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Frank (Aged 7) Antigua Top Ten


Family holiday planning is often fraught with anxiety. So when I made the decision to invite mine to join me on my first visit to the foundation, there were many unknowns. I pondered: Would my 7 year old cope with the journey from the UK? Could my husband and son entertain themselves with very little Spanish? As with all things, the best adventures are those where there’s a little trepidation.

We arrived in Guatemala City late on a Friday evening. With a reassuring smile from our driver, Raul we traversed the traffic as reggaeton music wafted from local bars.  At our hotel we were treated like family, the small hotel team becoming at times, porters, waiters, office and kitchen staff. Our room was traditionally furnished with huge princess-and-the-pea mattresses so sleep came easily.

Over the next week we explored the town together and apart. My time with the team in Guatemala was fulfilling and productive and meeting the students a joy. For my son, his eyes were wide with fascination at everything. Tacos dripping with traditional chicken stew, street dogs lounging in the sunshine, hundreds of colourful doors hiding everything from upmarket restaurants to tiny bodegas, where every flavor of the local Tortrix chips just had to be sampled.

1. The Bodegona Supermarket

Immerse yourself in all things Guatemalan in an accessible easy way! Everything from oversized pinatas to local fruit and vegetables - try the Jicama with chilli and lime. Browse like a local and visit every department - the huge upstairs stationary aisle was Frank's favourite spot. 27 4ta. Calle Poniente,

2. Pacaya Volcano

An hour’s bus ride from Antigua and an hour’s hike by foot or on horseback. It feels like a proper adventure but is doable as a day trip. Each group is guided through the jungle, up steep mountain slopes and over the sumitt into the lava fields. And your reward? Toasting marshmallows in the lava! Book locally, there’s tons of tour guides - we used Club De Los Viajeros 4a Calle Poniente 34 ,

3. Patatas Frites

Hidden behind an innocuous yellow door, this loaded fries place has a huge outdoor playground and a beautiful sunny courtyard. The Piña soda is a must. We were there for 3 hours 🙂 2a Calle Oriente 30

4. Cerro de la Cruz

A 15 minute hike from the centre of town, this scenic viewpoint is a must for the best views over Antigua. And make a stop on the way back into town at Cafe Sky. Access the terrace for a fabulous volcano view via the narrowest twisty spiral staircase. Access the trail and 329 steps from 1A Avenida.

5. The Pool at Hotel Anitka

If your hotel doesn’t have a pool - no matter. Several, on the outskirts of town, offer day passes. The Antika’s day rate includes towels, and a grassy area where the kids can run around while the adults lounge in swinging lounge chairs. It also has a proper playpark and the bar serves the most delicious sangria. Google maps link

6. Seeing and Hearing Volcanoes Erupt

What 7 year old wouldn't be blown away by hearing the sound of a garage door clanging shut, inquiring ‘What was that?’ and being told it was ‘Just the volcano erupting’. Mind blown. We watched and heard Volcan Fuego erupt multiple times from Central Antigua during our stay.

7. McDonalds

OK so not so cultural, but hands down the Antigua branch has the most beautiful courtyard of any McDonalds globally. And for a kid, that’s just climbed a volcano, fast food is the only reward option. 4a Calle Poniente

8. Massive Markets

Antigua has a huge labyrinth of markets of all varieties. Butchery alfresco. Pineapples, papayas and coconuts cut fresh in front of you. And did I mention the hanging tortilla chip towers? Shopping Guatemalan style, where colourful handmade products burst out in every direction, is a sensory education. Google Maps Link

9. Pancakes

They are everywhere. Available from most hotels for breakfast, alongside Guatemalan staples, eggs, watermelon, refried beans and plantains. There’s also several crepe places in town. Our favourite ? La Luna de Miel, set on a beautiful first floor terrace with starry skies. Not that Frank noticed the ambience - his attention was all on the giant jar of Nutella in the corner - much more enticing than the view. 6a Avenida Norte

10. United Airlines seat back entertainment system

OK, so not strictly Guatemalan, but the variety of movies and shows got a huge thumbs up. Plus, the thoughtfulness of providing over earphones for kids rather than the in-ear ones that fall out every 5 minutes got a big thumbs up from me. Made an 8hr flight simply whizz by.