Travel article: La belle Antigua- Antigua the most beautiful city in Guatemala

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: Discovering The Americas in 6 months!

Image for blog article: La belle Antigua- Antigua the most beautiful city in Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez Department, Guatemala

Guatemala 7 days - December 2017






From Flores we decided to reach Antigua a colonial city.

All the buses run by tourism agency were super expensive so we've decided to do it by ourselves.

First part of the trip a 9 hours overnight journey to reach Guatemala City. Our bus driver was overpassing each time he saw a car coming in front of us transforming a 2 lines to a 3 to 4 lines. Quite normal for Guatemala ... and the bus of our friends arrived 2h before than expected due to their driver thinking he was in Fast and Furious!

From Guatemala City we wanted to take a chicken bus or what we call now the Magic Bus!  (Thanks Geoffrey for the reference ;)

These buses are old American school buses from the 70's and recycled in Guatemala. They all have paintings on it and are used as public transport. No schedule or bus stops exist whatsoever, you just stop wherever you want on the main road !



We arrived at 3.30am in Guatemala City and have been left in an office protected by a guard having a pump-action shotgun ! When we told him we wanted to find a chicken bus stop, he became livid. We asked the bus driver, he became livid as well. Guatemala City is the most dangerous city in Central America.


They started calling their friends to take us to Antigua (imagine a tourist asking a Parisian his way to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Disneyland and you call a bunch of friends to drive him there! That's the equivalent!) but we declined and decided to take a Uber with Mathieu and Sam.

The security agent refused to let us get out of the terminal as he was so scared for us (remember he has a gun!) so we insisted showing the ranking of our Uber driver and got into the car after we all saw the driver face: a grandpa face smiling and super nice (yes they have Uber and Tinder in Guatemala City!)

An hour later, we arrived safely in Antigua.


We stayed there for a week and it's clearly the most beautiful town we've visited since the start of the trip!

It used to be the Capital of Central America, built by the Spanish colons in the 16th century but got destroyed by eruptions and earthquakes a few times over the years. The capital was entirely destroyed in 1773 and the capital title was moved to Guatemala City (not that charming at all…). The Unesco listed the town as Worldwide Heritage site in 1967 and helped the city renovate its many historic buildings.

Every single building has its walls painted in different colours and is heritage listed, the streets are paved and overlooked by 3 volcanoes and many mountains surrounded the town. We felt at home in this little town.



Even after a week we were still discovering new streets, colonial buildings, ruins or churches. Speaking about coloured buildings, it took us ages to find our Airbnb as the only description we had was: a yellow house next to a red house. Do you know ho many yellow and red houses you can find in one street? ;)


Cerro De La Cruz

At the end of the town, we've walked 20min to reach the top of a little mountain and this offers prefect views on the town and on the volcanoes. We spent at least 30min with Mathieu and Sam debating on how hard will it be to climb the one facing us. We found out 3 days later , the story is here !

We heard a lot of stories of not going to thé Cerro de la Cruz by ourselves as supposedly dangerous.

We didn't have any issues and didn't feel exposed at all!





Santiago Cathedral

Standing on the main square (where you can spend hours looking at locals eating, playing and relaxing all of these in their beautiful clothes!) this is the main Cathedral of the town. Don't miss the ruins at the back, so worth it!



Covent Capuchinos

A beautiful Covent with a great rooftop and views on the surrounding volcanoes.

The gardens and flowers look really good. Perfect for sunset!




La Merced Church

Another beautiful church but what we remember the most are the 15 QTZ sandwich done by a little lady on the square. So good! (But caused Cedric to be sick for 2 days...)






Mercado Central and Artesanal

At the chicken bus terminal are two local market. One with everything you can think of from batteries to chicken (alive, raw, cooked, barbecued etc!) to leggings and vegetables. There is nothing you can't find here. Be prepared of the smell...! Not sure you will eat meat again after that.

Next to it is a Artesanal market where scarfs, bags, hats can be found all handmade (we will discover later that's just not possible considering the price it is sold at!).

The Nim Pot shop next to the Arc sell the same things. We loved the colours of the materials and the local clothes. The lady are so elegant! Judge by yourself :)




Many cafes and restaurants

The food is so good in Antigua and that might be why we thought many times it felt like home!

We found Indian, French (still remember the crepes from Luna de Miel!), Guatemalan sandwiches and chicken (plaza Merced but not sure Cedric has the same memory as it got sick and Rincon Tipico). We just loved it! Besides a lot of cafes are located in colonial houses with a patio and arches. We couldn't stopped looking at the architecture.




We’ve also celebrated NYE in Antigua. The atmosphere was great in the streets and bars and we ended up at midnight on a rooftop where we saw at least 10 fireworks around us for more than 20 minutes. Great start of the year doing what we love and signing my first freelance contract!



Some Recommandations:

# Don’t miss the ruins of the Santiago Cathedral (10 QTZ) and the Covent Capuchinos (15 QTZ)

# Amazing crepes and Mojitos at Luna de Miel

# Just wander around the city, it’s beautiful.

# You can easily spend a week there

# 180 QTZ Flores to Guatemala City- 160 QTZ Uber Guatemala City to Antigua

# We had a great Studio apartment from Airbnb:





Leave a comment

Laurene Frasca
Feb 8, 2018 - 02:51 AM

Vos photos sont superbes! Vous avez vraiment profité à fond d’Antigua! On avait pas ressenti autant le danger à Guatemala City (bien qu’en restant 1 jour et deux nuits, nous n’y soyons pas beaucoup sorti) j’imagine que la situation s’est aggravée...


Christelle & Cedric
Feb 8, 2018 - 03:23 AM

Au final on n'a pas été "autorisé" à la visiter cette ville! Donc on ne sait pas mais les armes des agents de sécurité a tous les coins de rue refroidissent...