How to Spend 1 Day in Antigua
Characterized by its bright, colonial architecture and volcanic surroundings, the city of Antigua is one of the finest in Guatemala. One day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site gives you time to check off several historic attractions and see the best views from different vantage points. Here’s how.
Morning: Views from a Volcano
On your first morning, rise early, lace up those hiking boots, and trek to the top of an active volcano. The two-hour hike to the summit of the Pacaya volcano is suitable for travelers of a moderate fitness level and treats visitors not only to spectacular views but also to hot lava. Tours typically include round-trip transportation from Antigua and come with lunch and bottled water for the trek. Some also include a stop to soothe aching muscles at Kawilal Hot Springs, which boasts 12 hot springs and 25 steam baths.
Afternoon: Colonial Delights
Use the afternoon to get to know Antiqua’s colonial center. Orient yourself with ease on a walking tour, which offers a more intimate glimpse into the area than you’d get if traveling by car. Staple sights include the butter-yellow La Merced Church (Iglesia de la Merced), Antigua Central Park, and the 16th-century Church of San Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco), and some tours also stop at a jade stone factory and a textile museum and allow ample free time to shop for souvenirs. Most tours include round-trip transfers from your hotel.
Night: City Lights
If you’re hungry for more culture, devote your evening to Antigua’s culinary scene by taking a market tour and cooking class. Small-group classes often begin with a tour of Antigua Market and give you access to ingredients and equipment that you may not have back home. Plus, you’re likely to learn how to make local staples, such as tamales accompanied by spicy salsa and avocado-based dips. If you’ve got the energy following your class, head back into the UNESCO-listed Old Town for a cocktail on a rooftop terrace.