I recently went back to Guatemala for my second time! This time I went to see one of my best friend’s get married in her home country! The wedding was absolutely beautiful and was located at the most amazing cathedral located in Antigua, Guatemala. Even though my primary purpose of the trip was to be at the wedding and related festivities, I also made sure to get in a good amount of sight seeing to share with you all!
If you are interested in seeing links and photos of #ootd while in Guatemala, then check out my Guatemala Fashion Guide
This recent trip to Guatemala was for a wedding and since I went with a group of 8 friends, I opted for an Airbnb. I thought it would be cheaper and more fun for a group of our size. We stayed at a great Airbnb called Casa Rita! It’s a 4 bedroom 4 bath house and the great part about it is, you can rent out the entire property on its own or the rooms out individually if your group size is smaller. It’s $180/night (great deal for groups).
Cacao Boutique Hotel
Cacao Boutique Hotel was located extremely close to our Airbnb and we actually had a couple of our friends from the wedding stay there too. The rooms were extremely spacious and clean, with the bathroom having a beautiful stone bath tub. This hotel costs an average of about $70/night and is centrally located in Antigua.
Hotel Santo Domingo
This was actually the hotel that my best friend got married in and let me tell you it is absolutely GORGEOUS! Like literally, Hotel Casa Santo Domingo is to die for! There are parrots singing in the outdoor garden, and the property is lined with art honoring the ancient Mayans while also preserving much of the history that was also left by the Spanish. Located within the property is a small museum explaining the history of the property and what archaeologists found when they uncovered it. This hotel is a bit pricier and averages about $250/night.
Day 1: Walking Tour of Antigua
The best way to discover Antigua is on foot. There are fun little stores in every nook and some places you can’t even see unless you get right up to the door and peak in. There are even small entryways that lead to open plazas with many vendors, restaurants, etc. all tucked away. Just remember to wear comfy tennis shoes because the streets of Antigua still maintain the traditional cobblestone!
Arco de Santa Catalina
….because did you really go to Guatemala if you didn’t stop by the Arch of Santa Catalina? It’s one of the most iconic landmarks of Guatemala and definitely the most recognizable in Antigua. The history behind the arch is that it was built in the late 1690’s to connect the covenant and the schools that the nuns taught at. There is a walkway located within the arch that was used by the nuns to travel between the convent and the school to avoid being seen by the public. This was due to the fact that the nuns had taken vows of seclusion including being seen in public!
Cerro de la Cruz
If you’re looking to get a bird’s eye view of Antigua with the beautiful volacano backdrop, look no further then Cerro de la Cruz. The trail entrance is located in the northern part of Antigua. I would recommend taking a taxi unless your hotel or accommodations are located in the surrounding area. From the base of the trail head it’s about a 15-20 minute hike depending on your endurance/exercise level. The view at the top is definitely worth it!
Your walking tour in Antigua is incomplete without a stop at the Mercardo or Market! If you’re looking for Guatemalan crafts and artifacts made in the surrounding villages from the Indigenous peoples then you’ll find many sold here. If you’re headed to Panajachel, Sololo, and other areas near Lake Atitlan then you will find better deals there but if not, the Mercado will be a great option!
Day 2: Day Trips from Antigua
If you have a couple days in Antigua, I recommend either booking a tour or renting a car to go on a little mini-trip. There are a few note worthy places to visit near Antigua, depending on what your vibe is. If you’re into history and learning about ancient civilizations that lived in the area then I would recommend visiting Iximche. If you’re more into the outdoors and want to experience more of the Mayan side of Guatemala to see how they live today, then I recommend checking out Lake Atitlan and the surrounding villages. Then, there’s also the option of hiking up one of the many volcanoes located in the country.
If you’re looking for a simple low-key day trip from Antigua, then I recommend heading out to the check out the Mayan Ruins of Iximche. It’s about a 1-1.5 hour drive from Antigua towards the City of Tecpan. We rented a car because it was 6 of us but you can easily book a half day tour from many of the tour companies located in Antigua.
Iximche was one of the last Mayan civilizations to be built before the area was invaded by the Spanish in the late 1500’s. Today there are still people of Mayan descent who live in the nearby area and come to Iximche to conduct Mayan rituals and ceremonies. We were actually lucky to see one while we were there that day!
Pro Tip: I recommend paying for a guided tour to accompany you! Usually there are a lot of informative signs around to explain what each structure or area is, but that is definitely not the case here! We were a group of 6 and paid 200Q (equivalent to $35) which came out to just under $6 per person, so it’s definitely worth it!Or else you will just walk around not know which structures are the temples vs. houses. There are also unique shapes and purposes to the orientation of things that you wouldn’t necessarily get without a guide!
Day 3: More Day Trips from Antigua
Lake Atitlan and Panajachel
Since we were there for a wedding we did not have enough time to explore much further than Iximche on this last trip. However, the last time I went to Guatemala, we did make time for a quick day trip to Panajachel and Lake Atitlan, both which I highly recommend if you have the time and capability to get there. You can easily get to both by booking a tour with one of the many tour companies located in Antigua.
Lake Atitlan is absolutely breathtaking and being surrounded by 3 volcanoes creates the perfect insta-worthy shot! The first time I went to visit Guatemala, we had lunch at a very nice hotel located on the lake, which I recommend as a mid-day break if you’re headed for there just for the day. If you have some time while in Guatemala I definitely recommend staying the night at one of the many accommodations located alongside the entire lake.
Volcano Pacaya Hike
Another activity I opted out of because I was limited on time, but a couple of the other wedding guests did (and highly recommended) was hiking up the Pacaya Volcano. Though I’m sure you could do a self-guided tour, I would recommend booking this one with a professional tour company. Guatemala has over 30 volcanoes and many of them are still active so it’s best to get the latest information for the safety of you and/or group.
Hope you all enjoyed my Antigua, Guatemala Getaway Guide! Thanks for reading and as always, please share your experiences with me too! Always interested to see where my readers are from and/or travel to!
<3 Happy Travels <3