Last week, my friends and I travelled to Guatemala for a week. This country located in Central America is beautiful and to start our journey there, we did a stop at Antigua, Guatemala. This small city is surrounded by volcanoes. Renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, Antigua is a city with beautiful architecture that got restored following an earthquake in 1773. If you plan to go to Antigua, Guatemala, here’s a list of 5 things that you should go see!
Santa Catalina Arch, Free
Located in the middle of the city, the Santa Catalina Arch is one of the main landmark that you should go see once in Antigua. Built in 1964, this arch used to be a tunnel between two convents: the Covent of the Virgin and the Covent of Santa Catalina. Few years later, one side remained a convent while the other side became a school. The nuns living in the convents had taken vows to remain secluded and to avoid all contact with the outside world, the tunnel became their only way to cross one side to the other. Personally, the arch is beautiful to see in person and when there’s no cloud in the sky, you can capture the perfect shot of looking down the street and capture the arch and the Volcàn de Agua.
In the picture I took, I was not lucky because there was some clouds on the volcano which kinda ruined the perfect shot. Nevertheless, the Santa Catalina Arch is BEAUTIFUL and must be visited when in Antigua.
The Plaza Central Park, Free
The name says it, the Plaza is located in the center of the city and this park is beautiful. However, this town square is the place where you will get approach by locals trying to sell you different things such as flutes, necklaces, tam-tams and more! NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST PRICE THEY OFFER. One thing I’ve learned in Antigua, Guatemala (and you will see it in the vlog above) is that they are open for negotiations and you can easily reduce the price by 70%. What I enjoyed from the Central Park is that it is surrounded by municipal buildings, cafes, cathedral and more. One of the historic sites surrounding the Central Park is the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
Acatenango Volcano, 120$
Named the #1 thing to do in Antigua, the hike of the Acatenango Volcano was something that we did not had time to do when we were in Guatemala. This hike takes about 5-6 hours and it is not an easy one! Most travellers decide to do this hike over two days so that they can enjoy the sunset and the sunrise. If you are planning to go to Antigua, Guatemala and would love to do this hike, here’s 5 quick tips that you need to take into consideration for this hike (as well any other hike that you are planning to do there)
- Wear proper hiking shoes. Don’t be a fool and try to hike with converse or Air Forces, having the proper hiking shoes will make the difference on the hike, and also, you won’t ruin your favorite shoes!
- Bring water, lots of water! Other blogs recommend to bring at least 4 litres of water per person, I would listen to them. It is better to bring more than not enough.
- Only bring what you need. Do not bring your laptop, or the extra pair of shoes you think you might need. Try to pack light because you will regret every extra grams that was not necessary during the hike.
- Stay in your lane! While you are going up, there will be other Guatemalan walking past you and you need to understand that it is not a race. Take your time and take breaks if you need to!
- Sunscreen and aspirin! It is not because you are higher and it is colder than you will not get sun burnt. Bring sunscreen and aspirin will be needed once you get this high since you may suffer from altitude sickness.
Iglesia de la Merced, Free
Less than 10 minutes walk away from Central Park, there’s the Iglesia de la Merced which means The Church of the Mercy. This church got destroyed twice by earthquakes and was rebuilt several times to be able to stay strong if another earthquake occurs. In addition, it has a lovely yellow façade and a huge stone fountain, known to be the largest in Central America.
The Street Market, that is up to you!
The street market was one of my favorite place to visit during our time in Antigua. (maybe because a tourist called me Lil Wayne?) You can find everything on the market, food, clothes, watches and more. I didn’t see lots of tourist there but I loved the energy that was present. This place is HUGE (as you can notice in my Antigua Vlog) and this is where you can put your negotiation skills to test.
While there’s other things to visit and see when you in Antigua, Guatemala, I would love for you to send me a message about what is your favorite attraction there. I am planning to go back and stay a bit longer this time ( I think I fell in love with Antigua) and be sure to not miss my Vlog Series in Guatemala that is available on my Youtube Channel by clicking here.