Looking for the best day trips from Antigua, Guatemala with kids? Find the ultimate adventure to add to your itinerary!
Are you and your family ready for unforgettable day trips from the magnificent city of Antigua Guatemala? Get ready to discover a world of adventure and excitement as we explore the top family-friendly destinations in this captivating region.
From visits to Lake Atitlan, shopping at the infamous Chichicastenango Market, visiting the Iximche Mayan Ruins, or hiking a volcano with kids, these experiences are guaranteed to create cherished memories for you and your family.
So, join us as we explore the best day trips from Antigua Guatemala, combining the beauty of nature, rich cultural heritage, and the aromatic wonders of coffee. Get ready to optimize your family’s travel experience with these incredible destinations that will keep your kids engaged, entertained, and most of all having fun.
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Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful destinations in Guatemala, and it is a perfect day trip from Antigua. There are a few different ways to get there, and in my opinion it may be worth staying a night or two if you can – you won’t want to leave!
The lake is surrounded by three stunning volcanoes and is home to many indigenous communities that still practice traditional Mayan culture. Take a boat tour of the lake to visit some of the charming lakeside villages, such as San Juan la Laguna or Santiago Atitlan.
Your kids will love learning about the local culture and trying traditional food. Our girls loved attending this weaving class which became a highlight of our time in Guatemala!
Lake Atitlán is located about 3 hours west of Guatemala City and 2.5 hours from Antigua. The most common way to reach the lake is by road. You can hire private transportation, take a shuttle service, or use public buses to get to the lake’s main towns, such as Panajachel or San Pedro La Laguna.
Boats and Ferries:
Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll need to use boats or ferries to explore its various towns and attractions! Public boats operate between the lakeside villages, providing convenient transportation. Private boat tours are also available for a more personalized experience.
Our local host was able to arrange a private boat for us during our stay, so reach out to your resort, hotel or airbnb to see if they could assist you with this as well.
Lake Atitlán’s Towns:
The lake is surrounded by several charming towns worth visiting. Panajachel is the largest and most tourist-oriented town, offering a range of accommodations, restaurants, and shops. Other popular towns include San Pedro La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán, San Juan La Laguna, and Santa Cruz La Laguna. Each town has its unique character and attractions!
There are plenty of activities to enjoy during your day trip. You can explore the towns and their vibrant markets, visit local art galleries and handicraft shops, try traditional Guatemalan cuisine at lakeside restaurants, or simply relax on the shore and soak in the stunning views.
Lake Atitlán is also popular destination for water sports enthusiasts. You can go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or take a boat tour to explore the lake’s hidden coves and scenic spots.
The lake’s indigenous Mayan communities offer rich cultural experiences. You can visit Santiago Atitlán to see the famous Maximon (a Mayan deity) and explore its colorful market, or take a weaving class in San Juan La Laguna like we did!
Weather and Clothing:
Lake Atitlán is situated at high altitude, so the weather can vary. I would recommend following the forecast a few days before your visit to help prepare. Bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler mornings and evenings. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as the sun can be intense!
Currency and Facilities:
Most businesses around Lake Atitlán accept both Guatemalan Quetzals and US Dollars. However, it’s recommended to carry some local currency for smaller purchases. ATMs are available in larger towns, but it’s advisable to bring enough cash for convenience.
If you need transportation tips, be sure to read our guide on how to get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan!
Pacaya Volcano is one of the most accessible volcanoes in Guatemala, and it is a great day trip from Antigua. The hike to the top is not too challenging, though of course that could be relative depending on your experience. On your journey up, the views are breathtaking. Your kids will love the adventure of hiking up an active volcano and seeing the steam rising from the crater!
The round-trip hike typically takes around 4-5 hours, covering a distance of approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). The time can vary based on your pace and the conditions on the trail, but overall I would say it is a moderate hike with a few steep sections that may be challenging for young kids.
Pacaya Volcano stands at an elevation of 2,552 meters (8,373 feet). The ascent involves gaining some elevation, which can be physically demanding, especially for those not acclimated to high altitudes.
The trail consists of a mix of uneven terrain, including loose volcanic rocks, sandy sections, and occasional steep inclines.
The weather on Pacaya Volcano can change rapidly, so it’s crucial to be prepared. It’s advisable to bring layers of clothing to adapt to temperature fluctuations. Rain showers are common, so a waterproof jacket or poncho is essential.
It is recommended to join a guided tour for safety and guidance. Local tour operators in Antigua offer guided hikes with experienced guides who provide information about the volcano’s geology and ensure your safety during the trek.
Essentials to bring
Carry a small backpack with essentials like plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a camera, and a flashlight. Hiking poles can be helpful for stability during the ascent and descent.
Pacaya Volcano is an active volcano, so it’s important to heed the instructions of your guide and respect safety guidelines. Stay on the designated trails, avoid venturing into restricted areas, and be cautious of potential volcanic hazards, such as hotspots and gas emissions.
If you have little kids (ours were 4 & 6 at the time), you can also do what we did and ride horses up to the top! Each horse has a guide, so there is no experience necessary, but it is an easier option for those with kids not ready for the hike or anyone interested in a more luxurious adventure.
Located just over 2 hours from Antigua, The Chichicastenango Market is one of the largest and most colorful markets in Central America and is located in the western highlands of Guatemala. It is a great place to shop for traditional handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs. Your kids will love the vibrant colors and lively atmosphere of the market, and you can introduce them to the local culture by trying traditional street food.
Chichicastenango, commonly known as “Chichi,” is a town located in the highlands of Guatemala, approximately 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of Guatemala City. It’s famous for its vibrant indigenous market.
The Chichicastenango Market takes place on Thursdays and Sundays from about 8am – 9pm. These are the best days to visit if you want to experience the market at its liveliest, with a wide array of vendors and products available.
Products and Crafts
The market offers a wide variety of goods, including traditional Mayan textiles, handmade crafts, pottery, woodwork, leather goods, jewelry, and fresh produce. It’s an excellent place to purchase unique souvenirs and immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture.
Crowds and Atmosphere
Chichicastenango Market can get quite crowded, especially on Sundays when it attracts a larger number of visitors. Prepare for bustling streets, narrow alleyways, and a vibrant atmosphere filled with colors, sounds, and enticing scents.
Bargaining is a common practice at Chichicastenango Market. Feel free to negotiate prices, but do so respectfully. Keep in mind that haggling is part of the local culture, so don’t be afraid to engage in friendly negotiations.
Most vendors at the market accept both Guatemalan Quetzals and US Dollars. However, it’s recommended to carry small denominations of local currency for easier transactions. ATMs are available in Chichicastenango, but it’s always good to have cash on hand.
Chichicastenango can be reached by road from Guatemala City, Antigua or other nearby towns. You can hire private transportation, take a shuttle service, or use public buses. Keep in mind that the journey to Chichicastenango from Guatemala City takes approximately 3 hours and about 2 from Antigua, so plan your day accordingly.
Weather and Clothing
Chichicastenango’s highland location means that temperatures can be cooler than in other parts of Guatemala. Dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes throughout the day. It’s also advisable to bring a raincoat or umbrella, as rain showers are common in the region.
Chichicastenango is a town with a strong indigenous Mayan presence. It’s important to respect the local culture and traditions. If you wish to take photographs, always ask for permission first, especially when photographing individuals or religious ceremonies.
Iximche Mayan Ruins
The Iximche Mayan Ruins are located just a short drive from Antigua and are a great way to introduce your kids to the ancient Mayan culture. The ruins date back to the 15th century and are a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich history. Your kids will love exploring the ruins and learning about the rituals and customs of the Mayan civilization.
The Iximche Mayan Ruins are located approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Antigua, Guatemala. The ruins are situated in the highlands of the country, providing a scenic backdrop for your exploration.
To reach the Iximche Ruins, you can hire a private transportation service, join a guided tour, or use public transportation. Shuttles or buses may be available from Antigua to the ruins or nearby towns. It’s advisable to check the schedules and plan your trip accordingly.
Tip: Consider combining your visit to the Chichicastenango Market with your trip to the Iximche ruins as they are easily combined into one trip.
History and Significance
Iximche was the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya civilization during the late Postclassic period. It played a significant role in Mayan history, serving as a political and ceremonial center. The site is known for its architectural structures, ceremonial plazas, and rich historical importance.
Consider joining a guided tour of the Iximche Ruins. Expert guides can provide valuable insights into the history, significance, and architectural features of the site. They can help you understand the cultural and religious practices of the ancient Maya.
Explore the ruins on foot and immerse yourself in the ancient atmosphere. Visit the main ceremonial plazas, temples, ball courts, and palace structures. Admire the intricate stone carvings and observe the layout of the ancient city. Some tours may offer cultural demonstrations or reenactments of ancient rituals, providing a deeper understanding of Mayan traditions.
Weather and Clothing
Antigua and its surrounding areas have a mild climate, but weather conditions can vary. Check the forecast for the day of your visit and dress accordingly. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as you’ll be exploring the ruins on uneven terrain. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
The Iximche Ruins may have an entrance fee of 50Q($6.50) for foreigners, which is payable by cash.
Who knew there was so much to do in and around Antigua, Guatemala! With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone in this beautiful country. Whether you choose to visit a volcano, a market, or ancient ruins, you are sure to create lasting memories with your family during your time in Guatemala.
Any more questions about day trips from Antigua? Leave a comment below, I’d love to help!