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Antigua Guatemala

City Guide

Meet Antigua Guatemala

Famed for its volcanoes and coffee farms, this picturesque town in Guatemala’s highlands is one of the most popular destinations for both tourists and digital nomads in Central America.

With its Spanish architecture and cobblestone streets, Antigua has been called the most charming city in Guatemala. Located in the country’s central highlands region, the city was established in the mid-1500s and was the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala until earthquakes ravaged the city in the 1770s. Once a regional hub for trade, culture, and education, the city was practically abandoned for several decades, reviving in the mid-1800s as coffee and grain production increased in the area. Antigua today is a relatively small city by global standards, with a population of just over 45,000 people. It’s also one of the most visited cities in Central America, renowned for its colonial landmarks, idyllic climate, and easy access to the region’s natural beauty. While the old-world feel is one of Antigua’s charms, it’s a modern, vibrant city with thriving art and culinary scenes. That combination of authentic culture and modern convenience makes Antigua very appealing to digital nomads as well as retirees and other expats.

Where to live in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua is a very compact and pedestrian-friendly town. While there are neighborhood areas, some of which have their own unique feel, it’s easy to get from one part of town to another. That means you can choose where you live based on the feel of the area rather than worrying about convenience. Downtown and the surrounding areas have the highest density of shops, restaurants, and people, and are an appealing area for those who like living in an energetic environment. You don’t have to travel far to find more residential areas, though, good news for those who prefer a quieter neighborhood.

Best Neighborhoods in Antigua Guatemala

Many tourists stay right in the city center (El Caseo), and this can be a great option for digital nomads and expats, as well. It’s where you’ll find the most active nightlife and the best variety of restaurants and cultural attractions. Nearby Barrio de La Concepcion is less popular with tourists but has a similar vibrant energy. If you’re looking for a more residential area, the neighborhoods to the south of El Caseo can be a good option. Santa Ana is one popular neighborhood for expats, with a bohemian vibe that’s especially appealing to creative types. For those who want to be close to nature, San Cristobal and Colonia en Manchen put it right at your doorstep.

Quick Facts About Antigua Guatemala

The Spanish colonial architecture you’ll see throughout Antigua is remarkably well-preserved and is the reason the town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are some more interesting facts about this picturesque city:

Work in Antigua Guatemala

Guatemala’s economy has been growing rapidly since the peace accords that ended their civil war in 1996. Antigua’s economy was historically built around agriculture, especially the growth, production, and export of coffee. In recent years, tourism has overtaken agriculture as the primary driver of the local economy, along with related industries like construction, retail, and hospitality. Foreigners looking for traditional employment in Guatemala will have the best luck in the education and service industries. English teachers are in high demand, especially those who are fluently bilingual. Local restaurants and hotels also often look to hire English-speakers to interact with tourists.

How good is Antigua Guatemala for Digital Nomads or Remote Work

Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Antigua. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Antigua for both of these growing movements?

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Food and Drink in Antigua Guatemala

Even though Antigua isn’t a large town, you’ll have plenty of dining options to enjoy during your stay. If you’re looking for authentic local cuisine, Los Tres Tiempos has a classic menu, as well as a rooftop bar with great views of the town. Those with a sweet tooth should head to Guatelaria, which has a candy store and delicious desserts along with a traditional dinner menu. If you want some entertainment with your dinner, check out Fridas, a colorful restaurant that’s a popular venue for local bands. Creative diners should head to Sobremesa, an art gallery restaurant run by local chef and artist Alexander Ferrar. You can find international cuisine in Antigua, too. Santo Spirito is the top spot for Italian cuisine, known for their hand-made pasta. For Japanese fare, check out Izakaya, where you can sample a unique fusion of Asian and Central American flavors.