Hotels in Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
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Antigua Guatemala, Historical Ruins and Volcanoes
Located in the central highlands of Guatemala and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua Guatemala features Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture where visitors can experience the ruins of colonial-era churches and historical sites. Explore one of the three area volcanoes, or immerse yourself in the local culture by riding the “chicken bus” like one of the residents.
Food and Culture
Antigua Guatemala is rich with culture and well known as a destination for those looking to learn the Spanish language through immersion. To get around, ride the “chicken bus,” Guatemala’s version of public transportation. Head to a bus stop and look for a repurposed school bus. Act like a local and be observant of what they pay. These buses are likely to be crowded, cramped, and uncomfortable, but that’s what makes the experience. Foodies will enjoy exploring the markets and restaurants to sample the local fare. There are many markets in Antigua. The mercado is located about three blocks west of the town centre and is open daily. There visitors can find inexpensive gifts, clothing, leather goods and tropical fruits depending on what is in season.
Convenient to the central bus stop and several hotels in Antigua, visitors will find a variety of small eateries representing a diverse mix of international dishes like Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, American, and traditional Guatemalan cuisine. Feeling adventurous? Visit Merced Square in the evening where local women cook up their favourite dishes and bring them to the square to sell. This is authentic Guatemalan fare – fresh, hot, and delicious. Antigua is also famous for its chocolate makers. Located one and a half blocks from the central square, the ChocoMuseo offers a free museum tour where guests can see a real cacao tree, try the fruit, and watch chocolate being made. If time permits, the museum offers workshops, cocoa farm tours, and of course a café and chocolate shop to enjoy treats.
Architecture, History, and Tours
Devastated by a massive earthquake in 1773, Antigua Guatemala is home to many historical treasures and ruins. Parque Central is in the heart of the city and features the Arco de Santa Catalina, a notable architectural landmark of Antigua. This arch originally connected a convent to a school, allowing the nuns to pass from one building to the other, remaining unseen. Other historic landmarks include the Palace of the Captain Generals, the residence of the Captain General during the Spanish colony, San Francisco, the first sanctuary built in the 16th century, and the Santo Domingo Monastery, one of the most important and largest convents in the city. Travellers may also enjoy visiting the Cathedral of Saint James San Jose Parish, the Chapel of the Holy Cross and La Merced Church.
Learn the how macadamia trees are cultivated and processed in addition to the history, at Experimental Station Valhalla. Enjoy a famous pancake breakfast served each morning. Made with macadamia flour and nuts, these pancakes are a must try! Visit Coffee Plantation and spend a day with a coffee farmer and learn how to pick, process, and roast your own coffee. Learn the history of coffee in Guatemala, how coffee is grown, what the cultivation process is. Other tours include bird watching, canopy zip lining, cultural walking and city tours, and mule rides.
Hiking, Volcanoes, and White Water Rafting
Three volcanoes surround Antigua Guatemala. Pacaya Volcano is easy to hike up, but climbing up to the crater is not allowed. It last erupted in 2010, so guests can hike up to the shelf just below the cinder cone called “la Meseta”. Here guests will see the lava fields and recent lava flows. Limited to hiking with a guide, nearly all tour operators offer guided tours which generally include transportation. Acatenango and Fuego Volcanoes offer a more strenuous hike which can be done in a single day or overnight. Many tour operators will also provide guests with camping gear to stay overnight at Acatenango. Here you can watch the very active Fuego volcano erupt. Outdoor activities abound in Antigua Guatemala. Guests can seek thrills while white water rafting near the Acatenango Volcano, or go mountain biking on the trails above Antigua. Enjoy stunning views while kayaking on Lake Atitlan and along the Pacific coast. Snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and surfing are popular among visitors.
Price rangefrom NZ$20to NZ$3,846
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