Antigua, Guatemala’s most beautiful and historic city, is like having a little bit of Europe, just south of the border, but at a fraction of the cost. Also, with daily direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Dallas, Guatemala is easy to get to and in less time than it takes to fly to Europe or Hawaii.
Nestled between three dramatic volcanoes in Central America, Antigua, Guatemala is one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful colonial cities. This majestic, 400 year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited city in Central America and its popularity only continues to grow as recently underscored by its winning “TOP City” at the Wanderlust’s 2009 Travel Awards, beating out more than 600 other popular world destinations.
In Antigua travelers explore the ruins, museums, art galleries, restaurants and shops that are dotted throughout the famous cobblestone streets of this former capital of Guatemala. Centrally located, Antigua is also the perfect base from which to take short trips to other popular destinations like Lake Atitlan, the Pacific Coast and the world famous Mayan Temples of Tikal. Known as the “land of the eternal spring”, Antigua has a humidity-free average temperature of 75 degrees all year round, so there is never a bad time to visit.
So whether you prefer a leisurely horse carriage ride through this centuries old city, or a day at the outdoor market discovering incredible hand-crafted treasures, or a heart-pounding trip through the tree-tops on a zip-line… whatever might inspire and renew you is likely to be found in Antigua…
ABOUT LAKE ATITLAN
Perhaps it happens when you are gazing at the towering volcanoes disappearing into the distance as you skim across an ancient, blue glassy lake on your way to discover your next lakeside Mayan Village. Or maybe it strikes you when you are admiring the rising sun on a morning in a place so beautiful that it makes you catch your breath. Here, in this magical place, it happens – you disconnect, then reconnect to something that deeply enriches and renews.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Lake Atitlan is a stunning natural wonder that has seduced travelers for centuries. Ringed by three soaring volcanoes, the crystal blue lake of Atitlan is home to more than a dozen lakeshore villages. In many of the villages the Mayan culture is still prevalent and the traditional dress is still worn.
Complementing the traditional villages are a few “funky tourist towns” like Panajachel, San Marcos and San Pedro, where travelers from around the world meet, mix and have fun. Atitlan is truly a unique wonder of the world, or as one recent visitor described it – Lake Atitlan is like having too much of a good thing! Just a short distance away from the lake is the world famous open market of Chichicastenango. In Chichi, tourists get a glimpse into another world filled with Mayan rituals, dances, processions and of course an endless selection of spectacular and authentic Guatemalan handcrafted goods.
The undisputed center of Ancient Mayan Society, Tikal sits in the heart of Guatemala’s northern rain forest -making this sacred place the home of Mayan history as well as home to hundreds of species of monkeys, toucans and parakeets.
The Tikal National Park, a protected area some 370 square kilometers, is a moving, mystical experience for visitors – highlighted by the magnificent pyramid ruins of the lost Mayan world. For years visitors from around the world have come to Tikal to transport their minds, bodies and spirits back in time while watching a new day dawn at sunrise as they are surrounded by the ancient Temples of Tikal.
ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA – RESOURCES & ACCOMMODATIONS
* One of the most beautiful and distinctive features of Antigua are the spectacular 400-year-old ruins that can be found on nearly every corner of this enchanting, centuries-old city. Many of these ruins can actually be rented for various private events – making any party, meeting, ceremony or wedding uniquely memorable.
* Casa Santa Domingo, a 5-Star Hotel which is built right into the ruins, is Antigua’s most famous and impressive hotel. This hotel warrants serious consideration from anyone planning a trip to Antigua.
* Another luxury hotel in Antigua which has recently opened is El Convento. This hotel is best described as a boutique version of Casa Santa Domingo Hotel.
* For those seeking a more “natural, outdoor garden” experience – check out the beautiful and serene Quinta de Las Flores.
* So whether you prefer luxury with history like Casa Santa Domingo or the natural beauty of Quinta de Las Flores – both types of accommodations are available in Antigua (plus everything in-between).
LAKE ATITLAN – RESOURCES & ACCOMMODATIONS
* Breathtakingly beautiful, serene Lake Atitlan… a good number of new, boutique hotels and services have opened on the lake during the last several years. Following are a few favorites:
* Casa Palopo is an elegant hotel on the lake which was recently named by Conde Nast as one of the best hotels in the world. The rooms are sumptuous, as are the gourmet restaurant and deck which overlook the lake. The 9-room gem comes with a patio or terrace for each room, king or queen beds, Aveda bath products, Italian linens, and mini bar. It room has a stunning lake view. Oh, and finally – they have two helicopter landing pads so that you can FLY from the Guate City airport directly to this amazing hotel on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan!
* Villa Sumaya Hotel is probably the lake’s most renowned full-service hotel and Retreat Center. It is perfectly located right on the shores of Lake Atitlan and has – for years now – been home to numerous tourist with a special dedication given to practitioners of yoga, meditation and massage.
* Lomas de Tzununa is a “high-altitude” option on Lake Atitlan that has views that simply cannot be beat! Sitting atop a mountainside overlooking the lake, Lomas de Tzununa’s treats its guest to some of the lake’s most stunning vistas.
* Isla Verde is another beautiful option. This lovely boutique hotel has also made a commitment to being Eco-Friendly and Eco-Chic.
* For free time, Lake Atitlan offers a variety of activities which range from exploring the Mayan villages on the lake to zip-lining across lakeside valleys to boating and kayaking. Many on the lake also prefer to simply ‘drink in the drama’ of Lake Atitlan while dining on the amazing cuisine found at Ven Aca.
TIKAL – RESOURCES & ACCOMMODATIONS
Seeing the tops of ancient Mayan Pyramids poking through the jungle canopy at sunrise is a sight every soul should see in their lifetime. Such a setting is the perfect place to reflect on any and all of the universe’s mysteries and magic.
The Jungle Lodge is just minutes away by foot from the world-famous ruins of Tikal. Tucked away in the deep jungle of northern Guatemala, guests here enjoy an extraordinary educational and cultural experience while also enjoying the natural wonder of being in an untouched, remote jungle.
With a pool, a large restaurant and cabin accommodations, the Jungle Lodge is the perfect setting from which to explore and enjoy the Mayan Ruins and also the spectacular jungle, wildlife and birds that surround them.