Volcano De Agua and the Arch of Santa Catalina
La Antigua Guatemala was the colonial Spanish capital of Central America. It is a World Heritage site, and is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in Guatemala.
The effects on Antigua of the earthquake of the late 18th century
Commonly referred to as just Antigua (or La Antigua), the city's streets are mostly laid out in a rectangular grid aligned with the compass, with the Parque Central as an origin point. North-south roads are avenidas or avenues, numbered from 1st to 8th from east to west. The avenidas are further divided into sur (south) and norte (north). East-west roads are calles or streets, numbered from 1st to 9th from north to south. The calles are further divided into oriente (east) and poniente (west). The street intersection at the north-east corner of the Palace of the Captains-General, i.e. at the south-east corner of Parque Central, is the origin of this division. Avenidas are sur south of 5a Calle, and norte north of it. Calles are oriente east of 4a avenida, and poniente west of it.
Some roads have names that don't follow the avenida/calle numbering scheme, and some roads away from the center don't follow the grid. Most corners do not have signs showing the name of either the street you are on or the one you just came up to. All are cobblestoned and sidewalks are generally not very good.
Addresses are numbered sequentially outwards from the origin point. Even-numbered addresses are on one side of the street and odd numbers are on the other. Street addresses are written with the street or avenue number first, followed by the letter "a" (because 1a signifies "primera", 2a is short for "segunda", 3a for "tercera", etc); then "av." (for avenida) or "Cle" (for calle), then "ote" (oriente, east), "pte" (poniente, west), "sur" (south), or "nte" (norte, north); then the street address number. For instance:
- "5a av. nte #5" is address #5 on 5th Avenue North. The small number shows it is just a little north of the north-south divider, 5a calle.
- "3a calle ote #28" is address #28 on 3rd Street East. The relatively large number shows it is some ways east of the east-west divider, 4a Avenida.
It's helpful to memorise that the north and south sides of Parque Central are 4a and 5a calles, and the west and east sides are 5a and 4a avenidas respectively. Parque Central is the reference point for east, west, north and south in street addresses. "5a av. nte #5" is north of Parque Central. "5a ave. sur #5" is south of Parque Central. Essentially, if you understand which way is north of Parque Central, you can find anything in the city.
Inguat Tourist Office, 2a Calle Oriente #11 (between Avenidas 3a and 2a), ☎ 7832-3782 ([email protected]). M-F 8AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM.
Located just 30 mi (45 km) west of Guatemala City, you can arrive in 45-60 min from La Aurora Airport.
You can catch a crowded chicken bus (reused U.S. school bus) from Guatemala City for Q8. More than 100 bus drivers have been murdered as a result of gang conflict. Drivers who refused to pay exorbitant protection fees were murdered. Despite the violence, many still consider the chicken buses and local city bus in Antigua safer than taking the taxis or Tuk-tuks (small three wheelers with cloth side doors). Tuk-tuks have been blamed for taking tourist to an obscure area for robbery - so knowing a local tuk tuk driver might be safer than procuring one on the street. When safety is of utmost concern, it is best to call a cab company or prearrange your rides through a shuttle company.
There are regular shuttle vans directly from the airport to Antigua costing around Q80 and leave regularly all day until 8PM. You don't need to prearrange, but demand can be high depending on the number of flights arriving at the same time, so pre-purchasing a ticket from a local travel agent is best. A taxi from the airport to Antigua is around Q350, and can be split among 2 or 3 riders to make it comparable with privately arranged shuttles. There are numerous travel agencies in the central park of Antigua to purchase rides back to the airport. The usual cost is from Q55-80. To take the chicken bus from the airport to antigua, one can walk to a bus stop just outside of the parking lot. However, it is unclear at times if buses are allowed that close. If the government prevent buses from stopping there, one need to be ready to walk about 1/4 mi to another bus stop just outside of the airport. However, a tourist pulling luggage might make easy target for a local robber. The second problem with taking buses is that they are often very filled, and it is your responsibility to secure and lift your luggage to the top of the bus (unless you can negotiate the bus attendant to help you). The cost to take the local bus to the chicken bus station is about Q1, then one has to procure a chicken bus (leaving at every 5 min or so) to Antigua. So the total cost of taking the bus is less than Q20, but you might be required to walk a short distance to the nearest corner outside of the airport proper.
There is a direct shuttle bus from Copán, Honduras, which departs twice a day at 5:30AM and midday.
A charter tourist van costs about Q250-350. The driver will meet you at the airport with your name on a sign. For first-time visitors, the convenience and security of arranging a van like this might be worth the cost.
Transportation by bus is cheap compared to taxis or shuttles, but would be less convenient and take a longer time. For Antigua, you would need to take a cab to the second class bus station that does this route and get on a chicken bus.
There is no commercial air or train service for this town.
Antigua is very compact and easy to walk around. Most tourist destinations are in an 8-by-8 block area less than 1 km across. You can walk across it in 15 min. Be careful: the sidewalks are narrow and not always in good repair, you may have to walk in the street with traffic whizzing by you, and at night it's worth being cautious and aware of your surroundings. The standard tourist map are linear in their drawings. They are accurate only near the town center, as their periphery are indistinct and inaccurate. Get a real map with accurate topography if you are seeking locations farther from the town center, as dead ends and curved streets are not portrayed accurately.
If you don't know the city streets too well, and it is past about 11 p.m., it is best to get a taxi back to your accommodations from Parque Central, especially if you're alone or going more than a few blocks away from the well-lighted Central Park area.
To reach Guatemala City, one simply ask for the main route of the chicken bus. They stop at every corner, honk the horn as early as 5:30AM, and yell out loud "GUATE, GUATE". It is common to see one bus every 4-5 min leaving from the same corner. Buses to St. Pedro, St. Juan and or St. Ana leaves every 10 to 20 minutes; These are best obtained at the Mercado or at St. Lucia church as they often do not follow the same set route through town.
Tuk-tuks and taxis can take you to destinations within the city center for Q10 or less--negotiate the fare with the driver in advance. Otherwise, they will routinely charge 50-100% more than they should. Tuk-tuks usually do not go to Guatemala City, so one will need a shuttle or taxi instead. Flag down a cruising tuk-tuk, or pick up a taxi from the queue at Parque Central; or along a main route to the city's periphery.
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The ruins of the cathedral in Antigua
The whole city is full of historic buildings, monuments, fountains and ruins. This city was founded by the Spanish in the XVII Century, and it follows the traditional design of a Main Plaza surrounded by Government and Catholic Church buildings. It's worthwhile to visit La Catedral, el Palacio de los Gobernadores, Convento de Capuchinas, Convento de Santa Clara, el Arco de Santa Catarina, Iglesia La Merced and the Handcrafts Market.
Entrance fees for the Ruinas are steep, except for the Ruinas y Museo de San Francisco, which is a bargain at 5 Quetzals; the Ruinas de Santa Clara, Ruinas de San Jeronimo, Ruinas La Recollecion and the Museo Capuchino charge Q40 for foreigners (locals Q2). The Museo Hotel Casa Santo Domingo charges Q40, although here you may see just the ruins for free.
The Parque Central is a park in the center of town. The park is a city block in size, with concentric circular walkways threading among trees and a fountain in the center. The trees are decorated with lights, and there are plenty of benches for sitting and people-watching. The city hall and police office, the cathedral, and several banks and tourist businesses line the four sides of the park. Many Antiguans hang out in the park, and it has a pleasant, bustling, friendly feel during the day (at night, slightly less so... use your judgment).
A large cross is prominent on a hill to the north of the city (Cerro de la Cruz). It is a pleasant, moderately strenuous 30-min walk to the cross from the Parque Central. On a clear day there is a fine vista over most of Antigua and the Volcán de Agua rising high to the south. Note: there are persistent reports of robberies on this trail. The Tourist Police lead a free walk up to the park at 10AM and 3PM daily. Check-in with the Tourist Police office, on the north side of City Hall at the north east corner of Parque Central (Central Park).
The Experimental Station Valhalla is a nursery of macadamia trees with an interesting environmental and economic agenda. Valhalla has donated over 250,000 macadamia trees to indigenous communities in Guatemala. Macadamia nuts are a cash crop, with the potential to provide a better livelihood for Guatemalan peasants than does coffee. The farmer can use the trimmed branches of the trees for firewood. Additionally, macadamia trees take carbon dioxide out of the air and form it into wood, nuts and shells. The shells can be used for street paving. And Valhalla have found a way to provide the trees as genetically diverse complete plants, instead of as grafts. This allows natural selection to adapt the trees to changing environmental conditions. The station turns macadamia nuts into snacks, chocolates, a fine skin cream, a pure oil, and a flour that can be made into pancakes. Pancake breakfasts are served all day, every day until 3:30PM. The breakfast includes 3 pancakes made of macadamia flour, served with macadamia butter, homemade blueberry marmalade and a drink of your choice. No reservation required.
Experimental station Valhalla is a few kilometers out of Antigua in the direction of San Miguel Dueñas. Chicken busses run every 30 min on this route, and the fare is around Q3.50 one way. The station offers tours in Spanish, English, and sometimes other languages as well. At the end of a tour they offer samples of their various macadamia products. +502 7888-6308, fax +502 7831-5799, web , email . M-Sa 8AM-4:30PM.
Hill of the Cross The hill is located on the north end of the city. You can walk to the base of the hill from anywhere in Antigua within 10 to 20 minutes. Regularly scheduled police escort to the top of the hill is done frequently. The schedule can be obtained from any tourist police found everywhere in the city and near the central park. They will tell you to walk to the police station in the south west end of town about 1 block north and one block west of St. Lucia catholic church. This simply will allow you to sign in the log book and hike an extra 20 minutes to the hill. If you prefer, wait at the bottom of the hill about 20 minutes after the scheduled tour, and you can tag along with the main police escorted tour, and saving yourself a 20 minute walk. Robberies have taken place on the walk up the hill. The walk last less than 10 minutes, but is tough if you are out of shape and can not keep up. Explain this to the police and tip him a little, and he will slow down for you. They too have a time constraints and want to let you have a full 20 minutes on top of the hill. Robberies have occurred on this hill without police escort, and resulted in the death of one tourist who refused to give up his valuable. Poor people live up on the hill side, and do not agree to let anyone take you up the steps, unless they are uniformed police.
Artisan Workshops Spend an afternoon with a local artistan specializing in Jade, metal works, or textiles. Enjoy a unique cultural experience and come home with a hand made gift! Check out As Green as It Gets for more information 
El Mercado or the Market is located about 3 blocks directly west of the northwest corner of the town center. Walking through it is a cultural experience. The market is opened every day including Sunday, but is largest on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday. It is big, like a maze, and you will likely lose your way. It is dark in the covered areas, and brighter on the outside sections. The cheapest food, commodities, fresh meat, and gifts are found here. There are so many sections to the market, that one need to spend nearly a full day to see it all. Toward the south, is a modern, clean and well stocked gift, art and local artisan shop arranged around a central fountain. To the west is the bus station, where you can take buses to all local towns, and guatemala. To the east is the boulevard where well stocked supermarkets and restaurants are located. To the north, there are open soccer fields and the used clothing second hand items are sold. In the center of the market are dark alleys going through meat markets, "mini" restaurant rows, flower shops, and numerous fruit stands. A large outside area by the bus stop is an open air fruit market - where beautiful papaya, large mangoes, ripe pineapples, and all sorts of exotic tropical fruits are sold. Of course, the usual banana, apples, grapes of outstanding freshness and qualities are also found. Occasionally, livestock such as chicken and small mammals are sold also. It is a gathering place for all Antiguans, and where most families buy their groceries. You are guaranteed to get lost each time you enter the main area of the market. Straight in and straight out is the preferred method of navigation unless you had a compass and a map. The market has grown tremendously to the dismay of the locals who talked of the clean and bright well organized and smaller more beautiful market they grew up with.
Coffee Farm Tour Learn how to pick, process and roast your own coffee! Spend a day with a coffee farmer, on the base of Vulcan Agua, and learn how a day in the life of a small independent coffee farmer looks like. Tour will take you up the volcano to pick coffee from their fields. They will then take you to their homes to demonstrate how to separate the coffee fruit by density, husk the fruit, ferment and wash the beans, dry, remove the inner hull, sort by size and grade, roast, and - of course - taste! $25 bucks is a pretty good deal for the day, and includes 1 pound of coffee as well as English translation and guide services). Check out this link for more details: 
Chocolate Making Class Learn how to make chocolate from the cocoa beans. A unique experience where you learn everything about the history of chocolate, the cacao plantations and the idustry of chocolate making. At the end of the class you will make your own chocolate bar at your taste and will be able to bring it back home with you. For more info visit ChocoMuseo's website
For those who like hiking, two trips near Antigua are highly recommended:
Hiking up the active volcano Volcán Pacaya and/or the dormant Volcán Acatenango.
Molten Lava in the Pacaya Volcano
- Going up the active Volcán Pacaya is quite easy and you will find dozens of travel agents who will be very happy to sell you tickets for a Pacaya-trip that normally costs between Q60-75, depending on your bartering skills. This includes a bus-shuttle to and from Pacaya. Once there, you must pay an extra Q50 for the park entrance. Pacaya is an active volcano, you cannot get to the crater (you just get close), but there are some amazing views. The hike is not too hard except for the last 100 m or so that go over very loose lava rocks. This hike can be strenuous and people who are not in good physical condition should give it carefully consideration (Horses are also available for 100Q, each way). If you go in the afternoon, be prepared to descend in the dark. It takes approximately 1.5 hours up and 45 min down the mountain. Note that there are a couple of kiosks at the bottom of this hike that offer cold beer.
The view of Antigua from El Cerro de la Cruz
- Going up Volcán Acatenango is an entirely different cup of tea: This hike takes you from Antigua (1,500 m) all the way to 3976 m (13,044 ft) in one day. You need to be fit, carry gear, take precautions against altitude sickness. Most people who do this trip spend the night on the mountain, though some go up and down within a day. Currently there are two outfits in Antigua who offer trips up Acatenango. If you have the gear, though, you can safely do the trip by yourself since there is only one way up.
- The dormant volcano Volcán Agua stretches up invitingly to the south of Antigua. Some tourists recommend climbing as part of a tour with a police escort, in order to avoid problems; robberies are freuent; some unaccompanied tourists have been kidnapped. Definitely take the security situation seriously; ask at the Inguat office for advice, and go with a tour that has armed security that you trust. See the stay safe section for more information.
- Pacific Ocean Fishing is the best in America for bill fish or sail fish. Records are made here frequently, and Guatamala frequently breaks catch per day and other records for bill fish. They accomplished this status through catch and release program, and mandatory use of circle hook that spares the fish from intestinal and gut damage after catching. The circle hook is required on all lures and baits, and does not catch as the fish swallow the bait. It only hooks on the way out of the animal, and only catch the lip. Legitimate fishing guides will not use other hooks regardless of species targeted to allow safe release of bill fish. Occasionally marlins are hooked also, and run in the hundreds of pounds. It is not infrequent for returning charters to hook and release 15 or more bill fish. You are not guaranteed to hook a bill fish on every trip, but the chance is greater than anywhere in the world. Day trip from Antigua can be arrange by contacting a long time American expatriate and ex-Peace Corp veteran Dennis, who has spent more than half of his life volunteering and working in Guatemala. Dennis can hook you up with one of his boat or one of the other charters. His small boats are well equipped for fishing the pacific, and can carry up to 4 people who share a combined cost of under $400 a day. He can arrange transportation from Antigua to Puerto Quetzal, where you can hook up with his or other charters. Look him up under www.parlama.com, or google many other charter services in Guatemala.
Spanish school Antigua is the most popular - though not the cheapest - place to learn Spanish in Guatemala. Prices and hours vary, and can change depending on the season. Also note that home-stay opportunities are available as a cheaper and more culturally enriching living situation than a hotel; the average home-stay with a Guatemalan family costs Q585 for 7 nights in your own room with shared bath and 2-3 meals per day (except Sunday). It is well worth it to pay a little extra for your own bathroom or shower, and search for a family who takes in only one or a few students (and local Guatemalan boarders) for more immersion of the local culture. Families often visit each other on Sundays, and not available to provide meals. If you are the only student in the home, you are often invited for family get togethers, and it is quite a cultural experience. Informal conversational class can be had with the many shoe shiners in the central park, if you chose not to have your shoe shined and pay them a few bucks instead. Their education and vocabulary can be very limited, as Spanish is often their second language, and Mayan is their first.
- Maximo Nivel , Phone: +502 7932 1500, (800) 866 6358, Maximo Nivel offers small group, online and individual Spanish classes taught by certified Native Spanish instructors. Clients can join free conversation practice and be teamed up with local residents who are studying the school's intensive English programs. The school also provides intensive TEFL/TESOL certification classes each month.
- Centro Linguistico Internacional  CLI Spanish School in Antigua Guatemala is the premier language school in Antigua, with many features other schools simply do not have. Internet with WI-FI, travel services, rooms, apartments, laundry, meal facilities and more.
- Spanish Abroad  Provides an outside perspective on the quality Spanish schools available in Antigua. With over 10 years in the industry, onsite inspections and feedback from students have guided the decision process on the schools to offer in the area.
- Spanish Language Schools 123teachme  is an independent, non-profit listing of language schools located all over the world. Recommendations and comments are made by former students about different schools; each school is rated according to a five star system. Students classify their school according to the criteria described on the site.
- Ixchel Spanish School, 7a Calle Poniente #15 (two blocks south and half a block west of the Central Park), ☎ (+502) 7832-0364 ([email protected]), . Management and staff here provide excellent service are very responsive to requests. Instructors are friendly and knowledgeable. Instruction offered at all levels with an established curriculum, flexible one-on-one instruction, optional tours and activities daily, various options for accommodations including great all-inclusive homestays with hospitable local families.
- Escuela Tecun Uman Run by Mario Castellanos, one of the most experienced teachers in the City, the school has a good reputation with foreigners. 
- Escuela Jimenez This school offers one-on-one instruction, customized to the student based upon an initial interview to determine the student's current knowledge of Spanish. Located near the main market street, the school is a family-operated business headed by Miguel Morales-Jiménez. 
- Spanish school Don Pedro de Alvarado  One student, two teachers.Our school suggests a 6 hours a day course.We find that the most successful students, the ones who achieve the most fluency and accuracy in the language, are the students who study for six hours each day.The student studies with one teacher each morning with the primary focus being on grammar and usage. In the afternoon, the student will study with another teacher who will concentrate on improvements in conversational skills.
- Proyecto Lingüistico Francisco Marroquín This is the oldest Spanish school in Antigua, founded in 1969, which has expanded to include courses in a number of Mayan languages, including Kaqchikel, K'iche and Mam. Their "complete immersion program" includes the option of accommodations with a Guatemalan family. 
- Spanish Academy Sevilla, 1st Avenida Sur # 17C, ☎ +502 7832-5101 (fax: +502 7832-5101), . Offers private Spanish lessons. Also offers choice of Student houses or Family stays accommodation, each with 3 meals/day 6 days/week, and private bathroom on request. Daily activities such as cultural exploration are frequently arranged by the school.
- Guate Linda Center Among the languages offered for teaching are: Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, and a Mayan language named Kakchickel. Accommodation on school grounds is readily available. Education is done on a single teacher per student basis(one on one), with an average study time of 20-35 hr a week. 
- Academia de Español Ya!, (5 blocks from the Parque Central), ([email protected]), . University-educated teachers. All materials included. One-to-one or group lessons. Garden area for studying. Will help you find afternoon activities and host family accommodations. Q750 for 4 hr/day, 5 days/week.
- Escuela de Español ¨Spanish Traveling¨, 4a Calle Poniente No. 17 (Two blocks from Central Park.), ☎ +502 7832-8005 ([email protected]), . focuses on learning Spanish while visiting the most popular tourist destinations of Guatemala,Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Quetzaltenango, Río Dulce and Livingston. Classes may take place on a coffee farm, in a museum, park, lake shore, or in the classroom in Antigua.
- Escuela de Espanol Cooperacion (7 Av Norte, 15B). A highly recommended school run as a cooperative, ensuring teachers get paid fairly. The school has a nice garden area for studying. Q750/week for 20 hr of one-on-one lessons. Homestays with Guatemalan families are available. Email <[email protected]> for more information.
- Escuela de Español Ixquic, 7a Av. Norte No. 74A, ([email protected]), . Spanish school in operation since 1993.
- La Union Spanish School, 1a. Avenida Sur #21, La Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala., ☎ +502-7832-7337 ([email protected]), . Learn Spanish in Antigua Guatemala in a serious and exciting way at "La Unión" language, cultural and Travel Center.
- La Mesa | Antigua, (A 15 minute walk from Parque Central in the Jacarandas de Antigua gated community), ☎ +502 4117-2894 ([email protected]), . The cooking classes at La Mesa teach you the tools and techniques to prepare authentic Guatemalan cuisine. They offer both lunch and dinner time classes to suit every schedule. Their experienced and approachable instructors create an entertaining learning environment and their small class sizes provide a very interactive and hands on experience.
Learn About The People
- You can appreciate much about the Guatemalan culture by staying with a local family on your stay here. Arrangement for family stay can be made through a local school, or through local charity that you might volunteer for. Cost of local stay to include room and board ranges from $65 a week with shared facility to as high as $150 a week for private shower/bathroom. To really get into a glimse of life in Guatemala, one should sponsor a child through the many local charities, like http://www.commonhope.org, or http://www.mayanfamilies.org/. Once sponsored, you can visit your child through the charity. For first time visitor, Common Hope can secure an indigenous child at a nearby village like St Rafael, where you can get to see the subsistance farming and the day to day life of more than 50% of guatemalan who lives on less than $2 a day. Seeing their life through the TV is not the same as up close and personal, and seeing the impact your minor donation makes upon the life of the whole family. Visit through local spanish school usually is made once a week to the local charities and hospital in town like St. Pedro church and hospital, where many medical group arrive from other countries to provide needed medical and dental work (cataract surgery, cleft lip, and dental care). One can turn a blind eye to poverty by simply shopping and dining in Antigua, but if every visitor makes a difference by sponsoring a child or family, your foot print will be much bigger than the few weeks you spent in Antigua. Another invisible charity is http://hands-of-hope.com/s/category/mission_teams/, you can see this charity in action by sponsoring a child through commonhope in the St. Rafael area, and visit the small clinic that service 3 small indigenous villages that is opened only two days a week. What ever you do, please do not over look the beautiful indigenous culture. Travel, visit, and buy from indigenous communities. Buy from small tiendas in the market instead from the bigger bodegas. Support the local indegenous folks, the little that they gain support more than you can imagine.
You can easily get a job as a waiter, waitress, bartender, or host in any of the many bars, restaurants and hotels in Antigua. Usually they pay from Q65-165 a day plus tips. It is important to speak Spanish in most of these places, but you can slide by without it in some touristy spots, where most of the customers are foreigners. Also you can join in and volunteer at local non-profits. There are many local projects in education, health, and development that accept short and long term volunteers. An example would be Common Hope, and other local churches and charities. These organizations should be contacted ahead of time for availabilities and credentialing of their volunteer, which is of utmost importance for the safety of their clients.
When you change money at the bank, you will need your passport. Banks are open 7 days a week, and open until 7PM-8PM. Most of the time, a passport is not needed for changing dollars into quetzales. However, you are likely required to have a passport if you want to redeem traveler's checks. ATMs are also available, but read the charges well before completing the transaction. The ATMs and banks near Parque Central offer the most reasonable exchange rates.
- Hand-carved wooden masks and figures are popular in Guatemala, and easily found in many of the shops and stalls in La Antigua Guatemala. These make unique and wonderful gifts to bring home to friends and family, or just something unusual to remember your trip by.
- The mercado The "mercado" is located about 3 blocks directly west of the northwest corner of the town center. The market is opened every day, but is largest on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday. It is big, like a maze, and you will likely lose your way and never encounter your friends again. It is dark in the covered areas, and brighter on the outside sections. The cheapest food, commodities, fresh meat, and gifts are found here.
- Cheap clothing, shoes, and leather goods Found at the mercado. New pants can be acquired for as little as Q8 or less. Check for quality and comfort before you purchase shoes. Small hard to find sizes are easily encountered due to the small size of the population.
- Inexpensive tropical fruits also found in the "mercado". Vine ripen fruits, papayas, plums, mangoes, cherries, strawberries, melons and other delicious unusual tropical fruits are available in abundance with seasons varying. The red curly haired "lychas" have a pleasant sweet taste like the lychees found in cans in the U.S. Fruits are safe food to eat if washed. One might stay away from strawberries, unless you can assure of a good soak in bleach to wash away any "fertilizer" or contaminated irrigation water.
- Indigenous hand woven cloth and hand made stone and jade jewelry are found sold by the local indigenous women in their brightly colored clothing. The stories are all the same, "my mom made it by hand," which is likely true. You usually can bargain down by 25% or more, especially if you walk away.
- Chocolate and cacao can be found in different places around town, each one with its own characteristics: ChocoMuseo is the cacao and chocolate museum (free entrance) where chocolate is made in front of you in their artisanal chocolate factory. Chocolate may also be found at Chocolalala, Fernando's Koffee and Chocolarti.
Antigua has cafes and restaurants for all tastes and budgets. The town is the most touristy place in Guatemala so you will find anything you are looking for including internationally-recognized fast food shops. Be careful with where you eat. Facilities lacking in bathroom or bathroom cleanliness suggest a higher probability of food poisoning. Avoid cold salad, fresh vegetables, and undercooked meat. Street ice cream carts are common through the city and popular with the locals, but of are unknown safety for sensitive stomachs.
- The Bagel Barn, 5a Calle Poniente #2, centrally located (10 m off Central Park), travelers come here to get their fix of bagels, excellent coffee and wifi internet for those traveling with their own laptops. Bagel sandwiches include different breakfast and lunch selections using quality ingredients such as fresh mozzarella cheese, real cheddar, etc. Its a home away from home, a very cozy environment, movies showing in the afternoon and evenings.
- Helados Marco Polo 5a Ave Nte, just up from the northwest corner of Parque Central on the west side, opposite Helados Sarita. Offers ice cream dishes in a more polished atmosphere.
- Tacos Cancun On 2a Ave between 5a and 6a calles. Good tacos with soup and a drink for only 15Q (March 2012). There is also a hostel here. It says 40Q per night for a dorm and 60Q per night for semi-private. Friendly staff.
- Helados Sarita ("despues 1948"), 5a Ave Nte, just up from the northwest corner of Parque Central on the east side. This seems sort of like the Baskin-Robbins of Guatemala. Several dozen flavours of ice cream in three different choices of cones, sundaes and other more elaborate concoctions.
- Pan Colonial, 7th Av, Norte, Number 13d. Traditional Guatemalian bakery, good selection of breakfast breads, one of the best (and least costly) in Antigua.
- Cafe Mediterraneo, 6 Calle Poniente 6A, ☎ +502 7832-7180. Dinners starting at 6PM or so on. W-M. Pasta, pasta, pasta, delicious.
- Luna De Miel Crepes 6 Avenida Norte N19A - Phone : +502 7882 4559 - Hours : 8h30 - 22h, from Monday to Sunday. Opened its doors in July 2006 and Antigua succumbed to the charms of the crepes ‘a la francaise’. In the beginning the restaurant is tiny; the menu offers not a lot to choose, but already all the products are fresh, selected the morning itself on the market.
The tourists that come by, stay for the warm atmosphere, write a postcard (available at place with an international postcard system) or make use of our WiFi network. The Luna is a real melting pot for everybody; the local youth of Antigua before going into the nightlife, the travelers passing by, along with the local Guatemalan families. Nowhere else you will find in Guatemala this atmosphere of French conviviality and ‘joie de vivre’.
When the evening comes, it is often with a Pastis (the typical alcoholic beverage of the south of France), or a good glass of wine that the expats, locals and tourists come together to relax, extend their trip, or simply recreate their world…... By RB
- Cinema Café Bistro 5a Ave Sur #14, two blocks south of the southwest corner of Parque Central on the west side. Offers food and a full schedule of movies from mid-afternoon to late evening. Stop by for the current week's schedule.
- Dabbawala Tandoori, Phone +502 7832-9976. a new curry delivery service in Antigua. Samosas, onion bhajis, chicken madras, vindaloo, naan -- the works. One of the English owners, Felix or Mick, will bring your order round on a motorbike. Most small hotels are happy for you to have food delivered if you ask. Remember to ask the guys for plastic plates and forks if you need them!
- El Mirador, 1 Avenida Norte #9B inside El Caminante Hostel (3 blocks east of parque central), ☎ +502 7832-6146. 5-10pm Tu-Sun. 360 Rooftop view of Antigua, burgers, kebabs, drink specials.
- El Mix, 4 avenida sur local 4a (half block from central park), ☎ +502 7832-8934 ([email protected]). Music, patio, vegetarian dishes, happy hour, Israeli food.
- Mono Loco, located just off Parque Central on 5a ave. sur, is a funky tourist friendly joint with cheap international calling and a few computers for internet use. The food is very "gringo-esque" but tasty nonetheless. There's a large bar on the ground level, as well as a covered open air second floor eating area. Good place to meet and greet or enjoy a burger.
- El Pelícano Dorado At the South end of Calzada Santa Lucia, where it leaves for Ciudad Vieja, Nos. 7&7A. tel: +502 7832-7242. Authentic Food from Livingston: fresh fish and seafood, tapado, caldo de mariscos, ceviches, rice and beans, giffity, etc. Also traditional Garífuna punta music played live on the weekends.
- Rainbow Restaurant and Bookshop 7a. Ave Sur #6 at 6a Calle, one block south and two full blocks west of the southwest corner of Parque Central. tel +502 7832-1919. offers tourist-friendly and wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. An early-bird breakfast special of tomatoes, beans, eggs, rice, and tea or coffee is easy on the wallet. Sandwiches and dinner entrees are inexpensive too, and salads and big desserts are also on offer. Use purified water for all drinks, ice and preparation. They have a rich schedule of live music, poetry readings, and interesting lectures about Guatemala.
- Sangre 5 Av Norte #33, Fancy place, great food, fine atmosphere. Moderate prices. Large selection of wine per glass.
- Y tu Piña, también. 6a Calle Oriente and Primera Avenida Sur. Breakfast and lunch. Licuados. Benito's flavored rums. Luisa's famous hangover soups. Proper espressos. Manu Chao daily. Gratis Wi-Fi. Detox at Y tu Piña. Retox across the street at Café No Sé.
- Bistrot Cinq, 4a calle oriente #7, . A French bistro featuring great food, very authentic cuisine found no where else in Antigua. American (USA) not Guatemalan owned and operated. Features an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs work, and a great bar. Offers many specials and unique local foods hard to find elsewhere.
- Bourbon Caffe Delicious food. Cool casual atmosphere, only plays jazz music, and has live band on weekends.
- Estudio35 5a avenida norte. Nice place, fine atmosphere, excellent pizza and tasty crepes and large variety of drinks and cocktails, Free WI-FI.
- La Fonda de la Calle Real Three locations: 3a Calle Pte 7, 5a Ave Nte 5, 5a Ave Nte 5 (the last two just north of the northwest corner of the Parque Central), tel +502 7832-0507. Generous helpings of Guatemalan specialties, with reasonable prices and a touch of corporate efficiency in their operations. The "De Todo Un Poco" ("a bit of everything") platter combines steak, chicken, and sausage for Q91. The vegetarian "Pepian Vegetariano" offers green beans and other vegetables in a unusual smoky-flavored sauce. The green salad is fresh and overflows the large plate. The 5a Ave Nte 5 location features a rustic three-story wood-frame building just off the Parque Central with pleasant second-story open balconies. Uses purified water for all drinks, ice, and preparation.
- Nokiate, 1a avenida sur #7, . Antigua's only real sushi bar where you can watch the sushi chef prepare the fresh rolls, sashimi and sushi, also has a great selection of Latin-Japanese cooking. The ambiance is very warm and inviting. Great bar scene also.
- La Peña de Sol Latino is a bar and restaurant featuring live music by Guatemalan and Central American bands (featuring Paco). The music, the "feel", and the food make this a really special place. Make sure to try their brownies; they are absolutely amazing. Their grouper macadamia dish is also highly recommended, and their other desserts are fantastic. They use only purified water and disinfect all produce, so go ahead and enjoy one of their creative salads. Open for lunch and dinner and located at 5 Calle Poniente (just along from El Sitio and opposite La Bodegona supermarket).
- Restaurante Doña Luisa Xicotencatl, 4a Calle Ote 12, has the feel of a well-run corporate restaurant set in a gorgeous leafy courtyard of a historic building. Menu includes well-executed breakfast, hamburgers, and Guatemalan interpretations of Tex-Mex food. They use purified water on their vegetables and for drinking and ice, which means their menu is in-bounds for tender First World stomachs. There is a bakery in the building, which means that when you get close you can follow the delicious smells the rest of the way in. Highly recommended, especially for the cookies and daily selection of delightful breakfast breads. Ask the owner Dennis about fishing the pacific. On his days off, he is fishing for billfish, marlins, mahi mahi, and other fish in the Pacific.
- Sabor Cubano 4a Calle Oriente 3A, a half-block east of the north side of the Parque Central. This restaurant has a slightly up-market feel. It has live Cuban music on Thursday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
- Travel Menu6a Calle Pte #14, one block south and partial block west of the southwest corner of Parque Central, on the north side of the street. Promises "small place, big portions", and delivers. It seats perhaps 20 people at about eight tables, in small, dim room painted to look like a underground European keller, lit only by candles on stands overflowing with waterfalls of wax drippings. They offer dinner entrees for low prices, with vegetarian options for everything. The portions are indeed generous. Beer and wine are also available, but not desserts. Topping it all off is the friendly proprietor, Jesper Nilsen of Denmark. Attracts a traveller crowd.
- Kloster 3a Calle Oriente No. 28. Right next to Casa Santo Domingo, good fondue, the beef is tasty, the shrimp, shrimpy. Bread is local, savory, and fresh. Ok Wine selection, though I was there later in the day and just had some Gallo beer. The desert fondue is a good touch, the chocolate is great quality. Service was excellent including descriptions of the meals (in Spanish). The seating in the back is visible only if the garage door is open so get a table back there for a pleasant night.
The windows at the Sky Bar
- Café No Sé. Primera Avenida Sur. A bohemian beacon frequented by raconteurs. Live music, bad attitudes, bad art, and colorful personalities. Serving Cuban fajitas and a handsome selection of tequilas and ilegal mezcals. Perros: Pulque, Anoche, Alfombra and Feo.
- Cafe Sky 1a Av Sur 15. One of the best places in Antigua to take in the view of Volcan de Agua and the sunset.
- Fernando's Kaffee,  7 Avenida Nte 43D Some of the best coffee in Antigua, plus great breakfasts, next door to the Posada La Merced Hotel. Fernando, the owner, is very friendly and may show you his operation: the coffee roaster, grinder, etc. Pleasant courtyard seating is found when walking through the first two room and around the kitchen. The breakfasts are awesome: pancakes and crepes and fresh fruit. It is a great place to wile away the time drinking wonderful coffee and relaxing.
- Mono Loco (Funky Monkey). 1/2 block down on 5 Ave from the Central Park. Local and international beers. Nachos buffalo wings. Pop/rock music. Big screen TV to watch sporting events.
- Reilly's Irish Tavern, 5a ave. nte. #31, . Antigua's only Irish pub. Serves Guinness and Jagermeister, amongst other things. Every Sunday at 6 PM they hold a pub quiz.
- Y tu Piña, también. 6a Calle Oriente and Primera Avenida Sur. Breakfast and Lunch. Licuados. Benito's flavored rums. Luisa's famous hangover soups. Proper espressos. Manu Chao daily. Gratis Wi-Fi. Detox at Y tu Piña.
- El Muro Pub, 3 street oriente 19 D (Antigua Guatemala), ☎ +502 7832-8849. Classic rock serving real drinks, Asian and Veg food amongst local cuisine. Specials for volunteers and credit cards accepted. M-Sa 5:30PM-1AM.
- Wiener. Austrian restaurant that serves the best Schnitzel this side of Vienna. One amazing treat for those of you from Austria! They also serve great local food and have friendly capable staff.
- Casa Escobar, 6ª avenida norte, Antigua, Guatemala. Entire restaurant lit with candles… Beautiful interior blending in with the style of Antigua. Do not let relatively high prices and not very appetizing pictures in the menu fool you. Steaks brought to the table will look way more appetizing and after the first bite you will know that you will not leave a single bite on the plate no matter how big of the cut you have ordered. If you like steak you are hungry you are in Antigua and can spare 20 USD – Casa Escobar is awesome place to go.
- El Chaman, 7a Ave. Norte #2 (next to the ruins of San Agustin). 5 till. Unique view of the ruins of San Agustin, local specialty drinks, habanos cigars, live music, & good vibes! The most cultural experience in Antigua.
- El Chaman, 7a Avenida Norte #2 (Next to the ruins of San Agustin). Best terrace in town, unique view of the ruins of San Agustine, specialty local drinks, habanos cigars, live music, good vibes!
- Antigua UmmaGumma Hostel, 7a Avenida Norte, #34, ☎ +502 7832-4413 ([email protected]), . Two shared equipped kitchens, communal lounge area with direct TV, Wi-Fi, two communal computers, rooftop terrace, laundry service, international calls service, luggage store and travel agency. Dorms as well as private rooms available. Dorms Q50.
- La Casa de los Abuelos, ([email protected]), . A family house, turned in a beautiful hotel, 5 min from downtown of La Antigua, a great view of the volcanoes, special packages for Spanish students and adoption parents.
- Casa Bellona, Calle Coyolar # 11 (At the end of the 2nd Av. Sur), ☎ 7832-0124, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: noon. A nice quiet guesthouse in Antigua. You can use the kitchen to make your own meals but breakfast is included. Nice clean rooms and shared bathrooms are also very clean. Garden with hammocks and a livingroom with cable TV/DVD, nice way to meet other travellers. A little bit further from the center (10-15 min walk), but then you have also something good for a very good price. $20 for a double.
- El Gato Negro (Black Cat Hostel), 6a Avenida Norte, 1a, ☎ +502 7832 1229 ([email protected]), . Largest, and arguably most fun and funky, hostel in Antigua. Price includes Breakfast (anything on the Desayuno menu). Full bar and restaurant. Free Internet, including wireless. There is a movie room of over 350 movies/DVDs for free. Double rooms must be booked onsite. (Tip, it might pay to book ahead as it is popular) Dorms Q65, doubles Q160.
- Hotel Casa Cristina, . This small and charming 10 room hotel is located only four blocks from Central Park in the center of Antigua. All rooms have private bath and hot water. Free coffee, tea and purified water. Wireless accessible from all rooms. Standard single room ($18) with cable TV ($22), Standard double room ($22) with cable TV ($26), Deluxe room with Volcan de Agua view and cable TV ($35). Callejon Camposeco 3A (between 6th and 7th Avenue North, one block from La Merced church). Discounts for weekly and monthly stays.
- Hostel 5, 4th Avenida Norte #33 (about 3 blocks from the centro). Q50 for a dorm with full breakfast included. Wonderful owner who will take very good care of you and is a great cook. Comfortable beds, extremely clean facilities, lockers, very hot showers, awesome rooftop terrace with picnic table, hammock, and a great view of the volcano. The bar/restaurant downstairs has very cheap cold beers and serves great food.
- Hostel Los Amigos, 2a Avenida between 7a and 8a calle. Dorm Q35.
- Hostel Calle 6, 6ª Calle Poniente Nº 19 (located 1 block from the Central Park), ☎ +502 5532-3274. A large hostel. Price includes Internet, laundry service, bag storage, & hot water 24 hours. There is a travel agency on the premises. Dorm Q35.
- Posada Juma Ocag, Calzada de Santa Lucía # 13. Rooms with private bathrooms and cast-iron beds. Rooms set around a small pretty courtyard. Small sun terrace upstairs. Across from market. Friendly and helpful staff. Q120 single Q160 double.
- Jungle Party Hostel, 6a Avenita Norte 20 (Between 2nd and 3rd Calle Poniente), ☎ +502 7832 0463, . A mid-sized hostel with a courtyard, bar, restaurant, and hammocks. WiFi internet free and daily happy hour. Hot water showers (hot water tank, not electric shower heads). Rate includes breakfast from anything on the menu. Dorm rooms from 4-6 beds. Note: no outside food or drinks permitted. Dorms Q60.
- Chez Daniel, Calle de San Luquitas #20, Callejon de Burrito (See map on web page), ☎ (502) 4264-1122 ([email protected]), . Spacious and modern rooms, complete with a comfortable Deep double bed, along with a single bed, a huge bathroom complete with giant tub! Just what you need after a long day walking the cobblestones of Antigua. Free wifi. $54 per room, double occupancy.
- Hotel Boutique Euskadi  3ra Calle Oriente #30 La Antigua G. A nice, clean hotel with a good restaurant and efficient staff.
- Posada de la Merced is situated near the Merced, very clean and well kept hotel with very helpful staff. The owner used to be a tour guide and offers great advice
- Hostel Las Marias, Calle a San Bartolo, Lotif. Las Jacarandas (5 blocks from the Central Park), ☎ +502 5516-9147, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. A beautiful bed and breakfast located in a very quiet and safe area, about 5 blocks from the central park. Comfortable rooms, hot water, Wi-Fi Internet, complimentary water, shampoo etc. Discount for groups, students, volunteers, adopting parents.
- Hotel Casa Antigua, 3rd Calle Poniete #5 (1 block northwest of central park), ☎ +502 7832-9090 ([email protected], fax: +502 7832-9191), . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 1pm. Historical hotel only 2 min walk to Central Park. 22 rooms all with baths, 3 gardens with fountains and a rooftop terrace. All rooms are decorated with one of a kind antiques. Discounts for large groups or weekly stays. Free WI-FI & internet terminals, free purified water, breakfast is available, coffee, use of kitchen, laundry service, bag storage, travel services, airport pickups, cable TV & hot water 24 hours. $45-85.
- Hotel Casa Rustica, 6th Ave Norte #8 (1 block west of central park), ☎ +502 7832-3709 ([email protected]), . Only 1 block from central park. Gardens, terraces & hammocks. All rooms are private, have comfortable anti-stress beds and lots of natural light. Single with shared bath ($25), or with private bath & cable TV ($35) and garden view($39). Double with shared bath ($35), or with private bath & cable TV ($45) and garden view($47); triple & quad rooms also available. Free Wi/fi, free purified water, use of large shared kitchen, laundry service, bag storage, internet terminals, small cafe, internet cafe, travel services, airport pickups, cable TV & hot water 24 hours. $19-47.
- Hotel Quinta de las Flores, . A 10-min walk from the central plaza, this hotel offers several quiet, almost free-standing rooms spaced around a central fountain. A special treat is the working fireplace, with firewood at the ready. $75-95 for a double (higher for new year's and holy week).
- Posada Don Valentino, 5th Calle poniente #28 (2 blocks west of central park), ☎ +502 7832-0384 ([email protected]), . 2 blocks from central park. Spacious, light-filled rooms and common areas with Guatemalan furniture and textiles. All rooms have private bath, cable TV, 24-hour hot water, and views. 18 standard rooms and 3 suites. 2 large terraces with city and volcano views. An internet cafe, international phone service, travel agency, use of a shared kitchen, laundry service, bag storage, free bottled water. Bi-lingual staff. Single ($37), Double ($48), Triple ($57), Quad ($65), Deluxe suites available. Discounts for large groups and longer stays. $37-65.
- Posada Dona Luisa, . Located a few blocks from the park. There is nothing fancy about this place, but the people there are warm and friendly and it is clean and quiet. Single, double, and triple rooms available. $30-45.
- Posada Lazos Fuertes, . A 15-room hotel, for which the profits are said to aid poor Guatemalan children whose parents live in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump, through Safe Passage (www.safepassage.org). Q395 for a double.
- El Marques de Antigua, 4 avenida sur # 30, ☎ +502 7832-8259 ([email protected]), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. El Marques de Antigua is a unique ALL SUITE HOTEL, 4 blocks away from the Central Park. We are walking distance to many spas, restaurants, art galleries and important touristic attractions. We have two types of suites: Loft Dona Beatriz (1-4 guests) and Loft Don Pedro (4-6 guests), fully furnished and equipped with kitchen, living room, dining table, mini patio with a fountain, washing and drying machine, 42’ LED TV, Internet Wi-Fi, and more! It’s a great choice for short or extended stays in Antigua! MORE COMFORT... MORE ANTIGUA!. $75-135.
- Hotel Palacio de Doña Leonor, 4a Calle Oriente Casa No.8, ☎ +502 7832 2281 ([email protected]), . Named after the daughter of Pedro de Alvarado, conquerer and first governor of Guatemala. Offers twelve rooms and suites around a magnificent garden courtyard.
- Casa Madeleine Bed & Breakfast and Spa, Calle del Espiritu Santo # 69, ☎ +502 7832 9348 ([email protected], fax: +502 7832 9358), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. A beautiful bed and breakfast located about 6-7 blocks from the central park. Comfortable rooms, hot water, Wi-Fi Internet, complimentary water, shampoo etc. Whirlpool and Jacuzzi, spa services and packages. Great view of their court yard and the volcano. Discount for groups, students, volunteers, adopting parents. U.S. telephone number +1 877 325-9137. $95-205.
- Casa Santo Domingo  is a luxury international-class hotel built in the remodeled ruins of an old convent. Access to three great museums in the Paseo De Los Museos is included in your room rate. Gorgeous landscaping and all the services. 10 minutes walk to Parque Central. Regular rooms $170-190, Suites $215-360 as of Dec 2005. E-mail: [email protected]. tel +502 7820-1222. fax +502 7832-4155. 3a Calle Oriente No. 28 "A".
- Hotel Casa del Parque, 4th Ave Norte # 5 (200 ft north of central park), ☎ +502 7832-0961 ([email protected], fax: +502 7832-3709), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 1PM. 4-star hotel only 30 s walk to Central Park. 16 rooms and 9 suites, all with bath, breakfast, swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, (massages available), 3 gardens with fountains and a 2nd level terrace. All rooms are decorated with beautiful Guatemalan typical furniture. Free WI-FI & internet terminals, free purified water, free breakfast & coffee, laundry service, bag storage, travel services, airport pickups, cable TV & hot water 24 hours. $69-115.
- Hotel Convento Santa Catalina, 5 Ave Norte #28, ☎ +502 7832-3080 ([email protected], [email protected], fax: +502 7832-3610), . The Convent of Santa Catalina Martir was the second monastery founded by the Augustine Order in the year 1613. The church was inaugurated on 15 Sep 1647. Within 10 years, the Convent contained 110 nuns and 6 novices, who were prohibited from going out into the streets and were not allowed to see or be seen by the general public. In 1693, a bridge was built to connect the monastery to the property that had been acquired by the convent on the other side of the street, so the nuns could cross the street unseen. This bridge is now the famous landmark of Antigua, The Arch of Santa Catalina Martir. The Hotel Convento Santa Catalina Martir offers Singles, Doubles, Triples and Junior Suites. 16 furnished rooms, seven of which have kitchenettes. 2 Beautiful gardens and a wonderful view of the volcanoes. $70-100.
- El Palacio de Dona Beatriz, . Luxury bed and breakfast inside a coffee plantation, near Santo Domingo convent and museum, 40 min from the Guatemala City airport. $100-165 (junior and regular suites).
- Porta Antigua, 8a calle poniente No.1, ☎ +502 7832-2801 ([email protected], fax: +502 7832-0807), . A beautiful hotel, its just a few blocks away from the park on a quiet street. The hotel has a great pool, parrots that live outside your window and great meals in the dining area. Tip: try their amazing hot chocolate. $150-225.
Home stays with Antigua families can be arranged through language schools or directly with the family in question. As the families are prepaid, you can switch your school at any time and try a different school. Your shuttle from the airport is also prepaid if arranged through a school, so if your driver ask for Q40 or Q80 in tips, just smile, and give him Q10 or Q15 at most (a 20% tip), more if he your luggage was ligged up a steep hill and dozens of steps.
The homes are often on hill tops, so be prepared to encounter large black scorpions on the lit walls at night, when you are walking home late. They are harmless unless you disturb them, but you might consider wearing shoes if they are too abundant. Choose a home in the town to avoid climbing hills, and you will also get less mosquito problems. Currently, families charge about Q580 USD for 7 days of bed, shared toilet, and 2 meals. Expect to pay about Q80 or Q160 more if you want to add lunch (the main meal), or if you expect a private bathroom (well worth it if you don't want to share with up to a dozen other boarders).
An advantage of a home stay for the Spanish language student is a chance for language immersion, as well as the cultural experience. The fewer students the family board, the better your experience. Too many students prefer to speak in English to each other and destroy your "immersive" experience Ask first how many people are in the home, and how many boarders there are You might find out, up to 14 people might share only one sink and 2 toilets. Water pressure is low at night, and you might not get a warm shower if the flow is too low to activate the heated shower head.
Ask the house mom to explain how to get the switch to activate on the shower, or you might have to deal with a cold shower. Buy your own soap and shampoo, as the home might use the same soap for washing dishes and clothing as for bathing. The housing may be more basic than in a hotel: simple concrete block or adobe construction, shared bathroom, and small rooms. Ask if there is a secure lock for your room, as the home is often shared with local boarders, and you do not always want to lug your camera and laptop everywhere you go.
It is important to realize that mosquitoes are common, and the owners often leave your door open while cleaning. A compact mosquito net or tent is necessary if you do not enjoy having mosquito buzzing around your face at night. Some areas of Antigua are mosquito free, but in other areas, they are found in abundance. It is important to verify the number of students and guests in the house, as one can encounter situations where up to 14 people are sharing two toilets and one sink! If you value cleanliness and convenience, book a room with private toilet and sink.
You must provide your own hand towels and bathing towels. If you leave them in a common bathroom, don't be surprise if everyone will use them. Eating hours are often different, with dinner often served at 7:30 or 8PM, so you might want to procure your own meals if you intend to go to bed early. Remember that dinner is simple: a few pieces of cold bread and perhaps very light soup. For American-style dinners, go out and buy your own food at the restaurants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not often served so eat plenty of beans or bring along your own source of fiber.
- Ana & Dany, ([email protected]). Friendly, welcoming young couple who offer a home stay. They have four rooms (only two with private bath) in their small house on Calle De Los Pasos near San Francisco Church. Their two young children also live there and a mother and several siblings are in and out. Both speak some English, but are very clear and helpful to travellers trying out Spanish. They also teach Spanish privately and through schools. Rooms are small and basic, with concrete block construction, but clean and brightly painted. Food is Guatemalteca family cooking, with meat omitted for vegetarians.
- Susy´s House, ([email protected]). A-family offering accommodation and food to share and friends who want to have a good experience in Guatemala and has 3 double rooms available ad the necessary facilities, hot water, friendly atmosphere in Jocotenango, located 2 km from Antigua: access is fast on the public buses every 5 minutes and the cost is $0.25US. The weekly cost is $70Us, includes 3 meals Monday through Saturday. You can contact [email protected] Tel 502-78328005.
- La Casa De Antigua, ([email protected]), . La Casa De Antigua offers a room only 5 blocks from the park and has wireless internet and breakfast from Monday to Saturday. It is located in a neighborhood with a beautiful architecture. The home environment is a very beautiful colonial style. The family is quite friendly and can speak English and practice Spanish. You can see the web site to obtain more information.
Due to the presence of the "Tourist Police" Antigua is much safer than any other city in Guatemala. However, the tourist police are present only within the city. During the daytime, your risk of getting robbed in Antigua is small, however, if you leave the tourist areas, carry valuables inconspicuously, or you walk the streets at night, there is a considerable risk. This is especially true during the time when the night and the morning shifts of the police change guard. It is probably best to leave your passport in your hotel safe or local home and to carry a passport ID instead If you are robbed, you will not need to go the consulate for paperwork. An ATM is available, so an ATM card should be carried instead for instant cash. NEVER resist an armed robbery anywhere in Guatemala, criminals will not hesitate to use their weapons on uncooperative victims.
Hiking the Volcan de Agua is highly discouraged. Numerous robberies and some kidnappings have occured there. Most reputable tour opeators do not offer this hike, as it is too dangerous. Some guides will take groups up, but it is not recommended unless they are armed and willing to give their life in your defense (such as a police escort).
If you have to travel much, a money belt can be strapped to your waist, and a simple wallet with few dollars can be handed to a robber if one is encountered. There are many places on your body and clothing to hide a few extra bucks or a credit card. Crime committed against women is often not publicized. While Guatemala might be a safe place for some, a woman might be safer riding on a crowded public bus than hailing a tuk-tuk or taxi from an unknown driver.
Almost all bars and restaurants will be happy to call you a taxi. Asking the bar staff to call the taxi for you, instead of looking for one yourself, can be a good idea since the staff tend to know the drivers they are calling. Ask them what the price should be beforehand, and also ask them to confirm the price with the taxi or tuk-tuk when they call you one. Within Antigua, many locals consider the buses safer than a tuk-tuk
Due to the crowd, it is unlikely that you will be robbed. However, tuk-tuks have been blamed on taking tourists to obscure area to rob them, perhaps due to their lower investment cost, they might attract less than desirable drivers. If your bar or house lord arranges your tuk-tuk, it likely will be safer.
During peak tourist times, like Semana Santa or any major festival in Antigua, pickpockets abound and it´s wise to keep a hand on your wallet. A money belt can be kept around your waist for important ID and passport. A few bucks in the wallet can be stolen or robbed without causing much headaches. Avoid carrying large quantities of money and flashing it around. Also, when walking through the crowded market, keep your bags in front of you, since there are certain thieves who use razors to cut the fabric without you feeling a thing, to gain access to the contents.
If you plan to visit sights like "La Cruz" outside town, make sure you go with an officer of the tourist police who accompany tourists there at least once a day. (See the See section).
The municipal water supply in Antigua is treated with chlorine. However, it is not completely safe. Still, drink agua del garrafon or agua embotellada (purified bottled water), and not agua del chorro (tap water). Some homes and restaurants have purified water in 5 gal bottles and serve it in glasses. Ask if the ice is made from purified water, but people will really never admit the truth about the source of water.
If you are lucky, you will not have any illnesses in Antigua. However, most long term visitors will encounter a case of food poisoning or bacterial or viral enteritis. The best way to treat without a physician's intervention is to buy packages (sobre) of re-hydration solution (solucion rehidracion oral). It is a simple mix of potassium, sodium and glucose. One mix a liter of water with the powder, and simply take multiple small sips through the day to consume 2L or more. This will rest your intestines, and prevent nausea. Start nibbling small pieces of bread the next day, before you challenge your system. Antibiotics will not help food poisoning, which toxins from bacterias are already form; so it is not the most appropriate treatment unless you are medically trained or advised before you take such products.
Most cases of food poisoning or intestinal infections can be blamed on street vendors with unrefrigerated sauces or paste; but home cooked meals can also be the blame due to lack of education and sanitation by some home families. Street vendor food is cheap, but you should avoid it unless you have been eating it daily. A virgin stomach often can not handle the common bacterial toxins found in unrefrigerated sauces, slaws, and cold marinades. Piping hot wrapped boiled food is likely safe, but might not be freed completely of all toxins. If you observed unsanitary practice by your home mom, you might consider just eating bread or cereal for breakfast, and pass on lunch and dinner. Bringing antibacterial hand whipes can help sanitize if there is no soap.
It is best to avoid ceviche due to potential risk of bacteria like cholera. Fresh salads should not be consumed for concern of contaminated irrigation water. Strawberries has been known to pass hepatitis A due to contaminated irrigation water. If you prepared your own salad or strawberries, soaking in bleach water or iodine is advised. All fruits should be washed or peeled before eating. Undercooked beef should be avoided due to risk encysted parasites, unless imported high grade beef is assured at a well known restaurant. Fresh cream is often served at the table, but unless you are sure it is pasteurized or precooked by the family, it is best to avoid putting it on your food. Going barefoot or with sandals is the norm, however hiking with them or going barefoot might lead to "cutanous larva migrans", where hookworms larvae penetrate and cause itchy red curves and lines a few days later. Penetrating "botfly" larvae with their wiggly head through a red swollen knot around the ankle is a rare souvenir gift that would entertain your family at home. So wear shoes and socks, if you desired to walk off of the pavement.
There are many internet cafes and long-distance phone shops in Antigua. Internet time costs from Q5-10 per hour. Internet shops often have video phones for Skype calls. Many phone shops uses voice over internet protocol, and not all area codes will work. The phone shop at the town center will not reach certain cell phones and certain newer area codes. But just around the northwest corner is another phone shop that reached most USA area codes. Just ask as they will reluctantly point you to their competitor. Cellphones from the US will work but will charge $2 a minute for use, for receiving voicemail or for reaching customer service. Some people ask their carrier to turn off the voice mail function to avoid charges for voice mail.
- The Bagel Barn 5a Calle Poniente #2, offers free wifi internet for those travelling with laptop computers. Enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a freshly toasted bagel while you browse the net. You are two steps away from Central Park.
- Enlaces is a large, well-run outlet that is perhaps the best value for price. They have Internet access on dozens of consistent, fast, reliable machines on two stories for Q6/hour, domestic phone calls at Q2, international calls (price unknown). They offer packages like an "Internet Value Card" at 10.5 hours for Q54 or 25 hours for Q100. They also have a travel agent and bar on the premises. It is at 6a Avenida Norte, between 5a and 4a Calle poniente, one block due west from Parque Central.
- Escuela Español International Calls has about a dozen machines with internet access for Q5/hour (as of Dec 2005). The price is great, but the machines are not quite as fast and reliable as those at Enlaces. 6a Calle Pte #8, one block south and 1 block west of Parque Central.
- Rainbow Restaurant and Bookshop includes internet access in its cornucopia of tourist-friendly offerings (price unknown) (as of Dec 2005). If you spend more than Q20 in the bookstore, you get 25 minutes of Internet time as a bonus. 7a Ave Sur #8 at 6a Calle. tel +502-7832-1919.
- Funky Monkey Net - Now Known as BambooNet 5a Ave Sur L-2, Paseo de los Corregedores #6. tel +502-7832-4195. email [email protected]. A tourist-oriented cafe just south of Parque Central, offering good machines and a fairly low Q6/hour (as of Jul 2007). Upstairs is Bamboo Group, S.A. a real estate and business consulting office. Around the same atrium (Paseo de los Corregedores) there are several other tourist-oriented services including the Kinky Afro hair Salon. Their website , offers useful information like a tourist map.
- Hotel Casa Rustica has a small bar and internet cafe inside its doors located just 1 block west of the central park @ 6th Ave norte #8. The Wi/fi signal is fast and strong. For hotel guest, this service is free. For walk-in customers, it is Q5/hr, Q20/day or Q70/wk. Check your emails sitting in the garden, terrace or a hammock, while sipping on a cool one or eating a snack. Also, if you are a dog lover, pet one of the 3 hotel mascots.
- Laundry can be done by various lavanderias around town. You drop off your laundry, they weigh it and charge you a price per pound (not per kilogram, interestingly). The laundry is dried and available for pickup in 2-4 h. Locals advise that you inventory your laundry, to be sure that none is lost or exchanged with another load. Two full backpacks of clothes weighed about 16 lb.
- Rapi Lavado, 6a Calle Pte No. 14, between 5a and 6a Ave Sur. As of December 2005, charged Q5/lb.
- Colonial Laundry, 4th Ave North #42, all the way to the end.
- Spring Laundry, Primera Avenida Sur near Iglesia de San Francisco.
Antigua is a very good base for anyone who wants to explore Guatemala. The city is bustling with language students and you will have no problems finding a bus to anywhere in the country.
Almost all travel agencies in Antigua offer scheduled tourist shuttles to La Aurora airport in Guatemala City. Fares range from Q40-80. The earliest buses and shuttles depart at 4AM, in time to arrive at the airport by 5AM and catch a 7AM flight out. The lines at the airport is very long, so arrive at least 1 h or more before your flight.
Chicken bus drivers can not always be trusted to take you to outlying towns. Their goal is often to fill the bus, and not often for your best interest. It is best to talk to several bus drivers before you board. You can be left stranded waiting for a connecting bus that might not arrive until the following day or hours later. A direct bus is best, but might not be encountered frequently. Be prepared to ride small uncovered pickup trucks if you can not find a taxi to your final destination. Heavy rain can occur, and you can get soaked if the cover is ripped or not functioning.
Shuttle buses from Antigua to Copán leave at 4AM and 9AM and take about six hours and cost Q80-120.
If you are into motorbikes, CATours on 6a Calle Oriente #14 runs the Moto Cafe where you can rent off-road motorbikes or go on guided tours. Both day trips to local villages or Lake Atitlan and multicountry round trips are offered. www.catours.co.uk.
El Hato is a small village in the mountains 20 min and 6000 feet above Antigua where you can hike around through the forest and coffee plantations, and appreciate the view of the city. Chicken buses to El Hato (40 min, Q4) leave from Antigua market several times a day at irregular schedule.
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