10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit

Only Once Today is a reader-supported website. We might earn a commission if you purchase something through one of our links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

What we talk about in this article

Lake Atitlan is, like we said a few times before on this website, a truly magical place. We’re not the only ones who found themselves lost in the natural beauty and magic of this lake in the Guatemalan highlands. We explored multiple Lake Atitlan villages over the years. In some villages, we only spent a few hours, while in other towns, we stayed for weeks or even a month. That means we have some expertise on the matter and we love to let you in on our knowledge and experience in order to select the best Lake Atitlan towns and villages for a specific activity, a visit, a shopping session, or an accommodation search. 

Lake Atitlan is consider one of the best things to do in Guatemala, so,  follow us along as we discover all the interesting towns. We’ll start in Panajachel and make a clockwise tour of the lake!

10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Lake Atitlan Map

1. Panajachel - Gateway to Lake Atitlan

Panajachel is the most well-known town on Lake Atitlan as it is the place where most travellers arrive in the first place. When you arrive from any other place in Guatemala, chances are that your driver drops you off in Panajachel, near the docks. From here, you can get to everywhere on the lake.

Specifics for Panajachel

  • Located on the North of the lake
  • 20 thousand inhabitants
  • Multiple ATM’s
  • Supermarket and grocery store available
  • Hotels available
  • Restaurants available
  • Souvenir shops available
Tuctuc waiting at the Panajachel docks
Tuctuc waiting at the Panajachel docks

What is Panajachel known for?

Panajachel is known to be the most visited and frequented town on the Lake. It’s sometimes called ‘the gateway to Lake Atitlan’. A lot of travellers don’t go much further. They get their accommodation here and do a boat tour from Panajachel to quickly visit the other villages.

This city is larger, which means that you can find the commodities you need here, from ATM’s to supermarkets and restaurants.  There’s a vibrant souvenir street where you can find all types of local goods you fancy. 

In Panajachel, you will also find a vast array of hostels and hotels.

Things to do in Panajachel

There are a lot of things to do in Panajachel!

  • Visit the Reserva Natural Atitlan, where you can do a variety of things
    • Butterfly sanctuary
    • Zipline and cable bike
    • Nature hikes
  • Spend the night in the Reserva Natural Atitlan
  • Visit the nearby Solola Market
  • Walk up to the Mirador de Lago Atitlan
  • Rent a kayak or paddle board
  • Walk along the Calle Santander for souvenir shopping and a local lunch
  • Visit Iximche Mayan Ruins from Panajachel (or explore more Mayan ruins in Guatemala)
  • Panajachel has a lot of tour companies for booking activities around the lake
  • Go to the beach: in Panajachel, you can find one of the beautiful beaches in Guatemala
You can go ziplining in Panajachel
You can go ziplining in Panajachel

How to get there?

Panajachel is quite easy to reach. A large part of the road to Panajachel is decent and new (better than the roads we have in Belgium). It’s only the last part that might be a bit windy and bumpy, depending on the road your driver is taking. In any case, Panajachel is easy to reach by bus, private shuttle, collectivo, or even by private taxi transfer. 

Panajachel can be reached directly from cities like AntiguaQuetzaltenango, or Guatemala City, which are probably the main hubs you will be travelling from. If you’re coming from further away, then you might first travel to one of the cities mentioned here.

Have a look at our guide about public transportation in Guatemala in order to fit Panajachel and Lake Atitlan easily into your Guatemala itinerary.

Where to spend the night?

Panajachel has tons of accommodation options, from hostels to luxury hotels. These are 3 of the very best accommodations to choose from.

Budget-Friendly
Selina Atitlan - Panajachel - Guatemala

Selina Atitlan is a digital nomad haven in the centre of Panajachel. It also has a swimming pool!

Selina Atitlan Hostel on Booking Selina Atitlan Hostel on Hostelworld
Budget-Friendly
Reserva Natural Atitlan - Panajachel - Guatemala

Enjoy the lush environment of the Reserva Natural Atitlan. Here, you can do tons of activities, like ziplining, visiting a butterfly garden, and hikes in nature.

Reserva Natural Atitlan on Booking Reserva Natural Atitlan on Agoda
Luxury
Balam Ya - Panajachel - Guatemala

Balam Ya is a beachfront luxury hotel in Panajachel. If you're in need of some pampering... This is the one!

Balam Ya on Booking Balam Ya on Agoda

2. Santa Catarina Palopó - Explore the Colourful Local Culture

Most travellers who visit Santa Catarina Palopó don’t go much further than the streets around the docks. But the village is actually very pretty, so it pays off to walk a little further. 

Pintando Santa Catarina Palopó is a local project to make the village prettier, and it definitely works. All the houses in the village are painted in vibrant colours, making it a joy to walk through.

Specifics for Santa Catarina Palopó

  • Located on the East of the lake
  • 5 thousand inhabitants
  • No ATM’s
  • Only very small grocery shops available
  • Hotels available (limited)
  • Restaurants available (limited)
  • Souvenir shops available (limited)
Santa Catarina Palopó village at Lake Atitlan
Santa Catarina Palopó village at Lake Atitlan

What is the town known for?

Even though Santa Catarina Palopó is located only a few kilometres from Panajachel, it is vastly different! This villages is full of brightly painted houses and small corridors. It’s the closest place to Panajachel where you can discover the local Guatemalan vibe.

Santa Catarina Palopó is the home of the Kaqchikel Maya people, so if you’re interested in this local culture, you can find it in this village. Have a look at the traditional clothing style and listen to the Kaqchikel language, which differs from Spanish.

This village is also an interesting place to visit if you’re looking for local souvenirs. The main street near the dock has a few artisan shops where you can find locally made tapestries, paintings and ceramics.

Things to do in Santa Catarina Palopó

Santa Catarina Palopó is a rather small village. You won’t find large shopping hubs or tourist attractions here, but there is a lot of culture and nature!

  • Wander through the colourful streets
  • Hike to the Mirador de Santa Catarina
  • Check out the hot water spring (but don’t expect a hot tub)
  • Have lunch with an amazing view at the Artesanal Café and mirador
  • Adventure sports, like mountain biking, hiking, kajaking, …
  • Paragliding with a local expert
  • Visit the local colonial church
  • Read a travel book by the pool!
Santa Catarina Palopó - Laka Atitlan village with a Colourful Local Culture
Santa Catarina Palopó - Laka Atitlan village with a Colourful Local Culture

How to get there?

In order to reach Santa Catarina Palopó, you first need to travel to Panajachel. From there, you have a few options to go to Santa Catarina Palopó.

  • Tuctuc from Panajachel for a few Quetzales
  • Taxi from Panajachel for more Quetzales
  • In the back of a pick up truck for a few Quetzales
  • Lancha for around 20 Quetzales (Santa Catarina Palopó is a small village, so not every lancha stops here – ask before getting in)

Where to spend the night?

Santa Catarina Palopó is not the most popular hub for travellers to stay in. That means it ill be rather quiet and you won’t get a touristy vibe as you get with some other places around the lake. 

In short: Santa Catarina Palopó is a great hub if you’re looking for a local vibe, experiencing the real Guatemala!

Mid-Range
Tzampoc Resort - Santa Catarina Palopó - Guatemala

Tzampoc Resort is a dreamy hotel with an infinity pool overlooking the lake and the volcanoes.

Tzampoc Resort on Booking Tzampoc Resort on Agoda
Mid-Range
Villa Santa Catarina - Santa Catarina Polopo - Guatemala

This 100% Guatemalan accommodation has an excellent location and a swimming pool. This hotel is LGBTQ-friendly.

Villa Santa Catarina on Booking Villa Santa Catarina on Agoda
High-End
Hotel Casa Palopo - Santa Catarina Palopó - Guatemala

This luxury hotel offers a swimming pool and a wellness centre. It's thé place to pamper yourself in Santa Catarina Palopó!

Hotel Casa Palopo on Booking Hotel Casa Palopo on Agoda

3. San Antonio Palopó - Indulge in Local Souvenirs

San Antonio Palopó is a surprisingly large town on the shores of Lake Atitlan. It’s not touristy at all. Even though the village is definitely worth a visit, most tourists skip this town altogether. But that’s not a problem, as it leaves more room for authentic Guatemalan culture. So, if you’re not into the touristy things, but you rather want to see a real Guatemalan village, then San Antonio is perfect for you!

Specifics for San Antonio Palopó

  • Located on the East of the lake
  • 16 thousand inhabitants
  • No ATM’s
  • Only very small grocery shops available
  • Hotels available (limited)
  • Restaurants available (limited)
  • Souvenir shops available (limited)
San Antonio Palopó - Town at Lake Atitlan
San Antonio Palopó - Town at Lake Atitlan

What is the town known for?

San Antonio is specifically known for its beautiful, traditional pottery. Aside from the ceramics, you can also find colourful Guatemalan fabrics here.

And, if you’re not looking for specific things, then come and see the scenic views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes.

Things to do in San Antonio Palopó

If you’re looking for a place to really zone out and take some time for yourself, San Antonio is a good choice. There’s not too much distraction going on!

  • Engage in workshops and learn how to make local ceramics
  • Buy local souvenirs or traditional clothing
  • Hike to Mirador Agua Escondida
  • Read a travel book with Lake Atitlan in the backdrop!
How to get in the Lake Atitlan towns and villages: by slow boat!
How to get in the Lake Atitlan towns and villages: by slow boat!

How to get there?

In order to visit San Antonio Palopó, you best go to Panajachel first. This town is easy to reach and from there, you can visit any of the villages around Lake Atitlan.

Similar as for Santa Catarina Palopó, this is also a less frequented village. A lot of the lancha or slow boats don’t stop here. So, if you want to get a lancha, make sure to check the stops before you get in.

  • Get a cheap tuctuc
  • Hitch a ride in the back of a pick up truck
  • Get a taxi, but expect to pay more
  • Get the lancha or slow boat

Where to spend the night?

San Antonio Palopó is not very frequented by tourists. Most visitors just pass by for a few hours. While there definitely are hotels, there aren’t as many as in the other villages. Here’s a top selection.

Budget-Friendly
Hotel Terrazas Del Lago - San Antonio Palopó - Guatemala

This budget-friendly hotel in San Antonio Palopó offers amazing views and a beautiful garden.

Hotel Terrazas Del Lago on Booking
Budget-Friendly
Tekoa Spaces - San Antonio Palopó - Guatemala

This centrally located and budget-friendly hotel has stunning lake views and the chance to venture out into the town immediately.

Tekoa Spaces on Booking
Mid-Range
Atitlan Villas - San Antonio Palopó - Guatemala

Book an entire villa unit in Atitlan Villas in San Antonio Palopó and enjoy a private house with great views over the lake.

Atitlan Villas on Booking

4. Santiago Atitlán - Town of Maximon

Santiago de Atitlan is the biggest of the towns on Lake Atitlan. It’s actually large and lively. Most travelers don’t spend the night in Santiago, but you can if you want to. It is, however, less popular than most other villages. Most boat tours on the lake will have a short stop in Santiago so you can explore this busy city.

Specifics for Santiago Atitlán

  • Located on the South of the lake
  • 47 thousand inhabitants
  • Many ATM’s and banks
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores
  • Many hotels available 
  • Various restaurants and eateries 
  • Many souvenir shops
Handicraft stall in Santiago Atitlan
Handicraft stall in Santiago Atitlan

What is Santiago Atitlan known for?

The main reason for visiting Santiago Atitlan is Maximon. This religious icon moves to a new home each year. People can visit Maximon and bring him gifts like food or cigarettes. The local family that hosts Maximon, will see their living room transformed into a semi church.

Another cool activity in Santiago is a trip to the viewpoint over Lake Atitlan. We got the chance to drive a tuc tuc by ourselves on our way to the viewpoint! It was a wonderful day trip!

In Santiago Atitlan, men, as well as women, wear traditional Guatemalan clothing. In most other cities and towns, only the women wear a traditional dress.

A little bit of information about Maximon

The origins of Maximón are obscure and unclear. Some suggest that he originated during the Spanish conquest of the Maya, with stories including a Franciscan friar who mistreated local women or a Mayan elder who resisted the Spanish. Eventually, Spanish missionaries tried to combine the Mayan god with Saint Simon, resulting in a mix of a sinner and a saint.

He’s hugely popular in Santiago de Atitlan. Most regions and cities see Maximon as a trickster or even a bad character, but in Santiago de Atitlan, the saint is honored. 

In Santiago, the wooden statue of Maximon is displayed in the house of a different member of the organisation each year. During that year, the men of the house are responsible for the visits and honouring of Maximon.

Aside from the wooden Maximon, the ‘cathedral’, which is someone’s living room, usually also has a shrine with another wooden statue.

If you want to visit, will never actually know where you have to search for him. To find out where Maximon is residing, just ask the local kids. They will be happy to walk with you in exchange for a Quetzal or a pen.

Correction: some years, you can find the location of Maximon in Google Maps (try finding it first, or just give a kid a Quetzal)

People come from all over Guatemala to visit Maximon and ask him for advice in important decisions. In return for that advice, you can gift cigarettes, cigars, alcohol, or money. The statue actually has a hole to put a cigarette in. The responible home owner of the year is also responsible for keeping a cigarette in the mouth of Saint Simon.

Foreigners can visit Maximon too. You are expected to bring money and/or gifts. Taking pictures will cost a little more.

Maximon Shrine in Santiago de Atitlan
Maximon Shrine in Santiago de Atitlan

Things to do in Santiago Atitlán

In Santiago, you will most likely only spend a few hours. But, if you have the time to stay longer, then there are a few interesting activities you can do.

  • Visit Maximon
  • Hike up the Toliman volcano
  • Get a tuctuc tour of the city and surroundings
  • Wander through the souvenir shops and stalls near the dock
  • Check out the Ruta de Murales
  • Engage in volunteering activities in Santiago
  • Visit the Saint James the Apostle Church
  • Hike up to the Mirador del Valle
  • Pay a visit to the colourful cemetary
  • Stop by the local Maya laundry at the lake
Handicrafts and souvenirs in Santiago de Atitlan
Handicrafts and souvenirs in Santiago de Atitlan

How to get there?

To get to Santiago Atitlan, you can either first travel to Panajachel and get a lancha (slow boat) from there. The trip will take a little while as there are other villages that are served first. 

The other option is to get a shuttle to San Lucas Toliman, a village on the East of Santiago which has a decent road going there, and then get a jeep or tuctuc to Santiago.

Mirador in Santiago de Atitlan
Mirador in Santiago de Atitlan

Where to spend the night?

Most travellers don’t stay overnight in Santiago, since they’re visiting on a day trip. But there are a few nice hotels and accommodation options there.

Budget-Friendly
Casa Josefa Hotel - Santiago Atitlán - Guatemala - Booking

Casa Josefa is a budget-friendly hotel in the heart of Santiago de Atitlan: the perfect place to get the true vibe of this Guatemalan city.

Casa Josefa on Booking
Mid-Range
Hotel Los Olivos - Santiago Atitlán - Guatemala

Hotel Los Olivos is located just outside Santiago. It has a swimming pool and serves as a quiet retreat on the shore of Lake Atitlan.

Hotel Los Olivos on Booking
Mid-Range
Hotel Toliman Guatemala

Hotel Toliman is located in San Lucas Toliman. This hotel also has some stunning views from the property. It also has a heated pool, jacuzzi, and massage centre.

Hotel Toliman on Booking
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Us at the Santiago viewpoint
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Santiago street view
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Santiago Atitlan docks

5. San Pedro La Laguna - Backpacker Paradise

San Pedro is a traveller favourite town at Lake Atitlan. It’s a large town and there are plenty of things to see and do. You can easily find a supermarket, a restaurant, a hotel, a Spanish School, a local market, … And so on. This town is a real hub. So, you’re not allowed to skip it!

Specifics for San Pedro La Laguna

  • Located on the West of the lake
  • 12 thousand inhabitants
  • A few ATM’s and banks
  • Grocery stores
  • Large local market
  • Many hotels / hostels 
  • Various restaurants and eateries 
  • Some souvenir shops
San Pedro La Laguna near the main dock
San Pedro La Laguna near the main dock

What is the San Pedro La Laguna known for?

San Pedro is known for long-term backpackers, Spanish Schools, and probably the best nightlife in Lake Atitlan (aside from Panajachel).

Even though you will still find local charm and a lot of culture, San Pedro is also very touristy. You’ll find more people who speak English and more people who are working in tourism.

San Pedro de Atitlan Dock
San Pedro de Atitlan Dock

Things to do in San Pedro La Laguna

n San Pedro, there a re a few things you can do, but there are also a lot of things to do at or around Lake Atitlan, which start from here. There are quite a few agencies that offer tours, which usually start in San Pedro La Laguna.

We followed Spanish lessons in San Pedro, we also stayed in a hostel here, and we booked a tour or 2 from San Pedro (to Chichicastenango for instance)

  • Follow Spanish lessons in one of the schools
  • Visit the local market
  • Book one of the fun Atitlan tours from San Pedro
  • Go ziplining in San Pedro
  • Hike to the Indian Nose volcano
  • Visit an art gallery
  • Go paddle boarding or kayaking
  • Visit the San Pedro EcoPark
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Lobke wandering the streets of San Pedro
Streets of San Pedro La Laguna
Streets of San Pedro La Laguna

How to get there?

San Pedro can best be reached by lancha or slow boat. As San Pedro La Laguna is located among the furthest away from Panajachel, you may expect to have a short stop at all the other docks along the way. We quite enjoyed seeing all the villages on the way!

You can also reach San Pedro by tuctuc or in the back of a pickup truck. This ride can be done from most surrounding villages.

10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
San Pedro

Where to spend the night?

In San Pedro, choices for accommodation are abundant. There are tons of nice backpacker hostels, but you can also find luxurious boutique hotels or resorts in San Pedro. These are our top picks.

Budget-Friendly
Mandala’s Hostal - San Pedro La Laguna - Guatemala

This backpacker favourite in San Pedro has a panoramic seating area where you can relax, enjoy the views, and meet other travellers.

Mandala’s Hostal on Booking Mandala’s Hostal on Hostelworld
Mid-Range
Mikaso Hotel - San Pedro La Laguna - Guatemala

Mikaso Hotel offers a picturesque setting right by the lake. This hotel is interesting for couples who're interested in a romantic experience.

Mikaso Hotel on Booking Mikaso Hotel on Hostelworld
Mid-Range
Sababa Resort - San Pedro La Laguna - Guatemala

Sababa Resort is a luxurious haven offering breathtaking views of the lake. There's a relaxing pool area with hammocks.

Sababa Resort on Booking Sababa Resort on Agoda

6. San Juan La Laguna - Coffee, Handicrafts, and Eco Living

San Juan La Laguna is a small village that is often frequented by tourists during the day. Most boat tours on the lake will take you to San Juan for some local souvenir shopping and handicraft workshops.

It’s a wonderful village to spend some time to explore the different, colourful murals, the fabrics, and local agriculture. 

Plus, from San Juan la Laguna, you can hike up to Indian’s Nose.

Specifics for San Juan La Laguna

  • Located on the West of the lake
  • 13 thousand inhabitants
  • ATM’s available
  • Grocery stores
  • Few hotels / hostels 
  • Few restaurants and eateries 
  • Some souvenir shops
Local life in San Juan La Laguna
Local life in San Juan La Laguna

What is the San Juan La Laguna known for?

San Juan La Laguna is known for a multitude of things.

First of all: handicrafts of all sorts. If you’re interested in following a weaving course where you get to work with all the vibrant Guatemalan colours, you can book a workshop in San Juan. 

The village is also known for its coffee tradition. Have a look at Cooperativa  La Voz to learn more about that. 

And third, this might be fun and interesting to know. San Juan is also known for te eco lodges. From all the eco lodges around Lake Atitlan, surprisingly any are located in San Juan.

Maya paintings at the village of San Juan la Laguna
Maya paintings at the village of San Juan la Laguna

Things to do in San Juan La Laguna

San Juan La Laguna offers a variety of things to do. Most activities have a lot of cultural background and the other have something to do with agriculture!. Let’s see what you can do in San Juan

  • Walk through the Paseo de los Artes (umbrella street)
  • Admire the street art in Calle de los Sombreros
  • Hike up to the beautifully painted Kaqasiiwaan viewpoint (25 minute walk from town)
  • Hike to the Rostro Maya (Indian Nose) viewpoint (2 hour hike from town)
  • Visit Mayan Bee World 
  • Visit some art galleries and maybe buy a local artwork
  • Join a weaving workshop and learn how local women weave the colourful fabrics
  • Find all the murals and photograph them
Tuctucs in the street leading from San Pedro to San Juan
Tuctucs in the street leading from San Pedro to San Juan

How to get there?

San Juan La Laguna is easy to reach in different ways. Aside from the usual lancha or slow boat, you can also reach the village by road. It’s one of the few villages that has a rather decent road going there.

  • By lancha or slow boat from any of the other villages
  • By collectivo or bus from Quetzaltenango
  • Hitching a ride in the back of a pick up truck
  • By tuc tuc from surrounding villages
Woman in traditional clothing and a mural in the background
Woman in traditional clothing and a mural in the background

Where to spend the night?

As we already mentioned, San Juan La Laguna is know for its eco lodges. So, make sure to check those out if you’re looking for an ecologisch retreat by the lake.

Budget-Friendly
Eco-Hotel Mayachik - San Juan La Laguna - Guatemala

Mayachik offers a budget-friendly way to disconnect from the hurry of life. Find peace in the stillness of nature and enjoy an ecological retreat at Lake Atitlan

Eco-Hotel Mayachik on Booking Eco-Hotel Mayachik on Hostelworld
Mid-Range
Eco Hotel Uxlabil Atitlan - San Juan La Laguna - Guatemala

Enjoy the views from the tub while listening to the birds... Eco Hotel Uxlabil offers a natural retreat in San Juan La Laguna.

Eco Hotel Uxlabil on Booking Eco Hotel Uxlabil on Agoda
Budget-Friendly
Q´ojoom Jaay - San Juan la Laguna - Guatemala

Q´ojoom Jaay is a cute and budget-friendly hotel in the centre of San Juan where you can experience the local village vibe.

Q´ojoom Jaay on Booking Q´ojoom Jaay on Agoda
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
San Juan docks
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
San Juan tuc tucs

7. San Marcos La Laguna - Long Term Haven

San Marcos is another sleepy village on the Lake Atitlan shores. It might even be the smallest village in this list. We have spent quite a bit of time here and we really loved the vista from this side of the lake a lot. San Marcos is frequented by long term travellers who engage into sustainable projects and volunteering in this area. But, you also have some short term options here.

Specifics for San Marcos La Laguna

  • Located on the North-West side of the lake
  • 3 thousand inhabitants
  • ATM available
  • Grocery store
  • Few hotels / hostels 
  • Some restaurants and eateries 
  • Some souvenir shops
San Marcos docks with boat activity and people boarding
San Marcos docks with boat activity and people boarding

What is San Marcos La Laguna known for?

San Marcos is mostly known as a hippie town with a relaxed and laid back vibe. You’ll find a lot of small shops to confirm this and quite a few of the shops are being kept by travellers who decided to stay here.

Aside from the long-term hippie community, San Marcos is also known for having stunning accommodation options. It is, after Pana and San Pedro, one of the most popular places to spend a few nights at the lake.

Restaurant in San Marcos La Laguna
Restaurant in San Marcos La Laguna

Things to do in San Marcos La Laguna

San Marcos is a place where time seems to move slower. Enjoy this chance to slow down your own pace as well and enjoy the scenery while relaxing on the shores of the lake.

  • Chill out with a good travel book!
  • Do some cliff jumping at Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
  • Enjoy the views at Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
  • Visit Eagle’s Nest for a yoga session (or become a yoga teacher)
Small street leading to the dock of San Marcos La Laguna
Small street leading to the dock of San Marcos La Laguna
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Stunning view from outside our window over the lake

How to get there?

San Marcos can be reached by slow boat or lancha from all the other villages. Most people will be coming from Panajachel or San Pedro. San Marcos la Laguna is not the first, nor the last stop on the route, but someone will yell the name of the village when you arrive. Most slow boats stop in San Marcos La Laguna, but in any case you best ask before boarding. 

You can also reach San Marcos by the other modes of transportation, but it might take a little longer over the dusty, rocky roads.

  • Lancha or slow boat
  • Tuctuc
  • In the back of a pickup truck
  • Taxi
How to spend your time in San Marcos La Laguna Guatemala
How to spend your time in San Marcos La Laguna Guatemala

Where to spend the night?

San Marcos La Laguna has a lot of accommodation options for travellers. We spent a month here, so it’s pretty easy to lose track of tie when you’re in a place like this! Make sure to calculate enough time for your stay in San Marcos.

Budget-Friendly
Lush Atitlán - San Marcos La Laguna - Guatemala

Lush Atitlan is a very beautiful hotel with amazing views on the lake and volcanoes. It's a favourite among travellers.

Lush Atitlán on Booking Lush Atitlán on Agoda
Mid-Range
Eagle's Nest Atitlán - San Marcos La Laguna - Guatemala

Eagle's Nest is an eco retreat in the mountains near San Marcos. Aside from accommodation, they also offer yoga classes and retreats.

Eagle's Nest on Booking
Luxury
Kula Maya - San Marcos La Laguna - Guatemala

Indulge in luxury at Lake Atitlan. This hotel treats you with amazing views, a swimming pool, and the best service on the lake!

Kula Maya on Booking Kula Maya on Agoda
10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
San Marcos

8. Tzununa - Spiritual Centre of Atitlan

Tzununa is also a very beautiful village at the Lake Atitlan shoreline. It’s not as well known as many others, but it is a favourite among long-term travellers. There’s no shopping street or souvenir street, because Tzununa is more popular for its natural beauty and relaxing atmosphere.

Specifics for Tzununa

  • Located on the North-West side of the lake
  • 4 thousand inhabitants
  • No ATM available
  • Grocery store
  • Some hotels / hostels 
  • Few restaurants and eateries 
  • No souvenir shops
Private Docks between San Marcos and Tzununa
Private Docks between San Marcos and Tzununa

What is Tzununa known for?

Tzununa is a well-known spiritual retreat. People come from all over the world to visit the Gaia Dance Temple in order to connect with the earth and each other. The town also has a lot of yoga centres and retreats.

Tzununa is also the perfect place to learn about a lot of different things, which all fit together very well. Think about mushrooms (psychedelic or not), permaculture, sustainable building techniques, yoga, and other skills that fit into a sustainable way of life.

Mucho amor por El Lago de Atitlan!
Mucho amor por El Lago de Atitlan!

Things to do in Tzununa

Tzununa isn’t a very touristy town, so there aren’t any souvenir shops or fancy restaurants. In Tzununa, you can enjoy the surrounding nature and views. Also, take your time to explore the spiritual side of this area.

Panoramic view over the lake and the surrounding volcanoes
Panoramic view over the lake and the surrounding volcanoes

How to get there?

Tzununa is not that easy to reach by land, as it is located in between 2 mountain ridges. If you want to drive there, you have to follow the road beyond San Marcos. This can be done in the back of a pick up truck, in a tuctuc, or with the daily chicken bus.

Most people arrive by slow boat or lancha over the lake.

Where to spend the night?

Most of the accommodation in Tzununa either offers a spiritual experience or a retreat in nature. So, this village is perfect for travellers who want to enjoy the peace and the beautiful surroundings.

Budget-Friendly
Bambu Guest House - Tzununa - Guatemala

Bambu Guesthouse is a budget-friendly accommodation in the middle of the Guatemalan nature. It's a travellers favourite, with an on-site restuarant.

Bambu Guest House on Booking
Budget-Friendly
Granja Tzikin - Tzununa - Guatemala

This nature lodge in Tzununa is a budget-friendly place where you can reconnect with nature and yourself. In this hidden gem, you will feel right at home.

Granja Tzikin on Booking
Luxury
El Picnic - Tzununá - Guatemala

El Picnic is a luxurious retreat in Tzununa de Atitlan. Enjoy the views and relax on your private balcony. Guests are super excited about their stay here.

El Picnic on Booking El Picnic on Agoda

9. Jaibalito - Most Remote Village on Lake Atitlan

Jaibalito is even smaller than the previous village we discussed. It’s slightly more popular among travellers, as you will notice when you start counting hotels and restaurants.

This village is perfectly reachable by slow boat or lancha, but if you want to get there without taking a boat, it appears to be the most remote village of them all.

Specifics for Jaibalito

  • Located on the North side of the lake
  • 1 thousand inhabitants
  • No ATM available
  • Small Grocery stores
  • Some hotels / hostels 
  • Some restaurants and eateries 
  • Some souvenir shops
At the docks in Jaibalito
At the docks in Jaibalito

What is Jaibalito known for?

Jaibalito is known for the fact that there are quite a few expats living there. 

The village is also known for the fact that you can only reach it by boat or on foot through the jungle.

Things to do in Jaibalito

  • Swim in the lake (Jaibalito has some of the best water quality at the lake)
  • Rent a kayak or paddle board at Hotel Casa Del Mundo
  • Hike up to the Cruz de Jaibalito viewpoint
The road to Jaibalito
The road to Jaibalito

How to get there?

As we already mentioned before, Jaibalito is not easy to reach. The only roads leading to Jaibalito are walking roads. And they’re not foothpaths like you might expect. The roads to Jaibalito are narrow, rocky paths, with stairs and bridges along the way. 

Needless to say that, if you’re bringing luggage, the slow boat is the way to go. A lancha takes you right to the dock. From there, you can walk to anywhere in town. And if you’re carrying luggage to your hotel, there are young boys at the docks who will help you carry your bags for a small payment.

Where to spend the night?

Jaibalito has just a few accommodation options to choose from, but don’t let that mislead you. It is in reality a popular village to spend a few nights. Most people stay in the Casa Del Mundo Hotel, which gets a lot of praise from travellers, so make sure to check it out!

Mid-Range
Hotel La Casa del Mundo - Jaibalito - Guatemala

Casa Del undo is the most popular accommodation in Jaibalito. The hotel has a restaurant and wellness centre. They also rent out kayaks and paddle boards for entertainment.

Guests rate this hotel very highly.

Casa del Mundo on Booking Casa del Mundo on Agoda
Mid-Range
Art & Coffee - Jaibalito - Guatemala

Art & Coffee is located in the centre of Jaibalito, near the dock. It's a very beautiful hotel with great outdoor areas to sit and relax. There's also an on-site restaurant.

Art & Coffee on Booking Art & Coffee on Agoda
Mid-Range
Rustic Charm Cliffside Retreat - Jaibalito - Guatemala

Enjoy a complete, private apartment in one of the most wonderful locations in the world. This cliffside retreat offers amazing views, a garden, and a private beach area in Jaibalito.

Cliffside Retreat on Booking

10. Santa Cruz La Laguna - Adventure and Relax-Time

Santa Cruz La Laguna is a pretty popular place to visit around Lake Atitlan. There are a lot of hostels and hotels, so you can easily spend the night. And the town also has a few tour operators for adventurous activities. Travellers who want to go rock climbing, scuba diving, mountainbiking, or something else, can use Santa Cruz as a base for their activities.

Specifics for Santa Cruz La Laguna

  • Located on the North side of the lake
  • 9 thousand inhabitants
  • ATM available
  • Few Grocery stores
  • Some hotels / hostels 
  • Some restaurants and eateries 
  • Few souvenir shops
The idyllic location of Santa Cruz La Laguna between the mountains
The idyllic location of Santa Cruz La Laguna between the mountains

What is Santa Cruz La Laguna known for?

Santa Cruz is known as a laid back village where travellers enjoy some time-out. It’s also a hub for adventure travellers, as you have some tour companies here that offer amazing excursions in and around the lake.

Things to do in Santa Cruz La Laguna

  • Go Scuba diving in the lake with FreeDive Atitlan
  • Relax in the day spa at Los Elementos
  • Check out the tours and activities at Kayak Guatemala (Los Elementos)
    •  Kayaking along the shore
    •  Hiking
    •  Cliff jumping
    •  Rock Climbing
    •  Stand Up Paddle boarding
  • Go hiking to: 
    •  Mirador El Pico de Cielo
    •  To village of Jaibalito or on to San Marcos
  • Relax in a hammock
View from the mountain at Santa Cruz
View from the mountain at Santa Cruz

How to get there?

Most people arrive here by slow boat or lancha, which is the recommended way to do so.

There is a rocky and windy road that can only be followed on foot. It’s a nice hike to do, but don’t expect coming to Santa Cruz via the road you see in Google Maps!

Where to spend the night?

Santa Cruz La Laguna offers plenty accommodation options for all types of travellers.  One of the most popular hostels around the lake is located in Santa Cruz la Laguna: La Iguana Perdida. For travellers who like a little more comfort and relaxation timen, Casa Prana is an all time favourite.

Most Popular!
La Iguana Perdida - Santa Cruz La Laguna - Guatemala

La Iguana Perdida is a popular hotel for travellers who like to meet other people. The hotel offers a lot of activities in and around the hotel.

La Iguana Perdida on Booking La Iguana Perdida on Hostelworld
Mid-Range
Atitlan Sunset Lodge Santa Cruz La Laguna - Guatemala

Atitlan Sunset Lodge is a traveller favourite. This hotel offers great views and an amazing service. This hotel is rather popular among couples and people who want to have their private apartment on the lake.

Atitlan Sunset Lodge on Booking Atitlan Sunset Lodge on Agoda
Luxury
Casa Prana Hotel - Santa Cruz La Laguna - Guatemala

Indulge in pure luxury in a wonderful setting in Santa Cruz. This hotel is a real-life dream. If you want to stay here, make sure to book ahead. It sells out really fast!

Casa Prana Hotel on Booking Casa Prana Hotel on Agoda

Frequently asked questions about the Lake Atitlan towns

We know that life around the lake brings up a lot of questions. But I must say, a lot of those answers will be the same for the rest of Guatemala. These are a few specific questions we get a lot. Keep scrolling to find a few links with info about the rest of Guatemala.

If you have a special interest to learn more about the lake, make sure to read these interesting and curious facts about Lake Atitlan.

How to get to Lake Atitlan?

Most likely, you will arrive from Antigua, Quetzaltenango of Guatemala City. All of these cities offer shuttle service to the lake. You can either find transportation though the hostel of hotel you’re staying at, or you can book a shuttle in advance. 

Shuttles are considered ‘tourist transportation’. They have air conditioning, travel quite fast, and they’re the perfect place to meet other travellers.

If you want to go a little more local, you can do so  by using local transportation, like a chicken bus or local collectivo. In Guatemala, this means: ask people where the pick up place for buses or collectivo’s is.

How to get to the villages around Lake Atitlan?

Most transportation in the Atitlan area happens over water. The public boats go every half hour and they make a tour around the lake. 

So, if you’re coming from Panajachel, you’ll see some of the boats leaving clockwise, while other leave in the other direction. Depending on where you need to be, select the right direction for a fast service.

Aside from the public boat service, you can also use a private boat, which is usually quite pricy.

In between neighbouring villages, you can get a tuctuc or ride in the back of a pickup truck, depending on the actual roads that are available.

10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Inside a water taxi at Lake Atitlan

Can you swim in Lake Atitlan?

In the old days, you could. But the latest years, more and more people advise against that. I guess the situation changes sometimes, but in general, the water might not be the cleanest. 

We heard stories about people swimming there and getting a rash. Other people don’t have any issues.

I suggest asking around when you’re there to know the actual situation. And, if you do go swimming, take a shower afterwards.

Good to know:

Waste water that runs to the lake is untreated and unfiltered

Agricultural waste ends up in the lake

Locals do their laundry in the lake (every day)

Mayan Laundry in Santiago de Atitlan
Mayan Laundry in Santiago de Atitlan

Planning your trip to the Lake Atitlan Villages and Towns

The most fun things to do in Lake Atitlan are relaxing and give you the opportunity to absorb the laid back atmosphere in the tiny rural Lake Atitlan villages.

We recommend, if you plan on going to Lake Atitlan and the rest of Guatemala, to check out some of our travel guides about the country:

Complete travel guide for Guatemala (with all the links and tips)

Backpacking guide for Guatemala

Itinerary ideas for Guatemala

Best places to visit in Guatemala

Guide to using public transportation in Guatemala

Interesting facts you need to know about Guatemala

Still doubting? 10 reasons to visit Guatemala

10 best Lake Atitlan towns and villages to visit
Tuc tucs at Lake Atitlan

Pin it!

The towns of Lake Atitlan
Towns of lake Atitlan
Start planning your trip

Plan your trip

Step-by-step guide to plan your trip

Find accommodation

Upgrade your trip & sleep comfortably

Get travel insurance

The best travel insurance for Europeans

Get a global travel card

Get cash & pay anywhere

"I need 6 months of holiday, twice a year"

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse on this website, you accept the use of cookies for the above purposes.