Image by Ben Pipe Photography / Getty Images


Antigua's beguiling beauty starts to seduce the moment you arrive. Once capital of Guatemala, its streetscapes of pastel facades unfold beneath the gaze of three volcanoes, and meticulously restored colonial buildings sit next to picturesque ruins in park-like surroundings. The city's World Heritage–listed status means that even fast-food chains have to hide themselves behind traditional building facades.

While Antigua's churches, plazas and markets throb with activity, the town is also a global hot spot with a laid-back vibe, thanks to the dozens of Spanish-language schools that operate here. Outside the city, Maya communities, coffee plantations and volcanoes offer ample opportunities for exploration.

Through the course of its history, this city has suffered earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and virtual abandonment. But in recent decades it has re-emerged with a vengeance, buoyed by the pride of its inhabitants. It's no wonder Antigua remains Guatemala's most visited destination.

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