Panoramic volcanoes surround the cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala. I spent a month in the lovely little bohemian town, and fell in love with the colorful textiles, super fresh food and historical architecture. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has helped the former capital city keep it's colonial structure and charm. With a volcano always in view, Antigua is a must-visit that will take you back in time. Here's how to spend One Fine Day in quite possibly the most picturesque town on Earth:
Morning: Coffee at Bella Vista
Central America is world famous for coffee beans. The climate is perfect for harvesting, roasting and enjoying delicious brew. Bella Vista is a hidden gem in the center of town. Walk to the back of the wine shop and head up the stairs to the third floor. Order some coffee and take in that lovely view! It's my favorite rooftop in town. Welcome to Antigua.
Late Morning: Walk through a Cathedral.
In the year 1521, Spain concurred Guatemala and worked to convert the indigenous Maya people to Catholicism. This is one of the reasons there are traditional Spanish town squares across Latin America. Today, Guatemala is an independent nation but European-style Cathedral's still remain. Antigua Guatemala Cathedral (Catedral de San José) was originally built in the 1500's and has seen many earthquakes, leaving it partially intact. Viewing is free and open to the public to explore.
Brunch: at Saberico
Down the rabbit hole into Alice's Wonderland we go! Saberico (translated into english
"you know it tastes good") serves fresh cuisine in a secret garden space. One of my favorite aspects about Antigua is the mystery that lies behind each painted wall. It seems like every entrance is followed by an unassuming sunny open terrace. Saberico is absolutely delicious and focuses a lot on health and digestion (each meal comes with warm lemon water!).
Afternoon: Shop Stela 9
Anthropologist turned clothing designer Jess Bercovici has some sort of magic touch. Her home in Antigua is covered in vibrant murals and her designs are truly unique, not to mention ethically made and sold. She sources her materials from places like San Juan of Lake Atitlan and works directly with textile designers to bring an eclectic eye for color and style to life. Stop by her shop to grab a coconut strawberry smoothie from the cafe counter and stay awhile; meeting Jess just might inspire you never to leave Guatemala, she's truly an inspiration!
Late Afternoon: Massage at Good Hotel
Good Group is a hospitality company based out of the Netherlands. Good Hotel Antigua combines doing business with doing good and dontates their profits back to the local community. The premium and authentic experience of visiting the hotel is enhanced with the staff, who are all from the area. Call the hotel to set up a appointment in the spa for a little R&R.
Sunset: Walk up to Cerro De La Cruz
Getting above a city can be very liberating. Antigua is small, and the cobblestone streets paired with terrace rooftops offer a beautiful perspective from above. Make your way over the north end of town down 1a Avenida Norte. You will pass a basketball court on your right, which means you're almost there. The hike up to the top is a 20 minute stair climb, it's not difficult but it will get your heart pumping just enough to feel the endorphins start flowing.
Dinner: at Los Tres Tiempos
There are so many great food options in town. If you only have one day, I recommend dining on Avenida 5, so you can pick up on some energy and a nice view of the infamous yellow Santa Catalina Arch. Los Tres Tiempos puts a zesty fresh twist on traditional Guatemalan food. The ambiance is spot on, with accents of handmade lighting figures and authentic textile designs. It's also locally owned and I think it's important to dine and stay local whenever possible. All of my recommendations skew this way.
Later On: Grab a drink at Café No Se
I'm a big believer that you havent truly visited a city until you've spent at least a few hours out on the town past sunset. Cafe No Se is a cash-only candlelit Mezcal bar on Avenida 1a. The bar is made up of three funky little rooms, one of which you literally crouch through a tiny doorway in the wall to enter. Cafe No Se also serves delicious pizza. Don't miss out on this gem.
Antigua is about an hour from the La Aurora International Airport. You can set up a shuttle service ahead of time or just grab one from the airport-- there are plenty because Antigua is a popular destination. If you have an early flight, check out my post on where to stay in Guatemala City!
I traveled alone in Guatemala and found everyone I met to be welcoming and friendly. That being said, it's important to stay alert of your surroundings and understand the culture. I dressed fairly conservatively and never walked home alone at night. Enjoy your travels and don't hesitate to reach out to me for questions or help with planning your trip!
Bella Vista: 6a Avenida Norte 1
Saberico: 6a Avenida Sur
Stela 9: 3ra. Calle Oriente #43
Good Hotel: Calle del Hermano Pedro, 12
Los Tres Tiempos: 5a Avenida Norte
Cafe No Se: 1a Avenida Sur