Antigua, Guatemala is a place that, no matter how much time you spend in, will always leave you wanting more. That’s exactly the case for me and everyone I know who spends a few days in Antigua.
This begs the question: Is a couple of days in Antigua enough?
There are so many awesome things to do in Antigua, but you won’t be able to fit everything into a short itinerary. And sometimes, a few days is all you have to spare.
That said, how many days do you really need to see the best of Antigua?
I would recommend spending no less than 3 days in Antigua, at the very least. It would be even better if you spend 3-5+ days, especially if you want to knock out more than one volcano hike and bask in the colonial city’s charm.
Obviously, not everyone can spend a month living as digital nomads in Antigua (like we were fortunate enough to do), which is why I’ve curated this special 3-day itinerary so you can make the most of your time.
The Perfect 3 Days in Antigua, Guatemala
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Even though three days in Antigua isn’t an enormous amount of time, the city remains fairly small and is easily navigable.
Let’s dive into this jam-packed itinerary!
Before you go…
🚗 Rent a car to get from Guatemala City to Antigua (but then, get around on foot or via tuk-tuk!)
Day 1: Discover Antigua’s Colonial Gems
The best way to kickstart your days in Antigua is by exploring the city’s colonial gems. Since it’s your first day in the city, take things slow. Luckily, Antigua is a fairly small city—you can cross it in 20 minutes on foot.
I would recommend starting out with a small hike up to Cerro de la Cruz to get a wonderful panoramic view of the city with Agua Volcano in the background. Up here, you will get a “mental map” of Antigua’s layout. Trust me, it’ll help you familiarize yourself with your new location!
Antigua historic Walking Tour
Next, get around via tuk-tuk or simply walk down 5a Avenida to these must-see Antigua sights:
- Santa Catarina Arch (free) — famous yellow arch and iconic symbol of Antigua
- La Merced & Convent Ruins (free/Q35) — ornate Baroque-style church, ruins, and adjacent park
- Parque Central — Central park with fountain surrounded by shops and restaurants, and the beautiful City Hall Palace
From here, you can either explore more of Antigua’s historic center, and visit more church ruins, or head west or east to visit:
- Ruins of La Recolección (Q40) — incredible church ruins you can explore and walk on!
- Casa Santo Domingo (admission ticket) — former 16th-century convent now a museum, hotel, and spa
If you’d prefer to discover Antigua with a guide than on your own, you can knock out all the top colonial attractions in a half-day Antigua walking tour.
Already, if you do the above you will have seen the heart of Antigua!
Places to eat on day one in Antigua
- Breakfast/brunch — Café Estudio or Fernando’s Kaffee
- Lunch — Samsara, Frida’s, Luna de Miel
- Coffee break & treats — Artista Café
- Dinner & drinks — Antigua Brewing Company
✨ Get more recommendations in my guide to the best restaurants in Antigua.
Finish off the day with an incredible view of the volcanoes from the rooftop bar at Antigua Brewing Company. The vibe, the food, and the drinks are on point! Psst… There’s a really cool, semi-hidden speakeasy bar tucked inside on the ground floor. 🤫
Day 2 in Antigua: Hike on a Volcano
Antigua is flanked by not one, not two, but three peaky volcanoes! Crazy, right?!
Acatenango & Fuego Volcano Trek
What’s even wilder is that one of them (Volcán Fuego) is intensely active, and trekkers who are courageous enough to do the 2-day Acatenango trek often get to see Fuego explode in ash and lava.
If you do want to spend the remainder of your two days in Antigua hiking on a volcano, then definitely consider the Acatenango and Fuego treks.
Pacaya Volcano Hike
However, if you want to experience trekking on an active volcano without the overnight effort, then consider going on a day trip to Pacaya Volcano.
We hiked Pacaya when it was erupting last year, and it was nothing short of epic.
There are several tours you can take from Antigua that will take you there and back!
- Pacaya Volcano Day Trip from Antigua (6am and 2pm departures)
- Pacaya Day Tour with park entry fee included (7am departure)
Day 3: Discover Antigua Like a Local
Depending on how your travel plans fall, use day three in Antigua to revisit the streets. But this time, let’s dive into the more local scene, shall we?
Here are a few places and things to do that will take you off the beaten path in Antigua:
- Visit the local mercado (Mercado de Artesanías)
- Eat street food in La Merced park — get the sweet corn drink (atol de elote) or stuffed fried plantains (rellenitos)
- Take an authentic Guatemalan cooking class
- Tour the Caoba organic farm; enjoy organic lunch and wellness activities
- Make your own Mayan chocolate with a workshop at Fernando’s
- People watch around Tanque La Union (colonial washbasin) and Parque Central
- Tour a 150-yr-old coffee mill and plantation at Finca La Azotea
Of course, trying to fit it all in one day would be a lot! Instead, pick 2-3 you really want to do (tough, I know) and spend the morning dedicated to one, the afternoon to another, etc.
Finally, top off your stay in Antigua with a celebratory meal and drink! Make sure to check out my Antigua food guide for the best places to eat!
Ultimately, how much time you should spend in Antigua Guatemala will vary depending on your travel style—are you wanting to eat your way through town as a die-hard foodie or follow your sense of adventure and trek up all of Antigua’s ancient volcanoes?
With more than 3 days in Antigua, you could (and should) fit in another volcano trek, check off all of Antigua’s church ruins from the list, and still have time left over to go on one of Antigua Guatemala’s best day trips (or multi-day trip), such as to Lake Atitlán or Hobbitenango.
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