volcan Feugo. Travelers to Central America can witness this extraordinary experience by spending a night at the base camp close to this place. There are 37 volcanoes in Guatemala, out of which Volcan Feugo is one of the active ones. It would help if you trekked to the camping ground, and then the nice chill in the weather is sure to calm your nerves down. Make sure to pack all your warm clothes and a trekking stick with you.
- Arco de Santa Catalina
This is one of the most popular places in Guatemala. The Arco de Santa Catalina is atop a street that is always full of tourists. This was built in the 1690s and today has ended up being a symbol for the Guatemala towns. The combination of yellow and white in front of the Volcan de Agua makes for an excellent background.
- Church of San Francisco
The Church of San Francisco was erected in the year 1542. At present, it is the oldest church in Antigua's city that defines the architectural grandeur of the city. Walk around and explore the Hermano Pedro Museum in this place. Pacaya Volcano. This is the most famous trek taken by locals and tourists in this region as it is medium in difficulty. The trek can be covered in only half a day while the volcano offers a picturesque view. One can easily light a volcano and toast marshmallows under the sky.
- Finca los Nietos Coffee Farm
Guatemala is known for its coffee plantations and coffee production farms. Take part in the coffee tours organized in the farms to understand the coffee-making process from an up-close and personal angle. The farm at Finca Los Nietos is run by a homely family who grows the coffee beans organically.
- Caoba Farms
The Caoba Farms is the place you want to be if you want to watch organic produce being used to make organic dishes. This organic farm offers the best of the dishes accompanied by live music. If you do not have to sit and enjoy the ambiance, get your produce from the market to enjoy a hearty meal back at home.
- The Mercado
Antigua has a huge tourist market that sells authentic products in the market of Mercado. The stalls and the life there are extremely colorful, making it an excellent place for gorging on the street food. Carry souvenirs from the market and experience Antigua at its rawness.
- Palacio de los Capitanes Generales
This complex used to be the headquarters of the colony that Central America used to be. The double-arched façade that exists on the south side of the building only exists in the present day. Today it is the center of all the culture of Antigua that exhibits art performances and lives shows.
- Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm
This is similar to a coffee farm, but only that it is a nut farm. You get to be on tours and roam around the organic estates, which have close to 350,000 macadamia trees planted on them. Being a part of the tour lets, you have a hearty breakfast of pancakes made out of nut flour and blueberry jam.
- Cerro de la Cruz
This roughly translates to ‘hill of the cross,’ which offers some of Antigua's best views. It is a few kilometers away from the main town. Travel to this viewpoint to get scenic pictures of the city of Antigua.
There is no doubt that the city of Antigua has a lot to explore and discover when one is in Guatemala. Let us take a look at few names that one should keep in their itinerary when on tour. This gives them a great chance to get to know Antigua from a close point of view.
The city parks in Antigua are nothing short of lush green with lots of space for walking. This list consists of the following names:
- Parque Central: Find cathedrals, trees, buildings from the colonial era, and fountains in the Plaza Central Park. You can sit and watch people at your own leisure.
- Laguna Chicabal: The lagoon in Antigua, Guatemala, is a place that offers nice spaces to walk around and explore the nature. The park is a nice place to unwind after a rough day.
The national parks in the Antigua region are aplenty in number. This includes:
- El Mirador National Park: This place will give you a close look at the ruins of the Mayan empire along the border of Mexico. Close to the border of Mexico, the El Mirador National Park encloses the jungles of Peten. Even though one has to travel the distance, the trip is worth it.
- Tikai National Park: This is the home of the Mayan empire's popular ruins. This is the biggest national park in Guatemala.
Guatemala has a very small shoreline on the Atlantic and the Pacific side of the ocean. However, there are no beaches in the city of Antigua.
The top ten landmarks in the city of Antigua, Guatemala have been mentioned below:
- Convento Santa Clara
- Caoba Farms
- Arco de Santa Catalina
- Iglesia de San Francisco El Grande
- Iglesia de La Merced
- Cerro de la Cruz
- Cathedral de Santiago
- The Plaza Central Park
- Convento de las Capuchinas
- La Recoleccion
The museums in the city of Antigua, Guatemala, include the following that deserves mention.
- Casa Santo Domingo: This a colonial monument that shows us the artistic and architectural grandeur of the past generations living out of Antigua. The works of the 16th century of Antigua are present in the museum here. Starting from painted ceramics to marble pieces, one will find items that will surprise them.
- 'Museo del Libro Antiguo: All the artifacts belonging to the Guatemalan printing era are present here. You will find the first printing press here present as a replica of the original. Tourists will also find the first edition of the Don Quixote de la Mancha (Part II).
- Choco Museo: This is the most interesting museum present in Antigua. You get to learn about the process of chocolate making and look at cacao beans from a closer perspective. Take a chocolate-making class to develop your chocolate-making skills in the land of chocolates and coffee.
- Museo Casa del Tejido Antiguo: This is a place that showcases the place's vibrant textiles.
- Museo de Arte Colonial: This Antiguan museum is a colonial mansion that showcases an exhibition of furniture and sculptures from the colonial era. You will find paintings in this museum as well as put up for display.
The food items that are popular in the Antigua, Guatemala region are the following.
- Plato Tipico: This is a hearty meal made of grilled beef, cracklings on pork sausages, and deep-fried plantain.
- Jocon: A Guatemalan green stew with chicken that is meant to cure all troubles in life.
- Pepian: This dish is a mixture of Spanish and Guatemalan culture. The spread consists of a Guatemalan stew made out of one type of meat and vegetables like squash, carrot, pear, corn, potato, and more of the same veggies.
- Fried Plantains: As simple as the name sounds, friend plantain is something that people of all ages enjoy.
- Tamales: This is a corn-based dough filled with steamed minced meat of your choice.
Traditional Local Restaurants
Try out the best of the following local restaurants to understand what eating in Antigua feels like. Some places have accompanied live music along with the food that they serve.
- Canela: This is the best place for breakfast along with a cuppa.
- Fat Cat Coffee House: Another place for barista lovers.
- Rincon Tipico: Try out typical Antiguan food in this restaurant.
- El Italiano: A slice of Italy in Antigua, Guatemala.
Vegetarian and Vegan
Tourists who are vegetarians do not have to be disheartened at the idea of scarcity of vegan restaurants everywhere in the world. The vegan options include:
- Acai Antigua
- 7A Norte Pizzeria
- Amanecer Juice Bar
In case vegan is not your deal but you would like some fresh vegetarian meal, try out the no meat options from the vegetarian restaurants in the city. The vegetarian eateries include the following:
- La Bruja
- Canela Antigua
- Epicure Restaurant
- Toko Baru
Street food in Antigua, Guatemala is a must-try when you are in the country. Some of the popular street foods that you should binge on have been mentioned below:
- Chiles Rellenos
- Mole de Platano
The nightlife in Antigua is known far and wide in the country. If you are in Antigua with a couple of friends or family and are looking for some fun at night, visit one of the many pubs that allow people a small glimpse of the Guatemalan modernized culture. Visit any of the pubs for the popular drinks that include:
- Rosa de Jamaica
- Agua Pura
- Gallo (beer)
- Local wines
In the following section, you will read more on breweries that make the beer locally for the Antiguan people.
When touring Antigua in Guatemala, it is not the best option to drink tap water as the water bodies' pollution levels are high. It is assumed that close to 95% of the water is contaminated and thus, drinking water should always be purified before it can be consumed. Tourists new to the region may fall sick to bacterial infection if the water is not cleaned before drinking.
Organic cafes in the Antiguan region are multiple in number. We spoke about an organic farm earlier. In this section, we will name some more to know where to visit when you are on the lookout for fresh, homely food made out of organic produce.
- Samsara’s Garden
- Sat Nam
- Toko Baru
- Y tu Pina Tambien
- Rainbow Café Café
Enjoy a Central American, Middle Eastern, or South American spread made out of fresh produce from the garden.
The breweries in the region make great beer that you can grab at any pub or local brewery. Take note of these names so that you know whom to ask for local beer.
- Antigua Brewing Company
- Nora Lynne Brewery
- Antigua Cerveza
As we have been discussing so far, Antigua has a lot of activities for one and all. The following list puts down all the options one can include in their plan to explore the city.
- Sightseeing in Antigua.
- Hiking to the nearest Volcano
- Shopping for handicrafts by indulging in sustainable shopping.
- Tasting chocolate at the chocolate museum.
- A coffee farm tour.
- Learn Spanish from the locals
- Buy fresh produce from the Mercado.
- Drink beer with friends at a rooftop bar.
- Camp at the volcano sites.
- The view of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint.
- Staying at an eco-farm.
- Trying out a cooking class to learn Guatemalan cuisine.
Yoga and Retreats
Yoga and retreats have a special place in Antigua. Tourists who do not wish to fall out of their yoga routine can surely take time at a yoga retreat to practice their asana, be at peace with nature and listen to the chants throughout the day. There are courses especially for tourists as well as accommodation to make sure they can come for rejuvenation at this place.
Given that the tourism sector in Antigua, Guatemala is on the rise, there are a large number of accommodation options, with new ones opening up every other day. One can choose to remain in a hotel, motel, or hostel. Let us read more about the options one can get in the sections further in this article. One can check out these hotels if you want a 5-star experience with all the top-class amenities.
- Hotel Casa Antigua
- Hotel Las Marias Antigua Guatemala
- Port Hotel Antigua
- Selina Antigua
- Hotel Mueso Spa Casa Santo Domingo
- Meson de Maria
- El Convento Boutique Hotel
- El Carmen Hotel
Most of these accommodations offer free WiFi, parking spaces, pools, 24x7 security, complimentary breakfast, and room service.
Green hotels are hotels that promote sustainable living and eco-friendly options during your stay. In the following green hotels, one will find the usage of non-eco-friendly items to be much low in number or none at all. The administration encourages outdoor activities and less screen time. The waste management is proper while the electricity usage is minimized. Take a look at the following options for being a part of Responsible Tourism.
- Porta Hotel Antigua
- Cacao Boutique Hotel
- Pensativo House Hotel
- El Convento Boutique Hotel Antigua Guatemala
Hostels and Guest Houses
People who do not wish to spend too much on luxury hotels and high-end accommodation can choose from Antigua's hostels and guest houses. Please take a look at the list below to choose a guest house from it.
- Hotel Antigua Inn & Services
- Casa Naranjo Antigua
- Chipilapa Guesthouse
- Mary’s House Bed and Breakfast
- La Villa Antigua
- Baraka Antigua
The hostels are quite cheap as well. You will get to meet a large number of co-guests who are from various parts of the world. You can understand their culture while exploring the city of Antigua. Choose from:
- The Purpose Hostel
- Tropicana Hostel
- Hostel Antigua
- Bigfoot Hostel Antigua
Antigua is a safe place to rent an apartment if you are looking to stay there for quite some time. The apartments are cozy. They allow a great view of the city depending on where you are situated. Get hold of a broker who can show you around the neighborhood. You can also book a place via websites on the internet. Make sure to determine the authenticity before you rent a place.
Couchsurfing is a common way to get around Antigua, Guatemala. If you are a backpacker, then you will know the way to couch surf around. However, if you are a regular tourist who wishes to couch surf, get on the websites that allow a meet and greet with the families that help you stay overnight. Make friends along the way to ensure a place to stay if you are willing to couch surf.
Camping is a popular activity when you are in Antigua, Guatemala. Some of the in-demand camping sites in the city are:
- Vagamundo Camping
- Camping and Travel, Antigua
- Antigua Camping
- Santo Cielo by Casa Santo Domingo
Most of these campgrounds have excellent locations with cozy tents and fireplaces for bonfires at night. You can lie under a sky full of stars and watch the world from your tent during the day.
How to Get There
Getting to Antigua, Guatemala might not be the easiest route ever. This is because there are no working train or tram lines to the city. However, the services by the buses, chicken buses and the private cars are great for tourists to depend on them. There are no airports for the city of Antigua as well. Thus, in the following section, we will be covering how to get to Antigua if you are planning a vacation there.
As we mentioned earlier, there is no way to get to Antigua by air directly as the city has no airports. Tourists need to take a flight to Aurora International Airport in Guatemala. This the Guatemala City Airport from where one will have to travel to Antigua. You can book a private car, or you can ask your hotel to pick you up as well. Alternatively, there are Ubers, taxi services from the airport as well as shared shuttles too.
If you are willing to carry your luggage yourself and cut costs, then the bus is an option too. Whether you choose the usual bus service or the chicken bus is upto you – they are frequent in number, and the bus stops are close to one another. The buses may get crowded as the locals travel by them, but if you are willing to adjust, there are no problems.
No train services are working in Antigua, Guatemala.
Hitchhiking is a great way to move around the city and explore places in the suburbs. If you live in Central America or America, you can surely opt to hitchhike. Ensure all your documents are in a safe place and you have your journey planned out beforehand. The locals in Antigua are nice, and it is easy to find a place to couch surf.
Another common way to move around in Antigua is via shuttle buses, shared cars, and private cars. Shuttle buses and shared cars help people pool, cut costs as well as emissions. However, in tourists entering the city with a lot of luggage or moving around with too many people, private cars can be booked from the right place.
Moving around in the city of Antigua, Guatemala is possible if you are trekking, hiking, walking, or traveling via a bus. However, the most common way to move around is by shuttle. In some places, Uber is available. The buses can get crowded during peak season and rush hours so ensure safety measures while traveling in the city. There are tuk-tuks as well if you wish to take a ride for the experience. Chicken buses can also be a great experience.
Tourists who choose to keep their trip more meaningful can choose to walk around in Antigua, Guatemala. This way, they can talk to the locals and learn more about the Guatemalan culture. The city of Antigua has a rich history which makes for great stories. Walk around by yourself or go on guided tours to the main attractions in the city. Soak in the ambiance well by walking around. The climate permits people to walk comfortably but make sure to maintain proper walking shoes.
As discussed before, bicycles are a great way to get around the city. One gets to look at the landscape from a closer point of view while stopping wherever one wishes to. Travelers who wish to explore the area well can get on to bicycles available for rent in the city. Talk to locals and ride down the volcanic landscape and ruins to know more about the city’s history.
There are no electronic or electric vehicles in Antigua, Guatemala yet. However, they are planning on the release of such vehicles in the future to reduce the carbon footprint of the people living there. The passenger cars and buses will slowly change to electric vehicles in the future, given their growth potential.
The public service in Antigua, Guatemala, requires extra credits. To make up for the lack of train, tram, and metro services in the country, the bus services are made top-notch. Buses and chicken buses are the only ways to get around Antigua. The buses may be crowded for tourists, but they serve as great opportunities to know the local people and the culture.
Tram, Train and Subway
There are no tram or train services in Antigua, Guatemala. Furthermore, there are no air services as well. However, there are options to reach the city via land. One will also not find subways in the city as there are no metro stations or shortcuts. Walk around the main lanes as they are quite clean and less congested anyway.
Sustainable shopping in Antigua, Guatemala is a great option for the kind of items they sell. The handicrafts are ethical in nature, which means that they will cause no problem to the environment. If you wish to pick up gifts and souvenirs for friends and family, one can opt to buy coffee and handicrafts so that there is no harm to the environment.
If food is what you are looking for, the best place to visit in Antigua, Guatemala is the Mercado. This is a market that sells fresh produce, groceries, spices, and more, while on the same note, you will find T-shirts, DVDs, and shoes. This place is famous for street food as well. You can walk into a café for a cuppa as well.
Flea markets are galore in the city of Antigua, Guatemala. Walk through the La Patrona to find some of the most bizarre stuff in the city of Antigua. You can look for multiple thrift shops, antique stores, and street-side stalls that may be selling trinkets or weird looking dolls. If you look well, you will also find antique furniture in this place. Nim Po’t is a place in the 5th Avenida of Antigua. Try out the market for traditional Mayan clothing and cloth pieces. Artisans will also be found selling paperback books as well as charms for religions. Pick out souvenirs for friends and family from this area.
Second Hand Stores
Second-hand stores are the reason eco-fashion solutions are a big hit in the current world. Second-hand stores have a large variety in terms of the items they sell and how they have been procured. Often one might find items that are semi-valuable or valuable items that have been passed on to one generation from another – an antique piece. Always be on the lookout for second-hand stores and thrift stores as they capture the Antiguan world's real essence.
Eco-fashion is a huge deal all over the world presently. When in Antigua, Guatemala, try to shop from second-hand stores, thrift stores, and sustainable shopping centers. It is ideal not to spend at the shopping malls as it adds to the large pollution levels. Tourists should always keep in mind to buy only what they need. Ethical fashion is being promoted in Antigua of late, and thus the sale of jute bags, straw hats, cotton dresses, and thrift items has gone up over the years.
The most strong measure to combat the rate of waste disposal in the city of Antigua is recycling. The measures taken by the government are quite firm. The trucks that dispose of waste run on bio-fuel. Additionally, some projects collect used oil from restaurants and hotels to filter it and produce clean oil. Apart from that, all the glass bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers, cardboard, as well as plastic are recycled to produce new items or make use of them after disinfection.
The waste generated in the city of Antigua, Guatemala is recycled via various plants and organizations. The UNDP has multiple projects to handle the waste generation in the city. Furthermore, the tourists also take care of not littering the place as a part of responsible tourism. Disposal of trash is a major issue in the city, and therefore, many initiatives spread awareness and help manage the garbage.
Work and Study Abroad
The schools and universities in Antigua, Guatemala have great faculties that offer an all-round education to children and young adults. The universities offer courses that are far-reaching in terms of what people get to learn. The Tecnologico de Monterrey is an institution that offers technology-related courses. It has 31 campuses in the country itself. The Universidad Panamericana de Guatemala is an institution that offers courses in Business Administration, Education, and Innovation.
If you are looking to settle down in the city of Antigua, then you can consider the following careers in the country. The main careers include Agriculture as well as the service domains such as manufacturing and processing industries. Construction is also a booming business in the city. As the days pass, tourism is another sector in the country that is helping the economy grow in Antigua.
The universities in Antigua, Guatemala welcome students all over the world via their exchange programs. Antigua's city is quite popular for its architecture which forms one of their major courses, the colleges, and universities. Students hope to visit the city to explore their culture besides studying, but they can also learn a lot from the academic development in the city. Try out internships, exchange programs as well as volunteer services in the city of Antigua.
The people of Antigua are quite friendly and warm by nature. If you are looking for a nanny to help you with your little ones or an au pair who takes care of your work while you are exploring their land, there are services in Antigua that will be happy to help you out with your ordeal. The au pair services in Antigua are quite flexible as well as affordable. More importantly, they are trustworthy by nature.
Volunteering in Antigua is a common activity as there are quite a few organizations that offer a helping hand. One may want to volunteer in Antigua to help out in sectors such as child care, teaching projects, construction, environmental care, and medical fields. Interested travelers can also help out the sea turtles in Antigua by traveling to the city's rural coastal areas. The organizations in Antigua host many tourists who contribute to the welfare of the country they are visiting by volunteering in the societies.