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Lake Atitlán

Lake Atitlán: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

1. Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

Your 10-hour excursion begins with a drive into the western highlands of Guatemala. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples. When you arrive at the Chichicastenango market you’ll begin your walking tour. The market is at the center of the town and is the heart of commercial life for maxeños, the natives of Chichicastenango. Every Thursday and Sunday merchants head to the central plaza to sell their products in this impressive indigenous market that has changed very little over the centuries. Explore the pathways of the market and admire the colorful handicrafts and produce offered by the local people of the region. In Chichicastenango, you’ll also visit Santo Tomás Church, built in 1540 over the base of a pre-Hispanic temple. This church is a splendid example of colonial architecture, and the Mayan and Latino influence is evident in both the interior and exterior of the building. After exploring the market you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch (not included in the tour price). Next you’ll continue to the town of Panajachel, located at the edge of Lake Atitlan. Take a walk along Santander Street and enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Atitlan, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The volcanoes Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro form a natural frame for the lake. Lake Atitlan has a surface of 125 square kilometers and sits 1,560 meters above sea level.

From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

2. From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

This is a real immersion in the Mayan culture and you will see the lifestyle of the Mayan people. See how ancient technology is used for textile manufacture as you visit three Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan. The departure is from Antigua, with a 2.5-hour drive to Panajachel (Lake Atitlán). Then, visit San Juan la Laguna, San Pedro, and Santiago Atitlan, returning at the end to Panajachel. This is a round trip around Lake Atitlan, and there will be a one-hour stop in every town. Admire the colorful town of San Juan. Visit its attractions down the main streets such as galleries and women's coops, and witness a chocolate and coffee production demo. Then, explore San Pedro. A small town populated by Mayan Tzutujil. Discover its interesting sights and learn about the local culture there. Lastly, make a stop in Santiago Atitlán, where you can make a visit to a deity revered by the locals and visitors. Its market day is very colorful, and you can visit Santiago Apóstol Parish Church, built in the colonial times in the Renaissance style.

Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

3. Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

Start the day with a trip from Antigua or Guatemala City to the Maya town of Panajachel. During the drive there will be a brief stop in Katok, a very famous restaurant where you can indulge in a hot drink. Once at Panajachel, it's time for a boat trip to cross Lake Atitlán and visit the Tzutuhil Village of Santiago de Atitlán. In this village you will visit the confraternity of the local saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, visited by people all over the world who come to ask for health and prosperity in their lives. The lake itself owes its grandeur to its enormous size and spectacular volcanic setting. Three large volcanoes, Atitlán Tolimán and San Pedro, rise gracefully from its southern shore, creating breathtaking views around the area. You will experience these views and the traditional practices still carried out by the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel women who live around the lake. After a short transfer, we will have lunch at one of the most exquisite restaurants of Panajachel. While in town, guestes will also Santander Street and experience its vast, bustling handicraft market.

Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

4. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

Spend a day on Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America, on a full-day trip from Guatemala City. Enjoy a cruise along the waters, and visit nearby villages. Departing from Guatemala City in the morning, travel to Panajachel. Then take a public boat across Atitlán and visit Santiago Atitlán, where you will learn about the local saint; Maximon. Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village as you experience the traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly-colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías towns maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition — the syncretic traditions and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s also a large arts and crafts scene here as well.  You'll then be given free time for lunch, after which you’ll be returned to Guatemala City via Antigua Guatemala.

Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

5. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

Cruise across Lake Atitlan and visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna on this full-day shared sightseeing tour. Ringed by 3 volcanoes on its southern flank, Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. Departing from Panajachel, at the gateway to the lake, your private guide will take you on a scenic shared boat trip before exploring some local textile communities and the Mayan villages of San Juan La Laguna. Get amazing views of the Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro volcanoes, as you experience for yourself why the area became such a Mecca for beatniks and bohemian writers such as Aldous Huxley. Capture the scent of coffee plantations, and then try some freshly ground coffee. Here, you can immerse yourself in the laid-back vibe of the Tz'utujil Mayans and turn the noisy dial of modern life down to zero.

Lake Atitlan Tour Full Day From Antigua

6. Lake Atitlan Tour Full Day From Antigua

Take the road to The Western Highlands region, home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests, and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous people. This is the region most travelers familiar with Guatemala think about when daydreaming of a trip to this beautiful country. Upon arrival at Panajachel, take a public boat to cross Lake Atitlan and visit San Juan La Laguna. Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village. Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías town’s maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition, the syncretic traditions, and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s a large art and crafts scene here as well. Back to Panajachel. In Panajachel, you will take a delicious lunch (NOT INCLUDED) Explore the village of Panajachel is a pre-Columbian town of Kakchiquel origin, settled next to the river with the same name and on the lakeside of Atitlán. The town witnessed the final battle between Spaniards and their Kakchiquel allies against the Tzujiles and it also was a settlement point for the Franciscan missionaries who founded a convent nearby. In the afternoon, you’ll be returned to Antigua Guatemala.

Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

7. Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan. Transfer to the trailhead from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay,” “San Simon,” “Singing” and “Colorado,” the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance. Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days), and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed, and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar. Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock, and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides. You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church, and a 200-foot waterfall.

Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

8. Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

Experience Guatemala in an authentic and personal way as you discover the flavors of Guatemala cooking at the Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen. A 3-hour cooking class will help you understand how Mayan culture and Spanish colonial influences produced a variety of mouth-watering dishes. You’ll have lots of hands-on fun learning how to prepare up to 3 authentic Guatemalan dishes during this class. Learn how to prepare traditional recipes and come away with all the skills you need to prepare them in your own kitchen. If you like you can visit the market with your instructor to purchase the ingredients, or leave the chef do the shopping without you. After your lesson you’ll have a sufficient amount of the prepared food to feed your family or other group members. You’ll take home a printed copy of the recipes as well. The instructor will demonstrate the preparation of each recipe with explanations so you’ll have a complete understanding of the ingredients and the process. Private classes can be arranged for individuals, in addition to the shared classes for small groups. The Mayan cooks in the program are native to Lake Atitlan, and they carry on the rich traditions and culture that are expressed in the food. If you choose to include a market visit with your cooking program, you should plan on an additional 1-2 hours. Note that the instructors speak English or Spanish, or a little of both. All proceeds support the community of Santa Cruz La Laguna through the local nonprofit Amigos de Santa Cruz which runs education and economic empowerment programs (check out amigosdesantacruz.org or Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation on Facebook for more information) Classes are taught by Claudia, a local graduate of Amigos' culinary program, and run for 3 hours with a plated 3-course lunch included on the patio overlooking Lake Atitlan. 

Guatemala: 10-Day Mayan Explorer Adventure

9. Guatemala: 10-Day Mayan Explorer Adventure

Spend 10 days in Guatemala exploring the country’s stunning landscape of volcanoes and mountain lakes. Learn about the Mayan lifestyle, shop at traditional markets, visit ancient ruins, and hike up a volcanic peak. Transfers and first-class public bus service are included, as is basic hotel accommodation with private bath. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Guatemala City – Antigua Your driver will meet you at Guatemala City’s Aurora Airport for the transfer to your Hotel in Antigua. Day 2: Antigua – Lake Atitlan Today you’ll travel from Antigua to Panajachel, where you’ll stay overnight with a Mayan Family in San Jorge village. Experience the local Mayan lifestyle. Day 3: Lake Atitlan by Boat Take a boat tour to visit Mayan communities along the lake, including San Pedro, Santiago, and San Antonio. Day 4: Panajachel – Chichicastenango – Antigua (Thursday and Sunday only) Travel from Panajachel to the Chichicastenango Market, the largest market in Guatemala, where vendors offer colorful clothing and souvenirs. You’ll have time to bargain and do a lot of shopping and interacting with Mayan sellers. Day 5: Antigua – Pacaya Volcano Active Trek Your driver/guide will pick you up at your hostel for the transfer to the bus station. You’ll have a 1-hour ride to the Pacaya Volcano base, and then hike for 2 hours to the volcano’s peak. Day 6: Antigua – Lanquin – Semuc Champey You will be transferred from your Antigua hotel to Lanquin, travelling for the whole day. Day 7: Lanquin – Kanba (Kanba Caves and Semuc Champey Day Tour) A local guide will meet you at your hotel to begin this day tour. Experience the pristine KanBa Caves and relax by the crystal clear waters of the Semuc Champey pools. Day 8: Lanquin – Semuc Champey – Flores Your will be transferred from Lanquin to Flores by shared van, travelling for the whole day. Day 9: Flores – Tikal The driver will meet you at your hotel for your transfer to Tikal park. Arriving early in the morning, you’ll be among the first visitors and have a chance to see monkeys in the jungle area. Explore the ancient Mayan ruins. Day 10: Flores – Guatemala City You have a free day in Flores to relax on the amazing beach of Lake Peten Itza. That night you'll be transferred by first-class public bus on the overnight service to Guatemala City for your departure.

3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

10. 3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

Experience two of Guatemala's most celebrated points of interest: sparkling Lake Atitlan and the Chichicastenango Market on this 3-day tour from Antigua. Visit the highland town of Chichicastenango, world-famous for its open-air market. Here you'll find amazing handicrafts created by the indigenous Maya people as you witness an incessant exchange of fruits and vegetables. Next to the market stands the Church of Santo Tomas, a 16th-century church where you can observe age-old Mayan rituals being performed. Filling an enormous caldera and surrounded by volcanoes and traditional Mayan villages, Lake Atitlan has become renowned for its indescribable beauty and unique cultural history. Spend a day on a guided boat tour of the lake and surrounding towns, then experience the nightlife of Panajachel. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Antigua ̶ Chichicastenango – Panajachel Travel from Antigua to Chichicastenango. Explore the open-air market, where a wide array of produce, finely woven textiles, and intricate handicrafts are for sale. Afterward, visit the Church of Santo Tomas. Evening transfer to Panajachel for overnight. Day 2: Lake Atitlan Boat Trip Board a private boat for a scenic trip across Lake Atitlan. Visit two traditional Maya villages that line the shores of the lake and admire views of the nearby volcanoes. Afterward, enjoy free time in Panajachel on your own. Day 3: Panajachel ̶ Antigua Have free time to further explore Panajachel. In the afternoon, transfer to Antigua Colonial City.

Other Sightseeing Options in Lake Atitlán

Want to discover all there is to do in Lake Atitlán? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Lake Atitlán

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 81 reviews

An amazing tour! Totally recomended, we learned a lot about the mayan culture, history and deities. Salvador, our guide, is from Lake Atitlan, he is amazing, truly recomended. At the start, due to a confusion with the name of the hotel, the driver didn't pass for us. But Salvador made the arrangement with the company to give us a private shuttle few minutes after. So, it was great! Again, totally recomended. You have to walk a lot in the tour to enjoy it in fullness, so is not recomended for childs or old people.

Had a great time! The tour was extremely organized, with on-time pick up from my hotel in Antigua directly to Lake Atitlan, wth a boat to take us between the various villages. Freddy was an awesome tour guide! And our driver was also very nice - we experienced hale on the way back to the hotel and he made sure we were safely taken care of.

Wow what an amazing cultural day at the famous Chichicastenango market. It was unfortunate to see how the community has been negatively impacted by low tourism during the pandemic. We really enjoyed shopping, learning about the history, and marveling at the beautiful handmade items.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.

Very good private tour, spanish guide Elena was amazing, many activities! Very recommended