Best Places to Visit in Antigua, Guatemala

Courtyard of a colonial building with a central fountain in Antigua, reflecting the local lifestyle for an Antigua, Guatemala itinerary.

Looking for the best places to visit in Antigua, Guatemala?  This is the guide for you! 

Antigua is the beautiful, colonial city of Guatemala- and the nation’s first capital. 

It is perhaps best known for the vibrant, yellow Santa Catalina Arch framing the towering Agua Volcun.  Its cobblestone roads, historic architecture, and colorful buildings are just some of the many reasons tourists from near and far come to visit.

I had the pleasure of visiting Antigua in March 2024.  It is a charming, colonial city and I look forward to when I can visit next!

Let’s dive in!

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1. Santa Catalina Arch

Iconic yellow arch of Santa Catalina with its clock tower against a clear sky, a must-visit landmark for any Antigua, Guatemala itinerary.

Visiting the Santa Catalina Arch is an unforgettable experience and a must-do for anyone traveling to Antigua. This iconic landmark stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and is a symbol of Antigua’s resilience through times.

The Arch’s vibrant yellow color contrasts beautifully against blue skies, making it a photographer’s dream, especially in the golden light of early morning.

Visitors will find that arriving early in the morning not only offers the best lighting for photos but also means fewer crowds. 

2. Parque Centro

The famed yellow and white municipal building of Antigua with arches, a cornerstone for history enthusiasts on an Antigua, Guatemala itinerary.

Parque Centro is conveniently located in the center of Downtown Antigua.  Surrounded by a beautiful church, quaint walking paths, and your pick at tons of restaurants, it’s a popular stop  (or stroll-through) while exploring.

Highlights include the Fuente de Las Sirenas fountain in its center and the Cathedral de Santiago adjacent.  There’s many hostels nearby as well, if you want to base yourself right in the center of activity. 

3. Mercado de Artesanias

The Mercado de Artesanias is on most “things to do in Antigua” guides, but it felt very pressurey during my visit and didn’t have the lowest costs. 

(I found the best prices on Artisan goods in Panajachel during my Lake Atitlan visit).

4. Cerro De La Cruz

Majestic view of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz with a large cross overlooking the city, a spiritual and scenic highlight for an Antigua, Guatemala itinerary.

The beautiful, hilltop viewpoint provides panoramic views over Antigua.

Tip: Visit on a clear day when cloud coverage is lowest.  You might not be able to plan ahead, depending on when you visit.  I visited on a relatively cloudy day and still found it beautiful (see photo). 

More Antigua Planning Guides

  • Guatemala City to Antigua
  • Best Day Trips from Antigua
  • 3-Day Antigua Itinerary
  • Hostels in Antigua

5. Rooftop Views

Relaxing hammock with a stunning view of Antigua's rolling hills and clear blue skies from a cozy hostel's terrace, inviting travelers for a serene stay.

And speaking of views, you can get some of the best views of Antigua from local coffee shops or restaurants in Antigua.

Tip: You can even find views from various hostel rooftops.  I loved the view from Maison Bougainvillea 20 minutes outside of the city center.

Read next: Best Restaurants in Antigua

6. Ruins

Antigua is a city marked by its complex history, much of which can be explored through its ruins near the city center. Three notable ruins include the Convento de las Capuchinas, La Recolección, and San Jerónimo.

Each of these locations offers a unique glimpse into the past, with the Convento de las Capuchinas and La Recolección allowing visitors to wander through their courtyards and chambers, immersing themselves in the history.

San Jerónimo, on the other hand, presents a more exterior experience, encouraging visitors to appreciate its structure and design from the outside. These ruins serve as a silent yet profound reminder of the city’s resilience in the face of natural disasters.

7. Wander cobblestone roads

Yup, sounds like a basic one.  However, navigating the narrow, cobblestone streets of historic Antigua offers a uniquely beautiful experience. The journey through these ancient passageways is an adventure in itself, revealing the charm and historical depth of the city at every corner.

Note: I felt very safe walking by myself as a solo female traveler in Antigua.  As always, follow general safety precautions. 

8. Free Walking Tour

Prefer to walk with a group, or to learn what you are looking at as you go?  Free walking tours are one of my favorite ways to acclimate to a new city or to learn a bit more about my surroundings after I become familiar.

There are tons of free walking tours you can sign up for online in advance.

I took a walking tour during the beautiful Semana Santa procesiones. 

Places to visit near Antigua

1. Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  This incredible volcanic lake is surrounded by 13 towns, that you travel to by water ferry.

Consider going from Antigua to Lake Atitlan and visiting some of the following towns:

  • San Marcos
  • San Juan
  • Panajachel

2. Day Trips

The beauty of basing yourself in Antigua is the accessibility it offers to some of Guatemala’s most captivating sights. Leaving room for a day trip or two on any Antigua itinerary is key. 

Imagine a day spent wandering through lush coffee plantations, peering into the active craters of towering volcanoes, or uncovering the rich Mayan heritage in nearby villages.

There are some beautiful locations within 30-60 minutes of the city.    Some of the most popular Antigua day trips include:

  • Hobbitenango
  • Pacaya Volcano
  • Antifuego Volcano
  • Click here for more of the best day trips from Antigua


In summary, Antigua offers a rich tapestry of experiences for the first-time visitor.

From the immersive wander through the city’s cobblestone roads and the enlightening free walking tours, to the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Atitlan and adventurous day trips to nearby volcanoes, there’s something in Antigua for every type of traveler.

Whether you’re a solo explorer seeking safety and beauty, or a history enthusiast eager to learn about local cultures, Antigua is a destination that promises both awe and adventure.

Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the unique blend of natural wonders and cultural heritage that makes Antigua a must-visit location on any travel itinerary.

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As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).