290 Kms from San Francisco Gotera
Antigua, once a colonial capital is rich in history, cultural and natural disasters. After a large earthquaked hit the capital the King of Spain moved the capital to Guatemala City. The town is surrounded by three active volcanoes. The last larger eruption came out of Volcano Fuego in September 2012. Most days you can see smoke coming out of this volcano. For those brave enough to go in for a closer look, tourist offices can arrange day hikes up the volcanoes. A walk through the city displays historical colonial monuments, vibrant markets and street vendors, a diverse mix of Catholic churches (both modern and from the Spanish colonial era), and a an array of restaurants catering to locals and foreigners. Of course with this boom in tourism here, prices are more expensive in Antigua than the rest of Guatemala. For those wanting to stay longer there are many options including volunteering, working at chocolate or coffee farms, dance classes, Spanish language centers, and cooking courses.
259 Kms from San Francisco Gotera
Mountain Area, very beautiful. We stayed in Hotelito El Economico C150 - Nice, clean, free wifi, TV in the living room and cool staff. Go to tourism Info Office situated in Museo del Cafe and ask what to do, you have so many options. On weekends everything is closed though. We been and enjoyed: Museo del Cafe (free), reserva natural cerro apante (C30), Hotel de Montañas e Cabañas Selva Negra (C50), Mirador Disparate de Potter; In the North of Matagalpa (we found it poorest) is located the Guanuca Cultural Center which is Movie Night on Fridays and Cultural Night on Saturdays (free entrance); You have this "Matagalpa Tours" store where you can find local crafts selling, spanish school, tours to the coffee plantation ($US15) where you know the producters culture, daily life and productive activities - pretty interesting! You also have the chance of homestays.