In this in-depth digital nomad guide to Antigua Guatemala, you will find everything you need to know to set yourself up in one of the most beautiful and beloved destinations in Central America.
We first visited Guatemala back in 2012 and fell in love with the country. It was always our goal to return one day and find a place we could get to know more intimately. We chose Antigua for a variety of reasons: it’s spectacular charm and beauty, people and culture, and low-cost living makes it a great travel destination, and its decent wifi makes it perfect for a digital nomad lifestyle.
Why Choose Antigua
Cost of living: The basic cost of living in Antigua is lower than that of the US, Canada, and Europe; particularly for items such as housing, transport, and food.
Wifi: The internet speeds and reliability are good, especially for running a business online.
Food: There is no shortage of good quality food in Antigua, from street food to high-end culinary experience. For a small town, there is so much variety and options. There’s also an abundance of fresh produce that you can buy at the market, where your senses and inspiration will go into overdrive.
Beauty: A well preserved colonial city with cobblestone roads, surrounded by majestic volcanoes.
Accessibility: The international airport is about 1 hour from Antigua to Guatemala City.
Size: Antigua is just the right size to keep you entertained over a long period of time. It’s the perfect walking town − we didn’t require any transport to visit the restaurants, cultural sites, and nature experiences.
Currency: Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)
Language: Spanish is the official language spoken by the majority of the population. However, most people working in tourism and hospitality industry speak both Spanish and English.
Antigua is a very popular destination to learn Spanish, there several schools to choose.
Climate: Antigua has been touted the “City of External Spring” with its warm days, however, it can get cold and fresh as soon as the sun goes down. The wet season is between May and October. The dry season is between November and April. May is the warmest month of the year with an average temperature of 30°C (86°F). January is the coldest with 20°C (68°F) when nights get very chilly.
Altitude: Antigua’s altitude is 5,000 ft (1,500 m), which is mild but some people may need to adjust.
Safety: Antigua is the safest city in Guatemala, due to its tourism, so it is generally safe. However, for women, it’s best not to walk alone at night. Like anywhere follow extra safety precautions and have common sense.
Accommodation in Antigua
January – March 2017 (2 months)
Cost: $1,140 USD (Q8,400) per month (including wifi and utilities)
Location: Antigua (Centre)
Amenities: Wifi, washer and dryer, fully-equipped kitchen, cable TV, and phone calls.
Summary: Our Airbnb was a spacious 1-bedroom ground floor apartment with all the modern amenities necessary for perfect work and living conditions. Wifi was decent and reliable – no problems with Skype calls or streaming. We were close to a variety of food options: the main supermarket (La Bodegona) and next to the markets. This place was fantastic value compared to what was around at the time of searching. There weren’t many options for this level of quality.
Mobile & Wifi
We chose Movistar. It’s one of the major service providers in Guatemala and was recommended by our Airbnb host. There are many mobile shops all over town and stalls in the markets where SIM cards and top-ups can be purchased.
Movistar SIM: $6 USD (Q50)
Package (data only): We chose 3GB for $12 USD (Q90) over 30 days every month. This was more than enough. No calls were needed because we used our home phone.
It’s important to note that you will need your passport when purchasing a new SIM and recharging. Most of the customer service reps at the mobile stores don’t speak English, so some basic Spanish and pointing will help. Request the list of packages and point to one of them, then they’ll set up your SIM and recharge.
Once the process is complete, a confirmation SMS will be sent to your mobile. I always like to test the data on my phone before leaving the store. This is just an extra precaution because of our bad experiences in other countries, but we haven’t had any issues here.
We didn’t have any problems with Movistar coverage. Our wifi at home was decent and reliable but patchy in the bedroom, which was too far for the modem to reach. Unfortunately, we didn’t do a speed test. Wifi quality will depend on your location and setup on the premises. It was generally good in most restaurants.
Places to Eat in Antigua
There are plenty of tasty food options and varieties in Antigua.
Luna De Miel
Cuisine: Crepes (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
We loved this place for its great variety of different sweet and savory crepes. Check out their spacious sunny terrace. Luna de Miel makes a good workspace, however, wifi was slow when the restaurant was busy.
Cuisine: Austrian (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
This place does a cheap and cheerful schnitzel special: schnitzel with potato salad and soup of the day for $5 USD (Q35).
Cuisine: Guatemalan (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
There are many good restaurants around town that serve lunch specials for about $3 USD (Q20). You get protein (roast chicken or grilled meat), salad or vegetables and rice, and some places include a drink or small desert. Our favorites were Rincon Tipico and Casa de Las Mixtas.
Cuisine: Vegetarian (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
Popular vegetarian restaurant. We made our first attempt at being vegetarian and this place was our savior. Try the tacos!
Cuisine: Cafe, Guatemalan, Vegetarian (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
Homemade dishes cooked with love. Probably the best lasagna I’ve had in a long time.
Cuisine: Cantonese, Noodles, Dumplings, Stirfries, and Rice (Lunch and Dinner)
Try the dumplings and shiitake mushroom and vegetable stir-fry.
*Exchange rates are based on the rates as of 22 May 2017.
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