City: Antigua, Guatemala
Language: Spanish (on the streets you can often hear other languages being spoken by the Indigenous population of Antigua)
Weather: It’s usually never lower than 53° F or higher than 78°
Remote Work Rating: ⅘ Stars
My personal love for Antigua is sky high! However, this is an honest reflection of what is possible here for a remote worker. It’s 4 out of 5 stars because of some factors that you will read below. I’m blessed to call this little city my digital nomad home base and no matter how many incredible cities I experience all over the world, this one always calls me back home. I encourage you to give it a try; immerse yourself in the Mayan culture, meet incredible expats living here between the volcanos, and soak up the magic of this place!
For some more general tourist information, check out Lonely Planet.
With about 8 million cafes to try in Antigua (kidding, but sometimes it feels that way), I am going to list my personal favorites. All of these spots have great WiFi, food and drinks that keep you coming back for more, and their own unique vibe.
Bella Vista is first on my list because I frequent here most often. Why? Let’s start with the terrace and the view. There’s a reason why it’s called Bella Vista. The terrace looks out to all three of the beautiful volcanoes surrounding Antigua, Guatemala (Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango). When you enter the cafe, head straight to the back and walk up 2 flights of stairs. Once you get to the terrace you can choose to sit outside at the high bar or on a futon seat both covered in shade by an awning, directly out in the sun at the high bar which is right on the railing of the terrace, or choose a seat inside by the window where you’ll still get an amazing view of the beautiful landscape. The baristas are very attentive and will take your order, as detailed as you need. There are many choices for non-dairy milk available here. The WiFi is solid except when the place gets crowded. If there are too many people, I usually have to leave because the signal gets so slow. However most days, I can sit on that terrace all day with my Iced Latte and double decker vegetarian sandwich. I usually leave after watching a brilliant sunset.
PS – Yes, this is my laptop on the terrace of the cafe. Great view, huh?
When the weather is a bit cloudy I love to go to Cafe Boheme! Boheme is a French style cafe down to the music, croissants, and interior decor. With rich colors like red and aqua on the walls, dried flowers hanging from the ceiling, handwritten menus, and square glass mugs on the table, this cafe is one of the most unique places in Antigua. It’s a small, two level space, with rickety stairs and and one small door, creating a cozy cafe feeling. I was introduced to this cafe by a dear friend who loves to drink coffee and draw in her sketchbook. Now, when I introduce friends to this little spot, they instantly fall in love. The crispy croissants are my favorite thing on the menu but I know others are drawn to the incredible sweets. There is an ample amount of wall plugs for you to charge your laptop if need be, and I seldom have issues with the WiFi there, even holding video calls inside, so this is one of my regular work spots during the week. However, make sure that the person on the other end of your call is okay with French music playing in the background. (Who wouldn’t be?)
I wasn’t aware of Don Cafeone until January of this year when I lived nearby. Boy am I glad I discovered this little gem. My favorite thing to do here is sit in the window seat, looking out at the bustling cobblestone road and getting some fresh air while working on my laptop. I usually order an Iced Latte, but if I am doing a late night work session, I eat a slice of their perfect cheesecake. The service is some of the best in town because the baristas are fast, attentive, and will even turn down the music for you if you need to make an important call! Check out one of my favorite spots right by La Merced any time of day, since they are conveniently open from 6am to 8pm.
One of the most popular cafes in all of Antigua is actually more than one… it’s three! Union Cafe has three locations to choose from, with the same amazing menu, but each with their own vibe. The original Union Cafe is a small, two level space right alongside a cute park called Tanque La Union. The WiFi there is usually stable and it’s a popular choice for digital nomads to get coffee, healthy smoothies, a juice.
The second location is called Union Garden and my favorite of all three. This cafe is a bit further outside of the center of town, so it’s a nice walk to take during the day. It’s a big courtyard with comfy seating, cute dogs to keep you company and great WiFi. The atmosphere is breezy, beautiful, and relaxing. There is also yoga available at this location.
The third location is the newest addition to the Union Cafe family and is situated just a few blocks from Parque Central. It’s got a lot of seating available, but only some sections have electrical plugs available for you to charge your laptop while you work. The wall art is fascinating and the WiFi is fairly suitable for the average remote worker. Overall, I’m a big fan of Union Cafe and it’s three locations so definitely go check them out when you visit Antigua.
(Zsanett Kovacs pictured here working on graphic design for her clients.)
If you’re uplifted by a place that is buzzing with people, you’ll love Roots. Roots is a small cafe and juice bar right near Parque Central with big open doors for a nice breezy environment, and on option to sit out in the courtyard area as well. This place is good for any and all times of the day, although between 1pm and 3pm it is quite crowded and the service gets a bit delayed. If you’re interested in a healthy breakfast, try one of their nutrient packed smoothies. I personally love the Morning Buzz smoothie to start off my day: spinach, almond milk, chia seeds, cocoa powder, and agave, complete with a shot of Espresso. If you’re looking for a great warm soup with a sandwich, come around lunch time. Roots is also quite popular for a glass of wine to wrap up your day. The WiFi is strong, the food is great, and it’s a lively place that will keep you energized while you work from your laptop.
Acai is a new healthy restaurant right by La Merced church that I am absolutely in love with. Their menu includes a variety of Acai bowls, Buddha bowls, vegan waffles, veggie burgers, to eat in their quaint little cafe or to go. My favorite drinks there are the Golden Turmeric Milk and the Iced Matcha Latte, with all of the non dairy milk choices in the world! The music is calm, their space is brightly lit, and the decor inside is joyful and clean. There is a bookshelf in the corner, where I picked up a little paper book called “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff,” which I then read a bit of whenever I would come to Acai. The owners and staff are always grateful to have visitors, serve food and drinks very fast, and really care about you! I love to sit right near the window with a beautiful view of La Merced Church any time of day. The WiFi is stable for an average remote worker and making a stop there is sure to brighten your day!
Cafe Sol is a bit off the beaten path which makes it that much more of a gem! You can get there easily by walking up 4th Calle and then turning on Callejon del Sol. This little cafe has multiple seating options including a high bar and regular tables inside, seats outside in the garden, and some tables up on their terrace. Don’t be alarmed if you see people coming out of doors surrounding the garden; the cafe is also a home and hotel for tourists. It’s got great coffee, baked donuts, stable WiFi, and something that hardly any other cafe in Antigua can offer… peace and quiet! My absolute favorite thing about Cafe Sol is the food though. They’ve got several different types of toasts that are to die for. Yes, you read that right – toast! Imagine two huge pieces of avocado toast with ricotta cheese, zucchini, and caramelized onions on top (that’s the one I always get) for just $3.50. Need I say more?
One of the reasons why I’m giving Antigua a 4 out of 5 stars rating for remote work is because there is only one coworking space in town. There are enough cafes to work from that you probably won’t feel the lack of coworking spaces unless it’s really your thing (not judging). If you’re a coworking fiend, there’s one option for you. It’s called Impact Hub and is a popular choice for digital nomads and expats alike. They host community events, workshops, and parties for their members, as well as provide the fuel for productivity… coffee! Impact Hub is a spacious building with outdoor seating, private offices, and some cozy group areas. The overall feeling is relaxed, quiet, and welcoming.
Guarav Chandrashekar, who used Impact hub during his time in Antigua says, “Impact Hub was awesome even though it was the only coworking space in Antigua. It had lovely views of the mountain, a network connection that I didn’t complain much about and a nice community of people local and foreign. If I wasn’t at Impact Hub, which I signed up for three months, I was working at a cafe called Fat Cat cafe early in the mornings, for the great coffee there. You can set up a free trial day to check out if the space is right for you. If you want to work at Impact Hub for a short time period, or for months at a time, check out their prices here.
Where To Stay
If you’re thinking of visiting Antigua, or moving here permanently (highly recommended!), then accomodation is going to be one of the top priorities on your list. Here’s the quick and short of it. Antigua gets really busy in the weeks surrounding the very popular Easter holiday (Semana Santa). In fact, here there is a whole season celebrating the holiday, called Curasma. With events that attract tourists all month long, housing is more expensive during March. The second highest time for accomodation prices is December, when lots of people are on holiday and choose to come down to vacation. Be prepared for price increases during these times but do not let it deter you from coming.
Whether you are looking for a short term or long term stay in Antigua, your best bet is to search locally! Yes, this might mean actually coming into town before settling on a choice. If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you to heck these two Facebook groups: The Real Antigua Guatemala Classifieds and antigua area rentals & real estate™. In these groups you can find local listings and message the owners directly, setting up a deal. This is how I find places to live 90% of the time when I’m in Antigua. You can set yourself up in a hotel or hostel for one or two nights while you go around to see housing options. In my opinion, actually seeing the place before agreeing to rent is best.
Sometimes Airbnb has some great options for the Antigua area, especially if you need accommodation for just a month. I recently stayed in a 3 bedroom house that I found on Airbnb because my two friends were visiting for one month. It was wonderful! The picture above was the view from my terrace. If you’re used to booking accommodation this way, go for it! There are plenty of places available around town.
I just recently had a one night stay in Tunik Hostel and I was delighted with the experience. The environment is a modern garden style with funky wall art everywhere. There’s even a pool in the back garden area! The beds are cubby style, with a shade to pull down for privacy, a personal wall plug, and light. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the whole place, especially the bathrooms and showers. The staff can speak both Spanish and English, they offer several affordable tours, and the price per night comes to a grand total of $7.50. While the hostel is quiet and fresh during the day, they also offer a lively night time vibe, including live music and nice outdoor fireplace where guests can sit around and play cards while they drink. I really enjoyed my stay because the WiFi in the public areas was so strong, I could work well, including a video call. It’s located just 4 blocks away from Parque Central, this hostel is an all around hit in my book!
Although I have never stayed overnight at Selina, it is a popular choice in town for people who need a place to stay, with a comfortable vibe, and fun events throughout the week. Selina, if you haven’t heard of it yet, is a franchise of hostels located in Latin America. The Selina Hostel in Antigua is fairly new and if you’ve stayed in any other Selina hostels throughout the region, you’ll love your stay here.
Celinne Da Costa, a brand identity and storytelling coach, recently stayed at Selina and said, “My favorite thing was being in a beautiful, open environment that fostered community. So many people were hanging out, chilling, but I still felt that I could find my perfect space to get work done! It’s a cool open space and tons of options for working and fun: quiet places, super social spots, and outdoor areas also!”
Take it from Celinne. If you like that kind of vibe, stay at Selina while you’re here.
Where to Play
If you ask anyone in Antigua, they’ll probably tell you that the party lifestyle here is the most prominent way to play on the weekends. While I’m a personal fan of going out and having a good time, there is much more to offer here in town than just the bar and dance scene. However, if you’re interested in the party culture, simply head to any hostel and ask what’s going on for the night. One place you cannot leave Antigua without visiting is the local Mezcal bar, Cafe No Se. Thank me later.
You can hear live music playing while walking down most streets after 8pm. Almost every popular place in town has live music from 8pm-10pm and you’re bound to find something you love. The variety of musicians here is inspiring (jazz, bluegrass, country, pop, Latin, rock, and more). Usually when I want to hear live music, I look at the Events tab on Facebook and search by “nearby” and “today.” It brings up a list of events in town happening that night and I simply choose a band I’d like to see. Some notable spots to listen to live music: Para La Gente, El Ilegal, Fridas, and Cactus Grill.
During the day time on Saturdays, make your way to Caoba Farmers Market. You can find a map on their page, but simply go to Central Park and walk down 5th avenue towards Volcan de Agua. Stroll along for about 15 minutes and you’re suddenly out of the bustling city and into a rural paradise. In addition to the wonderful artisan products that are available in the farmer’s market, Caoba has a huge farm to explore, with plants, produce, and loveable animals, as well as an organic farm to table restaurant. Head inside to their little tienda to shop for groceries, spend time outside mingling with local artisans, or just sit and listen to the live music taking in the beautiful mountain view.
If you’re too tired to walk back into town, or have a huge handful of items that you purchased, simply wait for the free shuttle at the entrance of the farm. The shuttle schedule is posted right on the front door of Caoba, the driver is always friendly, and it takes you straight to Parque Central at no cost. This is one of my favorite weekend activities, but they also have events during the weekdays.
One of the best things about being located in Antigua is the ease of travel surrounding areas in Guatemala. There is virtually no place in Guatemala that you cannot get to right from Antigua. The busses, shuttles, and private transpiration schedules are so frequent that you can choose to wake up one day and go anywhere! If I were you though, I’d plan a special trip to Lake Atitlan in order to immerse yourself deeper within the Mayan culture. My personal recommendation is to book a travel experience with The Heart of Travel. Chelsea Glass and her team coordinate ethical travel experiences and cultural immersion activities like going to Casa Flor Ixcaco. There you can witness the brilliant work of the local women who run this textile cooperative. It’s a truly wonderful experience and makes traveling to the lake worth much more than just a weekend in paradise. Here is a full description of the trip to Casa Flor Ixcaco.
Any digital nomad knows that community is one of the central factors in leading a fulfilled lifestyle as a remote worker. Flying solo 100% of the time gets old! Antigua can offer quite the community for really any type of person out there.
For fitness lovers, check out the group classes at these facilities:
La Fabrica is great for anyone on the north side of town while Antigua’s Gym is on the south side of town. If you love crossfit, good news! There is a new box in town, called Build Your Body. Additionally, there are many yoga centers sprinkled around town. The most popular is Shakti Shala, with a varied class schedule including yoga in the park on the weekends.
Another fun part of getting fully involved in the community is being able to speak a bit of Spanish. Yes, you can survive with just English here BUT you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun! You can sign up for affordable Spanish classes pretty much anywhere (there are practically more Spanish schools here than McDonald’s in New York City), but I recommend Zamora Spanish Academy.
One last tip! Antigua is a huge hub for volunteering, so if you’re interested in getting involved in a great cause, this is a wonderful place to be. If you come any time during November and December, consider volunteering for Viamistad.
This was my very first experience in Guatemala (back in 2014) and it made me fall in love with this country! You get to travel around Guatemala with free food, accommodations, and excursions, while helping people with disabilities forge natural friendships and discover their ability to adventure. For other volunteer opportunities, simply join this Facebook group and ask what kind of projects need help during your dates of your stay.