Guatemala offers SO much natural beauty and many outdoor activities. Take advantage of the surroundings by trying out the best hikes in Antigua. From overlooks to volcanoes, Antigua gives tourists adventures and stunning views for days. Read on to learn about the three best hikes in Antigua:
Cerro de la Cruz
Short but sweet, Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross) is walking distance from the center of Antigua. Located on the north side of the city, this overlook offers sweeping views of the city and the stunning Volcan de Agua behind it. If you’re looking for an iconic vista, this is it. Head north and then up the paved staircase; it takes about 20 minutes to reach the top. Take a few minutes to take in the sight and catch your breath, then wander around the other monuments at the park. If you have extra time or feel like a snack, stop at one of the vendors that are lined up. Or, pause for a cafécito at the small restaurant before meandering back down.
This hike is accessible for visitors of all skill levels – even kids can do it. Another plus? It’s completely free! Get there early in the morning to avoid the heat, mosquitoes and crowds. Walking to the Cerro de la Cruz alone during the day seemed safe, and there are police officers stationed around the premises. It’s definitely a hike that offers a gorgeous and romantic sunset view, however, locals warned me that tourists should avoid attempting the hike alone at night since it becomes less secure.
Right outside of Antigua is Volcán Pacaya. This trek is a blast (yep, gotta add a pun somewhere). While not nearly as difficult as Acatenango, Volcán Pacaya is still a moderate hike on an active volcano. The elevation gain is about 1,500 feet, but the hike tends to take trekkers a half-day to summit the peak at 8,372 feet and return to the base of the mountain. While the hike is accessible (and fun) for novice hikers, one should still expect a physical challenge. If you prefer to see the sights without the trek, there are companies that offer tours on horseback.
Pacaya offers the best “bang for your buck,” since there is exposure to ample volcanic activity. You can feel the tremors and heat that rise from the fumaroles in the earth, with some tours even allowing you to melt marshmallows and make s’mores! As you get closer to the crater, the setting changes from volcanic and sandy soil to lush and thick vegetation. Hiking Pacaya is a perfect way to get acclimated to Guatemala, or simply stretch your legs after a long flight.
Perhaps the most famous hike in Antigua, Guatemala, the trek up to Acatenango is legendary challenge (even by Chapin standards). Standing at 13,045 feet at the summit, the mountain is steep and windy for hikers. However, once at the top trekkers can appreciate the sweeping views of the volcanic valley beneath. Still haven’t had enough? More ambitious hikers can attempt to summit the neighboring Volcán Fuego to get a closer glimpse of lava flows and eruptions every 20 minutes. Or, chill at base camp – there are spectacular views to be had as soon as the sun goes down.
Hiking Acatenango is an overnight camping adventure. The climb ups takes an entire day – and once you summit you send the night at basecamp before returning the next day. Assess if you are physically up for at least seven hours of hiking non-stop, and note that you will be carrying all of your gear, food and water on your back. Prepare in advance by knowing what to pack (hint: bring snacks) and what to expect!
While there are many companies that can take you safely on your Acatenango expedition, I recommend Wicho & Charlies. This company is awesome! All you have to do is show up and they will arrange everything from gear to food and transportation. Their guides are expert mountaineers and extremely kind individuals. Moreover, this company gives back to local communities by donating a portion of their profits to local schools and organizations.
Completed the top three hikes in Antigua? Time for some rest and relaxation! Check out this guide for other activities to enjoy your time in Antigua. You’ll also want to replenish with a nice meal after all of the exercise, so make sure that you get some great food. And don’t forget that Guatemala offers so many lovely off-the-beaten-path activities, too. Book a visit to the lake or the beach for a change in scenery!