Visit Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
The two hour drive heading west from Antigua leads through the central highlands, dotted with colourful traditional villages to the stunning Lake Atitlán.
The dramatic winding road leading down to the lake rewards you with incredible views of the lake and its spectacular backdrop of three cone-shaped volcanoes: San Pedro, Toliman and Atitlán.
The Mayan Indians throughout this area are undoubtedly the most colourfully dressed in Guatemala, if not the whole of Central America, with intricately woven shirts, huipiles and skirts of the brightest reds, greens, yellows, pinks and blues. Each village around the lake maintains its own traditional dress.
The lake itself is mesmerising and spending time relaxing here absorbing the views, watching the effect of changing light and wind on the water is special enough, but the best way to enjoy the stunning scenery is to travel by ‘lancha’ (boat) visiting the Indian villages of Santiago Atitlán, Santa Catarina Palopo and San Antonio Palopo.
The highland area is also home to countless markets giving an intricate and enthralling insight into Guatemalan life. Chichicastenango is one of the largest and most famous, situated about an hour north of Lake Atitlán. Hundreds of locals and visitors flock for a bargain buy and there is everything here from souvenirs and clothes to food and household goods.
It is fascinating, but for a more authentic experience, we recommend a visit to more typical markets such as those held in the villages of Comalapa or Tecpan.
Suggested itineraries featuring Lake Atitlan
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Lake Atitlan, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Lake Atitlan
Places & hotels on the map
Photos of Lake Atitlan
Accommodation choices for Lake Atitlan
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Lake Atitlan. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
The Casa Palopo is a small hotel with friendly staff and stunning views of Lake Atitlan.
The Hotel Atitlan has a privileged location on the shores of Lake Atitlan and within walking distance of the Indian village of Panajachel.
A 41 bedroom hotel located at the end of the main street in Panajachel with wonderful lakefront views.
Ideas for experiencing Lake Atitlan
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Lake Atitlan, and which use the best local guides.
Travel across the calm waters of Lake Atitlan by boat to the lively village of Santiago de Atitlan. Here you can explore the fascinating Catholic church and haggle for a bargain at the bustling market.
Embark on a challenging hike through patchwork fields and beautiful cloudforest to the top of San Pedro volcano. Enjoy a delicious lunch near the summit whilst gazing out across Lake Atitlan and the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains.
Begin your exploration of Lake Atitlan by taking the kayaks to paddle through Santiago Bay where you pass by the local Tzutujil Maya people working in the fields, washing clothes and fishing from their unique wooden boats.
Explore the historic town of San Juan Comalapa and its bustling market, where local traders sell everything from fruit and flowers to beautiful tapestries and paintings. Your guide will take you to see the other highlights throughout the town including museums, local art galleries and excellent bakeries to sample the much-loved roscas.
Explore the colourful fruit, vegetable, craft and textile stalls at this famous market. This excursion allows you to explore Chichicastenango Market at your own pace with the advantage of your own driver to take you there and back to your hotel at the end of the day.