November kicks off the high season in Guatemala, ushering in endless days of perfect spring-like weather and offering high visibility for your treks around mountains and volcanoes surrounding Antigua. If you're planning on taking on serious hiking expeditions while your visiting, you need to prepare. Increase the incline on your carido machine a few weeks prior to your trip in order to get in peak hiking condition. Whatever level of acitivity you decide on while in Antigua, be sure to catch a glimpse of the smoke billowing out of the impressive (and still active) Volcan de Fuego up close.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Casa Azul
This is a place to pamper any aching muscles you might incur—the centrally-located boutique hotel has a pool, sauna and jacuzzi.
4a Av Norte 5
Hotel Palacio Chico
“The Little Palace” is a charming, architectural reminder of the city’s colonial past. It also serves a full breakfast on Sundays and is located right around the corner from the Parque Central.
4a Av Sur 4
Quinta de las Flores
Slightly east of the bustling city center, this hotel offers a tranquil respite with colorfully decorated bungalows nestled among expansive gardens to ponder the view of the volcanoes.
WHAT TO DO
Outdoor Excursions arranges trips to all area volcanoes, (including Pacaya, a bit further east) but the overnight trip to Acatenango is billed as the best, promising a view of the sunset and sunrise at 13,000 feet.
1 Av Sur 4b
“Sip ‘n’ cycle” your way through the Antigua Valley’s coffee plantations on one of the tours offered by Old Town Outfitters. Bonus: After sampling some of the region’s celebrated java, you’ll have the jolt you need for the return trip.
Exercise your bargaining skills at one of the area’s busy, expansive markets, like Nim Po't under the Santa Catalina arch, where local handicrafts including wood carvings, textiles and Mayan jewelry can be bought for souvenirs and gifts.
5a Av Norte 29
WHERE TO EAT
La Peña de Sol Latino
This spot combines live music with fine Guatemalan-style cuisine, including Carne Asada tipico and macadamia-encrusted grouper, all served in an outdoor garden for prices that taste good, too.
5a Calle Poniente, city center
This traveler-friendly coffeehouse has an assortment of quality café fare, including a raved about panquecque breakfast, and a relaxed, social atmosphere.
7a Av Norte 43 at Calle Camposeco
(502) 7832 6953
Pull up a pillow at this popular Lebanese lounge and try Middle Eastern standards, including kebabs and falafel, in a hip setting. Feeling adventurous? Why not also try a flavored narghili (that’s hookah to us) as an after-dinner treat?
5a Av., #35A, Antigua