Where To Stay + What To Do at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (2023)
Lake Atitlan is enormous and is in the center of the Guatemalan Highlands. Along the lake’s shore, there are dozens of towns and villages that are worth the trek up from Antigua. Read below to learn about the best places to stay on your trip to Lake Atitlan. Check out this list for a list of where to stay and what to do at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
This guide will cover where to stay and what to do in:
San Pedro La Laguna
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A stronghold of backpackers for tourism, shopping and activities, Panajachel is the largest town near Lake Atitlan. There are tons of lodging options for all budgets, from bare-bones to splurge.
Panajachel is the most accessible hub of the lakeside towns. With close proximity to the largest outdoor market, Chichicastenango and the Iximche Mayan Ruins (in case you can’t quite make it to Tikal), Panajachel is uniquely situated for day trips. Although there are much more scenic views of the lake from other villages, you can easily enjoy Pana for all of the options it offers!
What To Do:
Shop: Walk the main stretch of town, Calle Santander, for touristy shops. Pana felt like a movie set; the mountains towered above and the busy streets wound their way up. I encourage you to meander past the tourist areas and go further up into the real town.
Explore: Take a break from the tourist scene and visit the neighboring village in Solala. You can get a glimpse of local life and the colorful market scene. Though smaller than Chichicastenango, the Solala market still makes a pleasant tour of daily life at Lake Atitlan.
Eat & Drink: Check out the famous, “Crossroads Cafe,” roasters and coffee shop, They serve up three organic and local coffee roasts: Huehuetenango, Amazing Grace and the Espresso Roast. The Huehuetenango is award-winning and the beans are grown in the native volcanic soil, resulting in an extremely rich and smoky cup of Joe. Chat with Jacqy, the store manager and barista – she can tell you about the shop’s founding by a family of missionaries from San Francisco and the journey to becoming an acclaimed roasters.
Where To Stay:
Budget: Selina Hostel
The Selina hostel here is beautiful, clean and spacious. You can count on fast and reliable wifi (clutch when you’re working remote), and a great atmosphere. Selina also strikes the balance between convivial and leisurely, and this location had a particularly nice pool, restaurant and bar! By booking through this link, I was able to score a delicious free breakfast in the morning.
Splurge: Atitlan Hotel
Atitlan Hotel the luxury experience here. The resort has a restaurant and spa on premises, and allows you to take in the picturesque lake vies from the property. Enjoy the vista from the pool or the garden as well. The service here is top-rated, and you’ll be sure to enjoy a luxurious stay.
San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos is a trip…literally. The town is known for its bohemian flair. Like Venice Beach in my home state of California, this town is all hippies, drum circles and vegan fare. Also like Venice Beach, the gentrification is complete with tourists and white yogis that have stayed past their expiration dates.
While I enjoyed the laid-back environment, San Marcos also was accompanied by high prices for food and accommodations (lots of expat owned establishments too), which made me question the authenticity of the place. This was the only town where I noticed there were no Guatemalan people, so I’d recommend staying for a half-day (or one day tops) to walk the main street and then take the ferry on to another town.
What To Do:
Experience: Yoga and meditation retreats are aplenty in this town. I’m a California girl, so I loved this. After, you can find some enlightenment in a cacao ceremony. While being guided through with sound baths and drinking ceremonial cacao (it’s still chocolate, just at a higher percentage of cacao), you’ll be able to experience the “high” of endorphins it releases. You’ll get all of the positive, warm and happy feelings that chocolate elicits.
Explore: Yoga vibes not really your thing? Visit the Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve. You can swimming, cliff-jumping and sight-seeing at this park.
Where To Stay:
Budget: Eagle’s Nest
Eagle’s Nest was such an experience – starting with getting there! It’s a bit of an adventure since it’s off the main road ad you have to follow the arrows and hike a small trail to get there. Once you arrive through the gate, you’ll see what all the hype is about. The property opens up to this panorama view of the lake. There is an upper section where yoga is offered three times daily with your stay, and there are cabins that dot the premises. At $75 USD per night, it isn’t the cheapest accommodation available in San Marcos, but it it the most unique and surprising. Also included with your stay are delicious meals and fresh juices and smoothies. It’s the perfect yoga retreat!
Splurge: El Dragon Hotel and Restaurant
El Dragon Hotel was a welcome experience after backpacking at hostels for days. The rooms are immaculate and comfortable, and the hotel has a private patio on the shore. El Dragon is private and a bit more traditional than the neighboring accommodations. The location is quite close to the main street and the Tzankujil Nature reserve, too! The restaurant was surprisingly good and offered Italian options their pizza was really tasty!
Splurge: Lush Atitlan
Lush Atitlan is known as one of the best hotels on the lake. This eco-boutique offers beautiful suites and rooms and plentiful views of the lake. In addition to its high-touch, organic aesthetic,
San Pedro La Laguna
Looking to party? San Pedro has the reputation as being the place to have a great time. It is the party central and attracts tourists who are looking to let loose. Stay at Mr. Mullets if you’re looking to be in the center of it all. If you’re like me and prefer to have a quiet place to sleep after a night out, consider staying at one of the following hotels.
What To Do:
Experience: Try the Indian Nose Hike! This popular hike is known for getting breathtaking vies of the lake. It’s a challenging hike, so make sure that you go with a well-reputed guide. The summit is 9,300 feet (2,863-meters) and the hike will take the full day. When you get there, though, you’ll see the “Mayan Face,” named for the silhouette from the surrounding mountains. It’s one of the best and most beautiful hikes in Guatemala!
Where To Stay:
Budget: Villa del Lago
Villa del Lago has great reviews and is known for clean and comfortable lodging. Although it is a smaller hotel, guests rave about the view of the lake. It’s also close to the town center and there is a kitchen available for guests to use.
Splurge: Sababa Resort
Sababa Resort offers shared rooms and private suites. There is a pool overlooking the lake and a beautiful patio in the center of the property. The naturally decorated and clean rooms give a more polished vibe to the resort.
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