Antigua, Guatemala has easily become one of my favorite cities that I’ve temporarily lived in as a digital nomad. With its three peaky volcanoes marking the skyline, charming cobblestone streets, ancient ruins, and aromatic coffee shops on every corner, it’s quite the place to call home for a while.
It’s true – Antigua has just what we look for when seeking out the next digital nomad destination – adventurous activities, organic markets, and plenty of diverse cafes and restaurants so that we don’t circle through them 2-3 times. We even got to hike on Pacaya Volcano for sunrise and see a river of lava, which made our time in Antigua even more memorable.
We spent over one month living in Antigua. Before that, we lived the digital nomad life in Lake Atitlán for two months. Between the two, I must admit that Antigua stole our hearts a bit more than the lake, despite usually preferring to be immersed in nature rather than the city.
Guatemala is definitely not on the majority of digital nomads’ radars. Unlike Mexico’s digital nomad scene. But that’s perhaps what makes Antigua, the charming and ruined old capital of Guatemala, so unique as a digital nomad destination.
Antigua is still unfrequented by the masses (again – unlike places like Tulum). Plus, it boasts some of the world’s best coffee, decent wifi, and a vibrant and interesting local culture to learn from.
That said, if you’re thinking about spending a while in Antigua, Guatemala as a digital nomad – here’s everything to know before you go!
Guide to Antigua, Guatemala for Digital Nomads
Cost of Living in Antigua Guatemala
The cost of living in Antigua, Guatemala is definitely higher than in other parts of Guatemala. Antigua is Guatemala’s colonial gem. As such, it attracts quite a crowd of tourists each year as well as long-term expats.
As an outsider coming to live in Antigua, expect to pay more on housing. The prices here reflect more European prices.
Other costs, such as food and activities, are a bit more expensive too but are more what you’d expect to find in a Central American country. For example, eating out in a really nice restaurant for two costs around $40-50 USD. A normal lunch or dinner would average around $15-20.
The total cost of living as a digital nomad will depend on your personal lifestyle, obviously. But here’s a breakdown of our costs after living in Antigua, Guatemala for one month:
- Cafes & Restaurants – $738.53
- Apartment Monthly Rent – $750
- Transport – $10 (we walked everywhere, but you can take cheap Ubers or tuk-tuks)
- Activities (i.e. hikes, tours, etc) – $50-100
- SIM card data recharge – $20 (here’s how to get a Tigo sim card)
- Groceries (markets + La Bodegona) – $281.96
- ATM withdrawal – $250
Total = ∼ $2,150.49
I hope that gives you an idea of how much it costs to live one month in Antigua, Guatemala. More or less, at least! You could definitely make it more affordable if you wanted to.
You might not eat out as much as we did or you mind find a better deal on housing (we had a really unique colonial home in the center). Also, we typically worked at home or in coffee shops, so this month we didn’t incur any expenses for coworking spaces.
Best Time to Move to Antigua
Like many Central American countries, the best time to visit Antigua in Guatemala will be during the dry months from November – April.
January might be the busiest, along with March for Easter celebrations. But I’d say definitely between January – early April is the best for Antigua, particularly because you’ll have better weather to do activities such as the Acatenango 2-day overnight trek or the Pacaya Volcano trek.
Days are warm yet fresh, with clear skies. When we arrived in Antigua in early May, we were already getting lots of cloudy, somewhat chilly days with lots of rain. This made exploring around and checking off our adventure bucket list a little harder. (It’s actually why we didn’t have the chance to do the Acatenango trek).
Transportation – Getting to & Around Antigua
Antigua sits in a valley surrounded by volcanoes in the Central Highlands. It’s located in the Sacatepéquez department, in southern Guatemala. It’s located about 45 km (28 mi) west of Guatemala City, making it easy to reach by car after landing at the airport.
That said, the easy way to reach Antigua is to fly into the La Aurora International Airport. From there, rent a car if you feel comfortable driving in Guatemala or hitch an Uber. I don’t recommend hopping directly on an infamous chicken bus for this trip.
Plus, Ubers aren’t that expensive in Guatemala and it’s the easiest way to get from the airport to Antigua. We took one in the opposite direction – from Antigua to Guatemala City nearby the airport – and it cost us only 155Q including tip ($20) for a 50-minute ride.
Once in Antigua, you can get around the center on foot. It takes about 20-minutes to cross the entire center. Otherwise, silver tuk-tuks can be hired with a wave of the palm. Uber, as I mentioned, is available too.
Finding Apartment Rentals in Antigua
As I’ve mentioned before, accommodation in Antigua is expensive. At least more expensive than other digital nomad cities we’ve lived in.
To start your search for housing, I recommend joining the local Antigua Facebook group or the Expats Living in Guatemala group and posting there.
If you don’t have any luck, the next best place to search is on Airbnb.
While the monthly prices on Airbnb are alarming – don’t let them deter you from reaching out to the host and asking for a reasonable monthly stay. We do this each time we are on the hunt for an apartment with decent wifi (and a place that’s pet-friendly, since we travel with our cat).
This is our we were able to live in a tiny home in Lake Atitlán and a well-preserved colonial home in the heart of Antigua, near La Merced.
Internet Speed in Antigua
How’s the internet in Antigua Guatemala? Well, better than in Lake Atitlán – that’s for sure.
The average internet speed in Antigua was around 13 Mbps. Most cafes had between 10-15 Mbps while the apartments I contacted had between 5-10.
You can get an upgrade of 5 Mbps by asking your host. This is what we did and it came included in the price of our rent.
We found 13-15 Mbps to be plenty for our work. For reference, we both work online and travel full-time – I am a freelance content writer, and my partner Paul runs his online business selling blue-light gaming glasses. I do a lot of photo editing/uploading and video while Paul has daily Skype/Zoom calls.
We never had the need to go to one of Antigua’s coworking spaces, but our friends went multiple times per week to Impact Hub. Instead, we’d head to one of our favorite cafes to enjoy working alongside scrumptious drinks and treats.
Impact Hub – revered as Antigua’s best coworking space, with light and spacious indoor and outdoor seating. Costs Q80/day.
I Work Antigua – a fairly new coworking space with grassy outdoor seating, high-speed internet, and free coffee. Costs Q25/hour.
Selina – Selina is a popular coworking/hotel/coliving space. It’s located right near La Merced. Also has great accommodation options for temporary digital nomads to stay. Daily desk costs Q60 or $8 USD.
La Creativa – a green space doubling as an artisan handmade shop and coworking space. Contact for membership prices.
Best Cafes in Antigua with Wifi
Fat Cat Coffee House
You can’t come to Antigua and NOT take advantage of the dozens of coffee shops. Not only can you enjoy a fresh cup of Guatemala coffee, but you can also stay for a while and slip out your laptop to get some work done.
Here are some of our favorite coffee shops with wifi in Antigua Guatemala:
- Artista de Café – artsy, creative space with the best caramel cold brew ever – cuteness overload.
- Fat Cat Coffee House – better known for their locally-grown Guatemalan coffee than their wifi.
- Cafe Estudio – spacious and traditional with an epic rooftop view of all three volcanoes.
- Fernando’s Kaffee – work inside a cozy inner courtyard with excellent coffee and breakfast.
- La Vid Coffee Roasters – minimalistic coffee house with yummy coffee and sweet treats.
There are so many more to mention! Artista de Café is definitely my favorite though. Go early after lunch to grab a seat to work for the afternoon.
Grocery Shopping + Markets in Antigua
Antigua has it all; a supermarket, organic markets, and fresh produce markets.
La Bodegona: La Bodegona is the main supermarket in Antigua. You can find all types of stuff here, including stationery/supplies, clothes, kitchen goods, and of course, aisles and aisles of local and internationally imported goods. Located at 27 4ta Calle Poniente.
Caoba Farms: Caoba Farms is an organic farm and market located on the outskirts of Antigua. They have organic food, imported goods, and basically anything you could want. They also have an on-site open-air restaurant serving organic food and meat from their farm. It is so good – don’t miss out! Located at 5 Avenida Sur Final.
El Mercado: Antigua’s sprawling market is enormous. Here, you can find literally anything. From clothes and textiles to raw meat and spices. Everything is sectioned. The main market days are Saturday and Sunday, but you can also go on Mondays and Thursdays (if I’m not mistaken). Expect crowds! It can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Orgánica: The organic-only supermarket and health food store in Antigua. They also sell eco-friendly skincare and cleaning supplies. Prices here are a bit elevated, as one could expect. Located at 5a Calle Poniente.
Favorite Places to Eat
Caoba Farms Market & Restaurant
If you’re a fellow foodie like we are, then you’ll love being a digital nomad in Antigua Guatemala.
This city has so many diverse flavors to try – from gourmet French and Italian cuisine to authentic Japanese, Mayan, and more. I think we ate our way through nearly two dozen restaurants and cafes in one month and we didn’t make a dent!
- Kombu Ramen Shop – ramen!
- Samsara – vegan/vegetarian health food
- Antigua Brewing Company – comfort bar food and brewery
- Frida’s – upscale Mexican tacos and seafood
- Luna de Miel – gourmet French crêpes
- Saberico – Guatemalan + health food
- Caoba Farms – an organic farm-to-table restaurant
- Hector’s Bistro – fine French cuisine
- Cactus Taco Shop – upscale Mexican street tacos and drinks
- La Fonda de la Calle Real – authentic Guatemalan
Healthcare in Antigua
Antigua is well-connected to Guatemala City, but even so, there are plenty of medical practitioners here. The best, nearest hospital in Antigua would probably be the Hospital Nacional Pedro de Bethancourt. You can find all the emergency numbers for Guatemala here.
- Police – 120
- National Hospital Pedro de Bethancourt – 7832-0532
- Tourist assistance – 1500, 2421-2810, and 5578-9836
- U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City – 2326-4501 and 2326-4000
Although I didn’t go to the doctor while in Antigua, I did need to go to the dentist! I highly recommend cleanings and fillings with Smile Antigua. Dr. Cecilia was so kind, gentle and caring. A deep cleaning costs Q400 (around $50).
Also, if you are traveling with a pet in Antigua and need veterinary care, I would recommend Dr. Hugo from Veterinaria El Arca.
Travel Medical Insurance
If you are living and traveling abroad in countries like Guatemala, travel medical insurance is a must.
I use SafetyWing – a travel medical insurance specifically for digital nomads and am covered for all accidents and emergencies related to travel. It doesn’t cover cosmetic or general doctor/dentist visits, but it does cover unexpected quarantine and covid-19 treatment.
I am currently on their Nomad Insurance plan (have been for 3 years) and it only costs me $40/4 weeks. You can buy it the day you travel abroad and coverage starts immediately.
Do you need to speak fluent Spanish to live in Antigua Guatemala? No, but it certainly helps.
Guatemala is particularly known for having Spanish Language Schools where you can expedite your Spanish language learning for an affordable, low cost. There are several in Antigua.
That said, if you don’t speak Spanish in Guatemala – can you get by?
It all depends on where you go and what you do. Most touristy places will offer service in both Spanish and English, but if you go into El Mercado or in a ma-and-pop mini market, you may have a harder time.
There are so many fun things to do in Antigua Guatemala for temporary digital nomads, travelers and backpackers.
Some of the highlights of our time here were:
- Hiking on an active volcano (Pacaya sunrise trek – watch our YouTube video above!)
- Eating Sunday brunch at Caoba Farms
- Grabbing coffee at Artista de Café
- Marveling at Volcán Agua from town
- Spend the day at Hobbitenango
- Photographing the famous Santa Catarina Arch
- Seeing Volcán Fuego explode lava from a distance
- Climbing up to Cerro de la Cruz for panoramic views
- Exploring and shopping for textiles at El Mercado
With more time, we would have loved to do an overnight trek on Volcán Acatenango and take a Mayan chocolate workshop.
Is Antigua Guatemala Good for Digital Nomads?
I think Antigua is an underrated digital nomad destination. Guatemala isn’t exactly the first country that comes to mind when you think of strong wifi. Now, strong coffee? Absolutely! But not so much wifi.
In any case, I imagine, like us, you’ll quickly fall in love with Antigua.
Many travelers say it reminds them of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. Having lived there as well, I would dare say that I prefer Antigua. Have you been to San Cris before? (We actually traveled from San Cristóbal to Panajachel by shuttle.)
We feel very fortunate to have been able to live in Antigua, Guatemala as digital nomads and hope to go back one day. There’s so much more to learn, appreciate and discover.
If you have any questions about living in Guatemala as a digital nomad, feel free to reach out. And if you’re heading onward to live lakeside in Guatemala, don’t forget to read my Lake Atitlán Digital Nomad Guide too!
PIN THIS DIGITAL NOMAD GUIDE TO ANTIGUA GUATEMALA!