Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala!

Ohhhh….how I love Antigua, Guatemala!  I traveled there in 2017, & used Antigua as my Guatemala base ~ from which I explored Lake Atitlan, Chichicastenago, & the brilliant pools of Semuc Champey.  But Antigua was the place I kept returning to: for its rich, delicious coffee, soaring volcano views, & cheerful, bright buildings, that just seem to invite exploration.  Yes, it’s a bit touristy (it’s probably the most touristy city in Guatemala), but don’t let that deter you from visiting.  And if you’re a solo traveler, that can actually be a reason to visit: you won’t feel alone, or like you’re the “only” ex-pat there.  So let’s get more specific & into detail about “Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala!” 

Ultimate Girl's Guide to Guatemala Travel, Girl Who Travels the World

Antigua, Guatemala.

Map of Antigua, Guatemala!

Antigua is easy to reach from the country’s capital, Guatemala City.  I flew into La Aurora International Airport (GUA), the country’s main airport, & only 25 kilometers from Antigua (a 45-minute drive).  If you’re flying into Guatemala from the States, both American Airlines & Avianca fly to La Aurora direct.

Antigua

Guatemala International Airport

Lake Atitlan

Semuc Champey

Tikal

What to Know about Solo Travel in Antigua

  • How Safe is Antigua, Guatemala? Antigua is considered the safest city in Guatemala, largely due to increased police presence there. Because it’s the city most-frequented by tourists, & where most tourist dollars are spent, it’s in the government’s best interest to keep visitors safe: too many negative reports would hurt travel to their “crown jewel.” I also felt safe all around Lake Atitlan & in the tiny town of Lanquin, home to Semuc Champey.  I avoided Guatemala City due to reports of armed robberies & theft.
  • Wi-Fi = Wi-Fi at my hotel in Antigua was near-perfect, as well as at many cafes (such as the Rainbow Cafe, a great place to work).  It was more spotty at Lake Atitlan (with the exception of a few hotels) & in the jungle at Semuc Champey.  Nicer hotels & restaurants in both Antigua & Guatemala City are your best bets for great Wi-Fi in Guatemala.
  • Where to Stay in Antigua = If you love boutique hotels & charming bed & breakfasts: Antigua will be mecca for you.  Boutique hotels abound here.  I stayed at La Villa Serena, a beautifully-appointed B&B with different themes in each room; just a few blocks’ walk to the main square.  If you stay anywhere in & around the main plaza in Antigua, you’ll be happy in terms of walk-ability.  The further out you go, the quieter it will get.  In terms of safety, nearly all hostels, B&B’s, & hotels in Antigua have courtyard-type architecture: which means they lock their big front doors at night ~ or all the time (like La Villa Serena).  Being behind big, fortified walls made me feel 100% safe at night. 
  • My Favorite Restaurants & Cafes in Antigua: Trying to narrow this list down is almost laughable ~ there are FAR too many amazing eateries in Antigua!  Places I returned to repeatedly: Luna de Miel for its delicious salads & rooftop perch; Cactus for BOMB tacos & margaritas; the Rainbow Cafe for a great cafe to work in; Cafe Saul Antigua for upscale, boutique cafe vibes; coffee at Buena Vista, or pretty much ANYWHERE in Antigua!!  For my taste buds, nowhere in the world beats Antigua’s dark, rich coffee beans….try the coffee everywhere.
  • Antigua Musts = Get lost strolling the colorful streets of Antigua.  Work or write at one of Antigua’s many amazing cafes.  Walk to “Mercado de Artesania Terminal” to check out Guatemalan handicrafts, AND to see some of Antigua’s famous chicken buses!  Visit a nearby coffee farm, or “finca.”  Explore or climb one of the volcanoes surrounding Antigua: the very active Fuego (which erupted in 2018), Acatenango (dormant), & Volcan de Agua (extinct).  A little further out is popular Pacaya Volcano: the most popular trek in the country.
  • What Safety Precautions to Take at Night in Antigua? During the day, I felt very comfortable walking all around the main, central areas of Antigua.  At night, not as much.  If you’re staying right near the main plaza, walking at night shouldn’t be a problem ~ but if your hotel is further out, make the trip with a friend.  Avoid wearing flashy jewelry & only bring out your camera or phone when necessary. 
  • What to Expect as a Female Traveler in Antigua = Though “machismo culture” is prevalent throughout Latin America, I didn’t find it excessive in Antigua.  There are usually many people on the street ~ both locals & tourists, so I never really felt “singled out” by locals or young men ~ which was a welcome surprise.

My Favorite Photos of Antigua…

The first thought I had when I woke up in Antigua & looked around the rooftop at La Villa Serena was, “I could live here.”  I even called my best friend from high school & half-jokingly told her, “I think I found the place for us to retire!”  And being greeted by the wonderful female owner of La Villa Serena, who helped me with every conceivable desire, from ordering to-go food to booking tours ~ only further enhanced my initial impressions of this charming city. 

Then, walking around, taking in the views, admiring the ruins of various churches, while observing the bustling nature of daily life did nothing to dispel this first, warm impression.  By the time I tried the food & the amazing, rich coffee, it only pushed my opinion over the top: for both are among my FAVORITES in the world!  To my mind: Latin American culture, from the food to amazing handmade goods, is perhaps on finest display in Antigua…  

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

My first sunrise in Antigua, on the roof of DARLING hotel, Villa La Serena.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

So many of the buildings in Antigua are bright & colorful, like this yellow cathedral: Iglesia de la Merced.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

I took one look at the textiles in Guatemala & knew: I simply HAD to have them!

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

Streets in Antigua are generally wide, cobble-stoned, with generous sidewalks on each side ~ making it a spectacular walking town.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala!

As a solo traveler, you may be wondering how I got around Guatemala (i.e. what type of transport I took).  Though chicken buses are popular with the backpacker-set, & are usually the cheapest mode of transport: I opted to primarily use group shuttles.  At the airport in Guatemala City, for instance, I grabbed a shuttle with about six other people to Antigua, & then used them again to reach popular Lake Atitlan & Semuc Champey.  My hotels often made the arrangements for me, or shuttles are easily booked at most tour operators in town.

In a group shuttle, you’re transported in a large van with several rows, typically with other tourists.  The shuttle often picks you up right at your hotel ~ saving you from having to drag your luggage to a bus terminal.  I found them quite inexpensive: i.e. for an 8-hour bus ride, the cost was about $22.  For my money, this was the best & safest transport option.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

Go to one of the many “mercados” (markets) in Antigua to browse handicrafts or buy fresh fruit & veggies!

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

The colors of Antigua.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

Psychadelic, VIBRANT colors on the chicken buses of Guatemala! Chicken buses are one of the country’s cheapest forms of transit, & are usually packed with locals ~ but in certain parts of the country, they aren’t the safest or most direct means of transport.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World

Early morning, before all the tourists arrive at Antigua’s iconic yellow arch.

Volcanoes by Antigua, Guatemala

If you want to hike one of the volcanoes near Antigua, the most popular is Acaytenango: which offers spectacular views of neighboring (& highly active) Fuego Volcano.  If you don’t mind a slightly longer drive, Pacaya Volcano is one of the most popular treks in Guatemala, & about a 90-minute drive from Antigua.  Many Pacaya tours leave from Antigua ~ just make sure to look at the forecast & choose a sunny day for your hike!

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World, Volcan Fuego, Antigua, Guatemala

Volcan Fuego is the only active volcano of the three that surround Antigua: & it erupted as recently as 2018, with devastating consequences. I would 100% NOT climb this one!

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World, Volcano Acaytenango, Antigua Guatemala

Acaytenango is located next to Fuego, & is the most popular volcano to hike as it offers spectacular views of Fuego’s bubbling mini-eruptions…

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World, Volcan de Agua, Antigua, Guatemala

Volcan de Agua, looming over Antigua.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala, Girl Who Travels the World, Pacaya Volcano

Most Pacaya treks leave very early in the morning, or span over 2 days: so you can get a sunrise shot like this one.

Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala!

Thanks for reading “Solo Female Travel in Antigua, Guatemala.”  If you’re a solo traveler headed to Guatemala & have ANY questions ~ please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below!  And make sure you save room in your bag to bring home a few Guatemalan keepsakes as well as some coffee : )  I brought back a bag of Guatemalan beans for my mom ~ & she loved it so much that she still gets Guatemalan beans via Amazon, years later!

Read Next: Solo Female Travel at Semuc Champey ~ VIDEO!!

 

Amazing Hotels in Antigua, Guatemala

The bottom line on accommodations in Guatemala is: an AMAZING, safe, & charming room can be had for well under $50/night, making it a spectacular place for long-term travel…