Why Antigua Is A Must-Visit Place
Antigua, beautiful colonial city surrounded by three volcanoes, is full of fun things to see and do. You will find out about the things I experienced in Antigua.
There is a lot to say about Antigua, so that’s why I wanted to write an article especially for it to go more in-depth about this city. Antigua is the safest city to stay in Guatemala. I met locals that told me that nothing bad happens in Antigua. It is where most of the visitors will stay at. The girls and I went out almost every night, we walked to the bars and back without any trouble. I walked alone in the day to go get stuff around the city. I even went out in bars with locals that I met on our first night there.
Locals are the best to interact with because you get to learn about them, their culture and they show you the best places around. I am very thankful to have met the people I met, I became good friends with them and they made my trip so much better. My advice on meeting locals is to always trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, but if it does feel right then trust that too. You can't go traveling and think that everyone is going to hurt you, that's living in fear and ruining the point of traveling.
I divided Antigua in different subjects to make it easier to read.
Luna de Miel
''The Worst Terrace In Town'' is what you will see on a black board on the street when you walk by the restaurant, but they actually have the best terrace in town; It is funny for people who know that their terrace is amazing. This place is actually owned by a man from France, it is a crêpe restaurant and they have a Shisha Bar. Our coordinator told us to go there for those two reasons. It was my first time smoking it at this restaurant. It is such an amazing atmosphere, it is like nothing I have ever experienced before. There are sofas, star decorations hung up that light up when it gets dark; it is a beautiful place and I am telling you, this place is a must. The crêpes are so delicious, there are many different kinds.
Cafe Sky is known for their great terrace that offers a beautiful view of Antigua. When you get in the building, there is spiral stairs that you take to go up to the terrace. From there, you can see a church and a volcano on your left, when you look in front of you, you see the streets and the mountains from far, and on your right you see the cross (Cerro de la Cruz) (there are tables inside also). I really enjoyed eating there. I had a Pina Colada and Latino style spring rolls - it was delicious, one of the best meals I've had in Guatemala. It is very nice to eat from a terrace while looking at what's going on in the streets and having a beautiful view of the nature. They serve a lot of other delicious food; they had a pretty big menu, I had a hard time deciding what to get.
Lava Terrace Bar & Burgers
This restaurant has the best burgers I have ever eaten in my life. It is situated on top of another bar. You get in from the street, then, you have to go up the stairs to get to the restaurant. It’s a tiny place. When I came back in Guatemala for the second time, that’s the place I went to eat when I got there. I got to my hostel, got my stuff set up on my bed and went straight there. It is a nice view during the day, you get to eat while looking at the volcano. They also sell fish bowls (alcohol drink poured into a fish bowl – it is huge).
All the restaurants I wrote about almost all had nice terraces; I love eating and especially in nice places. This restaurant blew my mind; I have never seen anything this beautiful. You get in and there is places to sit, but then, you keep going and get outside: There are tables with umbrellas on top, beautiful flowers, trees and plants. It is a very romantic place. There is a bell that you ring to tell the server you are ready to order or have something to ask them (I kinda liked that - it is different). The menu was never-ending, so many options of meals that you could get. I went here for breakfast so I took French Toasts (it was delicious). I strongly recommend to go to this restaurant with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, you can’t miss this place, it’s amazing.
La Fonda de la Calle Real
This is a pure, authentic, Guatemalan restaurant. If you’re visiting Guatemala and not living with a host family, I strongly recommend to try this restaurant. When I went to Guatemala for the first time, we stayed with a host family so we were eating Guatemalan food all the time. The second time I went was just to visit and I wanted to eat Guatemalan food, so I was recommended to go there. I was impressed by how good it was and how authentic it was. I enjoyed every bite of that meal, it had different spices and taste, it was great! The restaurant is very welcoming
Quesos y Vino
This place is for the pasta, cheese and wine lovers. They sell bottles of wine and a lot of cheese. The meal consists mostly of pastas and pizzas. I took pesto spaghetti and I loved it. The terrace is great; there are trees and flowers everywhere. There are also places to sit inside, but I prefer eating outside. It’s kind of a fancy and classy restaurant. It's a nice place to sit back, relax, eat and drink wine.
It is the same thing as the Great Canadian Bagel. It’s a small cafe looking place, you can choose the bagel you want in the options they give you and then you can choose what kind of sandwich or spread you want. They have pretty much all kinds that you can think of. It is a place to consider if you just want something small and quick, but it is a bit expensive.
This pizzeria restaurant is like get it all for nothing. They have such nice deals like a burger, a pizza, a fry, a pop and ice cream or a pizza, lasagna, a pop and ice cream for a very low cost. You don’t go there to experience Guatemalan food, but to eat a lot for cheap, and it is very good.
Ladies, you are going to love Antigua, we are very well treated here. There is a ladies night almost every night. I'm going to name the bars that I went to that had ladies nights, but keep in mind that there are other bars too.
Tuesdays - Monoloco Restaurant and Bar
Here is Monoloco Restaurant and Bar's deal: Ladies drink for Q4 from 8:00 until 11:00 on Tuesdays. This Restaurant/Bar has two stories (so two bars). It is a nice place to sit, talk and drink with your friends. It gets a bit loud though, but I still enjoyed it.
Wednesdays - Las Vibras
This is the best ladies night. You get a massage, nail painting and 3 drinks for free. Isn't that awesome? We went there every week, you can't pass up on something like that. There is a small dance floor with a little stage to dance on. The DJ is willing to play what you ask. One night, he was playing a lot of techno, so we went and asked him if he could play latino music instead and he did, we had a great time. There is an upstairs, that's where the bathrooms and the "terrace" are. The terrace is small but there are chairs and it's a nice view of the streets and the other bars. There is also a restaurant at this bar; the poutine is great.
Thursdays - La Sala
This is the Party club. There is always a lot of people in there, it's a pretty big place; there's a dance floor with a stage to dance on, places to sit. Upstairs, there is a very nice terrace with a bar, places to sit and tables. Ladies get 3 drinks free on thursdays. And every time you go there, if you dance on the bar you get free shots all the time. I've always wanted to dance on a bar (ever since Coyote Ugly) and I finally got the opportunity to do that. We went there every night, we always had a bast. When it started getting too hot, we would go outside on the terrace. There are little lights and tables to sit. La Sala always has good music. This is the place to be in Antigua to party.
There are two other bars that we went to, but I can't remember the name. There is one close to Las Vibras that we used to go drink before going to the bars we wanted to go to (it was our pre-game bar). They had good deals on vodka limes and rum & cokes. There are tables to sit inside and outside, we always sat outside. It was a nice place and we met some locals there.
The other bar is a bar we went to after La Sala, they only played latino music; it was an awesome atmosphere, it was mostly locals dancing Salsa, Batchata and other type of dancing. I was amazed by how they moved to the music, they all danced amazingly. It's beautiful to see them dance, I hope one day I can dance just as good as the Latinas.
Jungle Party Hostel
I want to take time to write about this hostel, because it is so much fun and just awesome. On our first trip to Guatemala, we stayed there on our the last night and I just loved it so when I came back for my second trip, I stayed there almost all week. There is always good and "chill" music playing, the staff is super fun, it's clean, the beds are comfortable, there is a locker per bed to put your stuff in, there are hammocks, swings, a restaurant, an upstairs with beds to lay on outside, 2 bars, and an amazing view of the volcano from upstairs. I have met a lot of nice people at this hostel. Jungle Party Hostel made me fall in love with the hostel lifestyle. Great vibe, awesome people and a lot of fun.
Museums and Art Galleries
There is a lot of different museums and Art Galleries in Antigua. There is a lot of history here and it's always nice to learn it. It depends if you're into that I guess, but I visited different Museums and Art Galleries for half a day and I really enjoyed it. I got to learn more about the history of Guatemala and understand more their culture.
There is one special museum I want to talk about, it is the Choco Museo. You buy a session to make your own chocolate; they explain the history of Cacao, you get to taste a lot of cacao recipes and then, make your own chocolate, I had fun.
Cerro de la Cruz
You have to do the little hike to the cross, you just have to. From up there you will see all of Antigua and the volcanos. It is a view that you do not want to miss. I suggest you go in the morning, because in the afternoon it is often foggy. There are exceptions though, for example, in that picture, that was in the afternoon. It's a perfect place for a picnic.
Travel Agency - GT Adventure Tours & Travel
I was in Guatemala for a total of a month (3 weeks my first time, and then went back for a week) and all of my travels were booked with them. They offer cheap deals and amazing service; they are always on time and I never had any problems with them. The staff working at their office is very nice and make you feel comfortable, I strongly recommend that you book all of your travels with them. They speak english. They will arrange shuttle busses and book your hotels for you. The second time I went I organized my whole week trip with them by email and everything went to plan - just to show how trustworthy they are.
Antigua's market is huge and full of everything you need. There is a section of food and a section of handicrafts. It is locals that are selling either food from their gardens or farms, or selling their handmade stock like backpacks, bracelets, clothes, hammocks, decorations, and so on. I really enjoyed going there, I miss it. When we stayed at our host house, the mother would go there everyday to get the food that she needed for that day; that way it was always fresh. It's the best way to do it, that's how it should be everywhere. When you buy food from a market like this, the food is healthy and has no chemicals in it, it's straight from gardens or farms. You have to go and experience Antigua's Market, you won't regret it.
Before going to volunteer in Guatemala we had a full-day formation at our university, to learn about the country and things to do and not to do. One of the things they told us not to do is take the Chicken Buses, they said that it was very dangerous. Once we got to Maximo Nivel (Our volunteer company) they told us we were going to take the chicken buses to get to the Orphanages. I am so happy that we had to take the Chicken Buses, it was a great experience. Every morning we would go to the bus station and hop in a bus. There would be people coming in the bus to sell food, candies, gum, cd players and other things. The bus stopped at a lot of different places, and there was always people trying to sell their stuff getting in and out of the bus. I am lucky to have experienced that. On our way to the Orphanages there was never a lot of people in the bus, but when we would come back to Antigua, we had to get in a bus where there was already a lot of people in there; it was packed. There were 3 people sitting per seat and a lot of people standing up. They fit as much as they can, it gets very tight in there, it is fun.
More About Antigua & Conclusion
You can find anything you need in Antigua. There is a hotel with an outside pool that you can use for a small fee, and, all over Antigua you can find various boutiques, convenience stores, drugstores, travel agencies, chutes, museums, hostels, bars and restaurants. It is also not hard to find an apartment to live in Antigua, I met a lot of people who were from the U.S. or from Australia working there and were sharing an apartment with 3 other people. I hope this article helped you explore and get the most of Antigua or that it made you plan better your travels there. It is an amazing city filled with lots of things to do and people to meet. I hope you will go try the restaurants and the bars I talked about, because they are truly amazing. Happy Travels.