Due to my limited time here in Antigua, I had to crowd in as many things to do as I possibly can. I know how that feels. You can’t really feel the city, you can’t really explore, and you can’t really delve into the culture as much as you wish. If that’s the case, this perfect 3-day itinerary in Antigua is for you!
Well, it turns out you can experience the authentic and historical culture of this thriving city. You can see the jaw-dropping volcanoes and flourishing verdant plants that surround this city. Delve into the heavily influenced Spanish culture and explore popular sites that are praised by the architectural community.
Furthermore, the air was crisp and the scenery was green, vibrant, and beautiful! The buildings stood out due to their brilliant colors. The vibe of the city was so peaceful and it engaged every sense in your body to want to start your amazing adventure. The whole city draws you in emotionally and seems to always engage you into the history of it.
But, here’s the deal:
Despite the breathtaking views, one of the optimal activities to do is getting to know the locals. They are the building blocks in Antigua, for they play an essential role in offering the most memorable experience.
In this 3-day itinerary, you will be able to trek through the cobblestone streets and explore the top sights that are a MUST visit, while experiencing the genuine culture these welcoming people offer. These gorgeous places replenished my love for sight-seeing, and I guarantee they will have the same effect on you. Soon, you will grasp the true meaning of the nickname, “Valley of Guatemala.”
Trek the Streets Around the Santa Catalina Arch
The Santa Catalina Arch is one of the most famous landmarks in Antigua located on 5th Avenue North. Originally constructed in the 17th century, it was a passageway for nuns to pass from building to building. The arch is mesmerizing and it was a magnet that kept drawing my eyes to it. The sight of it was just beautiful and I seemed to have created an emotional connection with it. I walked into a souvenir shop, and I kept standing by the door just staring at it. I just couldn’t get enough. It lured me to the point where I wouldn’t have minded sitting at the curb glaring while the rain soaked me. Staying at the Hotel Convento Santa Catalina was the best experience. Offering a front view of the arch, they also provide historical information on Antigua and Santa Catalina Arch.
Visit the Iglesia de la Merced
Just half a block away from the iconic landmark Santa Catalina Arch lies the Catholic Temple of the Iglesia de la Merced. The beautifully painted church accommodates many historical pieces of Antigua. One of the many attractions is participating in the Holy Week Processions. One of the days to catch the marvelous floats and religious images of Jesús Nazareno de la Reseña is on Palm Sunday. The processions make their way down the streets from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm. However, you can catch the religious festival highlighting Jesús Nazareno de la Penitencia on Good Friday. The flooding of gorgeous attractions occur from 4:00 am – 3 pm. This is a must see! The colors and the divine-looking entertainment will fill you with awe.
Discover the History of Antigua at the Church and Convent of Capuchins
The Church and Convent of Capuchinas is one of the most remarkable convent and church. It has become an exceptional example of the 18th-century convent in Guatemala. Showcasing the church and the history behind it was fascinating. Every corner you turn, every tunnel you pass, and every room you enter the church lures you in and engages you in the history. Despite the pious experience, the scenery is just beautiful. The scenery is like no other covered in mossy stone and fresh, green lawns. It made me feel so peaceful and thoughtful. The crisp air was refreshing as I was adventuring in the nature covered ruins.
Hiking to the Cerro de la Cruz
The hike to the cross is peaceful, yet dangerous. The path up is notorious for its muggings and robberies. Do not travel alone and if you do try to tag along in a group, for this will decrease the risk. Plan your trip during 8 am to 4 pm because that’s when the police are on duty. Despite the warning, the hike up the cement staircase is wonderful with nature surrounding you with her towering trees. The trail is fairly easy to trek on. Once you reach the top, the view is out of this world! You can see Antigua at its best, for the mesmerizing churches and houses pop out at you and truly present its beauty. I wanted to take the time to embrace the beauty and truly appreciate my life while the silent, gentle breeze brushes my face. The Cerro de la Cruz is the perfect place to stop what you are doing and appreciate how far Antigua has come to develop into the unique and tranquil city it is now. The peaceful and unique environment is worth taking in, for it truly makes you appreciate nature.
Experience the Iglesia de San Francisco El Grande
I totally recommend that you visit the Iglesia de San Francisco El Grande. This is a must, for it’s the most visited sanctuary by the local people. The church is one of the many landmarks where you are able to truly connect with the locals. It is a famous pilgrimage site for the locals to visit the shrine of Santo Hermano Pedro. I went to visit during Ash Wednesday and participating with the locals was such a unique experience. The feeling is welcoming, for you see how the locals celebrate. You are able to celebrate with them too!
Feel the Charisma the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral Offers
The Antigua Guatemala Cathedral was once the largest cathedral in Central America. It exerts its aura of charisma that can be felt across the Central Park. A lot of travelers don’t know that if you trek towards the back of the cathedral you can see the ruins of the original church. Being one of the oldest churches, I highly recommend you visit the interior and learn about the history and architectural work. It overwhelmed my mind with intriguing information and truly made me understand how far this isolated city came. The feeling was amazing, engaging, and kept presenting itself with its rich history. Additionally, you can see many of the children playing around the fountain at the center of the Central Park that lies in front of the Cathedral.
That’s not all…
Get Tasty at the Choco Museo (If You Can Fit it into Your Itinerary)
This will be the tasty and yummy visit during your stay in Antigua! Allowing you to try many raw chocolate treats, it’s known as the best chocolate in town. The staff is welcoming and generous. I highly recommend signing up for the workshop, costs $24, because it treats you to a fascinating, hands-on experience! The experience was absolutely enjoyable, for the guides were entertaining you while you create a delicious treat.
Overall, one of the things that I took into consideration about Antigua was searching for the key to experiencing it like the locals. Although I may not have found an exact answer for you, I realized that you must truly learn their history and how these gorgeous architectural sites play an essential role in their daily lives to truly connect to this historical masterpiece. Visit all the sites that bring the local people together, for when you experience it yourself and connect the moment to your personal life, you will surely construct an emotional bridge between you and Guatemala. Your mind and heart will just keep asking you for more!