Antigua (Guatemala) for Digital Nomads: The Ultimate Guide

Antigua, Guatemala captured my digital nomad heart from the moment I arrived. After three months of exploring Mexico and Guatemala, I was blown away by Antigua’s beauty and charm. The cobblestone streets, the pastel-colored buildings, and the stunning volcanoes in the horizon made me feel like I was in a fairy tale. One of my most memorable experiences was watching the Fuego volcano erupt in a fiery display against the sunset sky - it was truly magical.

Antigua is not only a gorgeous city, but also a great place for digital nomads. Even though it attracts many tourists, it still has a laid-back, cozy atmosphere. It’s an ideal spot to base yourself for adventurous activities like volcano hiking, ethical coffee tours, or just strolling around the lovely cafés and shops with your laptop.

Before I set off for my Guatemalan adventure, I searched online for information tailored to digital nomads visiting Antigua, but I didn’t find much. That’s why I decided to create this guide, to share my insights and tips with other nomads who want to make Antigua their home away from home.

Where is Antigua located?

Antigua is nestled in the mountains of Guatemala, a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City, which is only 40 km away. The city is surrounded by three impressive volcanoes: the towering Volcán de Agua to the south, and Volcán de Fuego and Volcán de Acatenango to the west.

Living in Antigua as a Digital Nomad: Advantages and Disadvantages

Volcano Fuego towering over Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: Freaking Nomads)

As much as I loved Antigua, no place is perfect. And there are a few drawbacks that stood out to me while living there as a digital nomad. Ready? Let's dive in!

Why You'll Love Antigua

1. Mild Weather All Year Long

Guatemala is known as the “land of eternal spring”, but the climate varies a lot depending on the region you're in. Antigua enjoys a mild temperature range of 54-77°F(12-25°C) throughout the year. You can’t ask for better weather than that!

2. An Emerging Hub for Nomads

Antigua is a popular tourist spot, but it’s still a hidden gem for many nomads. For now, at least. That means you can find cozy coworking spaces and cafés that cater to remote workers before they get crowded.

3. Top-Notch, Volcano-Grown Coffee

The volcanic soil, mixed with hot and cold winds, creates amazing coffee. If you need a good cup of it to start your day, you’ll love the café scene here. I’ll tell you where to find the best ones later in this guide.

4. Friendly and Courteous Localse

Antiguans are known for their hospitality and kindness. They welcome visitors with open arms and treat them with respect. They also appreciate good manners - a simple hello on the street goes a long way.

The Potential Downsides of Antigua

1. Language Barrier

Antigua relies heavily on tourism now, so English is widely spoken downtown. But if you venture into other areas, you’ll need Spanish to communicate. If you’re not proficient, you’ll find simple tasks frustrating until you learn some. But there are plenty of language schools and courses here - great ways to meet other travelers and improve your skills!

2. Gentrification and Rising Costs

Locals and expats who have lived here for a long time complain about increasing rents and apartments being converted into Airbnbs. Antigua used to be affordable for foreigners, but its popularity came with a price. Antigua is becoming more expensive for its original residents as it caters more to tourists and digital nomads.

3. Not the Cheapest City in Guatemala

As a result of the gentrification, Antigua is losing its budget-friendly appeal. Dining out or having a drink is much more expensive than in other Guatemalan cities. It’s still cheaper than Europe, but not as cheap as you’d expect from Central America. You can save money by looking for apartments outside the center and eating at local places off the main streets.

How to Get to Antigua

Traditional Guatemalan masks
Traditional Guatemalan masks (Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Antigua is located in and is the capital of the Sacatepéquez department of Guatemala. Guatemala City is the easiest way to get there, as it’s only 90 minutes away.

By Plane

When you land at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, you can take an Uber or a shuttle service to Antigua in less than two hours. You can book your shared shuttle directly from the airport arrivals hall.

By bus

There are also daily public buses that go from Guatemala City to Antigua. The two-hour chicken bus ride is very cheap, but also very bumpy!

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Chicken buses are old American school buses that have been given a new life in Guatemala. They are painted with bright colors and decorated with flashy accessories.

How to Get Around Antigua

Chicken busses in Antigua, Guatemala
Chicken busses (Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Antigua is a small city, so you can easily walk to any place you want. But if you need a ride, there are plenty of options. You can hop on a tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled taxi that will take you anywhere for a low price. Or you can call an Uber if you prefer.

If you want to explore beyond Antigua without your luggage, you can head to the central chicken bus station and catch a bus to nearby villages.

Best Accommodation Options in Antigua

Street in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Finding a cheap place to stay in Antigua can be tricky, as there are not many coliving options apart from big chains like Selina. You’ll need to spend some time browsing platforms like Booking and Airbnb as well as local housing groups to find your ideal spot.

Facebook Rental Groups

Before you check out the big sites, try the Expats Living in Guatemala Facebook group. You can find some Antigua apartments there, which are usually cheap but basic. There are also other groups specific to Antigua, but they have fewer options.

Airbnb and Booking

On Airbnb, you can share a room in an apartment for $300-$500. If you want more privacy, you can rent a whole house, but that will cost you around $600+, depending on the amenities and location. Booking has some hostels too, but if you want a private home, you’ll pay around $400-$600 for a mid-range one.

Antigua’s Top Neighborhoods

Antigua's historic center
Antigua's centro (Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Antigua is a small city that you can easily walk around. But each area has its own unique vibe, from lively to lowkey. Here are some of the highlights from a local perspective.

Historic Center: The Heart of Antigua

The historic center is full of colonial buildings, ancient churches, and convent ruins that make Antigua a living museum. It’s also where most of the tourists hang out - sometimes it’s hectic, but always colorful. The center has a vibrant energy that draws you in. Just be ready for the frequent fireworks that go off during Guatemalan festivities!

La Concepción: Quiet and Convenient

La Concepción is a great place to stay if you want a calm residential atmosphere, but still close to the action. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the center. We enjoyed staying here during our visit. It was nice to have some peace and quiet, but also easy to join the fun when we wanted.

El Casco: The Cultural and Party Zone

El Casco is where you’ll find the best galleries, museums, and nightlife in Antigua. It’s a magnet for culture and party lovers. Backpackers also love this area for its social vibe. If you’re looking for excitement and entertainment during your stay, El Casco is the place to be.

Santa Ana: The Local and Budget-Friendly Area

Santa Ana is ideal for long-term visitors who want to experience the real Antigua. It has a genuine and untouched feel, and it’s cheaper than other areas. Expats blend in with Guatemalan families who appreciate the area’s peacefulness and value. You can immerse yourself in the local culture here, while still being a short ride away from the center.

Internet Connectivity in Antigua

Speed test in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: Freaking Nomads)

Reliable, fast internet is a must-have for every digital nomad looking for a new base. So how good is Antigua’s wifi? In a nutshell - good, but not everywhere. I’d recommend asking landlords for specific speed tests and using coworking spaces as a backup for important video calls or large uploads.

And a word of caution during storm season - severe weather can sometimes cause power outages, cutting off the internet completely for a while. Be prepared if you visit during the rainy months when web access could be unreliable!

Under these circumstances, it's wise to be a bit more independent and get your own internet connection. There are plenty of options that include a portable WiFi device, a prepaid SIM card and an eSIM.

Pre-Paid Local SIM Cards for Guatemala

Major carriers in Guatemala like Claro and Tigo offer tourist SIM cards. You can often find them at phone shops or around the city.

eSIM Plans for Guatemala

You can also purchase a digital eSIM for Guatemala, which is a SIM card you can download to a compatible smartphone. The benefit of an eSIM is that you can buy it online prior to traveling and activate it when you arrive in Guatemala, without needing to replace your physical SIM card. Sounds amazing, right?

There are a few eSIM providers that offer plans for Guatemala. The most reliable are Holafly and Airalo. Below you can see the data allowances for each provider and the various plans they offer.

Holafly eSIM Plans for Guatemala

Validity Data Price
5 Days Unlimited data with calls $29,00
7 Days Unlimited data with calls $37,00
10 Days Unlimited data with calls $44,00
15 Days Unlimited data with calls $47,00
20 Days Unlimited data with calls $59,00
30 Days Unlimited data with calls $79,00

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Airalo eSIM Plans for Guatemala

Validity Data Price
7 Days 1 GB $6,50
15 Days 2 GB $12,50
30 Days 3 GB $17,50
30 Days 5 GB $25,50

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Not all phones support eSIM technology, so you need to check your device compatibility before buying one. 

Best Places to Work in Antigua

Are you a digital nomad who loves working in cozy cafés or modern coworking spaces? In Antigua, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your work style. Below are my favourite spots to work remotely from in Antigua:

Coworking Spaces

Selina coworking space in Antigua
Selina coworking space in Antigua

Antigua’s coworking scene is still small, but there are some quality venues that offer community and infrastructure:

Selina

This global hostel/coworking chain has a central location in Antigua. You can get daily or monthly passes to use their ready-to-go workspaces with eclectic decor. The downside - it’s always busy with travelers and events, which can be distracting.

Impact Hub (Re-opening April)

This was a favorite spot for digital nomads for its relaxed courtyard work areas, but it closed down unexpectedly. It’s reopening in a new place soon. Hopefully, it will keep the same vibe and wifi that made it so popular before!

The Cube Center

The Cube is a sophisticated facility with volcano views, but you’ll need a shuttle to get there. Once you’re there, you’ll enjoy the artistic industrial design and the coffee from the famous Café El Artista (more on that later!).

Cafés

Coffee in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

If you’re more into working in cafés, there are some great ones that will keep you caffeinated and connected:

Coffee Artist

My top choice - amazing cold brew, fast wifi, and a great atmosphere in their garden or upstairs lounge. Get there early or after lunch to get a good table!

Bella Vista Coffee

Another great option with stunning volcano views from their airy balcony, eco-friendly coffee/food, and reliable wifi.

Fernando’s Coffee

Not only does Fernando’s have excellent coffee, but also delicious chocolate and interesting workshops. Sit by the window and enjoy the friendly vibe when you need a boost of productivity.

Living costs in Antigua

Free salsa lessons in Antigua
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Guatemala attracts visitors with its low prices, but Antigua is still more expensive than other places. The tourism and expat demand drive up the costs. Here’s an overview of what you can expect to spend:

Housing

Antigua rentals are not cheap, especially these days. You can share an apartment on Airbnb for $300-$500/month. If you want a whole house with more privacy, you’ll pay at least $600, and more than $1000 for better amenities or locations. Booking has some cheaper options than Airbnb - you can pay $400-$600 for a decent place.

Eating Out

Cooking at home can save you a lot, but the food scene is tempting! At fancy restaurants, you’ll pay $20-$30 for a meal. At more casual places, you’ll pay $10-$15. And you can find cheap and tasty street food everywhere - look for them to save.

Coffee Culture

You’ll find cafés everywhere and a coffee break will cost you $2-$4 on average. But the quality varies a lot. Antigua has some specialty coffee places that make each cup with care, but they charge more. Others serve good, regular coffee.

Grocery

Shopping If you need groceries or other things, La Bodegona is the best mini-mart option. It has imported products and similar prices to US stores. You can also find reasonable prices at the local markets.


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Traditions, History and Culinary Culture in Antigua

Antigua's Rich History

Historical plaza in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: Freaking Nomads)

Antigua was Guatemala’s colonial capital for over 300 years until a series of natural disasters in the 18th century forced its evacuation. The fertile volcanic soil attracted farmers soon after, planting Antigua’s coffee and corn heritage. Its prestige kept growing, earning a UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979.

Today this historic past blends with modern vitality - the Baroque architecture transforms into boutique hotels and museums…the gastronomy scene flourishes with local farms…and the arts community revives the galleries behind the old façades.

Charming Architecture

Interior of a galler in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Antigua’s beauty comes from its Baroque 17th and 18th-century buildings. They have stucco and carved details and low shapes that were made to resist earthquakes. Some of them are decaying as haunting ruins, but others are reborn as boutiques, hotels, galleries and other creative uses. Walking along the cobblestone streets, you’ll discover one surprising conversion after another.

Delicious Food

Vegetarian burger in Antigua
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

The volcanic soil and the springlike weather make more than coffee grow - Antigua’s surroundings are full of green gardens and farms. For the best farm-to-table experience, go to Caoba Farms just outside the city. Their café makes tasty sandwiches, pizzas and drinks with ingredients freshly picked from their organic garden and farm. Then check out the produce markets and gift shops for local treats to take home.


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Best Time to Visit Antigua

Religious festivities in Antigua, Guatemala
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Like other places in Central America, Antigua is best visited during the dry season, which lasts from November to April.

Dry season

During these months, you can enjoy both Antigua and Guatemala in general. The mild temperatures and the lack of rain make it ideal for climbing volcanoes or visiting archaeological sites without getting stuck in the mud. The holiday months, such as Christmas and Easter, are very special: Guatemalans, who are very religious, celebrate with parades, processions, fireworks and flower carpets. If you’re not a fan of this festive mood and the chaos that comes with it, you might want to avoid Antigua during this time.

Rainy season

Visiting Antigua and Guatemala during the rainy season will test your patience. Even though it’s less crowded, the storms could affect your work as a digital nomad: during heavy rains, there might be no power or internet. Some coffee farmers near Antigua told us that the rains in 2023 were not too bad. But still, the best months to visit are between November and April, to avoid the mud and do all the outdoor activities you want.


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6 Best Things to Do in Antigua

Antigua is the perfect destination for anyone who loves adventure, art, history and culture. There are many things to do in the city and its surroundings, and here are some of them in detail!

1. Hiking on the Acatenango

Volcano Fuego
Volcano Fuego (Photo credits: Freaking Nomads)

One of the most adventurous and thrilling experiences in Antigua is to climb one of the volcanoes that tower over its colonial landscape. From the city, when the clouds clear, you can see the Fuego volcano, still active with its rumbles and eruptions of smoke and fire. Where can you admire it from? From another volcano, of course. Climbing to the top of Acatenango, at almost 4000 meters, you will enjoy a unique view of not only the volcanoes, but also the surrounding countryside and even Lake Atitlán. Since it’s almost 15 km round trip, you’ll need one or two days of hiking with an authorized guide.

2. Enjoy the view from Antigua's viewpoints

Santa Catalina Arch seen from above
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

If hiking on the volcanoes is too much for you, but you still want to enjoy a stunning view, at least of the city, you have two options. The first is the La Merced Church, located in the center of Antigua and featuring a beautiful and decorated terrace. It’s a tourist attraction, right in front of the iconic Santa Catalina arch, so I recommend you visit it in the morning. The early hours of the morning are also ideal for the second viewpoint. Clouds will often cover the volcanoes, so it’s best to beat them to the punch. To reach the Hill of the Cross, which is free to enter, you just need to get to the entrance and walk along the stairs for about ten minutes.

3. Admire Santa Catalina Arch and church ruins

Church ruins in Antigua
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

Santa Catalina Arch has been well preserved, surviving earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It was built in 1649 to allow the nuns of the Convent of La Merced to cross the street without being seen, and rebuilt with the clock tower in the 19th century. Today it’s one of the most iconic symbols of Antigua, and very crowded. If you want to take a picture of it calmly, I suggest you visit it in the morning: there will be other people, but not as many as later in the day. Other historical spots to check out are the ruins of old churches, which you can find around the city like a treasure hunt.

4. Visit a nearby coffee plantation

Hand holding coffee fruit
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

If you want to have an authentic experience with a family that has been growing coffee for generations, a visit to a plantation is a must. There are many, but for their ecological and social commitment, I recommend you contact La Familia del Café. Julio and his family welcomed us into their home and showed us how all stages of artisanal coffee production work. With their dedication, they managed to become independent producers, and also helped the surrounding communities to break away from the traditional companies that exploit the land and the workers. These are still very common, a curse that affects the history of Guatemala in other sectors, such as fruit.

5. Have fun at Hobbitenango

Hobbitenango
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

If you need to get away from work and clear your mind for a couple of hours, hop on a shuttle to the Lord of the Rings-inspired Hobbitenango theme park. Among houses built like those of the hobbits, panoramic views of the volcanoes and games such as mini golf and archery, you can spend a different and special morning. Here too, my advice is to go in the morning to enjoy the scenery and avoid the crowds.

6. Visit the MUNAG

MUNAG
(Photo credits: @unaelenaerrante)

National Museum of Art of Guatemala Located in the center of Antigua, this museum opened a few years ago and is a little gem not to be missed. Entry is free (bring your passport with you) and covers the history of Guatemala for over 3000 years: the various rooms display ancient artifacts, colonial paintings, modern sculptures and more.


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Is Antigua Safe?

Guatemala has a reputation for being dangerous, but you can avoid most risks by being careful. Antigua is generally a safe place - most crimes are minor thefts, not violent attacks.

Just be alert in crowded places and only bring what you need when you go out. Dark alleys are also risky for pickpockets at night, so stay on the main streets or go with others. Be extra careful in less touristy areas. And don’t show off your expensive devices or jewelry that could catch the wrong eye.

By being smart, paying attention to your surroundings, and following the locals’ advice, you can enjoy Antigua’s beauty without any trouble.

Ready to Make Antigua Your Next Nomad Destination?

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