Antigua – a colorful jewel, nested at the foot of an active volcano

Antigua – a colorful jewel, nested at the foot of an active volcano

If you are planning to roam in Central America, there is one place that you’ll see marked as a must go in every travel blog, magazine, guide book or whatever your source of inspiration and information is.

This would be the charming, colonial town of Antigua, situated only 45 km away from the current capital of Guatemala.

If you already have you flight tickets for Guatemala booked, consider skipping the busy and not very friendly capital, and hit the road to Antigua, where you’ll find everything a traveler could wish for – open markets, indigenous culture, magnificent colonial architecture, cobbled streets, hip bars and restaurants (also full of places for local, which are less pricey), street musicians and spontaneous dancing fiestas on the square and all that is located in the foot of not one, but three volcanoes – Agua, Acatenango and Volcan de Fuego.

The city was founded in the 16th Century by the conquistadors and served as a capital city – its whole name is actually Antigua Guatemala, which translated from Spanish means the Old Guatemala. The capital had to be transferred 45 km away to Guatemala City for a couple of reasons – several earthquakes through the centuries almost destroyed the whole city, volcano eruptions are constant danger and the valley, where the city is located is limiting its expansion.

Anyhow currently Antigua is flourishing, generously offering its charms and attracting visitors from all over the world. The city is so vibrant and full of life that you can’t be easily bored if you decide to dedicate it even a week of your precious vacation. Here are our suggestions for a time well spent in this colorful, dreamy town:

1. Give yourself enough time to explorer architecture and history – as mentioned, the city was founded by the Spanish conquistadors, and due to that fact and nevertheless the devastating earthquakes you can still admire its original Baroque splendor – there is a risk of over-churching, but we recommend to check Antigua Cathedral (the oldest, partially preserved cathedral), La Merced Church (famous with its procession during the Holy Week, or in Spanish La Semana Santa), San Francisco Church, Santo Domingo Church and the Capuchinas Ruins (the restored ruins of a convent where nuns lived in extremely modest conditions)

2. Climb to Cerro de la Cruz – this is definitely the best viewpoint towards Antigua with the volcanoes in the background (on a sunny day). It’s a 30 minutes pleasant walk from the center to the top and from here it’s visible how the city is planned and constructed. All the roads are prolonging from north to south and from east to west – same way roman towns were build. There is much written about Cerro de la Cruz to be a not so safe spot, but this information is outdated and now it’s only advisable for tourist to visit the place during day time.

3. Explorer the markets – the largest market is called El Mercado, situated in the northern part of the city. Here you can find anything – from local crafts, textiles, hand crafted souvenirs to second hand clothes and all kind of goods known to the European and American taste.

4. Visit the nearby fincas – Guatemala is known for the best quality coffee in the region. There are various options for daytrips outside of the city to some of the farms where coffee is grown which offer a glimpse to the whole process of coffee production.

These are only a couple of recommendations for a time well spent in Antigua, Guatemala. This city has so much more to offer that we suggest you to put it on your “places to visit in 2019” list right away.

The Lure of Central America

Balkan Cycling (Bulgaria) 510 , 8 Days

Balkan Cycling (Bulgaria)

Exciting cycling trip in the heart of the Balkan mountains. On this tour we bike along the north...
The 5 Stan-s - Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan 1650 , 21 Days

The 5 Stan-s - Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan

 Follow in the footsteps of Genghis Khan as you delve into the vast deserts, rolling steppe,...
Orpheus Trail Ride, Bulgaria 690 , 8 Days

Orpheus Trail Ride, Bulgaria

The Rhodopes,  occupying the southern part of Bulgaria and part of Greece,  are the...
View all» Blog
Chernobyl as a travel destination

06.01.2020 17:00

Chernobyl as a travel destination

   About 30 years ago a flawed reactor design in combination with some serious human mistakes led to an accident at the No.4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukrainian SSR. It became the worst nuclear disaster in history and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and the evacuation of about 110 000 more. Ever since then it has been a subject of an...


The Silk Road: now and then

31.12.2019 17:00

The Silk Road: now and then

   “The Silk Road” is a term that conjures up fairytale-like images of long camel caravans travelling through bare deserts, of brave adventurers and merchants bargaining in exotic oriental markets. This network of routes, which stretched about 11 000 km (7 000 miles) and connected the East and the West, is a milestone in the development of the modern world and the...


The Little - Known Pyramids of Sudan

11.12.2019 09:52

The Little - Known Pyramids of Sudan

Can you name the country with the most pyramids in the world? Nope, it’s not Egypt. The country which holds this record with more than 200 pyramids is actually Egypt’s southern neighbor – Sudan. Though not as big as the Egyptian ones, they are just as impressive and have just as intriguing history, dating back to 8th century BC, to the kingdom of Kush. There are many reasons...


What the Timket Festival in Ethiopia is all about?

29.11.2019 17:30

What the Timket Festival in Ethiopia is all about?

Every year on the 19th of January a procession of priests, locals and visitors all chanting, singing and dancing enthusiastically  fills the streets of the Ethiopian cities. It’s the celebration of Timket, or Epiphany – the biggest and most anticipated religious event in the Ethiopian calendar. It commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and is the day when...