Antigua is usually the first stop for travelers because of its proximity to the airport and Guatemala City having a bad reputation for being sketchy. We decided to do the same. We didn’t arrange for airport transfer beforehand so we were a bit apprehensive when we arrived, our fears were proven groundless. There is a shuttle bus ticket kiosk right inside the airport lobby. The cost from Guatemala City to Antigua is Q80 or $12 USD (as of October 2016). We paid in Guatemalan dollars with cash we took out at the 5B ATM in the arrivals area. The driver met us at the door and took us directly to the waiting shuttle, bypassing the hoards of people crowded around the barricades just outside the airport gates. We left 10 minutes later with 5 passengers in total. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the arrival process was for us.
Antigua is very clean, has colourful houses and easy to navigate. The city reminded me of Dubrovnik or Bruges i.e. very touristy, great for Instagram pictures, definitely not the typical Guatemalan city. There is lots of police presence around the city. We felt perfectly safe to walk around during the day and the early part of the evening. The hotel we stayed at was on a quiet street, gated the entire time with 24 hour reception.
Streets can get pretty dark at night, some of the streets are not well lit. Walking around at night can be a bit hazardous from the sidewalk potholes, cobblestone streets and dog poop littering the ground. Many times jojo and I were in danger of lunging head first across the pavement.
There is a lookout point called Cerro de la Cruz which is a 30 minute walk from town or a 10 minute ride on a tuk tuk. There were reports of people being robbed on the way there so we decided to take a tuk tuk. Be prepared to pay tourist prices. Hotel tells us that the tuk tuk cost would be Q20-Q25 but drivers were quoting us Q100, not willing to go lower than Q80. We eventually found a tuk tuk driver at the edge of town who was willing to take us there for Q50. In hindsight, it would’ve been fine to walk to the view point during the day, there are police patrolling the road until around 6pm.
After couple days, we noticed that only the tourist restaurants and bars seem to be open late at night. Locals seem to eat their dinner around 7pm. We mostly ate at local joints, meals cost around Q25-30 per person. Tacos, papusas, BBQ plates.
After 4 nights, we were ready to leave Antigua. It’s a very small city, we walked around the place twice in one afternoon. Our last night in Antigua landed on a Friday and we went by the Central Park to people watch. There were a group of teenage boys breakdancing and they were good! We took tons of photos and were thoroughly impressed by all their moves.