Antigua Guatemala is a beautiful colonial city surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. It’s about an hour drive from the concrete chaos of Guatemala City. My girls and I had one day to explore this gorgeous destination before heading back to the city, but it was just enough time to get a taste of all the goodness lying in the green valley.
Here are a few highlights that can be missed.
This is a short walk up a steep hill nestled behind a very cute neighborhood with rainbow colored houses and a profusion of flowers. Once you reach the end of the well-marked trail and walk past the policemen securing the space, you’ll be treated to a giant cross statue and an incredible view of the city. We bought and enjoyed raspados sold at the entrance. Then, we looked over the town, absorbed its beauty and identified places that looked interesting and worth visiting.
Ornately decorated churches are pretty standard in these parts, but that doesn’t make them any less fun and fascinating.
Guate (as Guatemala is often called by its citizens) is known for its coffee, and Antigua has no shortage of cute cafes where you can have a sip or three of some fantastic brew.
Huipiles and Weavings
Guate’s weavers are some of the best in the world, with each village have a signature style. We hit up the textile museum and, for about five dollars, were given an extensive tour of the different weaving style and traditional items. The market around the museum boasts a variety of textile items and fairly reasonable prices.
Rainbow of Jade
Guate is known for its jade, boasting some of the purest grades and rainbow of colors. There are quite a few “jade museums” in Antigua, which are actually jewelry stores with some space reserved to tell the story of Guate’s jade. We went to one of the more detailed exhibits where we learned the history of jade in Central America, participated in a jade workshop, and check out the merchandize. Rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and brooches of all shapes, sizes and colors were neatly display in well-lit glass cases. As much as I would have loved to take home a pair of purple jade studs, my wallet would not allow it.
A Stroll Through the Streets
Antigua offers lots of different things to see and do, but the city itself is well worth a stare. The cute cobblestone streets and clean sidewalks have “pedestrian friendly” written all over them, and the technicolor houses with neatly manicured gardens make the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll.
All in all, Antigua was a wonderful little respite from the gray behemoth that is Guatemala City. The fresh air, winding streets, and colorful scenery was a welcomed shift from the city’s frenetic energy. I’m glad we went.