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How to get from Guatemala City to Antigua Guatemala

Read this article if you want to know all the available options to get to the beautiful Antigua from Guatemala City and why you should skip Guatemala city with no regrets.


There are many reasons to visit Guatemala and fall in love with this tiny and yet spectacular country. The 37 volcanos, some of which are among the tallest in Central America, the natural monument of Semuc Champey, the tranquillity of Rio Dulce, the beauty of the Lake, and the charming Antigua Guatemala are just a few of all the amazing places to visit in Guatemala but are good enough reasons for including Guatemala in your Latin America Itinerary.

If you are traveling to Guatemala by air you must fly into Guatemala City as there is no other international airport in the country.

And chances are that you will want to get to Antigua first thing, completely ignoring the capital city and moving straight to one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America.

Nestled among mighty volcanos and brimming with colonial architectures, crumbling historical churches, colorful shops, cafes, restaurants, and overall a mix of international vibe and local feel, Antigua is indeed a unique and charming town loved by tourists, digital nomads, and locals alike.

Antigua Arch

There are many ways to get to Antigua from Guatemala City Airport for every budget and comfort. My suggestion is that, even if you are traveling on a tight budget, you will choose comfort and safety over budget, at least for this portion of the trip, and I will tell you why in a minute.

If you have a specific itinerary planned and Antigua is not your first stop, worry not, I have got you covered as well, at the bottom of this article. Read on or click on the Table of content to select the section you want to read.

Insider tip – On the way to Antigua ask your driver to stop at a TIGO shop and buy a local SIM card. Read my post to understand why it’s useful.

Why would you want to skip visiting Guatemala City?

First thing first. You may be tempted to spend a few days in Guatemala city before moving on with your itinerary. It’s understandable and normally the most logical thing to do. That’s what I do when I travel to a new country, the capital city first. That’s what I did when I flew into Quito, Ecuador, or Lima, Peru.

Antigua road at sunset - How to get from Guatemala City to Antigua

But Guatemala is a completely different story and you don’t care about visiting Guatemala city, for two main reasons,

Guatemala City is super dangerous, and assaults are often reported in every “zona” and the number of cases has increased after the recent global pandemic.

While living in Guatemala and talking to locals almost all of them have warned me to avoid the capital city, if possible. A uber driver even told me that people have to carry two mobile phones, one for themselves and a crappy one to let go in case of an assault, and so for the wallet. I hope it gives you an idea.

Also, Guatemala City has really nothing interesting to see, except for a couple of museums but not worth the risk, in my opinion.

Did you purchase your travel insurance for your Guatemala trip, yet? Yes? good! No? You should! Among all the multiple reasons why you should get your travel insurance, is the peace of mind it gives you! Knowing that whatever happens, from medical emergencies to lost bags, canceled flights, theft, and more, your bills are taken care of. I have been using two different ones, SafetyWing and World Nomads depending on the kind of traveling I was doing. For the more adventurous ones, which included hiking and scuba-diving, World nomads got you covered, for a more tranquil trip SafetyWing would do the job and it’s cheaper. But don’t just take my words. Make sure you read all the included coverage and policy details to find out what’s the right policy for you.

What if you fly in late at night?

If you arrive late at night it is also advisable to spend the night in one of the B&B or Hotel close to the airport and leave early morning. Driving across the city at night it’s not really the safest thing to do.
Even better if you could pick a flight that arrives before 7 pm. Actually, around that time you won’t even find traffic but it would be safe to drive.

A couple of times I had to leave Guatemala with an early morning flight and I stayed by the airport, the best decision ever.


Top hotels near the Guatemala City Airport

Novohostal B&B I was recommended this place and I couldn’t have been happier – Lucita, the host is a kind human being and will make you feel at home and the place is impeccably clean and comfortable. She will also pick you up at the airport and take you back. Her place is only 5 minutes drive from the airport.

View details and rates on Booking.com

HO! España! – the first time I flew out of Guatemala I stayed in this great home the night before my flight. It is literally a private home but you will have your own ensuite bathroom and a lot of privacy. A delicious breakfast is served under the porch facing a lovely garden. The rooms are small but very elegant and clean. Definitely a great place to wait for your flight

View details and rates on Booking.com

Barcelo Guatemala City – if you prefer a more structured and bigger place with a pool and all the facilities of a corporate hotel, you cannot go wrong with Barcelo. Also located a few minutes from the airport.

View details and rates on Booking.com


How to get from Guatemala City to Antigua

Now that we have established the reasons why you will want to get straight to Antigua from Guatemala city, let’s find out all the possible ways to get there.

  • Private driver (my favorite)
  • Uber (my second favorite)
  • Shared shuttle
  • Taxi
  • Public transport/ chicken bus (NOT recommended)

But let’s see each means of transportation in detail.



Getting to Antigua from Guatemala City by private driver

I have been traveling in and out of Guatemala by bus and by air and every time I was going to or coming from the airport I used a private driver that was passed on to me by a local friend.

It’s less expensive than uber because you would have a fixed rate, and it’s reliable because it would be somebody recommended by other travelers.

Where to find private drivers

  • Your Hotel in Antigua – If you have pre-booked your stay in Antigua, whether it’s an hostel, a hotel or a home, chances are that they have a private shuttle service available. It might be more expensive than the other option but it’s definitely the most practical that leaves you worry-free.
  • Facebook groups – Another way to find a private driver is via Facebook groups. I would recommend Girlfriends in Antigua (females only) or Expats living in Guatemala. Search for “recommended driver” or ask a question and for sure somebody would have some trustworthy driver to recommend.
  • Booking sites – Or you can check out on Viator for private shuttle.

The cost can be from 150 to 200Q (20-25 USD), but once you are confirmed a price, it won’t change if the traffic is bad (which is usually the case) or for any other reasons.

Antigua doors

Either way, it’s advisable to establish a meeting point but also exchange phone numbers in case you won’t find each other. Keep in mind that there is no WIFI in Guatemala Airport.

So make sure you have a meeting point in case you don’t have roaming on your phone, which would be ideal in case of emergency, at least until you can get hold of a local SIM card, which was not available at the airport the last time I checked.


Getting to Antigua from Guatemala City by Uber

If you didn’t manage to get a private driver or prefer to get an Uber, make sure you will have roaming on your phone card, because I didn’t see any places where you can get a Guatemalan SIM Card at the airport. If you don’t have service on your phone it will be impossible to get an Uber, but worry not.

You won’t be left stranded. You can always land on Taxis, the most expensive option but it does the work.

If you manage to get an Uber though, you will be sure it’s a reliable and trustworthy service. It will cost around 150- 200 Quetzales as well but that may increase in case of traffic.

And I assure you the road from Guatemala City to Antigua is crazy jammed almost all the time.

That’s why a private transportation would always be the best choice, because you won’t have surprises at the end of your trip.

Antigua Governament building

Getting to Antigua from Guatemala City by shared shuttle

Booking a shared shuttle is a good compromise, because it’s safe but comfortable at the same time. There are quite a few companies that I searched but I have never used, but they have quite good feedback from other customers.

GUATEGO

With this practical website – you can book your shuttle bus from Guatemala airport to Antigua operated by Atitrans – cost is 19 USD but they have a specific schedule and they don’t wait if your flight has a delay.

Here is the schedule:

6:00 – 11:00 – 14.30 – 16.30 – 19.30 – 21.00

Reservations must be made at least 48 hrs before your arrival.You won’t get a refund if you miss your transfer booked, but you are allowed to get on the next one if you manage to inform them and there is space.

This service will take you directly to your hotel in Antigua.

CA.EXPRESS

I found out about this company while browsing online so I am not sure how reliable they are but they have the least expensive shuttle service. Here below you can find their schedule.

Please read their FAQ before you book to learn more about their terms of service. And keep in mind that they don’t provide a door-to-door service but they will leave you in the Tanque de la Union in Antigua and from there you can take a TUC TUC or a Uber to your hotel in Antigua.

Guatemala city Antigua shuttle schedule
Ca.Express schedule – Photo © Ca.Express

Getting to Antigua from Guatemala City by Taxi

Although for some reason I try to avoid taxis when I can, I admit that this is the most practical way to get to Antigua from Guatemala City Airport. But also the most expensive.

The thing is you don’t have to worry about booking in advance, find the driver or the shuttle, worry that they left already or your phone doesn’t work

You just get out of the airport and jump on a taxi, which will most probably be right there waiting for you. So easier, but more expensive.

A taxi from Guatemala City airport to Antigua costs around 35 USD, more expensive than other option but doesn’t break the bank. I mean in case of anything else may go wrong, you can always get a taxi.

CHICHEN BUS
Chicken Bus

Getting to Antigua from Guatemala City by Public transport/ Chicken bus (NOT Recommended)

As I mentioned before, getting to Antigua from Guatemala city airport by chicken bus is the cheapest option of all. A ride costs about 10 Quetzales (1.5 USD) but the least safe and definitely the least practical.

Imagine you arrive exhausted (maybe jet-lagged) and you have to look for a bus to go to the city bus terminal, because there is no public bus from the airport to Antigua directly.

Then from the chaos of the Guatemalan Bus terminal and in the heat you need to find the one that goes to Antigua.

But that would be the least of your problems. The public bus route Guatemala City – Antigua is the most targeted by muggers. In fact they have reported a good number of assaults and even locals discourage tourists from getting on one of those busses.

I don’t think the risk is worth the 15 bucks you would save, honestly, but, of course, it’s totally up to you.

chicken-bus
Chicken Bus

I went on a ride from Chichicastenango from Quetzaltenango once. Although assaulters wouldn’t have even been able to get on the bus, so squeezed we were, the driver was going at an horrific speed. I was glad we made it safe. However, if you want to try the chicken bus do it in the countryside areas (except for Escuintla) and for shorter routes.

On a side note, when you talk to locals don’t call it chicken bus, if you don’t want to be their joke. Locals call it public bus or camioneta/camiòn.


Things to do in Antigua

Antigua is brimming with activities both for outdoorsy or culture affectionates. From hiking the Acatenango or Pacaya, to exploring local farms, eating delicious local food, biking through the local villages or visiting local museums, there are so many things to do in Antigua and places to explore.

Read my guide to the 35+ things to do in Antigua and practical tips to learn more.


Going from Guatemala city airport to any other destinations

In case your Guatemala itinerary starts elsewhere, I suggest you should book your shuttle in advance.

You can check on GUATEGO page to see their routes and book online.

Or you can fly to Flores from Guatemala City airport, with TAG Airlines, and visit the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal and then make your way to Antigua by bus. I will write an itinerary very soon to help you organize your trip.

Where to stay in Antigua

Use the map below to compare prices on where to stay, includes apartments, villas, and hotels


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Did I forget anything? Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy Guatemala!


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