Our 5 Favorite Things To Do in Antigua, Guatemala

Colorful colonial style buildings, cobblestone streets, and stunning volcanoes towering over the city. Let me to take the opportunity to introduce you to my favorite city in Central America, Antigua.

What was an unfortunate event at the time, a volcano erupting near the city hundreds of years ago causing almost everyone to evacuate and move to Guatemala City, actually ended up creating a desirable outcome in the end. The massive exodus that took place long ago has allowed this Spanish colonial city to be very well preserved and in my opinion, picture perfect even still today!

Antigua brings a lot to the table when it comes to activities. Here are the five things that top our list in this lovely city:

1. Channel your inner tour guide and create your own walking tour.

The iconic landmark - Saint Catalina Arch

The iconic landmark – Saint Catalina Arch

On a clear day, the view of Antigua from the Hill on the Cross is a pretty spectacular one!

On a clear day, the view of Antigua from the Hill on the Cross is a pretty spectacular one!

Central Park was our favorite spot to people watch and take in the local culture!

Central Park was our favorite spot to people watch and take in the local culture!

The beautiful La Merced Church

The beautiful La Merced Church

The Agua Volcano provides a gorgeous city backdrop.

The Agua Volcano provides a gorgeous city backdrop.

Who wears short shorts? Considering I was kicked out of the San Francisco Church while we were trying to tour it, apparently I do!

Who wears short shorts? Considering I was kicked out of the San Francisco Church while we were trying to tour it, apparently I do!

2. Spice up your life and add some Latino flare with a free salsa class!

Want to try out salsa? Go to a free group salsa lesson on Monday and Tuesday nights!

Want to try out salsa? Go to a free group salsa lesson on Monday and Tuesday nights!

We loved our free lesson so much that we booked a private lesson for the next day!

We loved our free lesson so much that we booked a private lesson for the following day!

If you want to refine your Spanglish, in addition to your white girl dance moves, Antigua is a great place to take Spanish lessons (or so we’re told) at one of the many Spanish schools!

3. Climb one of the several volcanoes in close proximity to the city.

Papaya Volcano is by far the most popular volcano excursion to do while in Antigua. Agua Volcano is close to downtown which makes for easy access. Unfortunately, we both came down with a “GI bug” while in Guatemala which shattered our hopes and dreams of climbing just about anything.

We admired Agua Volcano from afar but that's as close as we got.

We admired Agua Volcano from afar but that’s as close as we got.

4. Venture outside of the freshly painted buildings and beautiful churches that make up the tourist area and discover one of the many non-government organizations (NGOs) that are working hard to support the local people.

We spent one morning doing a community tour and learning more about Ninos de Guatemala, which is an organization that has built two primary schools for a community just outside of Antigua called Ciudad Vieja. Most of the students live in homes without a proper roof or electricity and their homes have a dirt floor instead of a cement one. While primary school is mandatory in Guatemala, we learned that attendance is not enforced. Unfortunately, since many of the parents in the community didn’t attend school above first or second grade, they don’t always find the value in education. If it weren’t for enrollment in the schools built by Ninos de Guatemala, these children more than likely wouldn’t attend school through the sixth grade. The long term goal here is obviously to break the cycle of poverty through education which we think is a pretty admirable goal!

The entrance to the Ninos de Guatemala school we visited.

The entrance to the Ninos de Guatemala school we visited.

Walking around the community surrounding the school.

Walking around the community surrounding the school where the students live.

The children's view from their school.

The children’s view from their school.

5. Take a break from the beans and rice and treat yourself to an amazing meal at one of the many delicious restaurants downtown!

Our two year anniversary dinner at Origami Organic & Oriental. Yes, we were craving some Asian cuisine!

Our two year anniversary dinner at Origami Organic & Oriental. Yes, we were craving some Asian cuisine!

Oh and one final activity, if you want to beat the heat and go for a new ‘do then Antigua also has a number of barbers that can get the job done!

The classic "before" shot

The classic “before” shot

Brian enjoying his first barber cut shave!

Brian enjoying his first barber cut shave!

Brian sporting his new look and a minor injuries from his shave!

Brian sporting his new look and a few minor injuries from his shave!

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