This impressive colonial city was, in its heyday, the administrative centre for all of Central America and for the Mexican state of Chiapas. Founded in the 16th century, Antigua refused to die when the capital was moved to Guatemala City following a series of catastrophic earthquakes in the 18th century. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, it attracts thousands of visitors every month, drawn by the wonderful architecture, benign climate, sophisticated cultural life, relaxed ambiance and the wonderful vistas of the surrounding hills and volcanoes. Antigua also has a strong student scene, with dozens of Spanish language schools. Set out on a grid system around a central plaza, the city is easy to explore on foot, but all streets are cobbled - so make sure you wear comfortable shoes.