Antigua is small city just west of Guatemala City, hotels in Antigua are super cheap, even the more expensive ones are not too expensive but very luxurious. You can easily walk the city on foot and take photos of the many churches and cathedrals, as well as the surrounding volcanoes, Fire, Water and Pacaya. There are lots of restaurants in the city, you’ll even find a few American fast food chains if you are feeling homesick.
San Francisco Church
The San Francisco church of Antigua Guatemala is definitely the most interesting in the town. It was damaged by several earthquakes throughout the years. As it appears to be a ruin, it makes for an excellent Instagram photo. However, the church has been partly restored and it is in fact a working place of worship. Did you know there’s a similar abandoned church in Managua, Nicaragua?
La Merced Church Antigua Guatemala
As you walk around Antigua you’ll see several colorful buildings including the La Merced Church. For this reason, Antigua Guatemala is a top Instagram spot. Finally, don’t be afraid to walk inside the churches to view their interiors.
How to Book Day Trips and Shuttles in Antigua
There are various tour companies in Antigua where you can organize day trips or shuttle buses to other parts of Guatemala and even to Mexico, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador. You can ask in your hotel which tour company is recommend. As a matter of fact, you can book a shuttle to Lake Atitlan online.
Hike Pacaya Volcano
Pacaya volcano is an active volcano in Guatemala, which has been erupting regularly since 1965. This volcano is almost always smoking and steaming, on some days you can see live magma. The Pacaya volcano tour can be taken in the morning or afternoon from Antigua. It’s about an hours drive to the base, then a 2 hour easy walk to the top. On the day I visited the group weren’t allowed much further up than I was in the picture. There is a track you can see in the left hand side of the photo which on some days you are allowed to take right to the top. As part of the tour you will be picked up from your hotel, and they were on time!
How to get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in central America and some claim it’s the most beautiful lake in the world. It is actually a huge crater lake surrounded by volcanoes, San Pedro, Tolimán and Atitlán. I visited here on a day trip from Antigua, I organized a shared shuttle bus to Panajachel in the morning, returning to Antigua in the evening.
Things to do in Lake Atitlan
Panajachel is the main village of lake Atitlan. Things to do at Lake Atitlan include;
In Panajachel and most of Guatemala you’ll find Mayan people. They wear very colorful clothes and are often selling their products. Personally I didn’t want any of their products as I was traveling but, when they posed for pictures I gave them a donation. Generally they are polite people and in Panajachel you’ll probably eat in a Mayan restaurant.
How to get from Antigua to San Cristobal
Shuttle bus from Antigua to San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. 11 hours, $50.
This was a very organized trip, it left early in the morning from Antigua with less than an hour at the border. On the Mexican side of the border, as well as a stamp they give you a visa fee to pay. You only have to pay this visa fee if you stay in Mexico over 7 days, and you must pay it at any bank in the country before leaving. If you stay less than 7 days, then this visa fee is waived. I think this is the only country I have ever been to where they give you a job to do (going to a bank and standing in a line) when entering. The rest of the journey from Antigua to San Cristobal de las Casas was fine, arriving before dusk.