Founded in the sixteenth century and Guatemala’s capital until 1776, Antigua is a cosmopolitan destination with a rich colonial past. Its long cobblestone streets are lined with pretty, pastel-hued houses, luxe boutique hotels and an exceptional selection of smart shops, galleries, and restaurants —whether you prefer fine dining or street eats, there’s no going hungry in Antigua.
This charming UNESCO World Heritage city sits surrounded by small-scale coffee farms, indigenous villages, and three imposing volcanoes. At the heart of town is the parque central, a European-style plaza that attracts everyone from families to shoe-shiners to ice cream vendors; most congregate around the park’s main feature, a fountain with four artfully sculpted bare-chested mermaids. Antigua was home to dozens of colonial monuments, churches, and monasteries, but a massive earthquake in 1773 damaged or reduced most to rubble. In the centuries thereafter, efforts were made to rebuild and restore, and the city now comprises a gorgeously melancholy mix of relics and ruins.