You’re short on time, but so many people recommended Antigua as a must-visit place in Antigua, so you booked a night just to see what the fuss is all about. To be honest, Antigua is one of those places where you can spend 3 months and still won’t be ready to leave. Believe me, I tried. But if you don’t have abandonment issues, here is a 24-Hour Itinerary for you.
A Day in Antigua, Guatemala
Arriving at Antigua Airport (ANU)
Normally, people take private shuttles, a taxi, or an Uber. Whatever you use, it should never cost over 40 USD.
The Rainbow Café: This is one of the oldest cafes in Antigua.
What I love about it most is the variety of food choices and the quaint Guatemalan feel of the restaurant.
You’ll find that with the food options there, you can pay as little or as big as you want and still get a great memorable meal; there are no regrettable food choices here.
After a delicious Guatemalan breakfast, you’re ready for some exploring, and who could blame you?
24 hours isn’t a lot of time to see it all, but you can try.
Sights in Antigua
What I love most about Antigua is how underwhelming it can appear. Until you arrive and start exploring and realize, every street is like an adventure waiting to happen. We know Antigua most for its beautiful ruins. After a major hurricane in 1773, authorities ordered all locals to leave, but many stayed.
Because of the abandonment in 1773, the city has preserved many of its monumental buildings. There are also regulations preventing the repair and even construction of buildings. Therefore, the city feels like a blast from the past — in the best way.
Ruins in Antigua
Ruinas Catedral San José: The construction of this building began in 1545, but an earthquake destroyed the church. In 1969, they reconstructed, but after another earthquake in 1977, they left the ruins. There’s a beauty in those relics, and Antigua proves this effortlessly. Ruinas Catedral is easily one of the most beautiful building remains you’ll ever see.
Cost: 20Q, if you want a guide, it’s an extra 50Q. Q refers to Quetzales, the Guatemalan currency. 1 Q = 0.13 USD.
Ruinas De La Recolección: Prepare yourself. This is going to be good. This is a little out of walking range for some people. If you’re not interested in walking, Uber will charge you around 15Q to get there.
Another ruin destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 is the Ruinas De La Recolección. They reconstructed this building without using the material of other ruins. The only original thing left is the arched doorway. Either way, it is beautiful. It takes about 45-50 minutes to explore, and if you’re a photographer, you will never want to leave.
Lunch Options in Antigua
If you want the proper Guatemalan experience, the Rincon Tipico is perfect. Rincón Tipico translates to Typical Corner, but it is anything but typical. My suggestion is to walk here. That way, you can see all Antigua offers.
Insider’s tip: most places are walkable, depending on where you’re staying.
Standing at the door are two older ladies preparing corn tortillas. Smile and wave at them! From experience, corn tortillas are the hardest things I have ever made, and the ladies deserve every praise!
In the right corner, there’s a table with a temperature monitor and hand sanitizer. After you’ve done that, welcome to a place that fills up quickly. Most days, it’s hard to find a seat.
The menus are on the walls, and there are many choices. The typical selection is one meat with two sides, which I highly recommend! This hearty meal comes to 35Q with unlimited tamarindo juice refills.
Place your order and pick a seat. Someone will be out to drop off fresh tortillas at your table soon.
Be careful not to eat too many, or you won’t have space for the delicious food that’s about to arrive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Exploring Antigua Guatemala
After lunch, it’s time to continue your adventure. I’m sure you’ve heard of the local market in Antigua? If not, imagine endless rows of food, produce, clothes, anything you could want at a great price — you can find it there. The best days for the market are Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but people are there every day of the week. They always have new stock on Thursdays.
The market is on 4th Calle Poniente. You could spend all your time there without regrets. The thrift store, also referred to as the Paca, is located here. As you walk near the fruits, keep looking to the right and you’ll see clothes and people, that’s the Paca.
Insider’s tip: Paca is not a department store. Every booth has its own cashier and you have to pay at that store booth before you head to the next stall.
By the time you’re done at the market, you’ll probably be exhausted, but you’re never too tired for coffee, right?
The thing about Antigua is, there are coffee places on every corner, and none is better than the next. They all serve high-quality Guatemalan coffee and offer a fresh experience.
Explore, walk around, take pictures, soak in the experience. You’ll never tire of the photo ops around the city. Every street corner, doorway, nook and cranny is a photo opportunity. Take advantage of it.
The Perfect Climax in Antigua
It’s so very hard to recommend just one restaurant in Antigua, but for the sake of this itinerary, Por Que No, translated, Why Not, is one café you must visit. It’s unique, and it’s truly incredible to see what they’ve done with this space. On any night, you will meet artists, writers, nomads, photographers, anyone. And the food — it’s to die for.
It’s my hope you’ve enjoyed this short guide for 24 hours in Antigua. Try to see as much as you can, eat as much as you can and walk it off, because Antigua is truly an amazing and walkable city.
If you enjoyed this article, check out the Antigua Food Bucket-List and save it to your favorite Pinterest board! But what are your special spots to enjoy where you travel or live? Share your favorite places with other expats and travelers here on TCI and become a member for free!
by: Dawn Demeritte