After falling asleep on the shuttle, I awoke happily thinking we had made it to our destination only to be stopped in traffic in Guatemala City. It was almost 6:30pm and we still had an hour to go before reaching our final stop. Fortunately, traffic didn’t last long and we were back on the road. Almost 6 hours later, we finally arrived into the beautiful city of Antigua.
Antigua or “Ancient Guatemala” is famous for its colonial and baroque style architecture and well preserved church ruins. For many years, Antigua was the country’s capital until a progression of earthquakes hit in 1773 that destroyed the city; the capital was then relocated to Guatemala City. In 1979, Antigua became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best way to explore this city is by foot. Antigua has a unique grid system that makes walking around town fairly easy. Parque Central is the center of town where you’ll find anything from local artisans to street performers. Take a step back in time and explore one of the many of the colonial ruins such as the Church of San Francisco and the Church of Santa Clara. During the weekends, you’ll find street vendors lined up next to the Church of La Merced; you can find just about any kind of local street food you can imagine. If you’re like me and have a love for local food and craft markets, you’ve come to the right place. There is a popular artisan market where you can peruse through hundreds of handmade Mayan textiles and crafts. On the other side of town we stumbled upon a large fruit and vegetable market with dozens of vendors selling a variety of homegrown goods. Outside of the fruit and vegetable market you’ll find rows of street vendors. It’s nearly difficult to find the same street vendor twice because the market is so large inside.
Bigfoot Hostel has multiple locations in both Nicaragua and Guatemala. We enjoyed staying with them in Leon and decided to stay with them again in Antigua. You can book your beds through their website and pay online through PayPal. The website requires you to book two days in advanced, but you can make a note of the dates you actually need in the note section of the reservation. Email the hostel after you make the reservation to confirm the dates you requested. The hostel was very clean and had a great atmosphere. There is plenty of space whether you want to catch up on some emails or shoot pool in the upstairs bar. The restaurant offers great food and for a backpackers budget. If we weren’t getting street food, we’d be trying something new from their menu. The beds are very comfortable (probably the best of the trip) and have their own curtains for privacy. I would highly recommend staying with Bigfoot Hostel in both Antigua and Leon.