You’d think in a city as small as Antigua, actually more of a town masquerading as a city, it would be easy to find your way around. Well, it’s not that it’s difficult, just fairly disorienting. But don’t worry, we have just the right Antigua Guatemala map to help you get your bearings.
Guatemala On A World Map
The country of Guatemala is located in Central America and borders four countries: Mexico to the north and west, Belize to the northeast, Honduras to the east, and El Salvador to the southeast. Here’s a map of Central America:
The capital of Guatemala is Guatemala City and the location of La Aurora International Airport.
Fortunately, Antigua Guatemala is about a 45-minute to 1-hour ride from Guatemala City, making it a convenient place to stay once you arrive in Guatemala. Lake Atitlan, another of Guatemala’s best attractions, is located about 2-hours from Antigua Guatemala – day trips to the lake and its surrounding communities are easy.
Map of Antigua Guatemala
[bgmp-map placemark=”country″ zoom=”5″]
Antigua Guatemala is a small town, easily walkable from end to end – it is also packed with lots of things to do and great restaurants. That said, it’s very easy to get lost here. But don’t fret. Here are a few tips on how to find your way around town – you’ll be strutting about like a local in no time!
Tips For Finding Your Way Around Antigua
As a UNESCO Heritage site – there are three in Guatemala: Tikal National Park and Quirigua Ruins are the others, a lot of effort has gone into keeping Antigua Guatemala in as original a condition as possible. If time here looks like it has stood still, it’s because someone has made sure it does. The fact that this is a UNESCO site both helps to make Antigua easy to get around in and makes it confusing to navigate.
Here are five facts that will help you find your way around Antigua Guatemala:
#1 – Everything Starts at the Center
Antigua’s Parque Central (Central Park) is the center of this small universe. It’s the go-to landmark everyone knows, and the largest and easiest to find. If you ever get lost, you’ll be hard press to find someone who can give you exact directions. Most people never seem to know where exactly anything is. Everyone knows where Parque Central is – even Police Officers!
Fountain of the Sirens, Parque Central
#2- Streets Go Side to Side, Avenues Go Up and Down
Antigua is laid out in a grid pattern, like most old Spanish colonial cities. Streets run east to west and vice versa, and avenues run north to south. Unless you’re carrying a compass, that won’t mean a thing unless you’ve got the point of reference…
#3- Here’s Your Ginormous Point of Reference!
View of Agua Volcano from Cerro de La Cruz lookout
Look down the road you’re standing on both ways. See a massive volcano?
Then you’re probably on a street, which runs east to west. Walk around the corner.
Do you see a huge volcano now?
Good! Turn around to face it. When you do, you’ll be facing south, towards Agua Volcano.
Depending on the avenue you’re in, you’ll able to spot Cerro de la Cruz, the hill north of Antigua that overlooks the city.
The giant volcano towering over Antigua is as good a landmark as you’re going to get. You can view (dormant) Volcan Agua from anywhere in Antigua. This is because in Antigua, construction of any structure higher than two stories is forbidden within city limits – a large enough bribe and anyone can get around those restrictions, but I digress.
Quiet Calle de Los Pasos
Another UNESCO rule forbids signs that are perpendicular to the street. The only signs allowed are those placed flat against the wall, which makes all streets look the same from a distance. It’s almost impossible to find any business until you’re close enough to see the sign on the wall.
To recap, here’s a whiz-bang high-tech computer graphic summarizing everything I just made you read:
#4- Locating Addresses
Back in the day, streets all had names. Some names are understandable based on the city’s religious tradition (Calle del Espiritu Santo – Holy Spirit Street). Someday I’ll figure out the why of Calle Sucia (Dirty Street), as it doesn’t appear to be any dirtier than any other random street in town.
At some point, main streets and avenues inside Antigua center, referred to as “El Casco,” were numbered to make easier to find. Which is why you’ll often see signs that display the name and its commonly used numerical designation. No one bothers calling street by their names, as most people go with the easier-to-remember street number.
Streets often have more than one name
Here’s a quick hint: An Alameda is a broad two-lane road separated, or lined by trees on both sides. The most important ones are Alameda Santa Lucia, on the far west end of the city and where the Mercado starts, and Alameda El Calvario, to Antigua’s southeast and home of wealthy El Calvario neighborhood (below).
Alameda El Calvario
Inside Antigua proper, avenue numbers start from the east with 1a Avenida (First Avenue) and end with 7a Avenida (Seventh Avenue). Street numbers start from the north, starting with 1a Calle (First Street), and ending with 9a Calle (Novena Calle). Outside of Antigua’s number grid, streets are given proper names.
An excellent way to figure out the avenue or street number is to count with relation to Parque Central. The 4a Calle (Street) flanks the park to the north and 5a Calle (Street) to the south. 4a Avenida (avenue) is to the east, and 5a Avenida (avenue) is to the park’s west side.
Streets and avenues have an additional designation to help you spot addresses easier. Appended to avenues are monikers such as “Norte” (north) when north of Parque Central and “Sur” (south) when south of it. Streets get the moniker “Oriente” when east of Parque Central, and “Poniente” when west. Here are two quick illustrations to help you visualize:
Antigua’s avenues run north to south
Antigua’s streets run east to west
Are you thoroughly confused yet?
#5 – Locating Towns Around Antigua
Now, imagine you’ve finally made it to Antigua. Volcan Fuego has just erupted, and everyone is madly dashing for the hills… wait. Scratch that. Got a bit confused there for a sec… Let’s start over…
Imagine I were to place you next to Parque Central, facing Agua (south) – Let’s say you were actually ON the horse in the picture below if you’d like to make it more exciting. From there, it’s easy to figure out the location of surrounding towns.
4a Avenida looking South
To the northwest (behind you and looking over your right shoulder): Jocotenango and San Felipe.
To the east (behind you and to your left): Santa Ines and the road that leads to San Lucas and Guatemala City.
To the west (a few blocks to your right): El Mercado.
Here’s a bit more of my computer wizardry:
I probably made it all sound way more confusing than it is. After all, it’s only a 15-minute walk from one end of Antigua to the other.
So what if you get lost? You may discover yet another new favorite spot. After all, what’s the point of having great weather if you don’t enjoy it by walking around a bit?
Have any questions or comments about finding your way around Guatemala?