A postcard from Antigua Guatemala (updated)

Guatemala – another place we didn’t know much about… The shuttle was taking us to Antigua Guatemala, a small town located 1500 metres above sea level and surrounded by mountains and 3 volcanoes. It was just getting dark as we arrived and from the car we saw Volcano Fuego erupt and the glow from a bit of lava flow. The town is brochure-pretty with cobblestoned streets and cute little colourful houses and it was love at first sight.

We had booked a B&B a few blocks from the main square and Michael, another guest who lives part-time in Antigua took us to Porque No, a tiny cozy bar with 5 tables upstairs for a super tasty meal. Because of the elevation it’s warm and sunny during the day but we had been warmed that the temperature drops to about 10 degrees at night and that first night we definitely felt it.

View over Antigua with Volcano de Agua in the background
View over Antigua with Volcano de Agua in the background
One of the pretty little squares

The next day we ventured off to the market to buy a couple of warm sweatshirts. Finding two tops in the right size (most people here are a lot smaller) and then haggling to agree the price was a relaxed and friendly experience. It’s one of the nicest markets we’ve ever been to – all the food looked fresh and delicious and the displays of fruits in particular were amazing.

At the market all the fruit looks mouth watering
The fruit looks mouth watering

We spent 2 days strolling around town, it has lots of great restaurants and street food on many of the squares.

Pretty colourful houses
Pretty colourful houses…
... and plenty of great walls
… and plenty of great walls
A small square where women still come to do their washing
A small pond where women still come to do their washing…
… and love and life takes place
Porque No and La Biblioteca, 2 of many small atmospheric places to eat
Porque No and La Biblioteca, 2 of many small atmospheric places to eat
 ... and the squares are busy with food stalls
Street food stalls

Antigua is firmly on the backpacker trail and it has a sizeable expat community however the local population is mainly Mayan. Their traditional clothes are beautiful and colourful with layered skirts and frilly aprons for the girls. And everywhere vendors selling everything from candy-floss and toys to souvenirs.

The candy floss gang...
The candy floss gang…
... and vendors selling balls made from inner tubes...
… balls made from inner tubes…
... embroidered rugs...
… embroidered rugs…
Art and crafts
Art and crafts market

On the Sunday evening a large religious procession came through the streets, supposedly there is at least one a week here in the lead up to Easter, and thousands of people lined the streets to watch. First came a few Roman centurions, then the huge float which was carried by around 100 guys, a band played loud soul-full tunes followed and the whole display was surrounded by an army of purple-clad young men ready to take their turn under the float.

From Antigua it’s easy to visit other destinations. We went off to El Paredon, a surf beach 2 hours away and then came back for a few more days before going off to Lake Atitlan.

The beautiful garden at our B&B - perfect for relaxing and chatting with other guests
The beautiful garden at our B&B – perfect for relaxing and chatting with other guests



  1. Pips Woodhouse says:

    Hi Nic and Malene! Can’t believe you’re already into your second year of travelling already!! We think of you so often and love enjoying your trip with with you through your blog!!!!!! Woody & Pips

    • Hi Pips and Woody
      Thanks for your message. It seems strange to us that we’ve been gone for a year but it also seems completely normal. Hard to describe! We are excited that we still have the 2nd half of the trip ahead of us although we’ll be looking forward to seeing everybody when we get back home in December.
      Hope all is well with you. How are your travel plans coming along?
      Lots of love
      Nick and Malene

  2. Karoline Werner says:

    Hi Malene and Nick

    Great hearing of your travel and seen the photo of Guatemala – it bring back lots of wonderful memories. Have a safe and wonderful travel and look forward to see you when we meet again
    Have fun and enjoy
    Karoline and Allan

    • Hi Karoline and Allan
      Nice to hear from you again! I had a delicious chocolate tea here in Antigua this morning. It was brewed on the husks (you boil them for about 5 minutes) and then add sugar or honey (or agave of course) to taste. I think the tea you were experimenting with was the actual cocoa but you should try the husks. We are off to Lake Atitlan tomorrow. Looking forward as everybody says it’s stunning!
      Malene and Nick

  3. Geraldine says:

    Hello to you 2!
    I am onto your steps for a short break in Antigua.
    It was lovely to meet you in El Paredon. I had a great time over dinner with you at the Surf House!
    I’ll be following your adventures from now on and who knows we’ll meet somewhere again…
    Safe travels!

    • Hi Geraldine
      Nice to hear from you and thanks for getting in touch. Did you enjoy Antigua? Did you have dinner at Porque No? It’s not family style but very social if you eat downstairs.
      We had a great time in El Paredon – we’ll post some photos in the next couple of days. Enjoy the rest of your time there and we’ll be curious to hear where you go next.
      Take care
      Malene and Nick

  4. Great pics! Sorry I missed you two to say farewell! I hope the lake treats you well. ; ) Thanks for the info you left me, I think I’ll have a go at the Acatenango hike next week, and off to El Paredon this weekend. I’m glad I found your blog, can’t wait to see the rest of your travels! Happy trails!

    • Hi Bri
      What a nice surprise to hear from you! It was really nice meeting you and we hope you enjoy the rest of time in Guatemala. We enjoyed the lake and Chichi market and are now in Xela, ready to leave for Mexico on Thursday.
      In El Paredon we would recommend El Paredon Surf House (next door to Driftwood where we stayed). Even if you don’t stay they do a nice family style dinner at 7pm. If you go please ask for Geraldine, a French volunteer, at the Surf House. We had a really nice dinner with her. If the Surf House gets too quiet after 9 you can always go next door to Drifwood for some body shots haha. And check out the local restaurants – they don’t look like much but food truly delicious (the huge prawns at Sandra’s, pasta at Yoli’s and the pizzeria).
      All the best and stay in touch
      Malene and Nick

      • My friends recommended the surf house too, so I’m booked there & headed over tomorrow! Ha.. Yes… I heard tales of Driftwood at Cafe noSe. And saw some pictures of “the aftermath”. Which was people passed out in various places around the pool area… All spread out, a lot like…well…driftwood. Maybe that’s where they got the name?

        Good to know about the prawns & pizza! I’ll dive in for sure! *yum*. And if I track down Geraldine I’ll say “Hola”.., or in her case, bonjour! : )

        Can’t wait too see the postings from Mexico. Safe travels!

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