I have been to Antigua, Guatemala twice in the past couple of months. It truly is the most peaceful place on the planet.
It's like Disneyland on pot: It is the happiest place on earth, just a lot more mellow. Every time I walk into the city all of my worries just float off my shoulders. I can breathe, something I cannot do in Los Angeles where I live.
My friends are sick to death of hearing me talk about Antigua so I thought I'd share with you. If you want to get away from your crazy hectic life and get some bliss go here! It's magical!
What To See:
Inglesia De San Francisco: One of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen. It literally takes my breath away every time I go. It has some of the coolest artwork adorning its walls. Every time I walk in I'm immediately at peace. A must see!
Cathedral de San Santiago: This church is located in Parque Central and has amazing ruins on the back of the church. The crypt and gardens are really cool as well. Be sure to visit at night. The cathedral is completely lit up and fantastic.
The Plaza: This is the Parque Central of the city. It is a great place for people watching. They sometimes have entertainment such as puppeteers and is always a great time. It's actually just fun to just relax and take in everything that is happening around you. Everyone hangs out here from old men drinking their coffee and reading the paper to kids running around and playing.
Mercado De Artesanias: This is the artist market on the edge of town. They have everything from jewelry to textiles to masks. It's actually just really cool to walk around and look, although you know you are going to want to buy something. Always haggle to get the best price.
Casa Santa Domingo (ruins only): This is the most beautiful hotel I've ever seen. It kicks the ass of any four-star hotel in the U.S. I didn't stay here, though, I only looked at the ruins of the monastery which were awesome! I loved walking down into the crypts and seeing all of the old bones. The gardens are just spectacular, really beautiful with parrots chattering in the background. The art museum is fantastic as well.
Where to Eat:
Café Sky: This place has really great views of the city and a little bit of everything on their menu. Prices are extremely reasonable and service is great.
El Amador Italiano: The best Italian food I had while I was there. It has a great menu and an awesome wine selection. The staff is very attentive and intent on giving you a great dining experience.
Tretto Café: This gem has the best coffee in town. It also has some pretty yummy pastries too.
Where to Stay:
Hotel La Cathetral: This is one of the best places I've ever stayed at. The service is extraordinary. The hotel manager, Marco, goes above and beyond. He is truly one of the kindest people I've ever met and bends over backwards to make your stay memorable. The rooms are beautiful. The location is perfect; it's about a block from Parque Central and close to everything. The courtyard is lush and beautiful. There is free breakfast every day. Even the maids are friendly and make you feel like it's your home away from home. It's the only place I will stay.
Where to Drink:
Café No Se: If you like to drink and have a good time this is a must go to. Honestly it's one of the best bars I've ever been to -- and believe me I've been to a lot. Too many probably. You walk in and your eyes are immediately drawn to all of the grafitti, pictures and craziness all over the walls. They have live music every night ranging from a singer from Alabama to an amazing piano player to a feisty duo that keeps the bar jumping. The drinks are reasonable and the mezcal will kick your butt. Everyone that comes here falls in love with this place and you will too.
Ocelot Bar: I love going to happy hour here. It's filled with old guys who have some great stories. You meet the most fascinating people while drinking here. Everyone is just so damn friendly. The beer selection is cool as well as super cheap and the bartender (Dave) is surly and funny at the same time. The food is good, especially the fries. This is another bar you will fall in love with.