I was able to spend two full weeks in Guatemala this past summer. We initially made the trip to attend the wedding of my boyfriend, Aaron’s, cousin in Guatemala City and then travel to Antigua, but decided to go an extra week to see some of my boyfriend’s dad’s properties. I was the only person on the trip who had never been and I was so excited to experience all of it.
We were going to spend the first week exploring Aaron’s dad’s properties and staying most days at his house in Punta de Palma, which is more than 5 hours from the city. We landed in Guatemala City and stayed on night before making the trip to the coast.
Punta de Palma and Rio Dulce
Now, the thing about Punta de Palma is that you have to take a boat there. We arrived in the city of Puerto Barrios and took a boat to the house. I am in love with the ocean so I loved having to take a boat pretty much everywhere for the week.
Some views from the house at Punta de Palma. The views are beautiful, but despite it being on the ocean, the water really isn’t for swimming.
One of the first things we did upon arrival was crack open some fresh coconuts!
We took the boat to a restaurant a little ways down the beach called Sand Bay and had some food and some of the local favorite beer, Gallo!
Puerto Barrios is a big place for imports. Lots of banana boats!
We ate lots of rambutan and mangosteen. We literally had garbage bags full of it!
Mid-way through the week we hopped on the boat and made the trip to the house in Rio Dulce. We stayed there for a night before. Before heading back to Punta de Palma, we made a stop at another one of Aaron’s dad’s properties in Villa Franca. To be honest that wasn’t my favorite property to visit. Just picture a large open farm, hot sun, climbing over barbed wire, and standing in the back of a pick-up truck while it drives on a make-shift grass path to the property. Not my cup of tea. It was definitely interesting to see all the cows and horses and the family that watches the property made us a lovely meal at their home, but it was a lot more than I bargained for on a miserably hot day. While I was glad I got to see it, I probably won’t be making my way back to visit the cows anytime soon.
Traditional meal made for us in Villa Franca.
Traditional Guatemalan breakfast (desayuno tipico). Eggs, beans, platanos, cheese, and lots of tortillas (not pictured).
The next stop was Guatemala city for the wedding! We took the Litegua (large, double decker charter bus) and it took us 9 hours to get there! There was a ton of traffic along the way. I was so happy when we arrived at the hotel!
I was happy to be back in the city with some cooler temps. The wedding was lovely and I loved being able to stay in a fancy hotel for two nights. Especially after a week of cold showers! The wedding was at the Westin Camino Real and it was gorgeous!
After the wedding we made the trip to Antigua, which was my favorite destination! Antigua is a small town in the mountains. You can see both the Pacaya and Acatenango, two volcanoes near the city. Antigua is a popular spot for tourists, students, and many ex-pats live there. There are many Spanish schools within the city. The first thing we did after arriving at our Air BnB was climb the stairs to Cerro de la Cruz.
The stairs weren’t too tough to climb and the view is amazing!
We spend the week exploring the city and visiting as many spots as we could!
This is the central park and the fountain located in the center. There are also many ruins located throughout the city, but I opted to rest instead of exploring them that day.
One of our favorite breakfast spots was Cafe Condesa. Great good and coffee! Guatemala really does have the BEST coffee. I blame this trip for making me a coffee drinker again.
I stumbled upon Amanacer Juice Bar and got myself some fresh juice! It was so good I went back twice!
I got this gorgeous outfit from Stela 9. They have beautiful handmade clothing, as well as handbags and textiles. The store is owned by an American, but all goods are made by local women. You can also buy their goods on their website.
Antigua even has a brewery!
We had an amazing meal at Casa Santo Domingo! It was pouring rain the entire time and since the restaurant is mostly open air it came down right in the middle. Luckily no one was seated there at the time! Casa Santo Domingo is also a hotel and gorgeous wedding venue. It used to be a convent before it was a hotel.
Go to Cafe No Se if you want to get your hands on some Illegal Mezcal.
If you like Mexican food, even a little bit, you MUST go to Frida’s! I had some amazing nachos and literally the BEST flan I have ever had! Plus, the atmosphere is cool.
I think Caoba Farms was probably my favorite place and best meal in Antigua. I had been wanting to go here from the beginning of the week, but we didn’t end up tracking it down until the end when most of our group was headed back to the states. I wish we would’ve found it sooner, I would have eaten there everyday! It’s a farm and restaurant and had the freshest food! They even sold their own kombucha in their farm store! Everyone that went agreed that it was amazing!
While in Antigua, we went on a day trip to Lake Atitlan. It was a guided tour and we got to take a boat around the lake and see the four volcanoes (Pacaya, Acatenango, Fuego, and Agua) as well as take a tour around the coastal city of Santiago.
We stopped for breakfast on the way to the lake and it was so good!
They dressed us up in some traditional clothing. Many women in Guatemala still wear traditional outfits.
In Antigua and other parts of Guatemala there are little cars called Tuk Tuks, which you can pay to ride around in. You can pretty much walk everywhere in Antigua, but if you get tired or it’s raining there are always Tuk Tuks. Here is one in Santiago.
Three of us squeezed into one after dinner one night to go from Jocotenango (the neighboring town) back to Antigua. It was quite a tight squeeze to say the least!
View from the back.
Aaron can never keep his eyes open, haha!
My trip to Guatemala was everything I expected it to be! I had been wanting to visit Antigua for a long time and it did not disappoint. I definitely want to make a trip back to Antigua soon, and not during the rainy season! I would love to spend some more time in the cities surrounding Lake Atitlan as well! I highly recommend Guatemala as a travel destination, especially Antigua and the surrounding areas. There is so much to do and see and the country is beautiful!
Love, Samantha Marie