Of all the cities in Guatemala, La Antigua may be the least Guatemalan, but it's a beautiful place, full of opportunities for education, adventure, and relaxation. Expats and travelers gravitate toward La Antigua's springlike climate, modern conveniences, inexpensive language schools, and volcano backdrop.
Architecturally, La Antigua looks more Spanish-Colonial than most Guatemalan cities -- wrought iron in the windows, courtyards in buildings, a spacious town square. It also offers interesting ruins of churches and other buildings toppled in various earthquakes.
Schools -- language schools, cooking schools, art classes, dancing classes -- abound in La Antigua. A great number of La Antigua hostels and other budget accommodations cater to all these temporary foreign students and long-term travelers.
In La Antigua you'll find bookstores with significant English sections, fireworks on the Fourth of July, bars where everyone speaks English, and movie nights to catch up on Hollywood's latest offerings. Despite this Americanization, La Antigua holds on to its Guatemalan charm. One visit to the huge and seemingly chaotic market will prove this. La Antigua's also a shopping mecca for colorful Guatemalan handicrafts. Take the time to chat with the locals or wander away from the center and you'll get a better glimpse into Antigua's Guatemalan core.
The city is a perfect base for adventurous trips to some of Guatemala's prime destinations. The requisite tour is up Volcán Pacaya, where you can take a bag of marshmallows to roast on the hot lava. La Antigua's hostels are social places, where you can meet new friends to accompany you on your tours or independent explorations. Some hostels in La Antigua also offer their own trips, and the local agencies will pick you up right at the door. Many of the hostels offers great amenities such as Wi-Fi, hot water (not standard in all of Guatemala), free full breakfasts, evening activities, and in-house bars.
The city has something for everyone, and if you go with the understanding that La Antigua is its own type of Guatemala, you'll enjoy it
Hi, I'm Melinda Brasher,
the Hostelz.com local expert for La Antigua hostels. Welcome.