Getting Around Antigua Guatemala

The Arch
Image by lndhslf72 via Flickr

Antigua Guatemala is very compact and easy to walk around. Most tourist destinations are in an 8-by-8 block area less than 1 km across. You can walk across it in 15 min. Be careful: the sidewalks are narrow and not always in good repair, you may have to walk in on the road with traffic whizzing by you, and at night it’s worth being cautious and aware of your surroundings while you are getting around Antigua Guatemala.

Mrs. Yolkobsen is compass-challenged and always lost.  At first, she ran amok when trying to get around Antigua Guatemala, her adopted home.  That is, until she learned the secrets of how to find your way in this bright and beautiful Spanish colonial town.  Here are some things you need to know about getting around Antigua Guatemala.
The standard tourist maps are linear in their drawings. They are accurate only near the town center, as their peripheries are indistinct and inaccurate. Get a real map from the tourist shops or from the official Guatemala tourism office, INGUAT. These have accurate topography if you are seeking locations farther from the town center and do a much better (if not complete) job of dealing with dead ends and curved streets.  Alas, there is only so much even a really good map can do for you when you attempt getting around Antigua Guatemala.  Most people who are stopped and asked for directions are very kind and obliging, if also not always accurate.  No matter a meandering walk is sometimes as interesting as a straight charge to your specific destination.

You always get there eventually.  Just allow for a little extra time when you set about getting around Antigua Guatemala.

If you don’t know the city streets too well, and it is past about 11 p.m., it is best to get a taxi back to your accommodations from Parque Central, especially if you’re alone or going more than a few blocks away from the well-lighted Central Park area.

To reach Guatemala City, one simply asks for the main route of the chicken bus. They stop at every corner, honk the horn as early as 5:30 a.m., and yell out loud “GUATE, GUATE”. It is common to see one bus every 4-5 min leaving from the same corner. Do not expect the bus driver to stop and secure your luggage on the top of the bus without a fee, and the driver might drive off even while you are still on the roof. Here, as with all things, practice makes perfect.  Buses to St. Pedro, St. Juan and or St. Ana leave every 10 to 20 minutes.

These are best obtained at the Mercado or at St. Lucia church as they often do not follow the same set route through town.

Tuk-tuks and taxis are also great for getting around Antigua Guatemala and can take you to destinations within the city center for Q10 ($1.25 US) or less–negotiate the fare with the driver in advance. Otherwise, they will routinely charge 50-100% more than they should. Tuk-tuks usually do not go to Guatemala City.  Remember these are also called motorized rickshaws. Take shuttle or taxi instead. Flag down a cruising tuk-tuk, or pick up a taxi from the queue at Parque Central or along a main route to the city’s periphery.


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