Antigua Guatemala is a beautiful colonial city nestled in a valley surrounded by volcanoes. It’s quaint, historic and full of a bustling lively culture of both Ladinos and Mayans. There are many attractions for tourists to enjoy for free while visiting. Some of the top recommendations are:
A visit to the central park won’t disappoint any visitor. On Fridays, there are often live musicians or performers. From pan flutes to the traditional marimba bands, it’s a lovely relaxing place to enjoy a free concert. The park features a gorgeous fountain at the center known as the Mermaid Fountain. The park is largely shaded and has many park benches conveniently located for visitors to stop and slow down for a few minutes. Vendors include Mayan ladies selling their textiles and necklaces and children selling candy and crackers. You can also get your shoes shined while enjoying the view. Pigeons often visit and children chase them away. The park is surrounded by historic buildings including the Cathedral and Municipal palace.
Visit the Market
You don’t need to spend a dime to enjoy a trip to the typical market. Choose from the artisans market or the regular locals market – either one is full of color and bustling shoppers. You’re guaranteed to see some new items such as medicinal roots, dried herbs, chickens for sale, a wide range of tropical fruits, bottles of honey and more. Smells will also engage your senses as you walk past the flower sales and food stands. You’re likely to hear a few languages other than Spanish as you walk through the market. Many locals speak Kaqchikel or other native Mayan languages.
Hike Cerro de la Cruz
For a panoramic view of the colonial city, one only has to hike a hill where there is a cross known as “Cerro de la Cruz”. Popular with visitors and locals alike this attraction will give you exercise and a scenic spot for a hike – or go ahead and take a picnic lunch and stay for a while. The views are fantastic, featuring the colonial city with a backdrop of the impressive Volcan de Agua that towers over the city. You’ll be able to pick out the famous cathedrals and ruins from the view.
Visit Ruins and Churches
Free maps are available for tourists and one of the best things to do in town is to appreciate the colonial architecture and ruins. You can go inside many of the churches and ruins for free, although there are some that do charge. Grab your map, a bottle of water and your hat and tour yourself around to these ancient buildings. Inside the churches you’ll find many relics including beautifully sculpted ceilings, images and hand carved pieces.
Depending on the season when you visit, you’ll be able to observe some of the worlds’ most famous and best-done Catholic processions. Check the calendar and if you’re around during lent or holy week, you’re in for a treat. Observe as the locals adorn the streets with intricate “carpets” made of flowers and colored saw-dust before the processions pass.