The city of Antigua might be less than 40,000 strong these days, but take a walk around Central Park on a Saturday night and you’d never know it. Buoyed by an almost-constant influx of adventurous travelers, nightlife in the former Guatemalan capital has officially come into its own, complete with a full selection of live music, dance clubs and cool bars to choose from. Now mind you there’s still a long way to go before it reaches Cusco levels (the city to which it is often compared), mostly because of the fact that everything but the after parties here shuts down at 1 am. Don’t let that tidbit mislead you, however. For anyone looking to let loose after a few days taking in the views at 13,000 ft, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a friendly bar and/or some company to share it with here.
A key benefit of Antigua’s small size is that just about everything entertainment-related can be found within a five minute walk of the city center. Case in point, head north from Central Park to 3a Calle for live music and rooftop drinks at Kafka (undoubtedly the best bar view in the city), or take things up a notch at the massive, sports bar-esque Mono Loco just south on 5a Avenida Sur. Slightly farther south on 6a Calle Poniente you’ve got a few good options at your disposal, from the raucous weekend nights at La Sala (which thankfully comes equipped with a cool, relaxed terrace option upstairs) to the much friendlier, more intimate vibe at the appropriately named “The Snug.” And no trip to Antigua would be complete without a visit to the quirky, Mezcal-shooting Café No Se on 1a Avenida Sur - without a doubt one of the most interesting bars you’ll come across in Central America.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but to be honest you don’t need much direction here. Other notable names to keep in mind are Reilly’s (a popular Irish pub with two locations unusually close to one another) and Ocelot (known for its great pub atmosphere and impressive beer selection). When all else fails, just ask a local at your hotel/hostel where the night’s best options are, since there’s a varied schedule of Ladies Nights that takes place throughout the week. And be sure to keep your wits about you after dark, especially the farther you venture from Central Park. Yes, Antigua is predominantly a safe city, but when you’ve been tipping back a few Mezcals it never hurts to err on the side of caution. Cheers.