Let me start by saying that Antigua is one of the most friendly and cleanest cities we have visited. The streets are all cobblestone as well as some sidewalks and even the speed bumps. This colonial city has so much charm and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The streets are lined with high walls and large wooden doors with intricate designs and iron work. Many places we went into opened up to pretty courtyards with plants and flowers.
I’ll tell you about our first day in Antigua and it will give you a feel for the city.
We started our morning at a great Bed & Breakfast called Chez Daniels. The rooms are nice and clean and each has a patio with chairs for relaxing outside. The courtyard is a lawn with flowers and plants surrounding the property.
It’s in the perfect location. It is within walking distance to the main historic attractions, but in a quieter area. We got a map and some advice from our host and then we were off to explore!
Everywhere we walked we could see the Volcano De Agua overlooking the city. It’s just beautiful.
We walked to the city center to the Parque Central (Central Park). This was one of the prettiest central parks we have seen. There is a gorgeous fountain in the center called “Fuente de las Sirenas” (Mermaid’s fountain). It was built in 1739.
There are many benches to sit, relax and listen to the live music playing. The locals walk around selling artisanal items too. We bought a hand carved flute and multi-colored woven headbands.
We decided to take a horse and carriage ride around town since this is something we had never done before. I felt bad for the horses having to walk all day long on the cobble stone streets; I probably won’t be going on a carriage ride again.
For lunch we found a beautiful restaurant in a courtyard full of plants and flowers. Pupusas and wine made for a delicious lunch.
We walked the streets of Antigua all afternoon where we took in quite a few historic sites. We saw the Arch of Santa Catalina through which the nuns of the convent would use to cross the street in order not to be seen (they were cloistered nuns). The Cathedral de Santiago is a picturesque site as well.
There are thirty ruins throughout Antigua. If feels as if we were always coming upon a colonial church, ruin or museum. The history is amazing.
One highlight of our day was taking a Tuk Tuk (a three-wheeled motorized vehicle) up the hill on the outside of town to Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross). It’s named after the large cross on the side of the hill that overlooks the town. This spot also gives a perfect view of Volcano de Agua.
After, we made our way back to Chez Daniel and rested up for dinner.
I had looked for recommendations on Trip Advisor for a nice restaurant for dinner. We walked to Casa Escobar which was near the city center. It was lite up romantically with many candles and had brick walls and big open windows. We could see the ruins of an 18th century church just across the street. After a delicious dinner of shrimp, sausage and plenty of wine, we decided that was an amazing way to end our first day in Antigua! Although, we did go over our backpacker budget with that dinner, we decided it was well worth it!
I hope this information gives you an idea of what a great city this is to explore.
For more information on Chez Daniel click here
For information on guided tours of Guatemala click here.