Trip Report: Antigua, Guatemala & Lake Atitlán
In May 2013, I traveled to Guatemala on Delta Airlines. The ticket was $475, which was a little bit more than I usually like to spend. I have seen it go below this price quite a few times since May, so it is entirely possible to get there for less than what I paid.
The trip consisted of landing at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and taking a shared shuttle to Antigua, an old town about a one-hour drive from the airport in Guatemala City. The shuttle I personally used only departed at certain times, so there was a gap of a couple hours until I was able to catch the shuttle. I bought the tickets in advance for $12 from Guatemala Transportation. There were a lot of other shared shuttle services that you paid for right at the door for around the same price, I would have done that had I known. I can’t endorse any of them, but they do have licenses and are about the same price, without having to wait like I did. The shuttle I used only had two people on it, including myself. It was very comfortable, although there was no air conditioning.
Antigua was an awesome town, with great architecture, cobble stone roads, amazing food, and a great deal of cultural shops and markets. Although Guatemala is said to have a high crime rate, there was never a time where I felt unsafe while in Antigua. I would always make it a point to be back at my hotel, or very near, by the time the sun went down.
The hotel in Antigua, La Casa Rustica, was a terrific place to stay! It was secure, with a gate that was locked at night. It had a very Latin American feel to it, which included a garden and local décor in the room. The hotel also offered excursions, some of which were cheaper than simply buying them online from a random company. I purchased two excursions from the hotel. One was a hike up Pacaya Volcano, which costs $11 USD and included the shuttle ride and a guide. The entrance fee for the park is 50 Quetzales (about $6 USD) and is a separate cost that I paid to enter. It was an awesome experience and a great view! Although, bring water and some good hiking shoes, it is a workout. They do have horses for those hikers who start to fall behind. I also bought an excursion to Lake Atitlan, which is about three hours on a windy, scenic route. That excursion costs $11 and departed early in the morning and returned to the hotel late in the day. They also had an airport shuttle, which costs $37 for a private airport pickup in Guatemala City, or $9 for a public shuttle.
Lake Atitlan was a great experience, although in hindsight, I wish I had had more time there because there are a number of islands, including ferries to Chile, that would have been great. The price of food and souvenirs were great here. There was a full lunch, with drink included, for only $5 USD. There are also a number of bars along a beautiful beach, where beers cost about $1 USD. Please be aware of tour guides who say they will charge you 50 Quetzales to take you to the other islands, they will charge you 50 Quetzales per stop making this quite an expensive attraction, so make sure you get a clear and honest quote before you board a boat.
I also spent one night in Guatemala City at the Suites Jardin Imperial. I cannot really provide a review on Guatemala City because the hotel was not accessible to the city itself, which was opposite what the hotel advertised. The hotel was also located in a neighborhood complex, which I was told not to leave for my own security. The hotel was very nice for the price, although the location was inaccessible to the city without a taxi and there was no air conditioning. Not having air conditioning made my stay dreadful, I hardly slept at night because it was so hot. No fans were available either. However, the hotel came with a kitchenette, dishes, and a table, which would make it great for business travelers who do not need a fan or air conditioning.
- Lake Atitlan
- Pacaya Volcano
- Parque Central in Antigua
- Antigua Market in Antigua
Where To Eat:
- Casa Escobar Steak House
- Restaurants at Lake Atitlan
- Rainbow Cafe in Antigua (breakfast)