The top things to do in Antigua Guatemala are to visit the Arch of Santa Catalina, go to La Merced or San Francisco church, walk up to the hill of the cross, hike the Pacaya volcano, and many other. This unique colonial town has plenty of activities that will keep you busy for days or even weeks.
About Antigua Guatemala.
Before we start listing what the best things to do are, let us find out more about this colonial city. What can we say about this unique town? To begin with, it’s one of the most fascinating colonial cities in Central America. If not the most intriguing.
The first thing you will notice as you arrive in Antigua is the picturesque background. Undeniably the Volcano de Agua hovering in the background is just simply astonishing. And not to mention that with the other three volcanos nearby, Acatenango, Fuego, and Pacaya, you will notice the excellence picturesque natural beauty surrounding you.
Best things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
Without a doubt, there is a lot to do and see in Antigua. To begin with, you can be really active and explore one of the nearby volcanos. Or you can just enjoy some coffee, overlooking the volcanoes and think about how happy you are that you are not hiking the volcanoes. This part is entirely up to you. Here are some of the best things to do in Antigua Guatemala.
Visit The Arch of Santa Catalina
This iconic landmark, and probably one of the most recognizable symbols of Antigua and perhaps Guatemala. As it rests above a bustling street known locally as “Calle del Arco” or street of the arch.
This famous arch was built in the 1690s, and its original purpose was to connect the Santa Catalina convent to a school located across the street. It allowed the nuns to pass from one building to the other without going out on the street. Furthermore, the clock on top was added in the era of the Central American Federation around the 1830s.
Subsequently, its bright yellow stone with neat white trim and the Volcan de Agua towering in the background makes the perfect postcard.
Visit La Merced Church
Perhaps the best-looking Baroque church in Antigua, and certainly one of the best preserved. This church and a few others have remained standing relatively whole since colonial times; it was constructed low with arches and columns that were wider than normal to withstand earthquakes.
This church is popular with locals and tourist alike for different reasons, the religious aspect, the history, or the architectural structure. In any case, La Merced Church is a must if you happen to visit Antigua.
Walk up to the hill of the cross.
Hill of the Cross or “Cerro de las Cruz” as is known by locals, has some of the best views of Antigua. The hill is located on the north end of the city. You can walk to the base from central Antigua in less than 30 minutes.
In here you will be able to take some climactic photographs of the colonial town and the spectacular volcanos in the backdrop.
Visit Convento de las Capuchinas.
The convent allows visitors to get a glimpse at what life was like for the convent’s nuns. These nuns ran an orphanage and women’s hospital.
This Church and Convent suffered considerable damage due to the earthquake that occurred in 1773, so they are in ruins. At present, Las Capuchinas is the best-preserved ruins in the colonial city.
Visit San Francisco Church
The church was built around 1542 and is the oldest active church in the city. its magnificent colonial architecture, impressive courtyard, and ruined monastery make it an incredibly photogenic place to visit.
San Francisco Church is one of the most frequented sanctuaries by locals, mostly because of the shrine of Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur.
For most tourists, the church is an opportunity to see a restored colonial church. On the other hand, for locals, it’s a place of pilgrimage where they come to pray for miracles.
Hike Volcano Pacaya
Pacaya Volcano is a popular tourist attraction located near Antigua. This Volcano is the most accessible, therefore making it also the most visited.
The hike to the submit can last from 2 to 4 hours, it all depends on your level of fitness. Then at the top, you can experience the beautiful landscape surrounding the volcano. And if you are someone who does not like hiking, there is good news, you can rent a horse and ride it to the top.
Visit the Chocolate Museum
While wandering Antigua, Stop by the popular chocolate museum. At the museum, you will find exhibits that describe the chocolate making process, and of course, you will find all sorts of chocolates to taste and purchase.
Furthermore, if you have the time and want to get a more detailed breakdown of how the sweets are made, consider taking a chocolate making course. This class will last about two hours and will bring you through the whole process.
Tour an Antigua Guatemala Coffee Farm
The region surrounding Antigua produces some of the best high-quality beans that are exported around the world. Take a tour and get a deeper understanding of where this favorite morning beverage comes from, and how the whole process works.
Tour a small family-run coffee farm to learn just about how much effort goes into a single cup of coffee. At any of these farms, visitors enjoy learning about the process just as much as they enjoy the drink.
Hang out at Parque Central
Parque Central is the center of this colonial city. Buzzing with activity, and adjoined by cathedrals, fountains, trees and colonial buildings; it makes it a perfect area to hang out and soak in the local culture. The plaza is the best place to get a feel for the town and its people.
More About Antigua Guatemala
This picturesque colonial town of Antigua has cobblestone streets, charming cafes, great local culture, and a lot of history to be learned. Additionally, with the volcanoes looming in the distance, this city is unarguably beautiful and easy to fall in love with.