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A stroll past ancient plazas and churches shows you why Antigua is a World Heritage site. Get to know the cobbled streets of this small Guatemalan city on foot and lose yourself in lively markets brimming with traditional Mayan wares. Volcanoes tower over the landscape, the most dramatic view seen through the yellow curve of the Santa Catalina Arch. You can hike overnight to watch lava spout from nearby peaks, or stay low-key with a tangy mango ice cream on a park bench.
As for finding an Antigua hostel, you have lots of options. You could bed down in a stately colonial mansion, or go local at a homestay. You'll get staggering views from rooftop terraces, or just chill out in a hammock between banana trees. Additions like Netflix TVs and homemade Mojitos will make you feel welcome, while Antigua hostels with gyms (or a beer pong table) help you stay active. Look for hostels in Antigua with free breakfast if you're planning an intense hike up the volcano.
The most central neighbourhood of Antigua is based around Parque Central. From here, it's easy to find your way along narrow streets to the city's historic sights. El Calvario is the wealthiest neighbourhood – spend an afternoon exploring the tree-lined paths and admiring colourful colonial houses. Fancy staying outside the city? Jocotenango is a short drive from Antigua and offers its own sprinkling of pretty churches and plazas.
Days in Antigua can be as energetic or laid-back as you please. An easy stop is Iglesia de La Merced, an 18th century church known for its yellow exterior. Take in the whole city from Cerro de La Cruz, a lookout point marked by a stone cross. Parque Central is the place to sit in the shade to watch Mayan ladies selling colourful woven shawls and blankets. You can even toast marshmallows on a live volcano! For a quiet afternoon, sip white wine in a balcony bar built into colonial ruins.
The closest airport to Antigua is La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. Take a private taxi or find shuttles lined up outside the arrivals building – the drive takes about an hour. To get around Antigua, taxis and tuk-tuks are your easiest option. If you’re headed out of the city, stop into a tour agency for a chartered van or hop on an inter-city bus run by TransUrbano.