Antigua, Guatemala’s old capital, is a very colonial city with beautiful architecture and is known as the land of the eternal spring. Our time in Antigua was limited for most of our stay as we spent our days in Guatemala City and drove back and forth between the two cities every day, which is about an hour drive each way. However, some of us took an early morning walk around the city one day, and we had some more time to spend exploring on our last couple of days.
1.) Coffee and Horchata–I gave up coffee for Lent, so I wasn’t able to try any, but my friends on the ASB trip all swore by it, whether it was in the hotel, at Safe Passage, or in restaurants. We also stopped by ABC Del Cafe on the main plaza. They sold coffee beans here and had great drinks. Thanks to my New England jargon, I mistakenly ordered an Oreo Frappe thinking it was just a milkshake but then realized there was coffee in it after the first sip. I had to give it away, but it tasted really good.
Another thing to definitely not pass up is horchata. This drink is fairly typical in Guatemala, and it’s a sort of milk and rice beverage with cinnamon. Bistro Bourbon and Sobremesa both served up some great horchata, and just writing about it is making me crave some more.
2.) Rainbow Cafe–This was one of our favorite restaurants in Antigua. Their licuados–which are these giant, fruity, smoothie-type drinks–are great, I definitely recommend the vegetarian quesadillas, and the banoffee pie was spectacular. There’s also live music at night, so this added a lot to the atmosphere.
3.) Sobremesa–I mentioned their horchatas above, but the food here was probably the best in Antigua. We came here for our farewell dinner, and everything was great. Some of us split a margarita pizza as an appetizer, and the linguini al terrance was a great meal. There’s definitely a trendy vibe here between the paintings on the walls and the crazy ice cream flavors they offer which reminded me of something from Gelato Fiasco: they had things like pistachio cardamom brownie, blueberry chocolate chip, and coffee rum walnut.
4.) Hike of the Cross–This hike takes you up out of Antigua and to a great view of the city. The hike is really steep and it can sometimes look like you’re walking straight up the cobblestone path, so brace yourself if you give it a try. We did it in the morning before visiting the Choco Museo, and it was truly incredible.
5.) La Merced and Catedral de Santiago–Antigua has some gorgeous, colonial churches. La Merced sort of resembles a lemon meringue pie with its yellow exterior and white molding and decorations outside. It was a really peaceful place to visit early in the morning before the city woke up. We passed by it once on a Sunday, and the square in front of it was lined with food vendors and people selling Despicable Me minions that rode bicycles.
Another beautiful church we visited was the Catedral de Santiago. This church is right on the main plaza and is really nice both by day and night. There were some weddings in there all week, so we had to time it well to get a peek inside, but it’s really nice, white, and airy with some beautiful statues.
Here are some of my other picks:
- Peña de Sol–incredible chocolate brownie
- Las Palmas–they have a great chocolate cake that tastes like espresso
- Cafe Sky–good, outdoor bar and restaurant
- Pitaya–good for smoothies and a lighter bite, refreshing after arriving on the airplane
- Lent Processions–On Sundays during Lent, men and boys dress in purple robes process down the roads with floats depicting scenes from the Bible and a marching band following behind them.
- ChocoMuseo–An incredible museum where you get to learn about chocolate production and make some yourself. It’s definitely a splurge at $24 USD, but if you’re looking for something else to do, I highly recommend it.
- Outdoor markets–There are some great Saturday afternoon, open-air markets throughout the city
- Morning walks in the city–one of my favorite things to do in Antigua was walk around in the morning before the city wakes up
- Plaza Mayor–kick back on this main square and let the city wash over you