11 Best Lake Atitlan Villages and Towns You Need to Visit

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala was formed many years ago, in fact, it is right on top of the crater of an old massive volcano. In the background, you will see more volcanoes, steep mountains, and at least twelve beautiful Lake Atitlan villages. It is a great place where tons of Guatemalan activities are offered. The most popular destination in Guatemala and this area is the town of Panajachel with its funky cafes, delicious restaurants, and fun markets, so we won’t mention it, it is already popular enough. But that isn’t the only village there, on this list I’ll show you the best villages and towns around Lake Atitlan. Below you will find information about 11 of them.

You can find 11 villages and towns around Lake Atitlan, but only 6 stand out a lot from the rest, including Panajachel, Santiago, San Pedro, Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, and San Marcos. Being Santiago one of the largest towns on Lake Atitlan.

The inhabitants of the towns around Lake Atitlan are mostly indigenous, coming directly from Mayans. A particular thing about those communities is that each town has its own distinctive style of traditional clothing.

If you want to immerse in the Mayan culture, there’s no better way than visiting the villages around the lake. Each village and town is known for some different things, some for ceramics, others for holistic therapies, and most of them for traditional textiles.

I recommend you check out my full Lake Atitlan guide, it’s packed with tons of activities and useful information.

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

Lake Atitlan Villages You Should Visit


Panajachel is a town located north shore of Atitlan, commonly known as “Pana” by the locals, and one of the biggest hippie towns in the country. The town has this serene vibe that goes well for people that want to de-stress. You can find tons of bars, restaurants and cafes visited both by locals and tourists. On the main street, called Calle Santander, there are many stalls made by locals to sell their handicrafts and textiles.

Read my full blog post with useful information and things to do in Panajachel, here.

Santiago Atitlan

Let's Explore the Lake Atitlan Villages - santiagu atitlan

This is a traditional Mayan town with volcanoes as the background. There are few hotels and almost no tourist infrastructure. So you will be able to see the local’s daily life first hand. None of the other Lake Atitlan villages will give you an insider view of how the indigenous of this region live better than this one. You will bump into locals wearing their traditional clothing as they pass by.

San Pedro la Laguna

Let's Explore the Lake Atitlan Villages - san pedro

This is also a great stopover with volcanoes surrounding it. In it, you will find a high ex-pat population, but as you can imagine the Mayan population is even larger. I was truly surprised by the number of great accommodations and fantastic restaurants that I found here. It has the reputation of being a place to relax, but it also offers some fun stuff.

Santa Cruz La Laguna

This Lake Atitlan town consists of a group of villages, Santa Cruz, Tzununa, and four smaller villages. It’s located on the northern shore of the lake and is home to some hiking paths like Temazcal experience (Elena’s Hiking) and Pa Siwan, as well as other on-the-water activities like stand-up paddle boarding. Santa Cruz La Laguna offers to lay back atmosphere with relaxing places to stay, cafes, and restaurants.


This town offers an off-the-beaten-path experience, it’s also located on the northern shore of the lake, and you can’t get there by road, Jaibalito is only accessible by boat ride. This is one of the main reasons why this Lake Atitlan village doesn’t get too many tourists, also it’s one of the most authentic and unspoiled towns on the lake.

Despite this, the town offers a few accommodations options, some great restaurants with good food, and tons of activities to do on the lake like paddle boarding or swimming, it also offers outdoor activities like hiking, buying traditional handicrafts made by the Mayan people, and checking out the street art.

San Marcos la Laguna

Let's Explore the Lake Atitlan Villages - san marcos

This is the best place for relaxation of the area, there are all sorts of activities for spiritual enlightenment like yoga retreats and any number of ‘new age’ activities. Traditional Maya spas are also available here, with naturally heated hot springs. There are also some options for lovely accommodations with a beautiful background.

This is personally my favorite place to stay. Even though there are a lot of travelers, most are looking to relax and not party.

San Juan La Laguna

Let's Explore the Lake Atitlan Villages - san juan la laguna

This town is located less than five kilometers away from San Pedro, the main party town around the lake. It is much more relaxed and has no shortage of hotels, making it a great option if you are traveling with your family and are looking for something much more relaxed.

But it is close enough to San Pedro so you can go and explore its colorful streets and enjoy the restaurants during the day without having to take a bus, just a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride will be enough.

Santa Catarina Palopó

This colorful town in Lake Atitlan is located 3 miles away from the south-southeast of Panajachel. Santa Catarina Palopo is well known for the way its houses are painted, with geometric patterns that give the town a different touch. Another great option to immerse in the Mayan culture is since not many tourists get to Santa Catarica, leaving it really unspoiled. Besides this, you can find some accommodation scattered around the town. This’s really the least visited town in Lake Atitlan.

The town offers some activities to do like just walking around the town and seeing the houses, taking a bath in a natural hot spring or swimming pool, and going to one of the art galleries.

Insider tip: Head to EL Mirador de Santa Cataria and enjoy stunning views of the lake

San Lucas Tolimán

With a population of more than 15000 people, San Lucas Toliman is located on the south-eastern shore of the lake. Like most of the villages in Lake Atitlan the majority of the population are Mayan descendants. A picturesque town almost unspoiled by tourists that offers a hike to the nearest volcano or hiking Cerro de Oro, and tons of water activities like kayaking on the lake.

Just walking and wandering around the town is an amazing experience, you’ll find incredible street art, a church and the local market is amazing.

San Pablo La Laguna

A traditional Mayan town, unspoiled and almost not visited by foreigners, it’s located between San Juan and San Marcos. The town offers a truly local experience, there’s not much to do here, but you can find some accommodations, a fried chicken restaurant, and many “tienditas” (small stores) and things to do. Among the things to are hiking nearby paths, activities in the lake, and just enjoying the relaxing life of the town. Like in most of the towns around Atitlan Lake, people are super friendly.

San Antonio Palopo

Located on the eastern shore of the lake, San Antonio Palopo is a beutiful town that offers incredible views of both the volcanos located around (Toliman, San Pedro, and Atitlan Volcano) and the lake. You can find some hotels, restaurants and many tuks-tuks for moving around the town. Also, it’s home to one of the most distinctive Maya populations, with its traditional clothing really standing out a lot.

You can do a handful of activities in the town like shopping for ceramics made by the locals, going out for a hike, and checking out the church.

These villages are one of the best places to get to know the still-alive ancient Mayan culture in Guatemala.

Have you ever been to the area? Which was your favorite town?

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Let's Explore the Lake Atitlan Villages - Visit Guatemala

Last Updated on October 17, 2023

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