View of the Lake Atitlán from a dock in Guatemala (crusing the lake is one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan Guatamala)

27 Best Things to Do in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala (in 2023)

I’m a travel expert who recently visited Guatemala and in this guide, I share the absolute best things to do in Lake Atitlán. 

This round-up features a variety of attractions that highlight the natural beauty and rich culture of Lake Atitlán. I cover several lakefront towns, outdoor adventures, and opportunities to connect with the kind locals. 

I also share some super important tips that I picked up during my 10-day stay. Trust me, these are insights that every traveler should know before visiting Lake Atitlán for the sake of safety and making the most of your trip! 

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27 Best Things to Do in Lake Atitlán

Lakefront Towns

Visit the many unique lakeside towns that dot the shoreline of Lake Atitlan, from colorful streets to quiet local villages.

People wandering on a market at the San Juan La Laguna
The town of San Juan La Laguna at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

📍 Google Maps | Boat Hours: 7 am – 5 pm/7 pm daily 

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by unique lakefront towns, each with its own distinct atmosphere. Exploring different towns is one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, and there’s something for everyone. 

Panajachel is the main town, and it’s also the largest. This is where you’ll likely arrive when you first reach Lake Atitlan. Don’t overlook it! Panajachel is a bit touristy, but it turned out to be one of my favorite towns because it had some of the best shopping, restaurants, and attractions. 

San Juan La Laguna is the prettiest town on Lake Atitlan, in my opinion. It’s awash with bright colors everywhere you look. San Pedro La Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna, and Santa Cruz La Laguna are a few more towns to check out. 

If you need help deciding which town to stay in, check out my full guide to where to stay in Lake Atitlan.

Indian Nose Hike

Trek a distinctly shaped mountain ridge that leads to a stunning viewpoint and see Lake Atitlan in all its glory at sunrise.  

Scenic view of Indian Nose during sunrise in Guatemala
View from the Indian Nose viewpoint at sunrise

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Indian Nose Hiking Adventure

The Indian Nose sunrise hike is the most popular hike at Lake Atitlan. Hiking Indian’s Nose is a moderate trek that lasts a few hours and should be done with a guide. It’s nowhere near as hard as hiking Acatenango in Antigua, though. 

It should be noted that there are technically two types of tours you can do for the Indian Nose Hike: the full hike, and one where you shuttle and do a shorter hike. Doing the actual Indian Nose hiking tour is definitely the better way to go!

I wasn’t able to do this hike because I got sick while visiting, but one of my travel friends did and she said the views from the Indian Nose viewpoint were absolutely spectacular. 

Spanish School

Improve your language skills in one of the best places in Central America to learn Spanish.

View of a Spanish school at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
One-to-one teaching at Spanish school

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 5466-7177 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm Mon – Sat, 9 am – 6 pm Sun | Weekly Tuition: $100-$200 

Did you know that Guatemala is one of the best places in Central America to learn Spanish? This is largely because of affordability and the fact that Guatemalan Spanish is one of the easiest accents for learners to understand. 

The towns around Lake Atitlan are full of Spanish schools. So really, you’ll be able to find one anywhere you stay. This being said, the town of San Pedro is known as the main backpacker town, and it’s home to Lake Atitlan Spanish School, which is one of the best in the area. 

The teachers at the San Pedro Spanish school speak English and are certified, and Spanish classes are done one-to-one. A week of private lessons runs from $100-$200. 

Local Homestay

Get to know a Guatemalan family and take your Spanish-speaking skills to another level.

A married couple from Guatemala smiling for a photo
Stay with a local family and get to know Guatemala on a deeper level

Phone: (502) 5466-7177 | Website | Cost: $120-$140

As mentioned above, attending Spanish school is one of the most popular things to do in Lake Atitlan. Adding on a local homestay to your Spanish school experience is a great way to take your Spanish learning a step further. In fact, most Spanish schools and local teachers recommend it. 

The above-mentioned school, Lake Atitlan Spanish School, offers homestays as part of its program. It’s optional, but you can add it to your lessons for about $120-$140 more. 

Homestays typically include the amount of nights’ accommodation as your Spanish lessons (usually a week) and three meals per day (with family-style dinners). Homestays are a fantastic way to truly immerse yourself in the language and culture, and get to know the amazing people of Guatemala.

Atitlán Nature Preserve

Wander through jungled forests, zip line through the trees, and see local wildlife up close. 

View of one of the waterfalls in Atitlán Nature Preserve
One of the waterfalls at Atitlán Nature Preserve
A coati on a tree in Atitlán Nature Preserve
A cute little Coati hanging out in the trees

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 7762-2565 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $10, adults, $6 kids 

The Atitlan Nature Preserve was one of my favorite parts of visiting Lake Atitlan. Atitlan Nature Preserve is located right outside Panajachel. You’ll likely need to take a tuk tuk to get here whether you’re staying in Panajachel or reaching the town via boat. 

Atitlan Nature Preserve is exactly what it sounds like and more. It’s full of nature trails through the jungle and there are many activities on-site. You can go zip lining (which I highly recommend), see coatis and monkeys, and visit a butterfly house. 

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the attractions at Atitlan Nature Preserve, and you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon here. Don’t miss Atitlan Nature Preserve — it’s one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan!

Mirador Kaqasiiwaan

Take in sweeping views of Lake Atitlan from a colorfully-painted deck in San Juan La Laguna.

A colorful painted deck and the view at Mirador Kaqasiiwaan
Volcanoes and a beautifully painted deck
The Lake Atitlan from Mirador Kaqasiiwaan
Views of Lake Atitlan from Mirador Kaqasiiwaan

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 24 hours | Entrance: Free 

Don’t visit Lake Atitlan without making a quick trip up to Mirador Kaqasiiwaan! This lookout point is located in San Juan La Laguna and is absolutely stunning. This is the place to go if you’re looking for panoramic views of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding volcanoes. 

You’ll first need to head to San Juan La Laguna to reach Mirador Kaqasiiwaan. From town, you can either walk or take a tuk tuk to the Mirador Kaqasiiwaan trailhead. From here, you’ll need to walk up quite a few stairs. 

The top of Mirador Kaqasiiwaan is beautiful for its scenery and artwork. The entire circular deck is hand-painted with images of Guatemalan culture. It’s vibrant and feels like the cherry on top of the already beautiful views. 

Kayaking and Paddle Boarding

Paddle over the brightly colored waves of Lake Atitlan and take in views from a new perspective. 

View of the author while paddle boarding at Lake Atitlan
Volcano views as I paddle board at La Casa del Mundo

Cost: $5+ | 👉 Kayak and Hike Adventure Tour 

Kayaking and paddle boarding is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the beauty of Lake Atitlan. You can rent kayaks and paddle boards from a number of tour companies like Kayak Guatemala. Most lakefront accommodations offer kayaks and paddle boards as well. 

Going kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Atitlan is a fun activity for all ages. Doing this is also a great way to enjoy the lake without the risk of accidentally ingesting lake water from swimming, since many parts of Lake Atitlan are polluted. 

I recommend bringing a waterproof phone pouch with you while you’re on the water. This way, you can safely and securely bring your phone and snap some awesome pictures along the way.

I also suggest hitting the water in the morning instead of the afternoon. This is because by early afternoon, the lake can get quite choppy from the boats. The earlier in the morning you go, the calmer the water will be. 

Local Shopping

Shop for art, textiles, and goods by local makers and return home with the best travel souvenirs you’ve ever bought.

Different kinds of handcrafted wooden items that you can buy in Guatemala
Handcrafted wooden items and so much more
A colorful handcrafted rug that you can find in Panajachel
A beautiful rug I ended up buying in Panajachel

📍 Google Maps | Hours: vary | Entrance: Free

Shopping for local art, textiles, and goods is one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan and Guatemala in general. Guatemala’s local goods are some of the most beautiful, colorful, and high-quality goods I’ve ever come across while traveling. Shopping at Lake Atitlan is no exception. 

Panajachel is one of the best towns for visiting a large local market and discovering treasure troves of textiles and knick-knacks. I literally bought a room-sized rug from a vendor along Calle Santander for around $100. 

San Antonio Palopó is another town close to Panajachel and is known for its ceramics. San Juan La Laguna is fantastic for textiles and artwork. Lastly, I recommend San Pedro for checking out second-hand stores. However, all the towns have good shopping.

👉 Pro Tip: When packing for Guatemala, eave some extra room in your carry-on luggage or travel backpack. Trust me when I say you’ll want it once you start shopping around Guatemala. 

Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve 

Swim in sparkling waters and enjoy a peaceful, yet fun-filled day at this San Marcos nature park. 

View from the Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve in Guatemala
There are two spots where you can cliff jump into Lake Atitlan

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 4772-4988 | Hours: 8 am – 4 pm daily | Entrance: $2 

Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve in San Marcos La Laguna is one of the best spots for swimming on Lake Atitlan. In my opinion, stopping here is the main reason to visit San Marcos. San Marcos La Laguna is known as “the hippie town” and had an eerie vibe to me. 

Anyway, Cerro Tzankujil is a beautiful nature reserve with easy walking trails, some lookout points, and a great swimming area. Entrance is just $2, or 15Q. 

Cerro Tzankujil is also known for its high-jumping deck over the lake. Cliff jumpers and thrill-seekers will love this. However, there are spots to enjoy a gentle swim, too. 

Coffee Shops 

Sip the richest, darkest, and most delicious coffee you’ve ever tasted.

A cup of black coffee served in La Casa del Mundo
Black coffee at La Casa del Mundo—some of the best coffee I had
A cup of cortado and a brownie served in Crossroads Cafe
A cortado and brownie at Crossroads Cafe

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 3122-5373 | Website | Hours: vary per cafe 

Drinking the local Guatemalan coffee is a must when visiting Lake Atitlan, just like it’s one of the top things to do in Antigua

Luckily, it’s hard to get a bad cup of coffee at Lake Atitlan. Guatemalans just know good coffee. Still, there are a few local coffee shops that I recommend. Crossroads Cafe in Panajachel is a great one. Coffee is affordable and they roast the coffee beans in-house. 

Cafe Las Marias in San Juan La Laguna and Café “Las Cristalinas” in San Pedro are also top coffee shops. I also recommend just the black coffee at La Casa del Mundo’s on-site restaurant. But remember, you can find good coffee all around Lake Atitlan. 

Chichicastenango Market

Take a day trip to visit one of Central America’s largest markets and get a feel for the local side of Guatemala. 

View of shops selling different items in Chichicastenango Market
Rows of vendors selling traditional clothing, jade jewelry, and more

📍 Google Maps 

Chichicastenango is a town located about an hour and a half from Panajachel and is best done as a day trip. Chichicastenango is most popularly known for its local market, which is one of the largest in Central America. 

I happened to visit the Chichicastenango market the day before an election so things were pared down quite a bit. But still, the market was sizable and had a real mix of local and tourist-targeted goods. I would especially recommend visiting Chichicastenango for jade jewelry and brightly-colored traditional clothing. 

Note that you can get to Chichicastenagno in several ways. A chicken bus is a cheap option, but it’s not recommended for tourists as the buses themselves aren’t the safest. I recommend arranging a shuttle or private taxi. 


Soar above the rippling waters, volcanoes, and colorful towns of Lake Atitlan.

A paraglider over Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
Paragliding over Lake Atitlan

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 5634-5699 | Website | Cost: $95 | 👉 Tandem Paragliding Flights

Paragliding is one of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan, especially if you’re a thrill seeker. Expect to soar high above the lake and take in the bright blue waters and dramatic volcanoes from above. You’ll be strapped to a professional instructor so you can relax and focus on the amazing experience itself. 

A few different tour companies offer paragliding, but Real World Paragliding is the most popular. Paragliding flights last about half an hour depending on wind conditions. The company recommends close-toed shoes, a sweater, and sunglasses. You can also bring your phone or camera (with a strap) if you want to capture some incredible moments and memories. 


Splash and swim in the bright blue waters of this volcanic lake.

People enjoying their day swimming at Cerro Tzankujil
People swimming at Cerro Tzankujil in San Marcos

📍 Google Maps

Swimming can be one of the best activities to do at Lake Atitlan. However, there are some important things you should know before you dive in. 

Lake Atitlan is technically safe to swim in, in some areas. For example, Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve in San Marcos La Laguna is a relatively clean designated swimming area. Still, the lake is a bit polluted, unfortunately. 

Be very careful to not ingest any lake water when you swim. I recommend keeping your head above water altogether to be on the safe side. 

I don’t say this to scare you, but I accidentally ingested some lake water and ended up with stomach problems from a parasite, as well as an ear infection. Simply put, gentle swimming is the way to go.

👉 Pro Tip: I recommend having travel insurance and going to PanaMed in Panajachel for medical care if you happen to get sick from the lake water. It’s a private clinic and some of the doctors speak English. I, unfortunately, ended up at PanaMed twice, but I received good medical care each time. 

Sunrise at Lake Atitlan

Wake up to still, reflective waters and start your day with a peaceful sunrise. 

Volcanoes at Lake Atitlan during an early morning
View of the volcanoes at Lake Atitlan in the early morning

You may think that the sunsets over Lake Atitlan would be legendary, but in my experience, there weren’t any sunsets at all. Instead, the light outside would just get progressively darker until it was nighttime. 

This seems to be due to Guatemala’s position along the equator. The time of year I visited (June) may have also played a factor. Nevertheless, I recommend getting up to watch the sunrise instead!

The early mornings are particularly peaceful at Lake Atitlan. This is because the waters are calm and the lake looks especially idyllic. 

La Casa del Mundo

Snag a day pass to Lake Atitlan’s most popular hotel and enjoy an afternoon of charm, scenery, and relaxation.

View of Lake Atitlan from the La Casa del Mundo
The bright waters of Lake Atitlan can be seen from almost every corner of La Casa del Mundo

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 5204-5558 | Website | Entrance: $6.40 (day pass) | 👉 Book a Stay at La Casa del Mundo

La Casa del Mundo is known as “Guatemala’s most magical hotel.” I stayed here while visiting Lake Atitlan and attest to its beauty and immeasurable charm in my La Casa del Mundo review

La Casa del Mundo is included in this list of things to do in Lake Atitlan because the hotel actually offers day passes. You can still enjoy its scenic beauty and many of its amenities even if you aren’t an overnight guest.

Day passes cost about $6.40 or 50Q. You can enjoy the restaurant, rent a paddle board or kayak, swim, or simply relax in one of the many hammocks with a day pass. Just take a public boat and tell them “La Casa del Mundo” to reach the hotel. They’ll take you right to the hotel’s private dock. 

Toliman Volcano Hike

Hike to the summit of a double-peak volcano and enjoy beautiful views of Lake Atitlan. 

Clear blue sky over the Toliman Volcano
View of Toliman Volcano from Atitlan Volcano

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $115 | 👉 Toliman Volcano Hike

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by three total volcanoes, all along the southern edge of the lake. Toliman Volcano is the second-highest volcano at Lake Atitlan, and it’s best known for its two distinct peaks. 

Hiking Toliman Volcano starts in Santiago Atitlan. The trail is just over eight miles long and is a relatively challenging route. You can expect to pass through corn fields and the jungle and be met with an incredible summit view. As always, hiking with a guide is recommended.  

San Pedro Volcano Hike

Spend a day hiking to the summit of Lake Atitlan’s shortest volcano hike, which is still challenging!

Overlooking view of the San Pedro town with the San Pedro Volcano from afar
View of Volcano San Pedro with the town of San Pedro on the left and the town of San Juan on the right

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $90 | 👉 San Pedro Volcano Hike

San Pedro Volcano is the volcano that sits directly above the town of San Pedro La Laguna. San Pedro Volcano is the shortest of the three volcanoes, and it’s quite popular for hiking because it’s a shorter, four-mile hike. 

Hiking San Pedro is challenging, similar to the other volcano hikes, and you’ll pass through fields and jungle forests. 

Do note that the peak of San Pedro Volcano is in a cloud forest, so faraway views aren’t always guaranteed. You may, however, get lucky and see a Horned Guan, which is a rare bird that nests in this area. 

Atitlan Volcano Hike

Climb your way to the tallest peak above Lake Atitlan and take in the beauty of Guatemala.

View at the top of Atitlan Volcano
View from the peak of Atitlan Volcano

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: $115 | 👉 Atitlan Volcano Hike

Atitlan Volcano is the tallest of the three volcanoes at Lake Atitlan. It’s best known for its cone-like peak that stands tall above Lake Atitlan, Toliman Volcano, and San Pedro Volcano.

Hiking Atitlan Volcano is difficult and the out-and-back trail is 10.5 miles long. You’ll hike through coffee fields, forested sections, and volcanic areas above the treeline. The breathtaking summit views of Lake Atitlan make it all worth it. 

I especially recommend going with a guide because the Atitlan Volcano is the hardest and highest hike of the three volcano hikes at Lake Atitlan.

📚 Related Reading: 8 Best Backpacking Backpacks

Painting Class

Put your art skills to the test and paint your very own souvenir. 

The author, Lea Rose Allbaugh attending a painting class in Guatemala
Painting away
Colorful paintings displayed on a shop
So many beautiful paintings in the shop

📍 Google Maps | Hours: Class times vary | Entrance: $20-$40 

A painting class is a fun way to create a customized souvenir, and I recommend it to anyone who’s artsy or simply up for it. I took a painting class in the town of San Pedro La Laguna at the abovementioned shop and had a really nice time. 

The painting experience is relaxing and fun and classes typically last about 2-3 hours. Everything is provided. All you have to do is show up ready to paint. 

To book the same class I did, just stop by the store and ask to reserve a class if you’re in San Pedro La Laguna. This being said, there are many other places around Lake Atitlan to take painting classes and they’re all pretty similar. 

Iximché Ruins

Take a day trip to see ancient Mayan ruins just outside of Lake Atitlan.  

Overlooking view of the Iximché Ruins
The Iximché Ruins from up above

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 2251-6224 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 4 pm daily | Entrance: $6.40 | 👉 Iximche Mayan Ruin from Panajachel

The Iximché Ruins ruins are a site of Mayan ruins located about an hour and a half from Panajachel near the town of Tecpan. Visiting Iximché Ruins makes for an ideal day trip from Lake Atitlan. 

The ruins aren’t as large or dramatic as the famous Tikal Ruins in the north, but they still have a fascinating history and are interesting to see in person. The Palace of the Lords, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Cross are the top pyramids to see. 

Many local tour companies offer guided tours to the Iximché Ruins, and I highly recommend doing this over driving yourself or taking a chicken bus. Transportation will be safer this way and having a guide just makes for a better experience! 

Women’s Weaving Co-Op

Go behind the scenes of Guatemala’s colorful textiles and learn about how they’re made. 

View inside the KEMO Asosciación in  San Juan La Laguna
The weaving demonstration setup at KEMO Asosciación in San Juan La Laguna

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 4736-2232 | Website  

The town of San Juan La Laguna is filled with women’s weaving co-ops, which are shops that sell local textiles and support the women who make them. 

KEMO Asosciación is located on a particularly beautiful street in San Juan. It’s one of many local co-ops and it’s filled with the most beautiful textiles. 

KEMO offers weaving demonstrations, too, like many other co-ops. This is a fantastic way to get to know the women who run these co-ops, see the backstrap weaving process in action, and learn about local culture.

There are also dye and weaving classes at places like TinteMaya in San Juan La Laguna. Taking these classes can be a wonderful experience and is a great way to support the local community. 

Rey Tepepul Reserve

See Guatemala’s beautiful national bird, the Quetzal, up close. 

A colorful resplendent quetzal on a tree branch in Rey Tepepul Reserve
A Resplendent Quetzal

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 5135-6233 | Website | Hours: 24 hours | 👉 Quetzal Quest Birdwatching Adventure

The Rey Tepepul Reserve is a nature preserve that’s home to a pretty special bird: the Quetzal. Quetzals are the national bird of Guatemala known for their vibrant, colorful feathers and long tail. 

You can see Quetzals for yourself at Rey Tepepul Reserve, which is located right outside the town of Santiago in the hills below Atitlan Volcano. The best time to see Quetzals is between March and June when they are either breeding or nesting. 

The nature preserve itself is lush and green, and you can expect to see stunning lookout points with views of the volcanoes and Lake Atitlan. You’ll also likely see a variety of other birds like hummingbirds, woodpeckers, and more! 

Cacao Ceremony

Learn about a sacred Mayan ritual and connect with your spirituality.

A traditional Mayan Cacao Ceremony
Mayan cacao ceremony

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 3333-5425 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $25 | 👉 LavaLove Mayan Cacao Ceremony

A cacao ceremony is an ancient Mayan ritual. The Mayans believe that cacao has sacred and divine properties that help you connect to your spirituality. Cacao is consumed (typically as a drink) during these ceremonies to open up your consciousness and help you connect to yourself and others.

Today, cacao ceremonies are still practiced and many tourists take part in them while visiting Lake Atitlan, especially in San Marcos La Laguna. I didn’t take part in any cacao ceremonies during my visit, but I’ve heard they can be a positive experience for those interested in spirituality and Mayan culture. 

Hot Springs in Santa Catarina Palopo 

Venture out to a more local side of Lake Atitlan and indulge in relaxing hot springs with scenery all around.

Aerial view of Santa Catarina Palopo
The hot springs are located in the right corner, where the Lake Atitlan shoreline curves

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free 

It’s no surprise that there are some natural hot springs at Lake Atitlan. After all, three volcanoes surround Lake Atitlan, and one of them is active. 

You’ll need to head to the town of Santa Catarina Palopo to reach this hidden hot spring area, which is just outside of Panajachel. Follow a dirt path to the left from the dock at Santa Catarina. You should reach the hot spring area after a short walk.

The hot springs at Santa Catarina are part of the lake’s shoreline and are naturally heated from below. This means that some spots will be cool, while others are warmer. But the beautiful view you’ll get while swimming is the best part, of course.

Tzunun’Ya Museum

Dive into the history of Lake Atitlan and learn about geography and local Mayan culture. 

A colorful mural at the Tzunun’Ya Museum
A mural of the Mayan zodiac
Old photographs displayed at Tzunun’Ya Museum
I especially loved the old photographs of the local women of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (502) 5869-6646 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 12 pm & 2 pm – 6 pm Mon – Fri, 9 am – 12 pm Sat, Closed Sun | Entrance: $4 

Tzunun’Ya Museum is a small, but interesting museum located in the town of San Pedro La Laguna. 

Upon arrival, you’ll be asked what your birthday is. Then, you’ll be given an information sheet that tells you about your Mayan astrology sign. I loved this personalized touch because it helps you better understand the Mayan zodiacs, which you see throughout Guatemala.

The exhibits of Tzunun’Ya Museum cover a few different areas. There’s a small room where you can watch a video of old clips of life at Lake Atitlan. Then, there are exhibits on the geographic history of Lake Atitlan, as well as Mayan culture. 

My favorite exhibit was the series of old photographs on the wall. Many of the photos focused on women and their importance in Guatemalan communities. 

IglesÍa Catolica de San Pedro La Laguna

Wander through San Pedro La Laguna and visit a picturesque church. 

The IglesÍa Catolica de San Pedro La Laguna from the outside
A bright and beautiful church in San Pedro (photo: Daniela Constantinescu / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free 

IglesÍa Catolica is a beautiful little church located in San Pedro La Laguna. There are many churches located around Lake Atitlan, but IglesÍa Catolica is a little different because of its bright white facade. 

The white facade stands out against the town and scenic backdrop, and the church is often colorfully decorated for celebrations and holidays. IglesÍa Catolica is also surrounded by a small landscaped garden. 

You can enter the church for some prayer or meditation if you practice, but otherwise, IglesÍa Catolica is just a beautiful site worth visiting. 

Chichicastenango Cemetery

Take a day trip to Chichicastenango and a colorful cemetery unlike any in North America. 

Colorful tombstones at the Chichicastenango Cemetery
Each tombstone or mausoleum was different, and each was bursting with color

📍 Google Maps | Hours: 8 am – 4:30 pm daily | Entrance: Free

I know that visiting a cemetery seems like an odd thing to include on a list of things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, but hear me out. The cemeteries in Guatemala aren’t like those in the United States. Instead, they’re vibrant and full of color. 

Cemeteries in Guatemala are places to honor the deceased instead of being places of mourning. Tombstones and mausoleums are painted by family members in the deceased person’s favorite color or color with symbolic meaning. 

There are many cemeteries around Lake Atitlan, but the Chichicastenango Cemetery is especially known for its color. I visited this cemetery and was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant colors and sense of care that goes into honoring those who have passed on.

FAQs About Visiting Lake Atitlán

Is Lake Atitlán worth visiting?

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala is 100% worth visiting. The scenery is beyond beautiful and there are so many different towns to explore. Popular activities include shopping for local goods at places like the Chichicastenango Market and hiking volcanoes like Toliman Volcano and Atitlan Volcano

What is Lake Atitlán Guatemala known for?

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala is known for its stunning lakefront beauty and abundance of lakefront towns, each with its own distinctive flair and rich cultural customs.

Is it safe to swim in Lake Atitlán?

It is technically safe to swim in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala if you keep your head above water and are careful to not ingest any lake water. Unfortunately, Lake Atitlan is a bit polluted and it’s quite common for tourists to get sick from the lake water. My best advice is to stick to activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, and gentle swimming

How far is Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City?

Lake Atitlan is about a three-hour drive from Guatemala City. You can book shuttles, private transfers, or even take Ubers from Guatemala City Airport to Lake Atitlan. Most transfers will take you to Panajachel, which is the main town in Lake Atitlan. Here, you’ll find the Atitlan Nature Preserve, stellar coffee shops, and nearby hot springs in Santa Catarina Palopo


I hope you enjoyed this roundup of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve visited Lake Atitlan, and what your favorite activity was! Also, be sure to check out our guide on the best things to do in Oaxaca, Mexico if you’re traveling to that nearby destination next. 

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