Table of contents
- Volcan Pacaya
- Jocotenango & Fincas de Cafe (Coffee Farm Tours)
- Earth Lodge (El Hato)
- DLG Coffee Tour (outside Antigua)
- Acatenango Hike & Trek
- Guatemala City
- Day Trip to Chichicastenango
- Day Trip to Lake Atitlan or Panajachel
- Luxury option: 1-Day trip and tour to Tikal from Antigua
- Ciudad Vieja & Santa Catarina Barahona
- Macadamia Farm outside Antigua
- Winery outside Antigua
Antigua, Guatemala, is a fantastic location to visit on its own, and with an itinerary of several days, you can do a bit more.
Even with an extra one or two days, you have a whole list of day trips and things to do that are possible from this beautiful colonial town.
Whether you wish to take a guided tour for a close-by hike, or DIY a road trip for an excursion outside the city of Antigua, there’s no shortage of things to see on a weekend trip or tour.
Check out this list of popular day trips and beautiful hidden gems that make great things to do in the area around Antigua.
Volcan Pacaya was our most memorable day trip from Antigua! This is probably the most popular excursion from Antigua, and it’s a special one.
This active volcano is located about 60 to 90 minutes south of Antigua, and it’s actually closer to Guatemala City; however, most travelers arrange a Pacaya day hike tour from Antigua.
Pacaya is best done with a guided group trip, and that’s because the guides can tell you about the geological formation of the volcano itself, and show you the best spots in which to roast marshmallows either on hot lava or in steaming holes in the side of the mountain.
I would not have been as comfortable as I was on this trip if I had been doing the hike without a guide.
We did a lot of reading about the Volcan Pacaya day trip from Antigua, and some reviews quoted the hike as being an easy 40 minutes, while others said it was honestly a challenging upward hike lasting over one and a half hours.
Truth be told, with the verdict in, our hike up took one hour and 45 minutes, with our guide and with our group of travelers from France and Israel. It was a bit of huffing and puffing, uphill the entire way. Some travelers get a little winded by the slight altitude change.
As we chose the sunset Pacaya hike, we left Antigua at 2 pm, arrived at the base of Pacaya around 3 pm (faster than expected), and started the hike after renting walking sticks (recommended) and using the facilities near the shop at the parking lot.
We took a few breaks to catch our breath on the way up, and then we were rewarded with striking views of the volcanic Guatemalan landscape and the other volcanoes visible in the region.
You will see that heaps of providers from Selina Hostels to OX Expeditions to Adventure Guatemala, Anywhere Guatemala and Trek Guatemala offer guided tours at sunrise and sunset to Pacaya.
We booked our Pacaya hike with the Get Your Guide Pacaya Hiking Tour, and we were very happy with it. It was $23 per person, not including the Pacaya National Park fee, which is 50 Quetzales per person, the walking sticks (bargained to get 2 sticks for 10 or 15 Quetzales) and the tip for our guide.
The day trip tour booking includes transportation from Antigua, the guided hike and marshmallows for roasting in the volcano! I’m always looking to save money when I travel, and this hiking tour was great value, so I was all in.
We were picked up promptly at our hotel, and returned right on time at 8pm. The price was also more competitive than the other providers, and it seems they’re all offering the same exact thing!
Remember to tip your guide around 10% of your tour cost, or whichever fee you feel is right, based on their service during your day trip.
I suggest taking a supportive backpack like this one that fits lots of layers (windbreaker, jacket, even a hat), as the weather can change quickly from the bottom to the top of the Pacaya hike.
Jocotenango & Fincas de Cafe (Coffee Farm Tours)
Jocotenango is a village northwest of Antigua that is super accessible by walking (it would be a long walk), Uber, taxi or tuk-tuk.
If you’d like to see a slice of life that shows the more authentic side of Guatemala, very close to Antigua, you can head to Jocotenango for a morning or afternoon.
The biggest draw of the town is the precious little plazoleta, or the main square, which on one side has Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, a Baroque-style peach-colored church with columns and a bell that gets rung by hand.
One place to note in Jocotenango is La Reposteria, a small bakery with delicious cakes, muffins, breads and pasteles, where you can get an orange-carrot or lemon-poppyseed treat for only 3 Quetzales ($0.40!). This is why Guatemala’s on our list of places where you can travel on budget.
If you’ve already visited all of the coffee shops in Antigua and seen that they’re serving local Guatemalan roasts, you’ll be interested to see how coffee is farmed locally nearby!
Move onward to either coffee finca (farm) in Jocotenango for a tour, and you will be in for a treat. Both Finca Azotea and Finca Filadelfia are located in Jocotenango and are great spots for day trips from Antigua if you are a coffee fan.
We visited Finca Azotea, and the brief coffee tour was 75 Quetzales per person. We took the 10 am showing, and our very knowledgable guide took us through the Coffee Museum at Finca La Azotea.
Then, he guided us to the coffee production drying field, through the rows of coffee plants, and then to the finca’s health food cafe, on-site boutique shop, music museum and lastly, the gift shop where we tried fresh coffee from a vacuum brewing apparatus.
This was an excellent day trip, and certainly ended with caffeine! We also ate at Pitaya, the coffee farm’s health food restaurant, where the omelets, fresh juice and ambiance were top notch. The staff was also great about allergens and making my meal gluten and dairy-free.
If you’d like to go in the evening, definitely stay for some great vibes at the Beer Garden Azote, which has loads of outdoor seating, greenery, banana trees and pizza.
Short on time? Book an entire day of culture and coffee with an all-inclusive culture & coffee tour of the Antigua region.
El Hato is a mountain town located northeast of Antigua about 5-6km away from the main square. While there isn’t much to say about El Hato, you will probably be looking for Earth Lodge.
Earth Lodge is an eco lodge set on the side of the mountains and it is owned by an expat couple. The place is an expanse of restaurant, eco hotel rooms, yoga area and hammocking with the most stunning views that my sister called ‘great vibes.’
Earth Lodge is a place where you can stay, for a night, a week or a month, by booking online at Booking.com.
While the restaurant is reservation-only after 7pm, the best time to go is for sunset, arriving at 5pm or before, and staying til a bit after 7. This is when you can see golden hour, with a view of Volcan Agua, and Volcan Fuego, along with the villages in the valley, and the clouds overhead. It is breathtaking.
As for food at drink at the Earth Lodge restaurant, there’s pages of burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and more. For drinks, there are cocktails for 25 Quetzales, and coffee, tea, kombucha, wines and beers. I would personally recommend going on your day with the clearest weather, and you will be rewarded with amazing visibility as you sip on your drink of choice.
How to get to Earth Lodge
Getting to Earth Lodge is not completely straightforward because it’s located in a small village, down a one-lane road, and then down a 10-minute dusty footpath.
I’m not necessarily recommending that you take an Uber to get to Earth Lodge. We called an Uber from our hotel in central Antigua and as soon as we got in the car, he told us that he wanted to charge us an extra 30 Quetzales for the hassle of going that far into the mountains.
So, we called a second Uber, who took us the distance, but really did not look happy about it once we got to El Hato and had to make the turn down a one-lane dusty road where the small sign says “EARTH LODGE.” The road is indeed one car wide, and if another car comes at you, the cars have to figure it out and either back up or do something.
To show our driver our appreciation of his schlepping, we tipped him 20 Quetzales on top of the Uber fare, which was around 27 Quetzales. So, this is what an Uber to Earth Lodge might be like.
Take Earth Lodge’s Transport Shuttle
If you have enough time in advance and you can get in touch with Earth Lodge via the hotel’s website. The first thing we did when we arrived was asked the staff in the restaurant if they could help us book the shuttle back to Antigua, and they did! We left at 7pm with the shuttle driver, walking all the way back up to the road in the dark, and he took us directly back to central Antigua.
The tip is, make sure you have cash to pay the Earth Lodge shuttle driver, because they tell you to pay him directly. He also doesn’t speak any English, which is why we recommend brushing up on your language skills both before and during your trip, for convenience.
Take your motorbike
Many travelers on Moto trips drive their motorbikes to Earth Lodge. There is parking at the little laundry station where the steps down to Earth Lodge begin.
DLG Coffee Tour (outside Antigua)
DLG, or De La Gente, is another coffee tour that travelers in Antigua can take for a morning. This coffee tour is different and a bit more involved, and comes highly recommended by a friend of ours.
The DLG Coffee tour must be pre-booked online, and costs $35 per person. If the price makes you jump, consider that it includes transportation from your hotel or hostel in Antigua, and then it’s a three-hour excursion to learn about coffee, drink coffee and get more hands-on than the tours above.
See more at the DLG website, which has a lot of nice visuals, and book the DLG excursion online here.
Because this tour is so set up and so safe, it’s a great idea for anyone traveling solo.
Acatenango Hike & Trek
The Acatenango hike and trek is in fact a two-day trip from Antigua during which medium- to advanced-skilled hikers will climb Volcan Acatenango, which is not an easy feat.
Hikes go in groups, leaving from Antigua, and hikers must bring water, gear and lots of layers. Also, given the altitude, it’s recommended to have already been in Antigua for quite some time, so that you’re at least acclimated as much as possible to the altitude.
Acatenango is an unforgettable hike that lots of backpackers say is a once-in-a-lifetime experience they will always remember from their travels in Guatemala. You can book an overnight Acatenango group hike online with Get Your Guide.
Acatenango is a superbly photogenic experience, so it’s worth having a trustworthy travel camera that packs up compactly and doesn’t weigh too much.
Have you arrived in Antigua and you’re looking for a way to see Guatemala’s capital and by far its largest city, Guatemala City? Most travelers skip over Guatemala City, or they only arrive or depart from the airport and never see the real face of this urban destination.
Guatemala City has a reputation for being dangerous, difficult and challenging; however, there’s a way to beat the stress: go on a guided tour.
Guided tours of Guatemala City leave from Antigua and take travelers to see the top sights and cultural landmarks of one of the biggest cities in Central America.
We certainly recommend booking a guided day tour, in order to stay safe and to have a local guide providing guaranteed safe transport from Antigua to Guatemala City, and back.
Day Trip to Chichicastenango
Chichicastenango is known as Guatemala’s market destination, and it’s not quite around the corner from Antigua, but you can certainly arrange a tour there if you love seeing Central American markets in action.
Chicicastenango (a very fun name to say!) is located 106km and 2.5 hours from Antigua, and for this reason, unless you’ve already arranged a car rental for your entire Guatemala trip, it’s great to take a complete day tour.
You can book a day trip to Chicicastenango with a tour operator at Get Your Guide.
Day Trip to Lake Atitlan or Panajachel
If you’re short on time, it is possible to take a day trip from Antigua to the country’s most lovely lake, Lake Atitlan.
At about two to two-and-a-half hours from Antigua, this would be something you could do in a day if you wake up early and you’re down to come back to town late.
In order to have guaranteed transport and not rely on any undependable transport schedules, it’s recommended to take a boat trip tour with a company like Get Your Guide. There’s also a full day tour to Atitlan from Antigua.
If you have a longer Guatemala itinerary, I personally recommend a two- or three-day trip to Lake Atitlan, treating it as its own destination, as it is certainly beautiful with several different towns to see.
You can spend time in San Pedro, San Marcos or Panajachel, and there are hikes and activities to do for every type of backpacker or traveler.
Luxury option: 1-Day trip and tour to Tikal from Antigua
If your trip to Guatemala is being packed into a limited amount of time and you don’t know when you’ll be back, you may be eyeing Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins (they really are beautiful).
To get to Tikal, you have to go to Flores, which happens to be a tropical little island in a lake in the northeast of Guatemala, and I liked this town a LOT when I went there! It was like a picture-perfect colorful village, on an island, not too far from the Mayan archaeological site.
If you have only a day to visit Flores and Tikal, there is a way to do it. You can either DIY all the logistics yourself, by doing the following:
- Take an airport taxi to Guatemala City airport, early, for a flight from Guatemala City → Flores
- Arrive in Flores
- Take a day tour to Tikal, either pre-arranged or book when you arrive
- See Tikal
- Go back to the Flores airport
- Fly back to Guatemala City
- Take a taxi back to Antigua
This type of day trip is very much not on the budget end of things, and you will usually find the all-inclusive rate to be around $400. If you think this type of day trip across the country of Guatemala will top off your travels, then this is the way to get it done.
Check out a trip to Tikal on Get Your Guide.
Ciudad Vieja & Santa Catarina Barahona
These two villages outside Antigua are more ways to visit authentic Guatemalan hill towns without traveling too far. Visiting one or two of these towns just a stone’s throw from Antigua is a good way to see more local life, more culture and more scenery outside Antigua.
Ciudad Vieja is a town with a few cafes, a few taquerias and the white church of Iglesia Católica Inmaculada Concepción. Outside Ciudad Vieja is where you will find Cerveceria 14, a brewery, restaurant and live music venue with cool views of Volcan Fuego.
Santa Catarina Barahona is another nearby village better known for several attractions like the Museo Casa Del Tejido Antiguo, a hidden gem outside Antigua where you can learn about the colorful Mayan-style textiles. At the edge of town is El Mirador De San Antonio Aguas Calientes, a viewpoint from which you can see the surrounding villages.
Lastly, you’ll want to see the San Antonio Aguas Calientes Central Park, where you can snap a photo of the charming church, and see how local life goes, while enjoying a pupusa from any nearby eatery.
Macadamia Farm outside Antigua
Are you a nut about nuts? Outside Antigua is the Valhalla Experimental Station Macadamia Nut Farm, where you can learn about the history of macadamia nuts and how they are cultivated and harvested.
This is a cool and special trip outside Antigua that’s very accessible, as it’s located beyond Ciudad Vieja and Cervecería 14.
How to get to the Valhalla Farm
I wouldn’t suggest walking it, as it is around 10km away, but a taxi or Uber can take you there. The farm’s website gives instructions on how to take a chicken bus journey there, and if you have already rented a car, then you can simply take a short road trip from Antigua (about 15-20 minutes).
To learn more about the farm and your visit, check out the Valhalla website.
Winery outside Antigua
A winery in Central America? Yes, it’s true, and it may even be the only winery in Central America.
If you are a wine lover, or even just someone who is looking for an interesting day trip outside Antigua, a short excursion to Chateau DeFay may do the trick.
This easy day trip idea from Antigua is a unique thing to do because the place itself is a French-style reconstructed chateau in an experimental vineyard where not only grapes are grown, but also passion fruit and avocados.
You can do a cellar tasting for 25 Quetzales per person, and then dine at the on-site restaurant, which has antipasto, pasta and pizza from the resident chef.
If you’re interested in doing the tasting, it’s recommended to get in touch beforehand for appointments. Otherwise, Valhalla is open from 8am to 4pm daily, and it is about 20 minutes away.
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Last updated on May 5th, 2022