48 Hours in Lake Atitlan: Things to Do, Places to Visit and More


mountains, trees and lake atitlan
Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country and Central America, it has a unique culture and is surrounded by a ton of villages where the true Mayan descendants live.

So, you’ve got 48 hours in Lake Atitlan, what are you going to do with that? So Lake Atitlan is really common, and two days is more than enough time. The majority of people usually only have one full day there. Today we’re going to be talking about 48 hours in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

I have a cool episode on 24 hours in Lake Atitlan. So make sure to go and check it out there.

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48 Hours in Lake Atitlan

If you’re going to have 48 hours in Lake Atitlan, normally everybody arrives in Panajachel and that’s usually the main place they end up staying unless you are staying in another town.

So then you would either take a private boat or usually if you’re staying overnight, a colectivo, which is a shared local boat that is a lot cheaper, and it will take you to the town that you are staying in, which is usually either San Marcos, Santiago Atitlan or San Pedro. Those are the main towns other than Panajachel.

Take a Boat and Visit Atitlan Villages

So when you arrive there, and you have a car, usually you are brought by another shuttle. They will bring you right to the pier. It’s super easy to find. Or if you’re in a hotel in Panajachel you could go and hang out and then walk around, enjoy Pana, and then maybe take a colectivo, a public boat to another little village to go and check out the other villages that are there.

The most popular villages in Lake Atitlan to check out are San Marcos, San Pedro, Santiago, and Santa Cruz.

A lot of people, really love to do is rent a private boat and go and check out multiple different villages. You could have breakfast in one village, lunch in another village, or do a mini hike in another village so that you have this whole different experience.

Related Read: Lush Hotel (Aaculaax) in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

street on a village lake atitlan
There are 11 towns around Atitlan Lake, but the largest by far are Santiago and Panajachel, which are the most popular among tourists, you can find several hotels and other amenities.

Search for Maximon (Mayan deity)

Santiago is the largest town there, and they’re also well known to have Maximon, who is this religious figure. He is a fascinating figure, but he does move around. So make sure that you ask exactly where to find him when you are there. And this way you can participate.

Not participate, they are more like a spectator in one of their rituals and they are open to the public. So it’s a cool experience. So when you arrive there, I would find out where Maximon is, and especially because you do have two days, you could easily go and check him out. The whole thing, it’s crazy.

Related Read: Staying in a Glass House on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Tip: Guatemala is a safe place for tourists, but be aware!

The biggest issue is theft.

Get travel insurance before starting your journey.

I recommend Visitors Coverage.

view of volcano lake atitlan guatemala
Guatemala is home to a ton of volcanoes and Atitlan Lake is almost surrounded by Volcanos, there are three of them close to each other: San Pedro, Atitlán, and Tolimán.

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Panajachel, Guatemala

Start your adventure early in the morning by arriving at Panajachel, a town on the northern shore of the lake, accessible by road from Guatemala City. This bustling little town is the gateway to Lake Atitlán, and it’s an ideal place to find accommodation and begin your exploration.

Santiago Atitlán

After checking in, head to Panajachel’s main dock and take a boat ride across the lake to Santiago Atitlán. As you glide over the calm waters, you’ll have breathtaking views of the volcanoes surrounding the lake. 

Santiago Atitlán is known for its vibrant indigenous culture, and you can explore the bustling local market, visit the Maximón shrine, and learn about the traditional weaving techniques of the Tz’utujil Maya.

Some of the most popular villages to explore around Lake Atitlán include San Marcos, San Pedro, Santiago, and Santa Cruz.


After you visit Santiago Atitlán, return to Panajachel and grab lunch at one of the local eateries. Then, set off on an adrenaline-pumping adventure by renting a kayak. Paddle your way across the crystal-clear waters, taking in the serene beauty of the lake and the stunning landscapes.

Don’t forget to stop at the nature reserve of Cerro Tzankujil to explore the local flora and fauna or take a refreshing dip in the pristine waters.

Guatemala Dishes

As the sun begins to set, head back to Panajachel and enjoy dinner at one of the many lakeside restaurants. Savor traditional Guatemalan dishes and relax while gazing at the breathtaking sunset over Lake Atitlán.

If you’re looking for nightlife, Panajachel has a lively atmosphere with several bars and clubs.

San Pedro Volcano

Rise early to experience the natural beauty of Lake Atitlán from a different perspective. Arrange for a guided hiking tour to ascend the San Pedro Volcano, one of the three surrounding the lake.

The hike is difficult but extremely rewarding, as you will be surrounded by lush forests and rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views at the summit. Make sure to bring proper hiking gear and enough water for the trek.

For added peace of mind and to ensure your safety during your adventure, I highly recommend securing travel insurance

San Pedro La Laguna

After your descent from San Pedro Volcano, return to Panajachel to recharge with a hearty meal. Then, explore the vibrant town of San Pedro La Laguna, known for its lively atmosphere and numerous adventure opportunities.

You can try paragliding, zip-lining, or even horseback riding around the lake and its scenic surroundings. San Pedro is also home to various yoga and meditation retreats for those seeking a more tranquil experience.

Check out the pristine waters, explore indigenous culture, and hike volcanoes, all in one breathtaking destination. Embark on a 48-hour adventure of a lifetime at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. 

Try other Activities

If you have that time, and then you have another full day, you could either do one of their activities, you can go kayaking, you could hike a volcano.

Around 4 or 05:00 p.m. that’s when the waters of Lake Atitlan start to get pretty violent. So you want to be in either your hotel already or if you are coming from someplace and going back to Pana so that you could go and enjoy the town and go out to eat.

Those are the main things. In 48 hours, that is more than enough time for you to truly enjoy yourself and to get a good feel for Lake Atitlan.

Local Activities

As your 48-hour adventure at Lake Atitlán comes to a close, head back to Panajachel for a final evening by the lake. Enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the charming lakeside restaurants and take in the peaceful ambiance.

You can also shop for local handicrafts and souvenirs, or simply relax on the lakeside promenade, reflecting on the unforgettable experiences of the past two days.

History and Location

Lake Atitlán, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Highlands,” is located in the southwestern part of Guatemala. It is located within a massive volcanic caldera that was formed by a series of eruptions over 84,000 years ago. 

Atitlán, a Nahuatl word meaning “at the water,” perfectly describes this crystal-clear lake, which covers an area of approximately 50 square miles and reaches depths of up to 1,120 feet.

A ring of three majestic volcanoes encircles the lake, creating a captivating sight that’s truly worth watching.  

The lake’s shores are dotted with indigenous Mayan villages, each offering a unique cultural experience. 

San Pedro La Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna, and Panajachel are among the most popular destinations around the lake.

If you’re planning a visit to Lake Atitlán, I suggest utilizing trustworthy platforms for booking accommodations. They provide a hassle-free way to discover and book lodging for your endless adventures.

Best Places to Stay In Lake Atitlan

You can stay in the finest hotels and most exquisite locations during your visit to this beautiful lake.

  • Panajachel
  • San Pedro La Laguna
  • San Marcos La Laguna
  • Santa Cruz La Laguna
  • Santiago Atitlán
  • Jaibalito

For a 48-hour visit, it’s not feasible to explore all these places. Instead, you can choose a few that best match your interests and time constraints.




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Weather in Lake Atitlan

The weather at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala varies throughout the year. It has a mild, spring-like climate due to its highland location. Here’s a general overview:

  • Dry Season (November to April): This is the most popular time to visit. You can expect warm days with clear skies and cool nights. It’s a great time for outdoor activities.

  • Rainy Season (May to October): This period sees more rainfall, which helps maintain the lush green landscape. 

  • Afternoon showers are common, and the mornings are usually sunny. It can be a bit cooler during this season.

Swimming At Lake Atitlan

It is generally safe to swim in Lake Atitlán. However, it’s essential to exercise caution, be aware of currents, and choose designated swimming areas, as conditions can vary.


How to reach Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City?

You can reach Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City by taking a bus or shuttle to the town of Panajachel, which serves as the main gateway to the lake.

Is Lake Atitlan Expensive?

Lake Atitlán is generally considered an affordable travel destination, making it accessible to a wide range of budgets.

Is Lake Atitlan Safe for Females?

Lake Atitlán can be safe for female travelers, but it’s essential to take common-sense precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night.

How far is Lake Atitlán from Guatemala City?

Lake Atitlán is approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Guatemala City.

48h in Lake Atitlan: Final Thoughts

Lake Atitlán offers a unique blend of natural beauty, culture, and adventure. In just 48 hours, you can immerse yourself in the enchanting surroundings of this jewel of the Guatemalan highlands. Plan your trip today and discover the magic of Lake Atitlán!

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Last Updated on December 13, 2023

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