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Surrounded by dramatic volcanoes, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua Guatemala is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the area. Stroll along Antigua Guatemala's cobbled streets to discover dramatic ruins of churches destroyed by earthquakes, and new Baroque-style Spanish architecture set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. Antigua Guatemala is very much still a living city, rather than just an open-air museum, and is a place where two different cultures survive hand in hand; the indigenous Guatemalan heritage and living traditions thriving within the Spanish-colonial architectural shell.

Following the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Antigua Guatemala became the capital of Central America. During many years of wealthy Spanish rule, palaces, churches, parks, fountains and the cathedral were built. Painstakingly restored, this colonial city looks much as it did 200 years ago, competing with Cusco and Cartagena as Latin America's most beautiful colonial city.

Walking the cobblestone streets, through colourful squares and past whitewashed churches, there is plenty to discover - art galleries, fascinating museums, and traditional markets packed with bright, locally made textiles and other craftwork. When changing money, ask for smaller quetzal notes as market shopkeepers often don't have change so having some improves your haggling power.

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Antigua Guatemala Itinerary Ideas

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iximche ruins
If You Do Three Things
1
Visit Iximche

Visit the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archeological site of Iximche, where over a hundred structures have been located including palaces, four large plazas, and numerous pyramid temples. The site is home to a small museum which displays a number of archaeological finds including sculptures and ceramics.

st catarina arc colonial architecture
If You Do Three Things
2
Colonial Architecture

Antigua Guatemala is home to an impressive array of traditional, brightly coloured Spanish colonial buildings and architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has retained its authentic architecture which can be explored while walking the cobblestone streets through colourful squares. There is plenty to discover including local art galleries, jade workshops, fascinating museums and many traditional markets packed with bright, locally made textiles and craftwork.

guatemalan local food
If You Do Three Things
3
Sample the Street Food

Taste the local delicacy of chicken pepián, a traditional meaty, spicy stew that was borne out of the fusion of the Spanish and Mayan cultures, and that many see as the national dish. Also found at street food vendors is the local delicacy of chuchitos, Guatemala's equivalent of a tamale, which are made up of corn wrapped in maize leaves with a delicious sauce in between layers.

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Antigua Guatemala
Antigua Guatemala
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A Note on Price

Like much of Central America, Guatemala represents good value in comparison to its South American counterparts. Antigua Guatemala is full of reasonably priced boutique hotels (costing around £100 a night), but in Atitlan and Tikal, we’d recommend you go all out and stay in the best hotels, which means that a 10-day trip to Guatemala could cost from £2,000 per person including flights.

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