It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the colorful, colonial architecture in Antigua. (I believe we were still bumping our way along the cobblestone streets in our shuttle van from the airport when it happened.) And I quickly learned that the street views were just the beginning. As we wandered the city’s avenidas and calles, it seemed like every other building – though seemingly minuscule from the outside – magically opened up into lush and vibrantly decorated inner courtyards, offering countless corners to explore.
Our time in Antigua fell after we had been on the road for a little over a week, and as much as I hate to admit it, travel seems to wear on me more quickly than ever these days! After early mornings, marathon sightseeing days, multiple border crossings, and more methods of transportation than I could count on one hand, I was ready for a little relaxation. As it turns out, Antigua was the perfect city for just that.
World-renowned coffee? Check. Historic ambiance that serves as a form of sightseeing in its own right? Check. Views for days? Check. Here are seven courtyard, garden and rooftop cafés to unwind in when you’re in Antigua.
Doña Luisa Xicotencatl | 4a Calle Oriente 12
Open daily 7 am – 9:30 pm
This was our first courtyard experience in Antigua, which only inspired us to seek out more! There’s plenty of seating in this beautiful, two-story space, located in a building from 1650. We snagged a first-floor corner table and enjoyed fresh-made smoothies and a bowl of chili while we pored over our guide book and planned our time in the city. In addition to the courtyard, there’s an interior second-floor dining room with tables right by windows overlooking the city’s rooftops and volcanoes.
Saberico | #7 6a Avenida Sur
Open daily 8 am – 9 pm
After hearing great things about Mama Jojo’s Breakfast Joint, we headed to its tiny outpost on 5a Calle Poniente to see what all the fuss was about. Though it says on Google that it’s open all day – from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm – it morphs into a sausage and sandwich stand called Randy’s partway through the morning. We weren’t in the mood for a hot dog (which is actually pretty rare for me!), so we followed the owner’s friendly directions to Saberico.
Located just around the corner, you’d easily mistake this spot for a run of the mill deli and bakery, but as you pass through the front room, you’ll find yourself completely spoiled for choice with several cozy and colorful seating options, both inside and outside.
Though the first room of seats we came upon looked tempting enough, we headed through a doorway on the left and found ourselves in the prettiest little courtyard garden we had seen. We settled into one of the floral-laden tables straight ahead, but you can also follow the path on the right for quiet tables set apart under striped awnings.
I had an iced coffee garnished with rosemary and we split some fresh, delicious banana bread as a snack. (In hindsight this is a little funny, as Doña Luisa Xicotencatl is actually famous for their banana bread. I suppose we should have tried some there, but I certainly had no complaints about Saberico’s!)
Fernando’s Kaffee | 7a Avenida Norte #43D
Open daily 7 am – 7 pm
Coffee lovers shouldn’t miss this roastery and chocolate shop, offering a variety of espresso drinks made from beans grown in Antigua and the surrounding Guatemalan highlands. They also have a full menu and a variety of non-coffee drinks to choose from. It’s the perfect spot to grab some gifts and souvenirs for home; we brought back a few of their artisanal chocolate bars and – of course – a bag of coffee.
Union Garden Cafe | 3a Calle Oriente #43
Open daily 8 am – 5 pm
This colorful garden courtyard is an Instagrammer’s paradise. On your way in, browse the racks at Stela 9, the small shop at the entrance full of beautiful textiles. After, grab a coffee or a smoothie from the counter or order something from their all-day breakfast menu. They also offer a lunch menu and are currently combining on-site yoga classes with brunch through their Balance and Brunch gatherings. If this beautiful space is your style, they even have six Airbnb rooms on-site!
The café can also be found at its original location at 6a Calle Oriente #10 on Parque Tanque la Union.
Café Sky | 1a Avenida Sur 15
Open daily 8 am – 10 pm
A lovely and helpful man at the local tourism office suggested we head to Café Sky’s rooftop terrace for sunset. After entering through the Hacia el Sur hostel at street level, we scored two seats right on the edge of the patio. With a panoramic view of the city’s rooftops and 6a Calle Oriente stretching out directly in front of us, we had the perfect spot to observe the city from a higher vantage point. It was a bit cloudy when we went, which interfered with what would have otherwise been perfect volcano views, but it was pretty nonetheless!
If you’re feeling peckish, the chips and guac are the perfect snack.
Angie Angie CafeArte | 1a Avenida Sur 11a
Open daily noon – 10:30 pm
Just a few doors down from Café Sky, you’ll find Angie Angie CafeArte. We stumbled upon this leafy, sunny gem while on a determined mission to find another courtyard to hang out in. Angie’s is really more of a garden than a courtyard, but it fit the bill for a beautiful place to have a drink. We enjoyed 2-for-1 happy hour margaritas here and they were the best of our whole trip!
Bella Vista Coffee | 6a Avenida Norte 1
Open daily 7 am – 7 pm
Another rooftop terrace with beautiful volcano-filled views, Bella Vista’s coffee comes from a farm with more than 100 years of history. Run by the Zelaya family, Bella Vista commits themselves to producing coffee using methods that are environmentally and ecologically responsible. Their beans are featured and utilized by acclaimed brands including Stumptown and Blue Bottle.
Looking back, we spent a lot of time in Antigua relaxing in cafés, and I’m not sorry about it! As I’m often determined to be on a schedule and not waste a second, it was pretty refreshing to sit back and just enjoy my surroundings. (I even cracked my book open a few times!)
What’s your travel style like? Do you let yourself take a break on the road or do you prefer to always be on the move? Let me know below! In the meantime…
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