Diminutive Antigua is one of the finest colonial cities in all of the Americas. Its rough cobblestone streets feature a dense mix of old colonial buildings, impressive Catholic churches, and various monasteries and convents. A good portion of these lie in ruins due to the many earthquakes and natural disasters that have plagued the area and led to Antigua's forced evacuation in 1777. If you're like me, you'll fall under the spell of this enchanting city, and 3 days will seem like too little time to fully enjoy its many charms. Still, the itinerary below will give you a good dose of some of the best Antigua has to offer.

Day 1: Getting Acquainted

After arriving at your hotel, spend the rest of the day getting your bearings by starting out at the Plaza Mayor, the center of the city and its principal reference point, and then strolling around Antigua's colonial core.

In the late afternoon, grab a taxi and head to the Cerro de la Cruz, where you'll get a great panoramic view of the city as the sun sets behind the outlying volcanoes.

For dinner, sample some traditional Guatemalan cuisine at La Fonda de la Calle Real, and then stroll around the Plaza Mayor, or head to Reilly's for a nightcap.

Day 2: Walking Around

Take a morning walking tour with Antigua Tours. These tours are highly informative and take you to most of the prime attractions in Antigua. The company has excellent guides, and many of their tours are led by longtime resident and well-known author Elizabeth Bell.

Use the afternoon to hit any of the major sites or attractions you feel you've missed or need more time to fully explore. If you find yourself around the Plaza Mayor and wanting a coffee break, duck into the Café Condesa.

Have a sunset cocktail at the Sky Bar at Café Sky and dinner at Hector's a bustling new bistro.

Day 3: Active Pursuits

It's time to get a little active, so sign up to climb Volcán Pacaya. This is an exciting and energetic climb, but it's also accessible to most people in reasonably good shape. If you do the morning tour, you should be back in Antigua by 1pm.

Save the afternoon to do some shopping. Be sure to visit Casa de Artes, Joyería del Angel, and Textura. If you're looking for bargains, try Nim Po't and the Mercado de Artesanías y Compañía de Jesús.

For your final dinner, pull out all the stops and reserve a table (possibly accompanied by some jazz) at the Mesón Panza Verde. Wind up your last night at Café No Sé, where you'll find a lively mix of locals, expats, and travelers.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.