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Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

The Villages of Lake Atitlan


Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

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Lake Atitlan is hands-down one of Central America's most stunning destinations. Located approximately three hours from Guatemala City in the Western Highlands, Lake Atitlan's three massive volcanoes (San Pedro, Atitlan, and Toliman), blue waters and lush vegetation compose an unforgettable piece of paradise. What's more, the majority of Lake Atitlan's population is indigenous Mayan, living in Mayan villages that border the lake.

Boats travel from village to village many times daily; visit one, or visit them all! (Note: with the exception of the paved roads between Panajachel and Santa Catarina Palopó/San Antonio Palopó, hiking around the lake is no longer recommend, due to the potential for robbery on remote trails.)

Panajachel is the largest and most popular Lake Atitlan village for travelers, though still extremely walkable. Its tilted streets boasts many hotels, restaurants, artisan markets and roadside food vendors, as well as internet cafes and Spanish schools, making Panajachel a great starting point or home base for those interested in visiting other Lake Atitlan villages. Also, the views of the three Lake Atitlan volcanoes from the Panajachel lakeshore are breathtaking.

Panajachel Hotels: There are many hotels and hostels in Panajachel. Hotel Atitlan (Bahia San Buenaventura) is a luxury garden hotel located just outside of town; Mario's Rooms (Calle Santander) offers moderately priced rooms and a picturesque courtyard; Hotel Utz Jay (Calle 15e de Febrero, off Calle Santander) boasts inexpensive, traditionally decorated rooms and friendly service.

San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro La Laguna is another larger Lake Atitlan village, particularly popular with backpackers eager to get away from the tourism of Panajachel. There's a distinct bohemian feel to a number of San Pedro's restaurants and hotels, many of which are located along the scenic lakeshore. Intrepid travelers can hire a guide and climb the volcano San Pedro.

San Pedro La Laguna Hotels: Jarachik (on the main trail) offers inexpensive dorms and private rooms; Casa Lobo (6 Avenida, Callejon B, Zona 3) is a hidden B&B with great reviews.

Santiago Atitlan
Though still less touristed than Panajachel or San Pedro La Laguna, the village of Santiago Atitlan has increased in popularity over the years. It's home to the largest population of Tzutujile Mayans. La Posada de Santiago has a variety of moderately-prices accommodations, from stone cottages to luxury suites.

Santa Cruz La Laguna
Santa Cruz La Laguna is a small village that winds up a steep hillside, with a few budget hotels. La Iguana Perdida is a friendly backpacker hostel; the adjoining ATI Divers offers PADI Scuba diving certifications in the lake. You won't find coral reefs at the bottom, but diving Lake Atitlan is definitely an adventure.

San Marcos
San Marcos is a smaller, quiet village that attracts those of the holistic persuasion. Yoga, meditation, and massage are all popular pursuits. Hotel Aaculaax is an ecolodge decorated in recycled materials.

Santa Catarina Palopó
Easily reachable from Panajachel via a paved road, Santa Catarina Palopó is an pretty Kaquichel Mayan village. If you want to get away from the clamor of Panajachel, Hotel Villa Santa Catarina is a luxury hotel with gorgeous lake views.

San Antonio Palopó
Another Kaquichel Mayan village, San Antonio Palopó is located farther down the paved road from Panajachel. It takes a little over two hours to walk from Panajachel; keep an eye out for traffic, and taxi back if you're tired.

San Lucas Toliman, Tzununa and Jailbalito
San Lucas Toliman, Tzununa and Jailbalito are smaller Lake Atitlan villages without a ton to offer tourists, but travelers who like to venture off the beaten path should enjoy exploring them. San Juan in particular is an emerging destination for travelers.

While not actually on the banks of Lake Atitlan, Sololá's location between Panajachel and the Pan-American Highway means many travelers pass through it.

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