Travelling to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala: A guide to The Villages

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala has long been a prominent hangout for hippies, backpackers, expats as well as travellers. And, after living on the lake for two months in early 2015, we can absolutely see why! There’s just something about Lake Atitlán that gets under your skin, as well as eventually makes it extremely tough to leave.

Lago de Atitlán as it’s understood in Spanish, is the deepest lake in all of central America as well as is flanked by three towering volcanoes – Tolimán, San Pedro as well as Atitlán. There are lots of Mayan villages surrounding the lake, however there are truly only a few that you are likely to go to / move to indefinitely.

Please note: We travelled Lake Atitlan on a budget plan as well as this post shows that. If you’re trying to find a lot more upscale lodging as well as tours, inspect out


Let’s begin with the most prominent backpacker village on the lake. Panajachel (Pana for short) is the primary port of entry to the lake, as well as if you’re coming from Mexico, Antigua or Guatemala City, this is most likely where you’ll discover yourself first. It’s a bustling, dirty village, with a extremely hectic primary street. because of the truth that this village is linked to the road to the “outside world”, there is likewise a great deal of web traffic here.

Whether you’re a traveller or somebody who is seeking to online on Lake Atitlán for a few months, Pana will likely be of rate of interest to you, at least for a short time. This is where the greatest grocery store is, in addition to “Sandy’s” supermarket, which offers a plethora of Western goodies. If you’re trying to find excursion agencies, transfers to Antigua as well as beyond, a large variety of hotels, lots of western restaurants, great deals of bars, great nightlife, as well as economical Guatemalan handicrafts, this is the location to discover to.

We do suggest checking out Pana as well as even staying here, however we extremely suggest that you take a lancha (taxi boat) as well as inspect out a few of the lots of (more authentic) villages, surrounding Lake Atitlán.


Northern end of the lake, the village of Solola is north of Pana, a lot of of the other villages of rate of interest are west of here.

Co dělat:

Kayaking, bar-hopping, go on day trips to close-by villages, go to Saint Francis Church, take Spanish lessons, go to the market.

Co čekat:

Lots of tourists, hectic streets, a mix of people – foreigners, Spanish as well as (beautifully dressed) Maya people. views of all three volcanoes. NOT a extremely clean place for swimming.

Nejlepší tipy:

This is one of the few locations where you can take out money from an ATM on the lake, stock up in Pana! the very best grocery stores are here. A dependable excursion company for booking transportation is Xocomil, found ideal near the lancha port.

To get a much better concept of what Panajachel is like, inspect out our video here:

Santa Cruz la Laguna / Paxanax

Just a quick, 10 minute boat trip from Pana as well as you’ll show up here. We resided in a suburb of Santa Cruz called Paxanax for two months as well as absolutely liked it. This is our much-loved village on the lake. It’s true that we may be a bit bias, however without any road access, Santa Cruz handles to retain its secluded, tranquil charm. Rickety, bamboo platforms are increased out of the water on stilts producing a cool kilometre-long pathway along the shoreline.

Now that’s a beer with a view! Paxanax was a fantastic location to online for 2 months.
There’s not a whole great deal to do right here in terms of sight-seeing, however for such a small, secluded village, there’s really a great deal of other activities to enjoy. The swimming in Paxanax is good, the CECAP program is extremely excellent as well as there’s a Spanish institution as well. Check out the actual village of Santa Cruz at the top of the hill (take a tuk-tuk or a strenuous walk) as well as take pleasure in the sensational vistas!


Just a 10 minute boat trip to the west of Pana, on the northern shore.

Co dělat:

Go diving diving (the only dive shop on the lake is found here). Hangout at La Iguana Perdida hotel (happy hour, BBQs, backpackers) as well as take pleasure in wholesome food at hotel Isla Verde. go to the Saturday morning market. Go kayaking. Check out CECAP, one of the very best pro-economic programs on the lake.

Co čekat:

A extremely quiet, tranquil village. No connected road to Panajachel or roads outside of the lake. lots of regional Mayan people.

Nejlepší tipy:

There are no ATMs here, as well as no grocery stores. stock up!

To discover a lot more about Santa Cruz/Paxanax, inspect out our video here:

San Marcos La Laguna

San Marcos is the place to go if you’re into healings, meditation, yoga, massage as well as all things spiritual as well as holistic. however it’s not just a location for spirituality as well as yogis, this is likewise one of the most gorgeous villages on the lake. narrow cement pathways meander with rich trees as well as flowering bushes, as well as the swimming right here is great also – there’s even an area for jumping off the rocks.

The view of San Pedro Volcano from San Marcos Village.
The restaurants in San Marcos are plentiful as well as the food is normally extremely healthy. The only downside is that it’s rather costly compared to the other villages around the lake. There are a couple of little shops right here as well as there are regional vendors selling produce. You can walk from San Marcos to the village of Tzununa in about 15 minutes as well. A boat trip from right here to San Pedro is only 10 minutes.


On the northwestern shore.

Co dělat:

Yoga, meditation, massage or reiki. go to a spiritual gathering, go swimming, volunteer, go walking, hiking as well as day-trip to close-by San Pedro.

Co čekat:

A tranquil vibe, rich areas, no bars, however lots of great restaurants. views of the towering San Pedro Volcano.

Nejlepší tipy:

There’s no ATM maker here. Don’t walk between right here as well as San Pedro as there is a high occurrence of robberies along this route.

San Juan La Laguna

This little village is frequently overlooked by tourists, which is as well bad. Sure, it’s not as hectic as the likes of San Pedro, San Marcos or Pana, however there’s something special about San Juan. The people living right here are extremely friendly, it’s a risk-free village as well as the views are charming as well. This village is tranquil as well as peaceful. There are only a couple of locations to eat as well as to stay, however we suggest hotel Uxlabil for food as well as for a night’s stay.

From San Juan, you can quickly walk to San Pedro, or take a quick tuk-tuk ride, which is what likewise makes this village so great.

Beautiful top level Veranda At Uxlabil Eco Lodge in San Juan.


West coastline of the lake.

Co dělat:

Wander around town, go to the church, take a day-trip to San Pedro, relax.

Co čekat:

Hardly any type of tourists, friendly locals, an authentic feel.

Nejlepší tipy:

There are only a couple of little restaurants. The food at hotel Uxlabil is good, or you can get some little products at the shops as well as cook for yourself at your hotel. The swimming right here is not good. A lancha boat from Pana going to San Pedro will decrease you at the dock in San Juan if you ask. No ATM.

San Pedro La Laguna

This is the budget backpacker hangout on the lake. There’s a direct road out of the lake from right here as well as the vibe is great. This village has a primary road running along the shoreline, which is where you’ll discover all of the backpacker necessities: shops, excursion agencies, restaurants, bars as well as hostels.

Coffee beans drying on the street in San Pedro.
Heading up the extremely steep hill from the road along the lake, you’ll discover what seems to be a separate village, this is where the locals live, as well as is absolutely an area that you’ll want to inspect out.

There are great deals of things to do right here in San Pedro, whether you’re thinking about chilling out in hammocks, going to bars, discovering about coffee, getting extraordinary artisan goods, discovering Spanish or trekking up volcanoes, this is the village to find to.

If you only had time to go to one village, this would most likely be the one that we suggest – it has a bit something for everyone.


Western shore, at the base of the San Pedro Volcano.

Co dělat:

Day-trip to San Marcos for swimming, go to the church, go to the regional create market, hangout on decks overlooking the water, go to bars, satisfy other travellers, discover about exactly how the regional coffee is produced. Hike the San Pedro Volcano as well as Indian Nose lookout.

Co čekat:

Lots of backpackers, a hectic village, lots of restaurants/cafes/bars, friendly locals, gorgeous views – however not of volcanoes.

Nejlepší tipy:

The swimming right here isn’t good, head to San Marcos. There are a couple of respectable grocery stores right here for self-catering. There’s an ATM.

To discover a lot more about the cool village of San Pedro, inspect out our video here:


Although not lots of travellers stay here, this village should have a special mention as well. Jaibalito is found just a few minutes west of Santa Cruz. In fact, you can really walk there on a high mountain trail, or, it’s a quick boat ride. There are barely any type of people living right here or tourists staying here, however there are a few expats as well as friendly locals. There are likewise a couple of hotels to stay in. inspect out the Wednesday Jaibalito Market as well as Le Casa del Mundo for a drink on a gorgeous patio.

Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán is the most populated village on the lake, with the majority of the people being Tz’utujil Maya. found on the extremely south of the lake, on an inlet between the Tolimán as well as San Pedro Volcanoes. This is a extremely traditional, authentic village, one that every visitor must see during their stay. Friday as well as Sunday are the primary market days, however checking out any type of day of the week would be good.

Food up for sale at the Jaibalito Market.

Basically, no matter which village you choose to travel to on Lake Atitlán, you’ll be impressed. The surrounding volcanoes, regional Mayan people as well as gorgeous lake are what makes this area so extraordinary as well as unique. It can seem like a daunting task when trying to figure out which village is the best, so ideally this guide provided you a great breakdown of what to expect from each village ?

Traveller’s Notes

Cost Of primary boat Rides:

Panajachel to Santa Cruz – 10Q ($1.67)

Panajachel to San Marcos – 15Q ($2.50)

Panajachel to San Pedro – 25Q ($4)

San Pedro to San Marcos – 10Q ($1.67)

San Pedro to Santa Cruz – 15Q ($2.50)


Some areas are not risk-free for walking, seek advice from with a regional before trekking between any type of of the villages. normally each village is risk-free during the day, however the paths between them are notorious for robberies as well as muggings.

If you believed humans are the only mobs bothering tourists at night, you’d be wrong. Packs of stray dogs have been understood to assault unsuspecting people, particularly late at night. always travel with a lot more than one person after dark as well as think about bring pepper spray.


The boat motorists have an “official” vacationer rate for boat rides. You can discover a indication specifying the primary routes in San Pedro, however if you don’t understand the prices, they’ll most likely try to rip you off. utilize the cost guide above as well as don’t pay any type of more.

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For a lot more info on Lake Atitlán, inspect out our articles:

Essential ideas & Information: border crossing from San Cristobal to Lake Atitlán

Our digital Nomad Life on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

The expense of Living on Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Have you travelled to Lake Atitlán before? Which village do you believe is the best? 

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