I had the pleasure of visiting Antigua Guatemala for a short period of time. And now looking back, I definitely wished that I would’ve stayed longer. It’s such a diverse and magical city. Influenced by Western culture yet still preserving its natural and historical beauty. With so much to see and do. You can spend weeks there and still not take in a hundred percent of what it has to offer. And for those who are still not convinced. I want to share with you 8 reasons why you should consider traveling to the stunning Antigua Guatemala.
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1. The Breathtaking Colonial Architecture
Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO world heritage site, was originally founded in 1524 as the capital of Guatemala. It was also once the most important seat of the Spanish colonial government back in the days. Unfortunately, due to its destruction after a massive volcano eruption in 1773, the capital relocated to a safer region. Which became Guatemala City (The country’s capital today).
Even though Antigua became an abandoned city in the 17th century, it still retained its integrity in terms of its Baroque-style architecture and rich cultural heritage. Today, the candy-colored buildings and bumpy cobbled streets have become one of the main reasons why tourists and locals alike flock to this ancient city. It seriously is one of the most photogenic towns I’ve ever been to. If you ever visit Antigua. You have to witness the awe-inspiring Santa Catalina Arch that stands resiliently in front of the Volcano of Agua. It is UNREAL!
2. You Can Buy World-Class Coffee Beans
After the city’s abandonment, agriculturists in the 1800s took notice of Antigua’s nutritious volcanic soils and decided to start coffee and grain production there. And thanks to this, Antigua once again found its way back to prosperity. The coffee flavor in Antigua is known for its complex flavors. A little bit acidic, but also quite rich at the same time. And in terms of the aroma, the coffee beans in Antigua has hints of floral and citrus scents.
There are tons of coffee shops in Antigua where you can sit down and drink some ready-made coffee. But if you’re interested in buying Authentic Guatemala coffee beans. Fernando’s Kaffee or Tostaduria Antigua (The current address has changed, but ask around and you should find it!) is among the most popular places to do some coffee bean shopping.
3. The Lively Night-life Scene
Don’t let the quaint and ancient city of Antigua fool you! During the day, its adorable pastel colors give an impression of elegance and grace. But once the sun sets, this mellow city offers a surprisingly thriving nightlife scene. Though most clubs and bars shut down at around 1 am due to the city’s laws. You can still let your hair down and dance the Bachata with friendly strangers. The drinks are cheap and it’s definitely easy to go overboard. So make sure to know your limits because we definitely don’t want to end up shit-face drunk in a foreign country!
4. It’s A Young Backpacker’s Hub
With Antigua’s stunning view, rich culture, international vibe, and adventurous activities. It has quickly become a young backpacker’s hub. Some stay for a week hiking volcanoes and indulging in the nightlife scene. While other stay for months volunteering and learning Spanish. Whatever the case is, Antigua Guatemala offers a wonderful experience for those backpacking through the city.
And since Antigua is filled with backpackers, there are tons of affordable hostels around town. For example, Three Monkeys Hostel, Somos, and Maya Papaya. So if you’re traveling solo to Guatemala and don’t know which city to venture to first. I would highly recommend starting your journey in Antigua. Especially if you can’t speak Spanish to save your life. You can stay at affordable hostels like the ones I recommended above, and meet like-minded travelers along the way.
5. Amazing Guatemalan Food
Okay, I don’t discriminate against people who travel to foreign countries just to eat at McDonalds every day. But come on! If you visit Antigua or any city in Guatemala, you have to give their amazing cuisines a try! Antigua in particular is packed with restaurants in every block and street corner. There are tons of hidden gems here that you might miss just by walking a bit too fast. One of the best and inexpensive sit-down restaurants that a local guide recommended to me was Rincon Tipico. Let me tell you, this place is almost always PACKED TO THE RIM if you go during lunchtime. But the amount of delicious food you get for under $6 will leave you coming back for more. (I had no shame and visited this restaurant 3 times in the week I was in Antigua)
6. You Can Hike Till You Drop
If you’re super into adventurous and challenging hikes, Antigua Guatemala is the place for you. With spectacular landscapes and smoke-spewing volcanoes surrounding Antigua. The best way to discover this ancient city is without a doubt, through hiking! There are so many hikes you could do to help you discover this city in a much thorough and eye-opening way. Pacaya Volcano and Acatenango Volcano are two of the most popular trekking locations in the city.
Acatenango is the third-highest Volcano in Guatemala, standing proudly at 3976 meters (13,040 ft) above sea level. It’s definitely a challenging hike that you’ll need much preparation for. As well as an experienced guide to lead you through. Pacaya Volcano, on the other hand, is slightly less difficult. But since it is an active volcano, it is best to trek through it with a local guide.
To book a hiking tour, check out the Adrenaline Tours in Guatemala that specializes in adventurous activities as such.
7. Chocolate Lover’s Heaven
Ahh, CHOCOLATE! Who doesn’t love chocolate? Guatemala, also known as the birthplace of Chocolate, attracts chocolate-enthusiasts around the world to take a bit of what authentic Chocolate is supposed to taste like. If you’ve never tried the OG Guatemalan Chocolate before, you need to give it a try! All I can say is (to not ruin your experience). Is that it tastes nothing like the Hershey’s Chocolate you find in the candy aisles at Target.
Also, one of the coolest things you can do while in Antigua is to check out the ChocoMuseo (The Museum of Chocolate!) They provide free tours on the production process of Chocolate. And if you don’t mind spending a bit of money, you even get to make your own Chocolate right from the bean! After learning about the exquisite production process that happens behind the scene, you’ll be much more appreciative of the original flavor of Guatemalan Chocolate.
8. Learn Spanish At An Affordable Price
Though learning Spanish in Antigua is slightly more expensive than learning it in smaller towns of Guatemala like Quetzaltenango or San Pedro La Laguna. It is still super affordable compared to other parts of the world. With lots of tourists and Expats roaming around the city of Antigua. Spanish schools have started to pop up every year to cater to the increasing Spanish learning demand. You can find schools here like the Spanish Academy Antiguena that offer 20 hours of private lessons per week. Along with a private room in a local homestay (three meals a day) for the amazing price of around 225 USD a week! I mean, what a steal! I pay almost 1000 USD for a shared room here in Los Angeles. And I don’t even get to learn anything.
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