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Once the nation’s capital before being demolished by multiple earthquakes, Antigua remains Guatemala’s most attractive town, as much for its cosmopolitan ambience as its magnificent setting. With volcanoes as a backdrop for a series of sprawling monasteries — the crumbling remnants of Spanish occupation — Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and a number of the colonial remnants have been restored as museums, cultural centers and galleries. At 5050 feet (1539 meters), the town has a delightful climate of sunny days and crisp evenings. Despite its earlier abandonment, Antigua has reemerged as an animated crossroads for ...

Once the nation’s capital before being demolished by multiple earthquakes, Antigua remains Guatemala’s most attractive town, as much for its cosmopolitan ambience as its magnificent setting. With volcanoes as a backdrop for a series of sprawling monasteries — the crumbling remnants of Spanish occupation — Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and a number of the colonial remnants have been restored as museums, cultural centers and galleries. At 5050 feet (1539 meters), the town has a delightful climate of sunny days and crisp evenings. Despite its earlier abandonment, Antigua has reemerged as an animated crossroads for indigenous traders, visitors from the capital (an hour east) and long-term foreign residents, many of whom study Spanish at the town’s numerous language institutes. With such a multifaceted demographic, Antigua abounds with internationally themed eateries, eclectic bars and inviting cafes that brew the area’s world-renowned beans. Copious lodgings range from backpacker basic (The Black Cat) to presidential luxury (Posada del Ángel, where Bill Clinton has stayed). Tours of coffee plantations, volcano ascents and visits to surrounding villages are among the excursions that are customarily arranged by Antigua’s numerous tour operators.

Daniel C. Schechter
About the Expert

Daniel C. Schechter has contributed chapters to more than a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the Mexico, Caribbean Islands, Andalucia, Guatemala, and Pacific Northwest guides.

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Daniel C. Schechter for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Antigua is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque influenced architecture as well as a number of spectacular ruins of colonial churches. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Language: Spanish & Amerindian languages
  • Currency: Guatemala Quetzal
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November-March (after the rains), April for spectacular Holy Week celebration