Lake Atitlan is easily one of the most visit tourist destinations in all of Guatemala, and for good reason!
This 130 square kilometre lake is surrounded by cute towns, lush forests, and volcanos. The culture, incredible views, and a variety of things to do make Lake Atitlan, a favourite destination for many travellers.
While there are many different activities to keep you busy while visit Lake Atitlan, there are a few “must-dos” that you simply can’t miss out on while you’re there.
Here are the 7 best things to do in Lake Atitlan!
1. Ride in the water taxis
This is first on my list because it is something that you will almost certainly do while at Lake Atitlan. The towns and small villages around the lake are most quickly reach by boat. While there are roads that join them, the journey is long and rough. Taking a boat is so much quicker – and more exiting too!
For this reason, all of the locals use the boats to get around too. The water taxis operate much like
public buses but just on the water instead of roads. They have set routes, departure times, and prices.
So, not only are these taxis practical for getting around, it is also a fun experience where you are going to get some gorgeous views from out on the water and meet some friendly locals that Lake Atitlan is famous for.
2. Hike up Indian Nose
Many say that the hike up Indian Nose offers the best views in all of Guatemala. This short 30-minute hikes is a bit of a climb up, however, is totally worth it! From up above, you’ll see all of the lake and the volcanoes that neighbor it.
For the best views, hike up early in the morning! This way, you can catch the sunrise and avoid the late afternoon clouds that typically set in.
3. Practice Yoga at San Marcos
San Marcos is one of the small towns on Lake Atitlan. This tiny town is many people’s favorite because of it’s relaxed “hippie” vibe. In San Marcos you’ll find lots of tiny cafes and shops with all sorts of handcrafted good for sale. But you’ll also find tons of opportunities to do a yoga class!
There are classes available for all levels and most are set on a deck with views of the lake. This is a great way to relax and enjoy being in complete paradise.
4. Wander the busy streets of San Pedro
Unlike San Marcos, San Pedro is the busiest town around Lake Atitlan. San Pedro makes for the perfect place to people watch and enjoy the hustle and bustle. There are tons of restaurants to enjoy as well as street food. You’ll also find beautiful gardens and churches that welcome visitors.
You’ll easily keep yourself busy in San Pedro for a couple of hours just wandering around, but if you choose, you can hire a tuk-tuk and they will take you around the town to some of the best attractions for only a few dollars.
5. Go shopping at the markets
There are some seriously awesome markets in all of the towns around Lake Atitlan. Whether you just want to have a look or buy some souvenirs, spending a bit of time at the markets is a great idea! The town of Panajachael has lots of markets and small shops with reasonable prices making it a nice spot for shopping. If you want to buy and traditionally woven clothing, this is the place to do so!
Even better yet, head out 38 kilometers from Panajachel to Chichicastenango Market, the largest
indigenous market in the country! This market is held every Thursday and Sunday and offers the chance to experience a true local market.
On our Glimpse of Guatemala Tour we include a day trip to Chichicastenango from Lake Atitlan so you can experience this amazing market for yourself!
6. Drink local coffee
As you may already know, Guatemala is one of the best producers of quality coffee in the world. The mountains around San Juan offer the ideal climate for growing coffee. So, while visiting Lake Atitlan be sure to stop at one (or several) of the many local cafes to try the locally grown coffee! If you are really interested in how coffee is grown, visit one of the farms and join a tour!
7. Go kayaking
As we mentioned before, some of the best views of the area are from out on the lake! For the most peaceful experience, consider renting a kayaking and going for a little paddle. The calm waters of the lake making kayaking easy and an enjoyable way to spend an hour or two taking in all of the mountain views!
We offer a 7-day Glimpse of Guatemala tour which includes a couple of days at Lake Atitlan in
addition to many of the other highlights around the country! We can also pair this tour with our fantastic Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico trip, in case you want to the have the ultimate Central American holiday!