A lot of major cities in Central America are over-populated and polluted, so I had no problems crusing right through Guatemala City to Antigua. In my opinion, the less time you spend in the major cities and more time you spend in the surrounding towns, the better, especially in Central America. A “nice-to-know” about the transfer from the Guatamala International Airport to Antigua is that most taxis charge a premium for night time travel. Since the taxi’s aren’t like back home (with running meters and visible-rates) it’s best to ask a few drivers what they charge so that there are no surprises once you reach your hotel.
Antigua was a perfect first-stop in Guatemala, it’s safe and calm, and for being so close to Guatemala City it’s surprisingly quiet. Most of Antigua can be seen by foot, including the signature El Arco de Santa Catalina and Parque Central. It’s a pretty popular stop for tourists travelling to Tikal or on their way to Honduras. One group we talked to who had travelled from Cancun to Antigua said their best experience thus far on their trip was visiting the “hill-side villages” surrounding Antigua.
The locals we spoke with were very friendly and laid-back – in fact many of them seemed to like the opportunity to stop and talk with you and practice their English. However, I did hear that some excursions outside Antigua can be a little dodgy, and that you should try and book tours through reputable guides and/or ones that are escorted by tourist police.