Colonial architecture, volcanic views, rich coffee. There are a few places in Antigua, Guatemala, to enjoy all three.
The tallest buildings are ruins of churches. There were so many earthquakes in this region that eventually the country moved its capital from Antigua to present-day Guatemala City. The result is a small city with mostly low buildings.
Get on top of a few of those rooftops for breathtaking views – without breaking your budget. Here are three inexpensive places to go for gorgeous views of volcanoes and the colorful facades that line the cobblestone streets below you.
1. Cafe Sky
This rooftop is awesome, because you can see three volcanoes on a clear day – the more distant twin peaks of Acatenango and Fuego, and the closest one Agua, which is commanding from this rooftop view.
There is a restaurant with a decent amount of seating on the second floor, along with several televisions. A metal staircase takes you up to the rooftop bar area, where you can have drinks or bring up your coffee to take in the views. Note, there is no cover up there if it rains.
The coffee was good and strong, and the service was pleasant. There is a menu with a range of options for all meals, plus snacks.
Cafe Sky is at 1a Avenida Sur, #15. There is a hostel on the first floor and the building is blue. I couldn’t find a website, but Trip Advisor reviews here have more pictures and opinions on the food.
2. Bella Vista Coffee
This is my favorite place. The view may not be a stark as it is at Cafe Sky, but, you can also see all three volcanoes from here on a clear day — and get an amazing cup of coffee. Seriously. This was the best coffee I’ve had in Antigua so far. There is only one other place in town people say has better coffee – but that other place doesn’t have a rooftop view.
You can order coffee grown in Guatemala when you walk in off the street, or you can order once you get upstairs. Walk by the wine racks and beyond a small internet cafe to the back stairs that lead you up to the top level.
Seating is decent – there are a few spots where you can see all three volcanoes while sitting down. Also, there is a cover in case it rains.
Girls, note: the stools are covered with coffee sacks, so while they look cool, it might be a bit scratchy on bare legs. Longer skirts or pants feel better.
Bella Vista has a menu, but we didn’t order food since we went mid-afternoon for a rare midday pick-me-up. We spent under $5, including a good tip, for two coffees. People liked their breakfast dishes almost as much as the coffee, strong wifi, and fantastic views, according to Trip Advisor reviews here.
It’s a block away from the central plaza at 6a Avenida Norte, #1. Their website is here. (They also have a location in Guatemala City.)
3. Panaderia y Cafe Santa Clara
This place has great pastries – according to my spouse (I’m trying to get into better shape and not eating pastries). I think the coffee is just okay, the regular food is just okay, but it’s got a lot of character and charm, a decent view, and the people are friendly.
There is one great bench to see Volcan de Agua on the second floor. A wall may block the view for a shorter person, and buildings block the other two volcanoes. While you can see Agua from other benches on the second floor, the hands-down best view is where Tedly is seen in the picture.
The first floor has a small bar and an area where a band sets up for the evening crowd. We haven’t been there yet in the evening, but it’s definitely a possibility in our remaining three weeks in Antigua!
I couldn’t find a website but it’s on 2a Avenida Sur, #18, and you can read more reviews from Trip Advisor here.