A stone’s throw from Guatemala’s Caribbean coast, Rio Dulce is just over 200 miles (322 km) from the historic city of Antigua. It’s also a good stop-off point on the way down from Tikal. There are several ways to get to Antigua from Rio Dulce, including private transfer and taxi, bus, rental car, or as part of a group or private tour.
Going by road takes around seven hours on a good day, but the traffic on the Pan-American Highway (CA-1) can be pretty terrible, especially between Guatemala City and Antigua—so make sure you leave plenty of time.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 7+ hours
The easiest and most convenient way to get from Rio Dulce to Antigua is via transfer or taxi. They will pick you up at your door, drive you all the way in air-conditioned comfort, and drop you off at your accommodation in Antigua, around seven hours later.
The traffic on CA-1 from Guatemala City to Antigua can be terrible, so make sure you plan ahead and bring plenty of water and snacks. If you are taking a taxi make sure you agree on a rate first. Guatemalan taxis can be pretty small and don't always have AC, so if these are essentials, or if you're part of a big group, then it's better to take a private transfer.
Duration: 10 hours (change in Guatemala City)
The second easiest way to get to Antigua from Rio Dulce is by tourist bus. There are a few minibus shuttles that go directly from Rio Dulce to Antigua, or you can take a big bus to Guatemala City and then change buses before the last stretch to Antigua.
Duration: 2 days or more
You can also visit Rio Dulce and Antigua on a tour of Guatemala like this 11-day Best of Guatemala trip. If you only want to go to Rio Dulce and Antigua and not anywhere else then you can also create a personalized tour itinerary.
Due to its location on the Caribbean coast between Belize and Honduras, it is also possible to take a boat from Rio Dulce all the way to the islands in Belize like this 14-day Guatemala and Belize tour or go to Honduras to check out the Copan ruins like this 13-day Best of Guatemala and Copan tour.
By Rental Car
Duration: 7+ hours
You can also rent a car and drive from Rio Dulce to Antigua, although this is our least preferred option. Not only are some of the roads in very poor condition, but the traffic can be crazy and a lot of drivers in Guatemala are not licensed or insured.
If you choose to drive in Guatemala you will need an international driver's license and fully comp insurance. It helps if you’ve also had some experience driving in Central America before. Although the road from Rio Dulce to Antigua is pretty good, once you get onto the Pan-American Highway past Guatemala City the traffic can be terrible. It isn’t unknown for the journey from Guatemala City to Antigua to take upwards of three hours, so make sure you’re prepared.
In addition to this, it can be very tricky to find parking in Antigua, and to even find a rental car in Rio Dulce—and nigh on impossible to find one that you don’t have to drive back to Rio Dulce afterward. This makes driving our least popular choice on how to get from Rio Dulce to Antigua.