On the third day of the trip, we drove from Lake Atitlan to Antigua.
It took a little over 2 hours to make the trip.
The most popular attraction in Antigua is hiking up Volcan Pacaya.
We decided to book a ticket last minute at our hotel. It cost $15 USD, but I know you can get a trip for $10 USD. There are other tours online that chart $60+, which is totally nuts. There is only one way up the mountain, and you should not be paying any extra.
Since we booked last minute, there was only 1 spot left on the bus. With this being my last day and my three other friends staying an extra day, I decided to go up the mountain on the 2:00 p.m. tour.
Tours leave in the morning (6:00 a.m.) and in the afternoon 1:00 or 2:00. You have the best views in the morning, but you do need to get up at 6:00 a.m. The shuttles that take you to the mountain hold 15 people, and this will likely be the maximum number of people that you would go up the Volcano with.
I ended up traveling with 13 Irish Med Students that just graduated. They were a lot of fun.
You could try to hike up Volcan Pacaya without a guide, but they will look at you like you are crazy. I would be the first to go independently, but I don’t really think it is worth it. You would need to pay a lot for transportation to go back and forth to the Volcano. It is an hour away from Antigua.
There have been issues in the past on the Volcano with “bandits”, but I don’t think that as much of an issue today.
We didn’t see any cars in the parking lot. In either case, it is only $10/$15 so just go with tour. In addition, you might really cool people.
When you first arrive, the kids will try to get you to purchase a walking stick and/or a hourse. After about 5 minutes of them trying to get you to get a walking stick, you begin your hike up the mountain.
You walk at a brisk pace and up a very steep hill. In addition, there will be four or five people with horses right behind the group. If you are in the pack, they will keep asking you whether you want a horse. After about 10 minutes, three people in the group decided to get on a horse because it was so exhausting. To rent a horse in Pacaya, it costs 100Q or $12.50. I think the cost is just for one way.
When we got to the top, the views were “amazing.” I put it in quotes because it was raining and cloudy. We did see the lava flow. THE VOLCANO IS NOT ACTIVE AND YOU WILL NOT SEE LAVA.
It was an awesome experience. We did get soaking wet, but we did have a lot of fun.
Our guide did not bring marshmallows to roast them on the lava rock. My other friends, who went the next day, brought marshmallows to the volcano to roast. If you really want to roast marshmallows, I suggest bringing your own to the top.
Antigua is very different than the nightlife at Lake Atitlan. There are a lot more foreigners at the bars. Antigua is definitely a much more popular place to visit in Guatemala even in the low season.
Most of the bars were quiet on a Monday night, but we did find several places that had large crowds.
We were told by several people that O’Reileys is generally always crowded.
Mono-Loco is packed on Tuesday night when it is ladies night.
The bars also close at 1:00 a.m. in Antigua, but there are after-hours bars that are open past 1:00 a.m. The only catch is that you need to be in them before they close up.
One of the bars is Reds and I forget the name of the other bar.
We hung out with Irish friends and some Danes and had a good time.
I preferred the food in Lake Atitlan over Antigua as I thought it was more authentic.
With that said, the restaurants have a much nicer decor than in Lake Atitlan.
We did eat at Casa Santo Domingo, which was pretty amazing. It cost us about $35 USD with alcohol, which is expensive for Guatemala.
The restaurant is in an old convent and is amazing.
We also heard a place called Hector’s also serves amazing food.
Where did we stay?
We stayed at Hotel Aurora for about $75 per night. This is pretty reasonable when splitting it between two people. With that said, you can probably stay in Hostel in Antigua for about $5 – $15 USD per night per person.
Hotel Aurora is located close to the square and was an amazing location.
I got a shuttle from there back to Guatemala at a cost of $10 USD.