From the last couple times I’ve been, here are couple notes about Antigua that should help, when planning a visit:
- The main plaza is beautiful. Like many Latin American cities, the zocalo is the hub of all of the action – but unlike many other place, the zocalo in Antigua has FREE WI-FI!! Beat that!!
- Since we’re chatting about that connectivity thing — there is Free WI-FI everywhere in Antigua. Every hotel. Every hostel. Every shop. Every cafe. Every restaurant. Free WI-FI is easier to come by in Antigua than hookers on crack, and that’s pretty goddamn easy.
- Don’t worry about changing money in the airports and getting raped in your face … There are tons of ATM’s around the plaza in Antigua.
- Saturdays are busy in Antigua, as artisans set up around the plaza. Additionally, they cordon the street from the plaza to La Merced Cathedral (Iglesia La Merced) and it is only open to pedestrian traffic.
- The stretch from the plaza to Inglesia La Merced is loaded with vendors, especially on weekends. You’ll always find something interesting, even though I think it’s overpriced compared to what you will get in the market.
- If you don’t like bargaining, then buy nothing. If you do buy without bargaining, then you’re a fool and a chump! Bargain with street vendors. Prices start high — about double what you should actually pay. I typically pay 40% of the price.
- The textile market is the cities main market and is a great place to spend an afternoon. It’s just a few blocks off of the plaza.
- There are very clean PUBLIC bathrooms available throughout the city for 2-3Q (about 25 cents US).
- Negotiate taxi fares before you ride. Taxi rides within Antigua should cost between 10 – 15 Q. Pay nothing more than that …. but to be safe … always negotiate your taxi fare.
- Jardin Barvaria, has the biggest sausage in town.
- Never judge any place you see from the front … since every restaurant has a great terrace or inside location.
- Carriage rides are available. I think they’re for chumps who like smelling horse shit. If you do want one, negotiate … I wouldn’t pay more than 75Q.
- It’s very safe in Antigua. No sense at all that Antigua is a “dangerous” place – it’s very different from Guatemala City
- There is always a “Ladies Drink Free” location from Monday to Thursday and even on Fridays. Ask around or check Michael’s blog … it’s fantastic
- Ruins at the Church of San Francisco – You can wander around for at least an hour and look on these larger-than-expected ruins and inspired to take many, many photos.
- La Azotea Coffee Farm Tour – This seems a bit steep at 7$ but it’s worth it. Ask your hostel about the free van pickup the coffee farm provides from the Central Park about every 30-60 minutes.
- Valhalla Macadamia Nut Farm Tour – The tour is free. You just have to take a chicken bus about 20 minutes. It’s just past Ciudad Vieja. The bus drivers know the place, so you should be able to ask and figure out which bus will take you there. On the way back, you just wait on the main road and a bus to Antigua will pass at least every 20 minutes. TIP: Don’t eat breakfast before you go, so you have room to order the pancakes made with macadamia flour and topped with a heart-stopping serving of macadamia butter. It’s around $5 so not cheap (comparatively), but it’s worth it. Also, you can buy beauty products made with pure macadamia oil, so bring some extra cash if you’re interested in that.
Favorite Cafes, Restaurants, and Bars – Here is a list along with names
- Santa Clara Panadería – You will not see a name on the outside of the building, and it’s a really small place. It is on 2A Avenida Sur between 6a and 7a Calles. Great coffee (always served with a little something sweet and a smile for 7-8Q), great baguettes, great meat and cheese filled bread sandwiches (called Trenzas), and great dulce (sweet) treats such as cookies, cakes, and sweet breads. The cheapest and most delicious I found. Go early in the evenings as they often sell out of things.
- El Portal: Great place for a reasonably priced and good quality coffee. Located on the Central Park. Only get the coffee, you can find better places to eat.
- Cafe No Sé :Definitely a place for foreigners but a very cool atmosphere. The place reminded me of the set of Tales from the Crypt: small, very dark, only lit by candlelight with those giant candles that have creepy wax drippings, writing all over the walls. And my favorite part was the midget door you had to bend over to walk through to enter one of the adjoining rooms with another bar and small, cozy seating area.
- Cafe Fernandos : Great coffee, fantastic 16Q tipico breakfast.
- Travel Menu: Been here twice, and like everything here, it’s reasonably priced compared to the other restaurants if you order the set lunch. Located on 6a Calle.