• Menu
  • Menu

A Private Tour of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Guatemala is one of the prettiest spots that you must see when you visit the Central America country of Guatemala. It’s crystal clear waters, stunning scenery and of course the volcano that dominates the landscape will have you falling in love with the area.

We bet that you will even extend your stay there, we did, and many others we spoke to did as well.  The local Mayan villages around the lake are definitely worth spending time visiting. You may even get to meet Maximon, the Mayan deity. We should have stayed a few nights in each village but we had to move on even though we did extend a few days.

(Editor Update 2021)

You will need a base to stay when visiting Lake Atitlan and we can highly recommend the small city of Panajachel which has a lot of facilities for travellers.

We were staying in Panajachel in Hostel Sotz and we could not organise a tour on Lake Atitlan for the next day.  Eric, the owner of Hostel Sotz,  suggested we hire a boat and a captain and he would take us around the lake showing us the 4 villages.

Unfortunately, the Hostel Sotz is now closed but the 4 villages that we visited are one of our highlights when we visited Lake Atitlan from Antigua.

Since our visit in 2013 many tours are now available to be booked online before you visit.

You can pre-book your tour around Lake Atitlan by boat here


There is some great hostel accommodation available in and around the Lake make sure you reserve one with amazing views.  We recommend that you book in advance as it is becoming quite a popular place to visit on the backpacker trail in Guatemala.

Related Reading:

Before you visit we recommend that you read the Lonely Planet Guide on Guatemala.


We recommend that you have wet weather gear with you and good hiking shoes.

Where is Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Map of location of Lake Atitlan
Location of Lake Atitlan

Map of the Villages of Lake Atitlan

Map of the villages around Lake Atitlan
Map of the villages of Lake Atitlan

Our Private Tour of  Lake Atitlan

Julio our Captain, was ready and waiting for us and we jumped in and headed for our first stop San Marcos La Laguna also known as Guatemala’s first new age centre.

San Marcos La Laguna

Private tour of Lake Atitlan
Coming into San Marcos La Laguna

The village of San Marcos La Laguna has been affected by floods over the years which stream down the mountain behind the town. A quiet town, San Marcos La Laguna is located on the lake and one of the most beautiful small villages that line the lake.  Nowadays it is known for its yoga retreats, massage centres and organic cafes.

The streets of San Marcos around Lake Atitlan
The streets of San Marcos

People cultivate agave, oranges, jocotes and a variety of vegetables.

Men wear short pants and a distinctive dark brown woollen vest. Women wear a simple huipil embroidered at the neck.

San Juan La Laguna

Craft shops line the street from the wharf along Lake Atitlan
Craft shops line the street from the wharf

Our next stop on Lake Atitlan is the village of San Juan La Laguna

San Juan la Laguna sits on the fertile shore of  Lake Atitlan and produces coffee, fruit, flowers and wood such as cedar and pine and hormigo.

The ladies of Lake Atitlan
The Women’s Weaving Cooperative

Village weavers produce fine work especially bedspreads with unique designs.

Local food stalls abound around Lake Atitlan
Local food stalls

San Pedro La Laguna

Our next stop on Lake Atitlan was San Pedro la Laguna – 2nd in popularity to Panajachel.

Villages of Lake Atitlan

San Pedro La Laguna is located on the western shore of the lake on the volcanic rock from the volcano of San Pedro.

The economy is based on the sale of coffee, avocados and corn. The locals weave mats and build traditional canoes.

The Streets of San Pedro on Lake Atitlan
The Streets of San Pedro

San Pedro has an international feel. We had really good coffee and an excellent carrot cake in town in a small cafe opposite the leather shop.  Prices were higher here than in the other towns. The town flanks the northern slopes of the San Pedro Volcano.

There are two docks; the first one that we docked at was for boats from Panajachel and the 2nd where buildings were underwater were for boats going to Santiago. They are about 1km apart. If you travel to San Pedro ensure you know which dock to go to.

Santiago Atitlan

Last stop on  Lake Atitlan for the day was Santiago Atitlan. There was a lot of excitement as we arrived.  Apparently, a local shaman had been called to visit the Mayor to assist in some family crisis.  We were allowed to view the shaman ceremony and you can read about the experience in our article.



On our way to Santiago on Lake Atitlan
On our way to Santiago Atitlan with the volcano shrouded in mist

Santiago Atitlan is the largest indigenous town in Central America.





Colourful market on the banks of Lake Atitlan
One of the many colourful shops leading up from the wharf




Lake Atitlan markets
Colourful jewellery and fabric shops


4th stop Lake Atitlan
Ladies in the local fruit and vegetable market


Leaving Santiago Atitlan on the banks of Lake Atitlan where women are washing their clothes by the lake
Leaving Santiago Atitlan women are washing their clothes by the lake
Coming back to the town of Panajachel on the banks of Lake Atitlan
Coming back to the town of Panajachel

Essential Information for Visiting Lake Atitlan

How to get around Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlan):

There are Lanchas which are the local ferries. These are the fastest way to get around the lake, the only issue is they will leave when the boat is full. There are three prices- one for the local Mayan people who live around the lake, one for extrajero locals and the higher price for tourists both Guatemalan and foreign.

Boat services run from 06.30 am to 19.30 pm.

Expect to pay the following:

Tourist – Panajachel to Santa Cruz/Jaibalito Q10 (approx USD1.30)

Panajachel to San Marcos, San Pablo, San Juan, San Pedro Q25 (approx USD3.25)

Panajachel to Santiago Atitlan Q20 (approx USD2.60)

SanPedro to San Marcos Q15 (approx USD1.95)

San Pedro to Santiago Q10 (approx USD1.30)

Things to do in Lake Atitlan:

Hike the San Pedro and Atitlan volcano along the Indians nose above San Juan and the smaller Cero de Cro. The trail from Santa Cruz to San Marcos offers stunning views and a chance to experience some of the lakes most traditional Mayan villages like Jaibalito and Tzununa.

An ancient Mayan footpath leading up to the mountain from Jaibalito to the town of Laguna Seca offers amazing views of the lake and a chance to experience a truly remote village in the heart of the Mayan highlands.

The lake is situated 4,500 feet above sea level and almost 1,000 feet deep.  The Volcanoes stretch up to 10,000 feet above the lake. A brisk wind named Xocomil whips up the waves on the lake in the afternoon and can affect the local water traffic.

Enjoy a tour around the Lake by boat.

If you are travelling from Guatemala City you enjoy a full-day tour of the Lake – for booking details click here


Do you enjoy boating and cycling how about a 1-night tour combining both of your passions on this special tour.

How to Travel To Lake Atitlan Guatemala

When you visit Guatemala most travellers will fly into Guatemala City.

Cheap Flight Deals for Guatemala City

Find the cheapest flights with Skyscanner who then directs you to the airline’s website with no extra fees to pay.

A private shuttle is available from Antigua to Lake Atitlan book here.

Where To Stay Around Lake Atitlan

Where to stay in Panajachel

Porta Hotel Del Lago at 2 Avenida 6-17 Panajachel has a pool, gym, lake views and offers free breakfast.


Where to stay in San Antonio Palopo

Kaalpul Atitlan Eco Hotel & Spa at Lakeside Aldea Tzampetey San Antonio Palopo offers guests a yoga room, free WiFi and free breakfast, boating, diving and a spa in a remote tranquil location.


Where to stay in San Lucas Toliman

Hotel Toliman at Avenida 6 San Lucas Toliman offers guests a pool, free WiFi and free breakfast, canoeing, hiking, kids playground.  It is a family-run hotel built on the grounds of a former coffee factory with lake and garden views.


Where to stay in San Juan La Laguna

The Eco Hotel Uxlabil Atitlan at 11 Calle y 15 Avenue Final 12- 53 San Juan La Laguna is an Eco hotel that offers free breakfast and free wifi and walking tours.


Where to stay in Santa Cruz La Laguna

La Laguna Perdida is located on the waterfront at Santa Cruz La Laguna offers a bar/lounge, boating and diving in a non-smoking environment.


Where to Stay in San Pedro La Laguna

El Delfin Hotel & Restaurant is a boutique hotel on Avenida 7 at San Pedro La Laguna that offers guests free WiFi, gym, bar and lounge and restaurant.

Do You Need a Visa For Guatemala?

Travel Insurance

We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.

If you are located in Australia or New Zealand click here for the latest quotes.

If you are located in the rest of the world click below for the latest quotes.


Are you on Pinterest? We are at To Travel Too and we have many travel-related boards check us out at Pinterest.  If you enjoyed our article why not pin it to your board.





To Travel Too Travel Shop

Travel smarter and safer with products from our To Travel Too Travel Shop.  If you are looking for the latest luggage, guidebooks or travel accessories we have you covered with over 800 travel products to choose from.

Travel Shop






Thanks for stopping by and welcome to To Travel Too – Australia’s top Baby Boomer lifestyle and travel blog, with an international worldwide audience in mind, run by the married couple, freelance writers and full-time travellers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith. Come with us as we explore the world. Our two mantras that we live by are 'chase time not money' and 'age is no barrier when it comes to travel'.

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.