A Plethora of Things to Do in Antigua
Sometimes tourists give Antigua a bad rap, particularly because it is filled with tourists. Yet, I love the former capital of Guatemala. After spending three weeks in this UNESCO declared colonial town, what I’m going to miss the most is plethora of hidden gems. I love not knowing what I would find around the next corner or through the next open door.
And so let me introduce…
My favorite things to do in Antigua
I could spend the rest of my life eating at the intersection of 6 calle and 7 avenida. Expressarte roasts regional Guatemalan coffee and brews not only an Americano (which is very popular in Guatemala) but also a french press and a chemex. Next door is the juice bar Pitaya. Across the street is Samsara, my favorite restaurant in Antigua. Quinoa porridge with your choice of coconut, hemp, or almond milk. Need I say more? Cafe Rainbow has live music most nights and a great atmosphere for a chill evening. Finally, just one block away along 6 calle is Cactus Tacos, which serves Mexican style fish tacos, fresh veggies, and some serious heat. Love!
If you must leave 6 calle, go to 5 avenida north of 3 calle. Frida’s is a little more formal restaurant with amazing Frida Kahlo themed decor. The food and the drinks are amazing. Next door is Gaia, a hookah bar featuring mediterranean food. Delicious falafel, humus, and eggplant dishes make me so happy.
Many people with large budgets like to go to 4 calle, east of Parque Central to eat. Bistro Cinq is Martin’s pick for a favorite restaurant. I loved this place too, despite the expensive prices. I had the best salmon ever, and Martin devoured his macaroni and cheese. Plus, you get to draw on the table while you wait for your food.
Another fabulous French restaurant is Petit Saint Malo, which is also on 4 calle, east of 1 avenida. Their specialty is crepes. Go. Now.
Y Tu Piña Tambien and Toko Baru, along 1 avenida, south of 5 calle are delicious. I had carrot, ginger, and pineapple soup, and Martin had huevos rancheros at Piña. The soup was perfect and Martin’s plate was licked clean. We ate twice at Toko Baru, both times I had the falafel. This place is tiny and cheap and delicious.
For an adventure, take the free shuttle from Nim’Pot (on 5 avenida and 3 calle) to San Cristobal restaurant and garden. The view of Antigua is stunning and the food is delicious.
That’s enough to get you started, but trust me, there are so many other delicious places to eat! Finding a good meal (even vegan or gluten-free) in Antigua is easy.
You must go to Cafe No Sé. The drinks are expensive but the atmosphere is cozy and everyone is friendly. Hops and Tales has wonderful beer from El Salvador and was a great change from the mediocre and corrupt, Gallo, the national beer. Across the street from Cafe No Sé, up the stairs, and in the back room is the Red, White, and Brew microbrewery that also has delicious, albeit ridiculously expensive, beer. Go for one and then go someplace else. Snug and Travel Menu are also fun.
The market in Antigua is the largest market I’ve ever seen. The first time I went I got so lost I had no idea how to find the exit. The market is a great place to practice your Spanish too!
For specialty grocery stores, I love Pal Paladar, Epicure, and Sabe Rico (which is also delicious restaurant). Epicure has the best baguettes in town.
Antigua offers so many different types of activities! Here are just a few that we enjoyed:
Go on a city tour with Antigua Tours by Elizabeth Bell. It is reasonably priced and excellent. We went during our first few days in the city and it gave us a great perspective on Guatemalan economics, history, and culture.
Go zip lining at Santo Domingo del Cerro. Make your reservation at Santo Domingo and then catch the free shuttle to its sister hotel on the mountain. The views and the art are outstanding.
Visit the ruins. There are over 30 ruin sites in the city. San Francisco is my favorite because it gives the story of Saint Hermono Pedro, whose legacy is everywhere in Antigua.
Have a picnic at Cerro de la Cruz.
Go to a yoga class with YogAntigua.
Participate in a chocolate workshop at the ChocoMuseo. If you missed it, here is my experience.
Take a chicken bus to Valhalla Macadamia Farm. You’ll get a little tour of the farm, a free facial, and all sorts of information about the wonders of macadamia nuts.
Visit Caoba Farms, the largest organic farm in the area. The first Saturday of every month they have a farmers market with other venders and food. I had so much fun here, we decided to stay in Antigua for another week.
Learn how to cook traditional Guatemalan food at Frijol Feliz cooking school. I had so much fun!
Take a tour of Safe Passage, a non-profit agency that helps Guatemalans get out of poverty by providing education. We saw the garbage dump in Guatemala City where mothers dig through the trash looking for things to eat, use, or sell. These families live on about $0.60 a day; in comparison, severe poverty is defined by the UN as $1.50 per day. The schools are beautiful and full of life. I would be honored to someday volunteer or sponsor a child with this organization.
Antigua is full of Guatemalan culture.
Yet because of all the expats the city feels very international as well. I love it. I’m amazed at how many things we were able to experience in just three weeks and I’m equally amazed at how many more things we have yet to experience here.
When will you go to Antigua?