After my recent trip exploring Antigua, I wrote this post to share best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala!
These Antigua activities will allow you to engage in the small town’s charming, relaxed feel and beautiful culture. I share the most popular sites, as well as hidden gems frequented by friendly locals.
I also provide some personal tips I learned during my stay. And, if you need a hotel, I have a separate guide to where to stay in Antigua.
Table of Contents
- 27 Best Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala
- Santa Catalina Arch
- Acatenango Volcano
- Free Walking Tour
- Local Markets
- Street Vendors & Artisans
- Finca La Azotea
- Chocolate Workshop
- Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
- Eat Local Food
- Guatemalan Cooking Class
- Central Park (Parque Central)
- Cerro de La Cruz
- Spanish School
- Casa de Artes
- Salsa Class
- Pacaya Volcano
- Enjoy Rooftop Views
- Ulew Cocktail Bar
- Caoba Farms
- San Jose Cathedral
- Public Library (Biblioteca Municipal)
- Church and Convent of La Merced (Iglesia & Convento de La Merced)
- Jade Maya Museum
- San Francisco Church (Santuario San Francisco el Grande)
- El Carmen Church Ruins
- Corazón de Agua Trail
- FAQs About What to Do in Antigua
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27 Best Things to Do in Antigua, Guatemala
Santa Catalina Arch
Snap a photo under Antigua’s iconic yellow arch.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24/7 | Entrance: Free
The Santa Catalina Arch is Antigua’s most notable landmark. It is located close to the heart of Antigua and is surrounded by shops selling local goods. You can even see Agua Volcano make an appearance underneath the arch on a clear day, which makes for a perfect photo.
The Santa Catalina Arch was built in 1694 for practical purposes. At the time, the nuns who lived on one side of the arch took a vow of seclusion. And so the arch was built for them to be able to cross between the Santa Catalina Convent and the school without being seen by the public.
Climb a volcano and soar above the clouds on this once-in-a-lifetime hiking experience.
The overnight Acatenango trek is one of the best and most popular things to do in Antigua, Guatemala. This hike takes you from the base of Volcano Acatenango at about 12,000 feet, up through farmlands, jungle, and forest, and eventually to a base camp.
At base camp, you might get lucky and see the nearby Volcano Fuego erupt! You wake up early the next morning to hike to the Acatenango summit for sunrise.
This extraordinary hike is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I can say from personal experience that it’s a very difficult hike, and recommend wearing hiking boots for added stability.
I booked my hike with OX Expeditions and cannot recommend this guide company enough. It offers many tours, but the Overnight Acatenango hike is its most popular. Overall, hiking Acatenango was one of the best things I did in Guatemala.
Free Walking Tour
Wander cobbled streets and learn about Antigua from a local guide.
A free walking tour is one of the best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, especially upon arrival. It’s the perfect introduction to Antigua and a great way to learn more about local sites and attractions right from the jump. Local guides typically give helpful tips and recommendations, too.
I did a free guided tour through Guru Walk and my guide, Alfredo, was great. He taught us about Antigua as a UNESCO World Heritage site and was also honest with us about the realities of being a local in Antigua, Guatemala.
Tour stops include Santa Catalina Arch, Central Park, La Merced Church, and others. Overall, this is a great way to explore downtown Antigua and dive deeper into its history.
Meander through mazes of colorful textiles, artwork, street food, souvenirs, and more.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: Vary | Entrance: Free
A visit to Antigua just isn’t complete without stopping at one of the many markets throughout town. Visiting local markets is a fantastic way to shop for souvenirs and get a feel for the local art and goods that Guatemala is known for.
Mercado Central is one of the largest markets in Antigua, and it’s aimed at tourists and locals alike. This market is huge, and you can easily get lost wandering among mazes of endless vendor stalls. Everything from clothing to appliances to food is sold here.
Nim P’ot and Mercadito are other popular markets in Antigua. Know that bartering is acceptable at Mercado Central, Mercadito markets, and others. However, please remember that for many local vendors, selling at markets is their livelihood.
Street Vendors & Artisans
Find unique items and get to know the local side of Antigua.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: Vary | Entrance: Free
Don’t be afraid to go beyond the markets and shops and purchase from sellers and artisans on the streets of Antigua. Sometimes, you’ll find something unique. Shopping this way allows you the opportunity to talk with locals and learn something new.
Some of my favorite souvenirs were purchased from street artisans. For example, Maria (pictured above), sells her goods most days on the steps across from Iglesia San Jose El Viejo. I got to chat with her and her husband on a few occasions. Getting to know them made purchasing Maria’s unique textiles all the more special.
Be sure to wander away from the main area around Parque Central to find something different. Also, remember to carry cash. And don’t be afraid to put your Spanish to the test!
Visit a hobbit-themed park located high up in the mountains above Antigua.
Hobbitenango is a hobbit-themed park located about 30-45 minutes outside Antigua on the mountainside. This may seem like a random attraction for Guatemala, but trust me, it’s really cool.
There are beautifully crafted hobbit huts and statues throughout the park, along with restaurants and cafes overlooking a scenic vista. Activities like archery, a swing, and axe throwing are all available. Local sellers have small shops set up, too.
Hobbitenango isn’t cheesy, but truly magical, and you can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon here. Though, I recommend visiting Hobbitenango earlier in the day instead of in the afternoon. Doing this is likely to get you clearer mountain views.
Also, be sure to take the shuttle transfer from the ticket desk to the top of the park. Otherwise, you might end up hiking your way to the top like I accidentally did.
Finca La Azotea
Wander a 150-year-old coffee farm, enjoy a coffee tour, and enjoy an array of activities.
Guatemala is known for its coffee bean production. So, what better way to experience Guatemalan coffee culture than by visiting a coffee farm? Finca La Azotea is the perfect place to do just that.
This 150-year-old coffee farm is great for all ages. It’s located just outside of town and is one of the best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala.
La Azotea is enormous. Here, you can take a coffee tour about coffee history and production, and then enjoy a tasting at the end. You can also take a chocolate workshop, ride bikes or horses around the property, mini golf, and so much more. La Azotea even has a beer garden and a couple of restaurants on-site if you want food.
Learn about the chocolate-making process from start to finish and craft your own chocolate treats.
I took a 2-hour chocolate workshop at Finca La Azotea, the above-mentioned coffee farm. I’ll say this: you need to take this chocolate class when visiting Antigua.
La Azotea’s chocolate workshop is at their on-site shop called La Trufa Chapina. You’ll learn about the history and production of cacao during the 2-hour workshop. Then, you’ll go through the process of roasting cacao beans, grinding them, and creating truffles.
My instructor was Orlando, and he was so friendly and knowledgeable. The chocolate workshop at La Trufa Chapina was one of my favorite things I did in Guatemala.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re short on time, the Antigua Chocolate Museum or “ChocoMuseum” is located in downtown Antigua and also offers classes.
Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
Visit a hotel-spa-museum and marvel at Guatemalan ruins and artifacts.
Hotel Casa Santo Domingo is a hotel, spa, museum, and archeological site all in one. Those interested in history and culture should especially pay a visit to this unique attraction located on the outskirts of Antigua.
The best part of Casa Santo Domingo is that you don’t have to be a guest to visit. For $6, you can visit several sites, attractions, and activities. You can explore religious crypts, wander through ruins, see historical artifacts, and enjoy artwork by local Guatemalan artists.
I recommend visiting Casa Santo Domingo if you have a free afternoon and want a unique museum experience.
Eat Local Food
Get a taste of traditional Guatemalan cuisine.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (+502) 7832-2495
Antigua offers many delicious food options for both local and international cuisine. I have a couple of local Guatemalan food recommendations that are affordable, tasty, and sure to fill you up.
First is La Cuevita de Los Urquizú. This restaurant is located in town and is a great introduction to traditional dishes. It’s known for its stews, but you can also sample a few different things.
Rinconcito Antigüeño is the second Guatemalan restaurant. It’s located a few blocks from Parque Central. Here, I recommend trying dishes like pollo a la leña and pepián.
Visit the Church of La Merced on weekend evenings for street food and an even more local Guatemalan food experience.
Guatemalan Cooking Class
Learn to cook traditional Guatemalan cuisine from locals.
A Guatemalan cooking class is a great idea if you’re looking for a more immersive and interactive food experience. Cuscun is a local cooking workshop that’s taught by locals who you cook alongside. This cooking class is open to all ages and abilities so it’s something you can do with your family or even solo to meet other travelers.
You can expect to learn about Guatemalan food traditions and make an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Popular dishes are all on the menu here, from pepián to tamales and more.
Central Park (Parque Central)
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the local buzz of life in Antigua.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24/7 | Entrance: Free
Parque Central is located in the city center of Antigua, as its name suggests. Local markets, cafes, and the San Jose Cathedral surround Parque Central. It’s a great place to just sit, people-watch, and take in local life in town.
Many locals and street food vendors sell their goods in and around Parque Central. This is the place to get some last-minute snacks or souvenirs if you’re in a pinch. But overall, I recommend grabbing a coffee or ice cream to-go and sitting down to take in the sights and sounds of Antigua.
👉 Read Next: Things to Do in Lake Atitlan
Cerro de La Cruz
Take in sweeping views of Antigua from up above.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 7 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: Free
Cerro de La Cruz is worth a visit if you catch a clear day in Antigua. This park is located just outside of town along the hillside. You should be able to find iconic Antigua landmarks from here, like the Santa Catalina Arch and the many churches.
Many people think the Cerro de La Cruz viewpoint is a great sunset spot, but I recommend visiting during the day or for sunrise. This is because the surrounding volcanoes obstruct the direction of the sunset, so you won’t get much of a view.
Learn Spanish and get to know Antigua on a deeper level.
Guatemala is one of the best and most affordable countries in Central America for attending Spanish school. The town of Antigua is no exception.
You’ll find many Spanish schools throughout Antigua. Most offer one-on-one teaching and the option of doing a homestay to enhance your Spanish-speaking experience. Doing this is a great way to get to know locals and experience Guatemala on a deeper level.
Antigueña Spanish Academy is one of many schools and it’s very highly rated. Spanish lessons are usually set in week-long increments and last a few hours each day. Programs can run at about $100+ a week.
Casa de Artes
Shop high-quality textiles, masks, and jewelry, and learn more about Guatemalan art.
Art lovers will enjoy Antigua’s small, but beautiful Casa de Artes museum. Casa de Artes is part shop and part museum. This makes it ideal for those looking to purchase the highest quality textiles and pieces, and also learn about the cultural importance.
The owner of Casa de Artes was kind enough to explain some of Guatemala’s rich history regarding textiles and masks during my visit. The museum section featured a variety of textiles, artwork, and jewelry. I enjoyed seeing the textiles because they had all been used by Guatemalan people for different purposes, including celebrations.
Pick up a few new moves and dance your way to a good time.
Salsa is a beloved dance form throughout Latin America. This makes Guatemala a popular place to learn and partake in salsa. Luckily, many salsa studios and free salsa nights are available throughout Antigua. Many are even free.
New Sensations is a popular studio that many visitors and locals take classes through. It teaches private and group lessons, as well as hosts free salsa nights. Antigua Brewing Company is another place you can go to enjoy free salsa nights!
Hike an active volcano and roast marshmallows on dried lava fields.
Pacaya Volcano is another popular volcano hike that people do in Antigua. Visitors often opt for hiking Pacaya instead of Acatenango because it’s less intense than Acatenango, although it’s still difficult.
Pacaya Volcano is one of Guatemala’s 27 named volcanoes, and one of three active volcanoes. It is located just outside of Antigua, or an hour and a half from Guatemala City.
You can expect to walk through forests and volcanic lava fields on your Pacaya Volcano tour. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top. You may even get to toast marshmallows on the hot lava fields!
Enjoy Rooftop Views
Relax with a drink and enjoy charming views of the Antigua skyline.
Antigua, Guatemala is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Part of this means that the buildings in Antigua can’t be built higher than a few levels. This helps preserve the architectural integrity, history, and beauty of Antigua. This also means that rooftop terrace views are unobstructed and just plain beautiful.
Many spots around Antigua have rooftop views, but a few popular places are Antigua Brewing Company and Sky Cafe. At both, you can enjoy colorful views of Antigua and the dramatic natural scenery that encompasses it.
Ulew Cocktail Bar
Have a drink custom-made for you at this cool and quirky speakeasy.
Ulew Cocktail Bar is a unique and cozy speakeasy located inside Antigua Brewing Company. Its quirky yet detailed decor and its customizable drink experience are what sets Ulew apart.
You’ll be asked a few questions about your liquor and flavor preferences upon being seated at Ulew. Then, the bartenders will whip up a custom drink just for you. A bonus is that the drinks all come with funky, random presentations. Paying a visit to Ulew is a great way to kick off some nightlife in Antigua or just enjoy a drink with friends.
Stroll through lush farm fields and enjoy the farm-to-table fare.
Caoba Farms is a local, organic farm just outside of Antigua. Visiting Caoba Farms is a great activity for visitors of all ages, but especially for families. Caoba Farms has farm fields and gardens to wander, and animals to pay a visit to. There’s even a restaurant on-site that serves up farm-to-table fare.
Caoba Farms also offers unique classes like aerial and yoga, so there’s always something fun to check out. And you can take a guided walking tour if you’re interested in learning more about the food and farm. Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time.
San Jose Cathedral
Explore the ruins of a 16th-century church in the heart of Antigua.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (+502) 7832-0909 | Entrance: $2.50 (ruins portion)
San Jose Cathedral is located in the heart of Antigua in front of Parque Central. San Jose Cathedral was originally built in 1680 and it has a complicated, but rich history—much like the town of Antigua.
San Jose Cathedral endured three earthquakes. Twice, it was repaired. But the damage from the third earthquake in 1773 was too serious to be fixed. Today, the ruins of San Jose Cathedral stand behind a newly built church.
You can explore the ruins and take in what used to be, and still is, an important part of Antigua’s history for just a couple of dollars.
Public Library (Biblioteca Municipal)
Take a pause from Antigua’s buzzing streets at a peaceful library with local galleries.
📍 Google Maps | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm Weekdays, Closed Weekends | Entrance: Free
Antigua’s Biblioteca Municipal (public library) isn’t much of a tourist attraction, but it does have some unique features that make it worth a visit.
Biblioteca Municpal’s brightly colored inner courtyard is the first feature. This is a lovely place to escape the bustle of Antigua and enjoy some moments of calm—perhaps to read a book or write about your travels.
The library’s small art gallery is the second feature. To me, this made visiting worthwhile. The art gallery at Biblioteca Municipal was filled with beautiful work by a Guatemalan artist during my visit. But the exhibitions within this gallery change, so there’s always something new to enjoy.
Church and Convent of La Merced (Iglesia & Convento de La Merced)
Wander amongst an ornate 16th-century church and convent.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (+502) 7832-0559 | Entrance: $2
The church and convent of La Merced are two beautiful sites to visit while in Antigua. The church of La Merced has an ornate yellow and white facade, and it’s worth stopping at just to see its beauty up close.
The Convent of La Merced is located to the left of the church entrance. You can purchase a ticket to wander the convent’s ruins for $2. This is a beautiful spot to take a quick stroll around and enjoy some peace and quiet. You can also go to the second level of the convent for some rooftop views of Antigua.
Jade Maya Museum
Shop Guatemalan jade and learn about the gemstone’s significance and history.
Jade Maya is a museum and shops on the outskirts of downtown Antigua. Here, you’ll find an array of jade jewelry ranging from classic green hues to black, white, and other colors.
Jade Maya’s museum section is small, but there are many artifact replicas on display. This helps you learn about the importance of jade in Mayan history and culture. You can also watch as local workers craft pieces of jade jewelry.
You’ll especially enjoy Jade Maya if you’re a jewelry lover or are interested in learning some bits about Mayan history. It’s a small attraction, but a worthy stop on your own or on this Antigua walking tour.
San Francisco Church (Santuario San Francisco el Grande)
See the ruins of one of Antigua’s most architecturally impressive churches.
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (+502) 7882-4439 | Hours: 6 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: Free
San Francisco the Great Sanctuary is a beautiful and historic church in Antigua that was built in the 16th century. The ruins and Spanish Baroque architecture are what the Church of San Francisco is known for. However, it is still frequented by locals. This gives San Francisco life and an atmosphere that feels old and new.
Be sure to take your time wandering the ruins here. There are many beautiful relics and works of art worth seeing. There’s also a burial crypt, which is worth checking out.
Overall, San Francisco and the Great Sanctuary is a beautiful landmark. It is one of the best things to do in Antigua, Guatemala if you’re interested in Antigua’s religious history.
El Carmen Church Ruins
Make a stop to see dramatic church ruins while you explore Antigua.
El Carmen Church ruins are the remains of what was once an ornate Catholic church. The earthquake of 1773 destroyed most of El Carmen, but it didn’t take away its beauty altogether.
Today, you can’t enter El Carmen. But you can walk by to take in the grand and detailed design of its façade. The giant crack is what really sets El Carmen apart, and it’s impressive to see up close.
Corazón de Agua Trail
Hike through a less-touristy nature reserve to see beautiful lookout points and wildlife.
Corazon de Agua is a lesser known hiking trail that’s right outside of Antigua. The Corazon de Agua trail isn’t as dramatic or popular as the volcanoes Acatenango and Pacaya, but it is a great option if you’re staying in Antigua longer.
Corazon de Agua takes about 2 hours to hike, and it’s of moderate difficulty. You’ll pass through different landscapes from farmland to dense forest. The many different lookout points are the best part of hiking Corazon de Agua. You might even see some wildlife if you’re lucky!
FAQs About What to Do in Antigua
Is it worth visiting Antigua, Guatemala?
It is definitely worth visiting Antigua, Guatemala. Antigua offers beautiful sites like Santa Catalina Arch, a rich local culture, and incredible volcano hikes—including the trek up Pacaya Volcano. Most people opt for Antigua over Guatemala City for their first stop after landing at the Guatemala City Airport.
What is Antigua, Guatemala most known for?
Antigua, Guatemala is best known for its colonial architecture and local culture. Antigua is also known as a base for people doing the Acatenango volcano trek.
Is Antigua, Guatemala an expensive place to visit?
Antigua, Guatemala is not an expensive place to visit overall. But it is more expensive than other places in Guatemala and Central America. However, budget travelers can enjoy a free walking tour of Antigua, pursue its local markets, and explore Central Park without cost.
👉 Visiting Lake Atitlan? Don’t miss my review of La Casa del Mundo, one of the most beautiful and unique hotels in Guatemala.
There are so many fun and memorable things to do in Antigua, Guatemala. I hope this guide was helpful and gave you some ideas on how to enjoy Antigua, Guatemala to the fullest.
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