Tabacos y Vinos
Just under the Santa Catalina arch is Tabacos y Vinos, a tiny wine bar that most tourists walk straight past without seeing it. Tabacos y Vinos is an Antiguan hidden gem, and while the venue may be small, they have the best wine selection in the city. Every glass of wine you buy is cheaper than the last, and if you want some nibbles, cheese boards are available. Don’t wait to be offered one – you have to ask.
Café No Se
If you think you don’t like dive bars, think again. Café No Se is known for being the first mezcal bar outside of Mexico, and this candlelit bar is perhaps the coolest place to drink in Antigua. Full of artistic characters, quirky decor and thumping live music, the shadowy bar is also one of the best places in the city to enjoy a bit of surreptitious people-watching.
For something more swish, head to Almacen Troccoli, where you can sip delicious wine at the beautiful bar. Established over 100 years ago, the sleek Italian ambiance, wide-ranging drinks list and elegant décor have all affirmed Almacen Troccoli’s reputation as one of Antigua’s classiest joints. For unbeatable views over the city as you drink, head upstairs to the roof terrace.
If you want to get your groove on, Guatemalan-style, check out La Sala. This boisterous hall pumps out Latin rhythms most nights, and both resident and visiting DJs keep the crowds on their feet (helped along by plenty of cheap booze). Happy hour is from 5pm to 9pm every night, and on Fridays live bands play on the roof terrace.
The Snug is Antigua’s best and most authentic Irish bar. Owned by an Irishman, it’s tiny space that’s always packed with locals, expats and tourists. There’s nothing new or fancy here, but that’s part of the charm. There’s a good selection of cold beers and top-shelf liquor, and the service is always with a genuine smile. A great place to begin a bar crawl.
Whisky Den & Coffee Bar
Located just north of Parque Central, Whisky Den & Coffee Bar is another great place to kick off your night. This cool little lounge offers an excellent selection of world-class whiskeys and coffee, so it’s perfect if you need a little pick-me-up. Everything here is locally made and available to buy, so if you see some unique accessories or paintings, they can be yours. Open from morning until the last customer leaves.
Por Qué No?
Inside a narrow corner of an old colonial building is Por Qué No?, a fun and unique bar and café. The ambiance is relaxed and informal, the decor quirky: vintage trinkets hang from the ceilings, and the walls and tables are scrawled with the names of passing guests. If you can find space, add your own message and become part of an Antiguan institution.
Las Vibras de la Casbah
If you want to party the night away, Las Vibras de la Casbah is an obvious choice. Located near the Santa Catalina arch, this split-level disco has a dance floor that’s always packed. The music is a mix of local and Latin, hip-hop and electronic, though as the night progresses it becomes more electro-focussed. There’s an open-air terrace at the front if you need a bit of fresh air after dancing.
For something more chilled, Monoloco is a safe bet. Packed with tourists throughout the week, this relaxed bar and cafe is filled with locals at the weekends. There’s a good range of beers on offer, and the food is decent (the Monoloco nachos are especially famous). If you want to watch sports, this is a good place to come, too.
Once a cinema, Lucky Rabbit is now one of the most popular night spots in town. It’s a guaranteed good night, and the young crowd, beer pong tables, games selection and projected movies on the walls enhance its buzzing atmosphere. The music is good, too, with separate areas for house and dance. Like most bars in Antigua, it shuts at 1am, but if you want to continue the party, Lucky Rabbit is the starting point for the infamous Antigua rave at an abandoned swimming pool (it sounds dodgy, but it’s not).