Top 10 Things to do at Lake Atitlán, Guatemala: The Best Activities and Views
Nestled amidst the captivating highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlán beckons with its stunning beauty and rich cultural heritage. Surrounded by towering volcanoes and vibrant Mayan villages, this mesmerizing destination offers a multitude of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, tranquility, and cultural immersion.
If you are planning your trip to the lake, but not sure where to start and what to do, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover the top 10 things to do at Lake Atitlán.
What are the Top Things to do at Lake Atitlán?
Lake Atitlán in Guatemala is one of Central America’s most beautiful places, offering plenty of activities and stunning views. If you’re looking for an adventure, there are plenty of things to do here including cliff jumping, paddle boarding, and paragliding.
You can also explore the nature reserve or hike one of the volcanoes. If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, consider taking a yoga class or enjoying a meal with a view. No matter what you choose to do from our extensive list of activities, Lake Atitlán is definitely worth a visit!
Take a Ferry to the Different Towns
The picturesque communities surrounding the lake are the basis for the economic development of Lake Atitlán. Guatemalan modernity mixes with ancient Mayan customs to create a fascinating environment around the lake, with history, vitality and services available to visitors.
Backpacker hostels, local homestays and luxury resorts can all be found as well as local street markets, trendy cafés and high-end restaurants. Some settlements are very touristy and developed, while others are peaceful and sparsely visited by tourists. No matter the town, you can hop in one of the many lanchas (ferries) to the next town, making exploration of Lake Atitlán cheap and convenient.
Cruise across the tranquil waters of Lake Atitlán, exploring its stunning coastlines, hidden coves, and distant settlements while enjoying in the landscape’s serene splendor.
Wanna learn more about how boats operate and general safety tips? Make sure to read this article: Is Travel to Guatemala Safe? 7 Tips for Safe Travel at Lake Atitlán, Guatemala – Your Ultimate Guide to Enjoying the Beauty and Serenity of the Lake
San Marcos la Laguna
San Marcos la Laguna is one of the most picturesque towns on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. Known as the “Hippie Town” of Lake Atitlán, San Marcos la Laguna is well-known for its many yoga centers and retreats as well as dance festivals and healing arts workshops. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafés with amazing views of the lake. Eagle’s Nest Atitlán offers the best of both and is a great place to stay for your vacation.
San Pedro la Laguna
San Pedro la Laguna is also located on the shores of Lake Atitlán right across from San Marcos la Laguna. This charming town is a popular destination for backpackers who come to enjoy the stunning views and peaceful atmosphere. There are plenty of activities to do in San Pedro la Laguna, including hiking, paddle boarding, and kayaking. There are also many restaurants and shops for tourists.
Santa Cruz la Laguna
The fame of Santa Cruz is gradually growing as people hear about its great hotels, spas, and proximity to the water. It’s a haven of beautiful nature untouched by modern civilization, bordering lush jungle foliage and a beautiful swathe of the lake. The actual Maya village is located above the lakeshore while most hotels and visitor facilities are on or near the water.
Panajachel, often abbreviated as “Pana”, is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in Guatemala, It serves as a central hub for those coming from Antigua and Guatemala City. Panajachel is the most developed and largest town on our list, containing many dining and shopping options for both ex-pats and locals. Panajachel’s main drag is Calle Santander and it’s here that you’ll find the best options in town. There are also plenty of tour agencies offering day trips and tours around the entire lake.
Santa Catarina Palopó
Santa Catarina Palopó is widely considered one of the prettiest villages on the shores of Lake Atitlán. This traditional Mayan village contains many brightly painted buildings and houses. The quietest town on our list, it’s only a short tuc-tuc (local taxi) ride from Panajachel and a relaxing setting for a calming walk or reading a book.
Hiking at Lake Atitlán is an absolute must for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its varied topography and breathtaking panoramas, the region has a wealth of hiking paths to suit all levels of experience.
The hike up Indian Nose, is one of the most popular hiking locations. This trek leads you through lush landscapes and meandering trails to a breathtaking viewpoint with a panoramic view of Lake Atitlán and the neighboring volcanoes. Whether you want to see the sunrise’s golden hues or the sunset’s captivating colors, the
For those looking for a more difficult trek, the hike to the summit of San Pedro Volcano provides an amazing experience. This volcano offers amazing views of Lake Atitlán and the surrounding villages. The hike is not too difficult but does require some stamina as it’s about 8 miles round trip. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks as there are no stores or restaurants at the top of the volcano.
Cliff Jump from the Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
The Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve is a beautiful place to explore the nature of Guatemala. The reserve is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including monkeys, deer and toucans. Visitors can enjoy hiking through the trails that wind through the forest or take a boat ride on the lake to get a different perspective. There is also an animal rescue center on-site which is home to many injured or orphaned animals.
The main attraction is the jumping deck though. The views from the top are stunning and a great way to get your adrenaline pumping. Just be careful not to jump into shallow water! If you’re looking for an opportunity to learn more about the nature of Guatemala, be sure to visit the Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve.
Sip Local Coffee and Cacao
Lake Atitlán is well-known for its many coffee and cacao plantations. There are several guided tours available where you can learn about the process of growing and harvesting these crops. If you’re only interested in tasting the final results, most towns have at least one cafe or shop that sells locally-produced coffee and cacao.
Here at Eagle’s Nest Atitlán, our restaurant provides our own locally-sourced and organic coffee and cacao as well as fresh smoothies and delicious meals throughout the day.
Paddleboard and Paraglide over Lake Atitlán
When it comes to paddleboarding, Lake Atitlán. is one of the most popular destinations in the world. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes, providing stunning views in all directions. The calm waters make it ideal for paddleboarding, and the many towns and villages along the shore provide plenty of opportunities for a break.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous and exciting way to view the lake, then paragliding is probably the option for you! When you paraglide, you are strapped into a harness that is attached to a large wing. The wing catches the updrafts created by the heat of the earth, and this lifts you into the air. You can then ride the currents of air, steering yourself as you go. The views from above are breathtaking, circling over some of the most picturesque spots in Guatemala.
Take a Mayan Cooking Class
If you’re looking to learn about Mayan culture and cuisine, there’s no better place to do it than Lake Atitlán. There are several smaller, more traditional Mayan villages around the lake, and many of them offer cooking classes that teach visitors how to prepare delicious Mayan dishes. In addition to learning about the history and culture of the Maya people, you’ll also get a chance to try your hand at making some of their most popular dishes.
Classes typically include instructions on how to make staples like tortillas and tamales, as well as more unusual dishes like pepián, a thick stew made with chicken, pork and seeds. So whether you’re a seasoned chef or a complete novice in the kitchen, a Mayan cooking class is sure to be a memorable experience.
Curious to learn more about local Guatemalan cuisine? Also check out this article: Top 10 Mouth-Watering Traditional Guatemalan Food You Must Try
Shop for Mayan Handicrafts
Exploring the world of Mayan handicrafts at Lake Atitlán is a voyage into the indigenous tribes’ ancient traditions and artistic history.
If you’re looking for Mayan handicrafts, Lake Atitlán is the place to go. There are a variety of shops that sell traditional Mayan goods with some good bargains to be had. The Maya are known for their beautiful handiwork, offering everything from pottery and jewelry to textiles and sculptures.
Pottery is a wonderful Mayan skill. Mayan pottery exemplifies clay shaping and decoration skills. Traditional pottery is frequently hand-coiled and intricately adorned with patterns reflecting images from Mayan mythology, nature, or everyday life. The pottery is then burned using ancient processes, resulting in one-of-a-kind and eye-catching pieces that showcase the expertise and artistry of Mayan potters.
When shopping for Mayan handicrafts, it’s important to remember that many of these items are handmade and may not be perfect. However, that’s part of the charm! Shopping for Mayan handicrafts is a great way to support local artisans and bring back some beautiful souvenirs to remember your trip.
Witness Mayan Weaving
Traditional weaving is one of the most important Mayan handicrafts. For ages, the Mayans have woven textiles using traditional skills passed down through generations. Weaving is an ancient Mayan art form, with each textile telling a tale through elaborate patterns, symbols, and colors. You can see experienced artisans weaving gorgeous textiles on backstrap or foot looms by visiting local cooperatives or workshops.
In the traditional Maya weaving of Lake Atitlán, women use a foot-powered treadle loom to create beautiful textiles. The process begins with the spinning of thread from local cotton and wool. The thread is then dyed using natural dyes made from plants and minerals. Once the thread is ready, it is time to start weaving.
The Mayan women use a variety of techniques to create patterns in their fabrics, including brocade, plain weave and supplemental weft. The finished cloth is often used for traditional Maya clothing, such as skirts and blouses. These textiles are also used for home decor items, accessories like belts and bags, and even ceremonial outfits.
Visitors to Lake Atitlán can watch the Maya women weaving their textiles and even purchase some of their beautiful creations.
Attend a Shaman Ceremony in the Sacred Caves
For those seeking a traditional and spiritual experience, attending a Mayan shaman ceremony in the sacred caves at Lake Atitlán is a must. Here, shamans still practice traditional rituals of going into trance and praying to the Mayan gods. During the ceremony, attendees will have the opportunity to partake in traditional activities such as singing, dancing and offering sacrifices. While it is not required to participate in these activities, it is encouraged as it allows one to fully immerse oneself in the experience. After the ceremony, attendees will often feel a sense of peace and calm, making this a truly special and unique experience.
Curious to learn about other Mayan ceremonies? You may also like this article: Mayan Tree Planting Ceremony: Empowering Nature’s Growth And Sharing Ancient Wisdom
Take a Yoga Class at Eagle’s Nest Atitlán
Lake Atitlán, located in Guatemala’s highlands, provides an idyllic backdrop for yoga practitioners to connect with their inner selves, establish balance, and enhance their yoga experience. Therefore, the lake and especially San Marcos La Laguna attracts plenty of yogis from all over the world each year.
The quiet shores of Lake Atitlán provide a pleasant and peaceful environment, making it ideal for yoga practice. As the sun slowly rises over the towering volcanoes, throwing a golden glow over the crystal-clear seas, imagine rolling out your mat. Nature’s sounds, from gentle rustling leaves to enchanting bird melodies, provide a calming symphony that improves the contemplative components of yoga.
There are clearly not many places in the world that make you feel so connected to nature and the elements.
Nestled on a platform overlooking Lake Atitlán from San Marcos la Laguna, Eagle’s Nest Atitlán is the perfect place to enjoy a yoga class. The beautiful view of the lake and surrounding mountains makes it easy to relax and focus on your practice. The instructors are experienced and helpful, and they offer a variety of classes to suit all levels.
Lake Atitlán offers chances for spiritual research and self-discovery in addition to the physical aspects of yoga. The lake’s and its surroundings’ great beauty can serve as a catalyst for introspection and a deeper connection to oneself. Yoga practice in this sacred area helps you to tap into the land’s ancient knowledge, developing a sense of peace and alignment with the natural world.
Eagle’s Nest Atitlán – A Haven of Tranquility and Inspiration on Lake Atitlán
We invite you to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery, rejuvenation, and inner peace. Our retreats, classes, and resort at Lake Atitlán offer a sanctuary where you can escape the stresses of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this awe-inspiring destination.
After an invigorating yoga class, you can enjoy a refreshing drink or bite to eat at the cafe. With its stunning setting and wide range of classes, Eagle’s Nest Atitlán is the perfect place to enjoy yoga in Guatemala. To see all our events and classes, please check our schedule.
So, why visit Lake Atitlán?
Lake Atitlán captures the hearts and souls of those who visit. There is no shortage of things to do and see at this wonderful lake, with its breathtaking views, rich Mayan culture, and multitude of activities.
So, whether you’re looking for action, cultural immersion, or a calm getaway, Lake Atitlán is sure to satisfy. Explore its magnificent scenery, experience its lively culture, and find peace in its calm seas. Allow the magic of Lake Atitlán to leave you with enduring memories and a great appreciation for the beauty and diversity that this remarkable place has to offer.