San Marcos is one of Lake Atitlan’s most charming towns. There are plenty of things to do in San Marcos that you’ll soon see why visitors from all over the globe flock to this adorable town on this scenic lake.

San Marcos is renowned for its serene atmosphere, spiritual ambiance, and its diverse community of artists, healers, and travelers. Visitors are drawn to its laid-back vibe and holistic offerings, including yoga studios, meditation centers, and wellness retreats.

In this article, I’ll go over the best things to do in San Marcos Lake Atitlan (San Marcos la laguna), offer insight on what to do nearby, and at the end of the post I’ll add any useful information that will aid you in your trip to San Marcos la laguna Guatemala.

San Marcos Lake Atitlan Travel Guide

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Before we get started with the best things to do in San Marcos Guatemala, let’s briefly discuss if San Marcos is worth visiting. There are many charming towns that dot the lake side, so why San Marcos?

San Marcos is quote, unquote a hippie haven, and mental and spiritual healing is the name of the game. The energy in San Marcos is calming and energizing all at the same time.

The energy makes you want to be the best version of yourself. Therefore it attracts people from all over the globe who want to heal or be healed.

San Marcos Lake Atitlan is a great place to teach yoga or get your yoga certification on a yoga retreat. Eat locally sourced food, kayak the lake, sunrise hike to a top of a volcano, or just read a good book, there are plenty of things to do in San Marcos Lake Atitlan that you’ll be happy you paid a visit to this town on your Lake Atitlan itinerary.

Things to do in San Marcos Guatemala

Best Things to do in San Marcos Lake Atitlan

In this section, I’ll go over the best things to do in San Marcos. For the most up to date information make sure to check the community board in town for current workshops, classes and events. The notice board is located by the Circles Bakery on hippie highway.

I'm Jess Traveling in Lake Atitlan

Yoga Overlooking the Lake

One of the best things to do in San Marcos is to have a yoga session overlooking the lake. Practicing yoga overlooking Lake Atitlan is an activity that nourishes both body and soul.

The rhythmic flow of yoga poses is complemented by the gentle lapping of waves and the soothing sounds of nature, creating a harmonious union of mind, body, and spirit.

You can practice on your own or sign up for a class. Depending on where you stay, many properties have in-house yoga classes. If your hotel does not have classes, they usually offer a discount to somewhere that does.

Book a Beginners Yoga Class →

Swim in the Lake

Of course one of the best things to do in San Marcos La Laguna is to go swimming in Lake Atitlan. With its crystal-clear blue waters and stunning mountain backdrop, Lake Atitlan provides the perfect setting for a leisurely swim.

In a store on hippie highway in San Marcos Guatemala
Hippie Highway in San Marcos Lake Atitlan

Stroll Down Hippie Highway

Hippie Highway is a charming cobblestone path that winds its way through the heart of this bohemian lakeside town, offering a glimpse into its unique culture and laid-back vibe.

Lined with colorful murals, quirky art installations, and cafes, the Hippie Highway serves as a focal point for the town’s eclectic community of travelers, artists, and spiritual seekers.

As you stroll Hippie Highway, you can browse artisan shops selling handmade jewelry, clothing, and crafts. Better yet, stop for a massage along the route.

Sweat it out in a Traditional Temazcal

Sweating it out in a traditional temazcal in Guatemala is a spiritual experience that connects participants with ancient Mayan traditional and the healing powers of the earth.

The temazcal is a type of sweat lodge, which originated with pre-Hispanic indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica. This sacred ceremonial structure has combines hot volcanic stones and water to create steam, inducing a purifying sweat.

It’s Guatemala’s version of a sauna. We spent an hour each day alternating between temazcal sessions and plunges in the lake.

Paddle Board on the Lake

Paddle boarding on the lake is another active way to explore San Marcos Lake Atitlan. Paddle boards can be rented at various hotels along the lakeside. This activity is best enjoyed early in the morning before the winds pick up.

A lomilomi massage

Get a Massage

Remember how I mentioned early that San Marcos is known for its holistic retreats and wellness centers? Well one of the best things to do in San Marcos is to get a massage.

This is a rejuvenating and therapeutic experience that harmonizes body, mind, and spirit. Massage practitioners offer a variety of holistic healing treatments that draw inspiration from ancient Mayan traditions and modern wellness practices.

Take a Cooking Class

Another tasty way to experience San Marcos is to take a Mayan cooking class. Surrounded by lush hillsides and natural beauty, on a Mayan Cooking Class Tour.

Here you’ll learn traditional cooking techniques and recipes passed down through generations. Led by knowledgable chefs, the experience culminates in a shared meal, where you’ll gather around the table to savor the fruits of your labor.

Book a Cooking Class →

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Kayak on Lake Atitlan

Another fun way to enjoy Lake Atitlan is to go kayaking. Explore hidden coves and get to see San Marcos from a different viewpoint.

Book a Kayaking Tour →

Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Learn Spanish

If you came to Guatemala not fluent in Spanish, Lake Atitlan is one of the best places to brush up on your espanol. The small class sizes and nature beauty of the lake make learning Spanish stress free.

Trust me when I say that your experience traveling around Central America or South America will be much more enjoyable and memorable if you can speak Spanish, as you’ll be able to truly mingle with the locals.

Enjoy Friday Community Day at Eagle’s Nest

Every Friday at Eagle’s Nest Resort, is community day. Eagle’s Nest has an incredible dance/yoga platform that offers great views of the lake.  Enjoy open mic and open sauna experience throughout the afternoon.

Book a Ticket →

Hike the Lower Mayan Trail

The Lower Mayan Trail is a moderate hike that takes you from San Marcos to Santa Cruz. The trail offers epic views of the lake and of the three volcanos that surround the lake.

I’d recommend starting in Santa Cruz, that way when you finish the hike, you’ll be in San Marcos versus Santa Cruz. It should cost about 20Q per person to get a boat to Santa Cruz.

You’ll pass by several villages and the hike should take 2 and a half to 3 hours to complete. As with the Indian Nose Hike, it is wise to hike in groups as petty thieves are known to appear on the trail.

Best Day Trips from San Marcos Guatemala

Day trips from San Marcos la Laguna

In this section, I’ll go over the best day trips from San Marcos. These activites are a located on Lake Atitlan just not directly in San Marcos.

Views of San Marcos from the air

Explore Nearby Towns

As I mentioned earlier, Lake Atitlan is surrounded by several charming towns, each offering its own unique atmosphere, culture, and attractions. Here are some of the most notable towns on Lake Atitlan besides San Marcos.

Panajachel is the largest and one of the most popular towns on the lake, Panajachel is your jumping off point to explore the area. It boasts a bustling waterfront area with markets, shops, restaurants, and hotels.

San Pedro La Laguna is known for its backpacker scene and laid-back vibe. San Pedro La Laguna is a popular destination for budget travelers and adventure seekers. The town offers Spanish language schools, yoga studios, and a lively nightlife, as well as opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and exploring nearby villages.

Santa Cruz La Laguna offers a more secluded and off-the-beaten-path experience. Here you can enjoy waterfront restaurants, boutique eco-lodges, and hiking trails leading to panoramic viewpoints overlooking the lake.

San Juan La Laguna is known for its indigenous culture and artisan crafts. San Juan La Laguna is home to cooperative workshops where visitors can learn about traditional weaving, natural dyeing techniques, and Mayan handicrafts. The town also boasts colorful murals, galleries, and a tranquil lakeside setting.

Santiago Atitlan is located on the southwestern shore of the lake, and is known for its rich heritage and historic landmarks, including the Church of St. James and the Maximon shrine, Here you can explore markets, traditional ceremonies and coffee farms.

Sunrise atop Indian Nose Hike

Hiking Indian Nose for sunrise on Lake Atitlan is a breathtaking adventure that offers unparalleled views of one of Guatemala’s most iconic destinations. An early morning ascent up this sacred Mayan peak, guarantees that an epic sunrise awaits.

At the summit of Indian Nose, perched high above the lake, hikers are treated to a panoramic vista that stretches as far as the eye can see, with the silhouettes of distant volcanoes reflected in the tranquil waters below.

It’s best to enjoy this activity with a guide. There are rumors about hiking Indian Nose independently, that local thieves will shake you down and rob you.

In full disclosure, I can not confirm or deny this as I did not hike Indian Nose. The plan was to experience Indian Nose on the last day of the 3 day trek from Xela to San Pedro on Lake Atitlan, but plans changed and I never made it to Xela.

Book a Sunrise Hiking Tour →

Lake Atitlan

Atitlan Volcano Hike

If like me, and hiking is your thing then don’t miss out on hiking Atitlan Volcano – the highest point on Lake Atitlan. This is a strenuous hike and takes 7-9 hours to complete and isn’t for the faint of heart.

Toliman Volcano Hike

Another strenuous volcano hike on Lake Atitlan is Toliman Volcano. It will take about 8 hours to complete this hike and the pain is worth it for the views. You will begin your ascent in the town of Santiago. The same town you start Atitlan Volcano hike at.

Coffee Farm Lucmambamba
Coffee plant

Coffee Tour

Going on a coffee tour is another great way to experience Lake Atitlan. I’m sure you’ve heard of Guatemalan coffee and the views match the experience on this tour.

As you venture though the lush mountainside plantations overlooking the waters, you’ll have an opportunity to witness firsthand the meticulous process of harvesting ripe coffee cherries, followed by traditional methods of processing and roasting.

Learn about the region’s unique microclimates, volcanic soil composition, and sustainable farming practices that contribute to the exceptional quality and flavor profiles of Atitlan’s Arabic beans.

A man carrying a basket of chickens in the Chichi Market
Church of Santo Tomás in Chichicastenango

Visit the Chichicastenago Market

Lastly, if you are in San Marcos on a Thursday or Sunday, a day trip to Chichicastenango will put you in the middle of one of Central America’s largest handcraft and textile markets.

It takes about 3 hours to reach Chichicastenango from San Marcos and is a must do if you love, colors, chaos and authentic experiences.

Breakfast in San Marcos Guatemala
Where to eat in San Marcos Guatemala

Where to Eat in Laguna San Marcos

There are plenty of restaurants in San Marcos offering fresh, healthy and organic dishes. These are a few of my favorites and the top rated restaurants according to Trip Advisor.

  • Il Giardino – A budget friendly restaurant with open air seating underneath plants and next to small fire pits.
  • Del Lago Hotel Restaurant – We ate here most of the time and it was fresh, convenient (since we stayed here) and huge portions.
  • Anzan Table – Fresh, tasty organic food surrounded by a beautiful landscape.
  • El Artesano Wine and Cheese Restaurant at La Casa Zapote – European wine bar perfect to spend an afternoon sipping wine and enjoying a charcuterie board.
  • Circles Cafe – Delightful bakery and the town notice board is located just outside its doors.
Where to stay in San Marcos Guatemala
The streets in San Marcos Lake Atitlan

Where to Stay in San Marcos la Laguna

There are some incredible places to stay in San Marcos that offer epic views, impeccable service and comfortable accommodations. These are the best places to stay in San Marcos Lake Atitlan.

  • Lush Atitlan – $$ This is one of the best places to stay in San Marcos, known for the views and yoga retreats.
  • Del Lago Hotel – $ A budget friendly hostel with private and dorm rooms available. Delicious restaurant and lake front.
  • Kula Maya Boutique Hotel and Spa – $$$ One of the most luxurious places to stay in San Marcos La Laguna.

🛌 Read Full Post: Where to Stay in Lake Atitlan

How to Get to San Marcos Lake Atitlan

Since Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular destinations in Guatemala, it’s easy to arrange transportation to San Marcos Lake Atitlan. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that you are coming from Antigua.

First, you’ll need to arrange transportation to Panajachel, the largest town on the shores of Lake Atitlán. The journey from Antigua to Panajachel is about 2.5-3 hours long and you can take a private or tourist shuttle.

Once in Panajachel, you will have to take a water taxi to San Marcos La Laguana which will take about 30 minutes. The water taxi should cost 25Q one way to San Marcos and you can pay cash directly to the boat captain.

The boat ride to San Marcos is stunningly beautiful and makes the journey rewarding. Book your transportation to Lake Atitlan in advance to save time and hassle.

Book Transportation to Lake Atitlan →

San Marcos Travel Vlog

Would you rather see what it’s like to hang out in San Marcos La Laguna? Joe and I chilled out in San Marcos for 5 full days to decompress from a few weeks of go, go, go travel.

Check them out after you read this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.

Im Jess Traveling in the ocean in El Paredon
Flores Guatemala Travel Guide

Onward Travel from San Marcos Lake Atitlan Guatemala

  • Just a few hours drive from Lake Atitlan, Antigua is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and delicious restaurants. There are plenty of things to do in Antigua like exploring historic landmarks and charming cafes in this picturesque city nestled among volcanos. 
  • Chichicastenango is known for its famous market that contains textiles, handcrafts, souvenirs, and a colorful atmosphere.
  • Fly to Tikal National Park for a taste of ancient Mayan history deep in the jungle.
  • Journey east to Semuc Champey, a natural limestone bridge spanning the Cahabon River.
  • Guatemala City – the largest city in Guatemala and capital that offers a blend of modern amenities, history, and cultural attractions. 

Final Thoughts on Best Things to do in San Marcos Lake Atitlan

Exploring the cobblestone streets filled with healthy alternatives or hiking a trail leading to panoramic viewpoints, you won’t be disappointed with a visit to San Marcos on Lake Atitlan. If you found this article useful, let fellow travelers know in the comments below 👇.

Guatemala Travel Guides ↓

📍 Planning a trip to Guatemala? Guatemala is a hidden gem and full of history, culture, and natural wonders. Check out the guides below for more inspiration and aid in planning your travels to Guatemala.

15 Epic Places to See in Guatemala 

The Ultimate Guide to the Overnight Trek on Acatenango Volcano 

How to Get to Lake Atitlan from Guatemala City

30 Tips to Know Before you Travel to Guatemala 

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Things to do San Marcos Lake Atitlan
San Marcos La Laguna Travel Guide
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