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Antigua, Lake Atitlan and the Mayan site Tikal are the most popular places for visitors to Guatemala and for good reason. They all have good tourism infrastructure, are easy on the eyes and give you the opportunity to experience Mayan culture.
Antigua is located 41 km from Guatemala City, the capital, making it an easy destination to access. You have likely seen photos of this beautiful colonial city with its cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, and volcanoes surrounding it. It has a large expat and digital nomad community and attracts domestic and international visitors alike. It also makes a fantastic family destination as there are so many incredible things to do in Antigua, Guatemala with kids.
Antigua has many hip cafes, restaurants serving foods from all over the world, microbreweries and even speakeasies. But, these modern amenities exist within the traditional Mayan culture and in Antigua you will see brightly coloured traditional textiles, handicrafts and clothing.
Antigua is an excellent place to visit with kids and teens. There are so many cultural opportunities for kids, but then beyond the city, the fantastic volcanic geography offers awesome activities in nature. Here is our list of the 12 top things to do in Antigua with kids and teens in 2023.
- 1 Top Things to do in Antigua, Guatemala with Kids
- 1.1 1. Wander the Centro
- 1.2 2. Explore the Market
- 1.3 3. Visit Cerro de la Cruz
- 1.4 4. Make Chocolate
- 1.5 5. Hike a Volcano
- 1.6 6. Artisan Shopping
- 1.7 7. Visit Hobbitenango
- 1.8 8. Eat Guatemalan Tipico Food
- 1.9 9. Indulge your Sweet Tooth
- 1.10 10. Go Mountain Biking or ATVing
- 1.11 11. Take a Tour
- 1.12 12. Weekend Family Fun
- 2 Where to Stay in Antigua
- 3 How to Get to Antigua
- 4 How Long to Stay in Antigua
- 5 Is Antigua Safe with Kids
- 6 Using ATMs in Guatemala
- 7 Is Antigua a Budget Destination?
Top Things to do in Antigua, Guatemala with Kids
1. Wander the Centro
Whenever we first arrive in a new city, we like to get our bearings by doing a walking tour. We used the self guided and free Antigua tour on GPSmyCity and it gave us a nice little introduction to some of the main sights of Antigua. Many of the main sights are historic churches or church ruins and the tour explains the effects of the many earthquakes that have hit Antigua, including the 1773 earthquake that destroyed many of the buildings in the city.
In addition to these sights, you will want to visit the famous Santa Catalina Arch where you can take the famous photo with Volcano Agua rising in the distance. The Parque Central is another place you should definitely visit. The parque is always hopping and make sure you check out the interesting fountain in the centre.
2. Explore the Market
We always love exploring the local markets when we travel. Antigua’s Mercado Central is a must-do activity in Antigua with teens and kids. Wander the market to see the local foods, handicrafts and practice your negotiation skills.
3. Visit Cerro de la Cruz
A short uphill walk will take you to Cerro de la Cruz, a park with great views over Antigua. The park has recently been redone and makes a great place to spend some time. Our kids enjoyed trying to identify all of the Antiguan landmarks and having space to run around. This Antigua hike gives you good views of the volcanoes around Antigua. There is plenty of police around, making this a very safe area.
4. Make Chocolate
All kids and teens love chocolate and at Choco Museo you can learn about the history of chocolate, taste chocolate and even make your own chocolate. Choco Museo is located at Parque Central and is a chocolate shop that offers chocolate making workshops.
We signed up for the 2-hour Bean to Bar workshop, where we learned how the Mayans discovered and used chocolate and the five steps required to make chocolate. The workshop was really interactive and we got to roast and grind cocoa beans. Of course, the highlight was making our own chocolate bars and trying cocoa tea, traditional hot cocoa and modern hot chocolate. Workshops are offered daily at 11 am and 3 pm – sign up in advance. Adults $25 USD, children $20 USD. You get to take your chocolates home with you and enjoy 20% of their products. This is sure to be one of the kids’ favourite Antigua activities.
5. Hike a Volcano
While we loved the volcanoes that can be seen from Antigua, if you are travelling with kids, you definitely want to take a trip to get a closer look. The two most common volcano trips from Antigua are Pacaya Volcano and Acatenango Volcano and you can choose to do a day trip or overnight.
Pacaya is the more family-friendly volcano experience and gives you the chance to see a lava flow if you are lucky. Most tours offer you the chance to roast marshmallows over lava – a memorable experience for kids and adults alike. Another great Pacaya tour is an ATV tour to the volcano. You can also do a tour with Pizza Pacaya David, where you will be able to eat lava cooked pizza on the volcano. If you are feeling adventurous, you can do an overnight trip, sleeping on Pacaya.
The second option is Volcano Acatenango, Central America’s third highest volcano. The main draw with this trip is you will be able to see the very active Volcano Fuego, which is a stratovolcano, meaning it hurls volcanic bombs, instead of having lava flow down its sides. However, this is a very challenging trip that we recommend for kids over 10. If you want the full story, read all about our experience hiking Acatenango with kids.
For either Pacaya or Acatenango, you will need to go with a guided tour. We used Ox Expeditions and would definitely recommend them.
6. Artisan Shopping
There are many opportunities to buy Guatemalan handicrafts and souvenirs throughout Antigua. Throughout the many squares in Antigua you will find vendors selling their wares. Beside the Mercado Central, there is an Artisan Market to explore. You will need to negotiate prices, a good learning opportunity for kids.
Near Santa Catarina Arch is Nim Po’t, a large co-operative for artisans. They have many high-quality Guatemalan handicrafts from different regions of the country. Prices here are fixed.
7. Visit Hobbitenango
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to appreciate what they have created at Hobbitenango. Located 15 minutes outside of Antigua, this is one of the best places to visit in Antigua, Guatemala with kids. Take an Uber (45Q) there and be prepared to be impressed by the stunning mountain and volcanic views and the quaint hobbit land. Entrance is 50Q/10+ (30Q for children 4-10). When you arrive, you will pay your entrance and then wait for a truck transfer up to the Park (included) along a very steep ridge.
We spent about 3 hours at Hobbitenango wandering the small Park, checking out the cute Hobbit-sized doors and buildings and playing with the many included games. Activities include a 6-hole mini putt, archery, a giant swing (kids need to fit in an adult harness so 12+), playgrounds, and fairground games. There are so many amazing viewpoints including the famous hand overlooking the valley below. The employee will take awesome Instagram-worthy photos and videos for you.
There are many vendors selling handicrafts, souvenirs and snacks. We recommend the delicious fruit popsicles! You can eat at their restaurants which would be a nice place for a more expensive lunch. Beware that there is limited cell service at Hobbitenango, which prevented us from getting an Uber ride back to Antigua. There are taxi drivers waiting that will charge you 100Q. We walked down the hill a bit and a driver offered to take us back down for 50Q. Hobbitenango is a great place in Antigua for kids and and it was nice to have lots of open space for the kids to run around.
8. Eat Guatemalan Tipico Food
Antigua’s restaurant scene is very diverse and you can find authentic Italian food, ramen, sushi, tacos and just about any food you can imagine. However, if you are looking for traditional Guatemalan food to try, we recommend a visit to Rincon Tipico (called Rincon Antigueno on Google Maps – 3a Avenida Sur). This bustling Antigua, Guatemala restaurant, located in a lovely courtyard is popular with tourists and locals alike. Kids will enjoy watching the ladies making tortillas at the restaurant entrance.
A traditional meal will often include chicken or meat, beans, tortillas, fried plantains. Every day offers a different menu del dia where you can try different Guatemalan specialties, although many opt for the Pollo a la Lena (rotisserie chicken) which you can see roasting on the massive spits. Most items are 35Q and include a fruit drink of the day and tortillas. They do have one vegetarian lunch. Sometimes there is a line out front, but it moves fast.
Most Antigua, Guatemala restaurants will offer a traditional Guatemalan breakfast, but we found El Viejo Café had excellent service and a lovely courtyard. They also have the most delicious pastries that we ate most days.
9. Indulge your Sweet Tooth
Our kids always like to try the local candy wherever we travel. A visit to Dulcería de Doña María Gordillo (4ta. Calle Poniente), a sweet shop dating from 1876 is a must thing to do in Antigua with kids, tweens and teens. This is a very fancy home-made sweet shop – they even have a security guard at the entrance!?! We didn’t know what most things were, but they were so exquisitely hand crafted, that we had no trouble filling a box.
10. Go Mountain Biking or ATVing
Surprisingly Antigua has a good mountain biking scene and this can be a great activity for families wanting to get outside of the city. Our son is an avid mountain biker and he really enjoyed doing the Pacman advanced ride with Ox Expeditions. However, they also offer gentler rides through the surrounding countryside. We were very impressed with the bikes, safety focus and guides.
Another popular activity are the Antigua ATV tours, offering various itineraries to coffee farms, cultural tours, and more. This is an activity kids will get very excited about and allows you to explore beyond Antigua.
11. Take a Tour
There are so many great tours that the whole family will enjoy while in Antigua with kids. Here are some we recommend:
- Chicken Bus Tour – 4 hours, $55/adult, $45/child
- Iximche Ruins and Antigua Tour – 8 hours, $89 USD/adult, $55 USD/child
- ATV tours (coffee farms, country side, Pacaya) – 5-6 hours, $66 USD/adult, $43/child, 8+ only
- Coffee Tour – 3 hours, $30 USD/person
- Antigua Walking Tour – 3 hours, $28 USD/adult, $12 USD/child
- Mayan Cooking Class -1.5-3 hours of cooking, $40-50 USD/person
When deciding on a tour and what to do in Antigua, Guatemala, it will really depend on your family and your interests
12. Weekend Family Fun
If you are in Antigua on the weekend, there are a number of great places to visit that have special events on the weekends that bring together both locals, expats and tourists.
Visit Cervezeria 14 Brewery – we have been to our share of breweries and this massive brewery about 15 minutes outside Antigua (take an Uber there) blew us away. There is live music on the weekends, restaurants, an awesome playground for kids and loads of open spaces for kids to run around and parents to sample the selection.
Visit Valhalla Macademia Farm – this farm can be visited any day of the week and is only a kilometer from Cervezeria 14. This farm was started by an American to develop the macademia nut industry in Guatemala with the ultimate aim to support local indigenous communities to have access to more income, employment and general well-being. They do a great free and short tour of the farm and show how macademia nuts are grown and processed. You can sample many macademic nut foods at their restaurant, including waffles and you can even get a free macademic nut oil face massage.
Caoba Farms – this organic farm is right on the edge of Antigua in walking distance (or take an Uber) and is a community hub that comes alive on weekends. There is a farm-to-table restaurant, tours, farm animals, weekend farmer’s market, yoga, live music and so much more.
Where to Stay in Antigua
Antigua offers a lot of choice when it comes to where to stay and excellent accommodation options for all budgets.
Porta Hotel Antigua (Luxury) – this hotel has everything a family could want. It is located right in the centro, has big open spaces and a gorgeous heated pool, great food, and even a spa and fitness centre for parents. Click here to check the latest prices.
Earth Lodge (Moderate) – for a totally different experience, you can stay in a treehouse just 15 minutes outside of Antigua in the surrounding mountains. This eco-hotel has an excellent reputation and is a favourite among families. Click here to check the latest prices.
Hotel Las Farolas (Moderate) – a solid family-friendly hotel in the centro, families will appreciate the garden and playground, friendly staff and good amenities. Click here to check the latest prices.
Casa Solaris (Budget) – one of the two Airbnbs we stayed at in Antigua, this is a great budget option for families. They have four rooms in a beautiful casa just a couple minute walk to the centro. For families they have a room with two double beds and access to a gorgeous rooptop with epic views of the volcanos, and access to the kitchen and living area. The hosts are incredibly friendly and welcoming. We paid $55 USD/night.
Colonial Airbnb (Budget) – this Airbnb in Antigua, Guatemala represents excellent value for families. The colonial house offers four rooms with shared access to the court yard and living spaces. Excellent wifi in a gated community. We had a room with two queen beds, perfect for families. It is a 15-20 minute walk to the centro, but with older kids, this wasn’t an issue.
How to Get to Antigua
Antigua is only 41 km from Guatemala City, where most visitors will arrive. However, traffic can mean the transportation time varies from 30 minutes to close to 2 hours. We recommend coming straight to Antigua and skipping Guatemala City. The easiest way to get to Antigua is to book a shuttle or organize a transfer through your accommodation. We paid Q370 for our transfer from the airport to our Airbnb.
How Long to Stay in Antigua
We spent 9 days in Antigua, but for most visitors 3 days is a good amount of time to spend in Antigua. Of course, it is easy to spend much longer, as the city is so comfortable and beautiful. Three days will give you a chance to see the city, but also do some exploring outside of the city including a daytrip to one of the volcanoes.
Is Antigua Safe with Kids
We felt completely safe in Antigua with kids. While some parts of Guatemala are not known to be the safest, there is a strong police presence and very low crime rate in Antigua. We felt comfortable walking the streets both day and night. Don’t let the fear of safety prevent you from visiting Antigua; take the usual common-sense precautions when traveling and you will be fine.
Using ATMs in Guatemala
Guatemala is still very much a cash-based destination and we would recommend bringing as much Guatemalan Quetzals from home if you can. While there are ATMs easily available, they are incredibly expensive to use. Generally you can only take out 2,000-3,000 GTQ ($250-375 USD) and you will be charged 45 GTQ, plus a 7.5% exchange rate fee, plus whatever your home bank charges. The most common ATMs are 5B, but they have the worst fees. In Antigua, we were able to use Banque Industrial (blue/white) which has slightly better fees. But generally if the fee is lower, the exchange rate fee will be higher and vice versa.
In Antigua we were able to use our credit card frequently, although in other parts of the country, we were charged up to 10% to use our credit card. Surprisingly, this often worked out cheaper than withdrawing for an ATM.
I wish I had known more about the money situation in Guatemalan – so hopefully you will be more prepared than us.
Is Antigua a Budget Destination?
Antigua is not a budget destinations. While prices are cheaper than your home country, we were surprised how expensive Antigua was, particularly to eat. Guatemala is often said to be one of the cheapest countries in Central America, however, many say this has recently changed and Nicaragua and Mexico are now cheaper. That being said if you are visiting for a week or two, you will find prices very reasonable, but if you are long-term travelling, Antigua is a more expensive destination than other parts of Guatemala. We hope this guide has helped you find budget Antigua, Guatemala things to do that the whole family will enjoy.