Antigua, Guatemala in Photos

streets of antigua photos of antigua guatemala
Located less than an hour from Guatemala's capital Guatemala City, Antigua is the most visited destination for tourists in the country. In fact, 60 percent of visitors in Guatemala pass through Antigua. Follow along on a photo tour of Antigua!


During my whirlwind three day trip to Guatemala, I used the city of Antigua as my base, staying at the San Rafael Hotel while going on day trips to Lake  Atitlán and Pacaya Volcano.

Located less than an hour from Guatemala’s capital Guatemala City, Antigua is the most visited destination for tourists in the country. In fact, 60 percent of visitors in Guatemala pass through Antigua. Founded as Santiago de Guatemala, the city served as the country’s capital from 1543 until 1773. In this year massive earthquakes destroyed much of the town and the capital was relocated to its current location.

volcano photo of antigua guatemala

With well-preserved buildings and a wealth of colonial architecture, today the city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beauty of Antigua is found in walking its streets, not my words, so follow me along on a photo tour of the city!

The most recognizable feature of Guatemala is Santa Catalina arch. This once served as a corridor from a convent to a school, so that nuns could pass without having to walk in the street. Today it is the most popular place to take a photo in the city.  Through the arch you can also see one of the several volcanoes visible from the town’s center.

arch photos of antigua guatemala


Facing in the opposite direction from Santa Catalina Arch, the colorful street leads to La Merced church.

yellow church from afar photos of antigua guatemala


La Merced Church is a bright yellow Baroque church that once served as a male monastery.

photos of antigua guatemala yellow


Antigua is full of churches, and, given the great number of earthquakes that have occurred in the area, many are now ruins. The ruins below of El Carmen Church are some of the most dramatic. The local Mayan population sets up markets in front of them during the daylight hours.

antigua guatemala photos church ruins


The building below once served as a convent. Women who were found to be misbehaving were sent to live here. It is rumored they dug tunnels leading to a local monastery in search of male companionship.



Antigua’s Central Park is an energetic meeting place for locals. The fountain here depicts mermaids and is a gathering spot for local entertainment and musicians.

antigua park photos of antigua guatemala


Bordering Central Park, the Palace of the Capitans, pictured below, was once an extravagant home for Spanish Generals and housed the Army headquarters. Today it is the headquarters for the Guatemala Institute of Tourism.

photos of antigua guatemala park palace


The Cathedral de San Jose also borders the central park. If its facade seems impressive, that’s because it was restored following earthquake damage in 1773.

photos of antigua guatemala


Being a World Heritage Site means that buildings in Antigua have to adhere to historical guidelines. Fast food restaurants are prevalent, however you may note that their facades are quite different from an average shop. Take a peek at Dunkin’ Donuts below.

dunkin donuts photos of antigua guatemala


When I asked a local what to see in Antigua, one of the recommendations I received was McDonald’s. It may seem strange, but the McDonald’s in Antigua has a beautiful garden that offers visitors the chance to meet Ronald McDonald himself.

photosofantiguaguatemala mcdonalds


Ok, it’s actually more likely that I was recommended to visit this fast food establishment because its garden offers some of the most impressive volcano views.

mcdonalds view photos of antigua guatemala

Fast food aside, I preferred wandering the streets in search of food at more local establishments like this one below.

cafeteria la merced photos of antigua guatemala

I hope you enjoyed walking around Antigua on my virtual tour. Have you been to Guatemala’s most beautiful city? Leave your recommendations for the best sites to see in the comments below! 

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Anna

    I’ve never been to Latin America to be honest. Antigua has some very interesting buildings (and I’m a sucker for architecture). I notice that there is a lot of yellow colored buildings and I admit that the church is breathtaking!
    Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter+did the same with yours!

    1. Lauren

      Thanks so much for subscribing, Anna! I appreciate it. Antigua is my favorite city in Central America. It’s definitely a great place to begin your exploration of Latin America. Happy travels!

  2. Lisa

    Hi Larsen. Loved your tour above. I had lived in a mountain village of Costa Rica for several years before my husband died last December. I have since sold that ranch and am currently living back in our home in Illinois. However, I miss living aboard terribly. My favorite City in Central America is Granada Nicaragua. I am going out on a limb and assuming if you traveled every Country in Central America you could not have missed “the most romantic City in Central America” Granada. How do you compare the two cities ? I am researching where to move back that has gorgeous colonial archtecture, gringo friendly and most importantly, safe as I am now alone. Would love your insight ! thank you , Lisa

    1. Lauren

      Hi Lisa! Great question — Antigua and Granada are both great cities for colonial architecture, gringo friendly and safety. I personally preferred Antigua- it felt friendlier and I enjoyed my time there better, but it’s a tough call because both are great options!

  3. Monica Villalobos

    Very good I love Guatemala, especially its typical food, here I found some delicious Guatemalan recipes.

    1. Lauren

      The food was delicious!

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