Guatemala really surprised me and left me wanting more. So much more. I’m still craving the volcanic landscapes, the quaint streets of Antigua, and, most of all, the warmth of the culture.

The first stop on my journey was the colonial city of Antigua, about an hour’s drive from Guatemala City. Although not far from the capital, as you arrive, you feel worlds away; cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings and just the right amount of grit will make you want to explore every street corner. There’s also a great local vibe with a dash of expats and tourists to give you that cosmopolitan feel.

Antigua certainly feels like the heart of the country with everything at your fingertips – views of volcanoes, artisanal goods, hiking, ancient ruins and the best ice cream you will ever have.

Here are three Antigua highlights I guarantee will add something special to your first visit here.

Earth Lodge

Cabins nestled alongside a thriving avocado farm up in the mountains near Antigua. Here, you’ll find local fare, yoga, spectacular view and very friendly owners.

Earth Lodge.
Earth Lodge.

Wandering the streets of Antigua

You might get a little lost while in awe of the vibrant walls and beautiful facades, but a little backtracking will be very well worth it.

The streets of Antigua.
Details to catch your eye.

Take a moment to find La Tienda de Dona Gavi

From the outside, it’s hard to tell that she sells ice cream, but head on in and you’ll find wonderful local goods from candles to spices to artwork. Don’t forget a scoop of her ice cream – it’s homemade and very delicious. If the ladder is out, she’s open!

Open for business!
La Tienda de Dona Gavi.

Explore Lake Atitlán

Now that you've explored Antigua, head to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world: Lake Atitlán. The bus ride from Antigua is an adventure in itself, and a great way to see the more rural parts of the country. As we arrived and descended down the hillside, I could see why people called this place otherworldly. The lake was as smooth as glass and ringed with volcanoes and small villages, and gave off an aura of peacefulness.

It's one of those places where you need to invest time to discover its gems. With seven main villages, the best way to explore is by boat or tuk tuk. My favorite villages are San Juan La Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna and Santa Cruz La Laguna. There, you can find women’s weaving cooperatives for handmade goods, locally farmed food, great coffee, and so much more. Panajachel, the largest of the seven villages, is also the busiest as it’s the main hub of the lake. I would recommend only spending a couple hours here before moving on to one of the more charming villages.

Lake Atitlán feels surprisingly untouched. Venture to part of the world that’ll leave wanting more well after you’ve returned home.

First glimpse of Lake Atitlán as you make your way down the mountain.
Beautiful volcano views at every turn.
Isla Verde’s outdoor yoga/meditation room (Santa Cruz La Laguna).
Wake up at 7am, walk down one of the docks and dip your toes into the water.

Guatemala is so diverse – not just culturally, but geographically, too. I definitely recommend adding Antigua and Lake Atitlán to any travel plans you have in Guatemala. You won’t be disappointed!

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures to Guatemala encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this ray-filled country as you’ve never seen it — check out our small group trips to Central America here.