A man looking over the town of Antigua with volcanoes in the back from the Cerro de la Cruz lookout point - one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua Guatemala

16 Cheap Things to do in Antigua, Guatemala

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Antigua is one of the best places to visit in Guatemala. But it can be an expensive destination. Luckily we have listed awesome cheap things to do in Antigua for you!

Guatemala is still very affordable compared to Western countries around the world. But you can also blow a lot of money if you are not careful.

We spent 2 months living in Antigua as digital nomads on a budget. So let’s get into all the cheap things to do in Antigua so you can enjoy it like a cheap skate! 🤠

1. Wander the Colonial Streets

Walking around the beautiful streets of Antigua is always a cheesy entry at the top of any list of cheap things to do. But it is truly one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua.

Antigua has a long history stretching over hundreds of years and you can see that history as you walk around. Antigua was once the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala which covered almost the whole of Central America.

Locals walking along the beautiful town of Antigua Guatemala
The streets of Antigua around Christmas time
A yellow church on a street in Antigua Guatemala with a volcano rising up behind it

During this period it was one of the most important cities in the Spanish Empire. This meant that many beautiful old buildings were built. Unfortunately, many devastating earthquakes destroyed the city in the 1700s.

The sun rising in Antigua's town with a clear view of Agua Volcano - one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua Guatemala
Sunrise in Antigua’s center

Due to all the earthquakes, the capital was moved to modern-day Guatemala City. An order was made to abandon Antigua but the residents would never be forced to leave.

Luckily Antigua was never abandoned because it is a beautiful city and it would have been a shame if it was left to rot.

To fully take in the city I recommend picking a few landmarks in different corners of the city and just wandering around taking in all the colorful cobblestone streets.

Tip: Antigua is quite busy during the day and in the evenings. If you want to explore the streets in peace and take scenic photos head out in the morning 📸 This guided walking tour will bring you to the best spots.

2. Walk up to Antigua’s Best View

Cerro de la Cruz (Hill of the Cross) is where you should go for the best view of Antigua. The lookout gives you an awesome perspective of the three volcanoes Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango surrounding Antigua.

A man overlooking Antigua and the volcanoes in the back from Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint
A man in a white tshirt standing in front of a cross looking at volcan Agua in Antigua Guatemala

You can easily walk up to Cerro de la Cruz from the city center of Antigua. Just follow the Hill of the Cross Path on Google Maps or download Maps.me. It will take about 20 minutes to the beginning of the path and then another 15 minutes to get to the top.

Alternatively, you can take a tuk-tuk that are driving along the street waiting for passengers. Just make sure you haggle for a low price.

Safety tip: Walking up Cerro de la Cruz is a popular thing to do in Antigua Guatemala at night. But there have been reports of robberies after dark. So if you go up for sunset be aware that police stop patrolling the path at 6 pm 👮‍♀️

Book: Flexible travel & health insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here ✈️

Nomad Insurance by SafetyWing is one of the best travel insurances for Antigua Guatemala

3. Visit MUNAG Free Art Museum Antigua

MUNAG is an awesome national art museum in Guatemala that is one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua. Entrance is free!

The museum is located right on the main square of Antigua called Parque Central. So it is great to pop into while walking around town.

Inside the museum, you will find a collection of local and international artwork. There is also a collection of historical artifacts from Guatemala.

When we visited we were surprised by how empty the museum was. It is a very good museum and a great place to have a walk-through even if you are not super into art.

Another great place with free entrance showing art is the culture center Cooperación Española. It’s next to a ruin on the street in Antigua’s center and worth a visit.

Tip: There is a courtyard at the back of the MUNAG museum with awesome views of Volcan Agua. It has one of the best views of Volcan Agua at sunset 🌅

Overlooking a courtyard at the MUNAG museum in Antigua with volcanoes in the back that is one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua

4. Explore Antiguas Ruins (Iconic Cheap Thing to do in Antigua)

Antigua experienced a series of devastating earthquakes in the 1700’s. These earthquakes destroyed many beautiful buildings but the ruins of them can still be seen today. The ruins are scattered around the city and give Antigua a very special atmosphere.

A man walking through the ruins of an old church one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua Guatemala

It is fascinating to walk around and see the contrast between old colonial buildings that have been left in ruins. While right next door are colorful buildings that have been beautifully restored.

Some ruins are free to see from the street. But for others, you will have to pay for entrance. Some are a bit of a rip off while others are great value for money.

Read here: Which Antigua Ruins to See and Skip!

5. Get Lost in the Central Market

Antiguas Central Market is a maze of winding alleyways with everything you could need to buy. I am usually not the biggest fan of visiting markets but I particularly liked Antiguas.

It was never too busy and it was quite fun getting lost in all of the narrow alleyways. It is also a great place to go shopping for cheap local produce.

We also loved going to the market to grab a cheap local lunch. Pepian is Guatemala’s national dish and the market is one of the best restaurants in Antigua Guatemala to try it.

The eating area at the market is chaotic and noisy. But if you are a true traveler I am sure you will love it there. Read here: The Best Cheap Eats in Antigua!

Tip: To find the market food court ask a local or download Maps.me and head to the pin “lunch” on the Antigua map 🍽️ You can also join a market foodie tour.

A table with some traditional Guatemalan food one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua

6. Gaze at the Santa Catalina Arch

One of the most iconic structures in Antigua is the Santa Catalina Arch. The yellow archway appears in all guides to Antigua and is something you have to see while in town.

The yellow archway was initially built to connect the Santa Catalina Convent to a school so the nuns could travel between the buildings without going onto the street.

Back in those days, nuns had to take a vow of solitude which meant they could not go out in public. Quite an intense way to live in my opinion.

A tuk tuk driving along the road under the Santa Catalina Arch one of the best cheap things to do in Antigua

Today the Convent is a hotel but the archway still stands as a monument of Antigua’s history. It is located on one of the busiest tourist streets in Antigua so there will always be a crowd of people taking pictures underneath it.

There is also a big chance you will see couples in wedding dressings or gowns posing with the Arch as it is considered to be one of the romantic things to do in Antigua Guatemala. Make sure to look through the Arch both ways to capture both views.

Tip: You will have to get to the archway early in the morning to get a photo with no crowds in it. I recommend just after sunrise to get the morning glow 📸

7. Sip on Guatemalan Coffee

Guatemala is not a country that is internationally renowned for its coffee. But they grow some outstanding coffee and Antigua is a great place to sample some of it.

We were surprised when we arrived at how many great cafes there are in Antigua. It is not a huge town but you can cafe hop for a few days and try new cafes every day.

Most of the cafes have fairly cheap coffees as long as you don’t get something fancy. So it is a great cheap thing to do in Antigua for coffee lovers.

Since we traveled to Colombia we have been really into artisanal coffee and tried more than 15 coffee shops in Antigua.

Read here:
☕️ 14 Must-Try Coffee Shops in Antigua
🧑‍🌾 From Tree to Cup: How coffee is made
💛 Do you like our Antigua tips? Say thanks with a coffee here!

A cup of coffee sitting on a table at Cafe Boheme one of the best cafes in Antigua Guatemala

8. Take Photos at Union Tanks

The Union Tanks in Antigua are old basins that were traditionally used by local women to wash clothes. Today they are no longer in use but they offer a beautiful photo location. If you go on a clear calm day the trees and volcanoes reflect perfectly off the water 📸

A set of old washing basins in Antigua Guatemala reflecting the background of a volcano, colorful colonial buildings and palm trees

Some washing basins like this are still used in other parts of Guatemala. For example, in the outskirts of Antigua where we stayed, many locals still use them as many homes do not have running water.

So keep an eye out and you may see more of these basins around Guatemala being used by locals to wash their clothes.

Read also: This is Lake Atitlan’s most colorful town

9. Visit Hotel Casa Santo Domingo (Hidden Gem in Antigua)

Hotel Casa Santo Domingo is a hotel that is inside an old convent full of ruins, art galleries and more. It is free to enter so it is a great cheap thing to do in Antigua.

I was first hesitant about going because it sounded kind of strange to go inside a hotel as a tourist attraction. But I am glad I went because it is a hidden gem in Antigua Guatemala.

You can see the ruins of the convent out the back where there is also a museum you can pay to enter if you are interested in the history. If you splash out and stay the night you can visit all the parts for free.

The free art gallery and the grounds of the hotel are beautiful. So I highly recommend having a walk around if you are looking for something cheap to do.

Read also: Which Antigua Ruins to See and Skip!

Ruins inside of Hotel Casa Santo Domingo - one of the great cheap things to do in Antigua Guatemala
These ruins are inside a hotel!

10. Eat Organic at Coaba Farms

Coaba Farms is an organic farm located on the outskirts of central Antigua. It is a great place to go if you want to enjoy some healthy organic food.

There is a restaurant on site that often has live music and is very busy on the weekends. It is not the cheapest place but the food is supposed to be great if you want to splash out.

If you are looking for a cheap thing to do in Antigua I recommend going to the organic store on-site and grabbing a snack. The grounds of Coaba Farms are free to walk around and you can have a look at all their beautiful gardens and farm animals.

The store is full of all types of organic produce and healthy snacks. We liked to grab a box of organic strawberries and go and eat them on some chairs by the veggie garden. It’s a peaceful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Antigua’s city center.

Read here: Tips for eating cheap & healthy while traveling 🥑

A hand holding up a box of organic strawberries at Coaba farms in Antigua Guatemala

11. See Mayan Agriculture at Eco Farms

Eco Farms is another organic farm in Antigua that is more down-to-earth than Coaba Farms. Coaba Farms is better known among tourists but I liked Eco Farms even more.

At Eco Farms they utilize traditional Mayan farming techniques to grow organic produce. They also do a lot of work with the local community to help those in need.

The grounds are big and beautiful to walk around. There is also a big playground for kids, an educational section and an organic produce market to do some cheap shopping. It’s one of the great cheap things to do in Antigua Guatemala with kids.

The restaurants and cafes on-site offer very affordable meals. We decided to get a berry smoothie and it was HUGE and cheap. Winner!

Tip: You can go on a tour of Eco Farms for 100 Q (13 USD) including transport, lunch and a guide explaining Mayan farming techniques 🎒

Eatable plants growing in the form of a spiral a Mayan farming technique at Eco Farms Antigua

12. Learn about Jade (Free Thing to do in Antigua)

Jade Maya is a museum and shop where you can learn about Jade and even take some home with you. Entrance is free so it’s a great free thing to do in Antigua Guatemala.

To the Mayan people, Jade was a highly prized stone that was used for ceremonial and decorative purposes. But the Maya also attached spiritual significance to it. The green of Jade represents life and rebirth to the Maya.

So when someone was buried a piece of Jade was often placed within the person’s mouth to represent their rebirth in the afterlife.

Artifacts on display at the Jade Museum a cheap thing to do in Antigua Guatemala

At the Jade Maya Museum, you can learn many interesting facts such as this. There is also a Jade workshop onsite where you can see Jade jewelry being crafted.

A workshop in Antigua Guatemala with men crafting Jade jewellery inside of the Jade Maya museum

You can also buy some Jade jewelry in the gift shop. However, this will probably not be a cheap thing to do in Antigua as the jewelry can be quite pricey.

Make your own Jade: If you feel like taking home a special souvenir or were wondering where to buy Jade in Guatemala then this is the tour for you. You will learn about Jade’s history and get to make your own Jade jewelry 💎

13. Get a Souvenir at the Artisans Market

The Artisans Market is located next to the Central Market and is a great place to buy affordable colorful souvenirs, jewelry, arts and crafts.

I am usually not a fan of souvenir stands. However, the Artisan market in Antigua has a good collection of local products and is a nice and tranquil place to wander around.

If you are not sure what to buy in Antigua Guatemala here is an idea: We bought a silver ring with a real stone for 150 Q (15 USD) which is a great minimalistic Guatemalan souvenir for a really good price!

Another great souvenir place to check out is Nim Pot close to Santa Catalina Arch. It’s a huge place with tons of crafts and textiles. They even have a second-hand weaving section.

Read here: Why spend Christmas in Antigua 🤩

14. Visit Valhalla Macadamia Farm

Valhalla Macadamia Farm is an organic farm located just outside Antigua. It is a beautiful place to visit that offers free tours on arrival.

This Macadamis Farm was started over 30 years ago by an American traveler. He aimed to introduce Macadamia Farming to Guatemala as a sustainable way for local farmers to earn extra income and improve their lives.

In the time that the farm has been operating over 100,000 saplings have been distributed around Guatemala and greatly increased the Macadamia industry.

The free tour of the farm is available in English and Spanish and you learn a lot about macadamia nuts and try free samples. There is also a restaurant and a gift shop with many great macadamia-based products.

Visiting this farm is one of the best cheap unique things to do in Antigua off the beaten path. We never had such good-tasting Macadamia nuts before and found like we found a little hidden gem in Antigua Guatemala.

Tip: The Macadamia crepes are famous at the cafe. Big enough to share! 🥞

15. Catch a Chicken Bus (Fun Cheap Thing to do in Antigua)

You haven’t fully experienced Guatemala until you have taken a ride in a Chicken Bus! Chicken buses are the public transport for thousands of Guatemalans every day. All of the buses began their lives as school buses in the United States.

Once school buses have driven 150,000 miles or have been driven for 10 years they are auctioned. Drivers in Guatemala can then buy the buses for as little as 2,000 USD and bring them to Guatemala to pick up passengers.

They then decorate the buses with bright colors, pictures of cartoons, religious images or whatever else they like! Every bus has its special character and plays all types of music.

It can be a loud and tight squeeze depending on the time of day. But it is usually the cheapest way to travel around Guatemala and a unique experience.

Tip: We took Chicken buses all over Guatemala but on this Chicken bus tour you will have a local guide touring Antigua 🚌

A colorful chicken bus driving down the street in Antigua Guatemala

16. Climb Agua Volcano

Every day that we woke up in Antigua we were greeted with an amazing view of Volcan Agua. It is a huge volcano that you will see looking over town no matter where you are.

Everyone who visits Antigua hears about the famous Acatenango hike and the popular Pacaya volcano hike. But many people don’t know that you can hike Volcan Agua too.

It is a challenging but very nice hike and contrary to the other two mentioned above it is free! Unfortunately due to illness, we were not able to hike Agua ourselves. But a local friend told us it is a great hike, so we hope to return one day to complete it.

As with all hikes I recommend following the hike description on All Trails here.

Warning: In the reviews, some people mention robberies on the trail. Unfortunately, this can be a risk on unguided hikes in Guatemala. Make sure to hike in a group and don’t bring valuables with you 🎒

Overlookign a beautiful garden with pink flowers and Volcan Agua in the back
The view of Volcan Agua from our balcony in Antigua

Where to Stay in Antigua for Free or Cheap

Antigua is generally not a cheap place to stay but there are a few great options and hacks that will allow you to find cheap or free accommodation! So keep reading.

Antigua Housesitting

A great way to find free accommodation is to sign up to TrustedHouseSitters and apply for a petsit! We have done multiple petsits around the world, most of them in Mexico.

You will look after someone’s home and pets while they are on holiday and get a free place to stay in return. Of course, there is trust and responsibility involved but so far we only had great experiences.

There aren’t as many housesits in Guatemala as in other countries, but at least once a month we see one pop up in Antigua, Guatemala City or Lake Atitlan.

Sign up to Trusted House Sitters for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! 🐶 Read about how it works and our experiences here.

TrustedHousesitters - The Freedom To Travel

Read here: 5 Ways to find Free Accommodation 🏠

Antigua Hostels

Antigua has plenty of cheap hostels to stay at but two are standing out to me. Plus I have stayed in both of them during my first trip to Guatemala.

🛌 Somos Hostel – they have excellent reviews from thousands of guests and a great location in central Antigua. A dorm bed costs 15 USD per night and each bed has its own pod and privacy curtain.

🛌 Tropicana Hostel – has more of a party vibe. It is a super popular hostel with a bar and they also organize hikes to Fuego which is a must-do in Antigua. Dorm beds cost 10 USD per night so it is a great option if you are on a budget.

Book the cheapest Antigua hostels here or search for them here 👇

A tuk-tuk driving down a colorful street in Antigua Guatemala with a volcano rising up in the background

Antigua Hotels

There are also plenty of hotels in Antigua ranging from budget-friendly to 5 stars. I have listed here two great cheap options for you.

😴 Posada Maya – is the cheapest hotel I was able to find. The rooms are very basic but clean and a double room can cost as little as 15 USD per night!

😴 Magnolias – is a great choice if you have a higher budget. They have very tidy beautiful rooms for around 60 USD a night.

Search for more cheap hotels here or here 👇

Antigua Airbnb

We spent two months in an Airbnb just outside Antigua and we loved it. Our host Evelyn was super friendly and her property is such a beautiful, peaceful place.

Currently, one month in one of Evelyn’s studios is 1200 USD which is out of our price range. But we were lucky enough to get a good discount from Airbnb.

If you don’t mind being on the outskirts of town then it is a great place to stay and work for a while. The rooms have their own kitchen, fast wifi and an amazing volcano view. So everything you could want as a digital nomad.

Read here: Why spend New Year’s Eve in Antigua 🤩

Fuego Volcano erupting at sunset
Watching Fuego erupt from our balcony in Antigua

Enjoy the Best Cheap Things to do in Antigua!

Antigua is an amazing colonial town with so many unique things to do and see. We hope our list of the best cheap things to do in Antigua makes you enjoy it even more.

If there is anything you think we should add to the list let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure to check out our other articles on Antigua below!


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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