Guatemala is a beautiful country with lakes, volcanoes, and Mayan and colonial ruins. There are many places you might want to visit when travelling in Guatemala, but a tourist favourite is the quiet town of Antigua. There are activities here for all everyone, no matter how adventurous you are.
Churches and Ruins
Antigua is more than 200 years old and was once the colonial capital of Guatemala. For this reason, it is full of old colonial churches, buildings and cobbled streets. One of the ruins you might want to visit is the San Jose Cathedral. This Cathedral was built in 1545 and heavily damaged in the 1874 earthquake. Now, all that remains are the tall pillars holding in place the large circular structures overhead which used to form the ceiling of the cathedral. The ruins are quite magical as the remnants of the frame allow you to imagine how grand this ancient cathedral once was.
Day Trip to Hobbitenango
A great way to spend a day in Antigua is to visit the less well known Hobbitenango. This site is popular among locals, and if you end up meeting anyone there, they will recommend you check it out. You can book transport, which includes entry to the site, at a small office in the North of Antigua. From there you’ll be taken by pickup truck up the winding paths just outside of the town to a hotel and restaurant which looks just like Hobbiton, the fictional village from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. There are small Hobbiton inspired bunkers where you can spend the night and a medieval style bar and restaurant where you can enjoy meals inspired by the books and films, such as the dragon burger.
There is also a wealth of games to keep you entertained for the day whilst you enjoy the views of Antigua below. You can play mini golf, try your hand at axe throwing or archery and, for the more daring, fly over the site on a giant swing at the top. After all that, enjoy an artisan ale and relax in one of the many loungers.
For the most adventurous tourists, there is also the option to hike the nearby volcano Acatenango for a view of the adjacent Volcano Fuego, which is active. From Acatenango, you will be able to see Fuego exploding lava from a safe distance. There are several tourist agencies within the city that offer this guided hike at a reasonable price. It takes two days, one day to hike up, which takes about 5 hours, and one to hike down, which takes around 3 hours. You will spend the night at a basecamp on Volcano Acatenango, enjoying the view of Fuego at night.
Most tours will leave early on the first day and be back down by midday on the second. Some also include meals so make sure to check out whether food is included in your tour or if you need to bring your own. Also, remember to bring lots of water and extra clothing as it can get very cold and windy sleeping at the top of a volcano.
As the sun rises on the second day, you will be treated to hiking up another 30 minutes to the peak of Volcano Acatenango where you will see the sun rise, the perfect end to a trip to Antigua.