Found amidst the breathtaking highlands of Guatemala, there are lots of things to do in Lake Atitlan that beckons adventurers from around the world with its stunning natural beauty and endless opportunities for outdoor exploration.

Although most commonly recognized for being a spiritual escape, there’s still a handful of activities in Lake Atitlan to enjoy that will still get the blood pumping.

From soaring volcanoes and epic sunrises, in this article we’ll uncover all the adventurous things to do at Lake Atitlan. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping excitement or tranquil moments of connection with nature, Lake Atitlan promises unforgettable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Things to do in Lake Atitlan

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Lake Atitlan Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Villages

Before we get started with the most adventurous things to do in Lake Atitlan, let’s go over the most notable towns that surround the Lake Atitlán.

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 Marcos La Laguna 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.

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.

Things to do in Lake Atitlan

Best Things to do in Lake Atitlan
Lake Atitlan

Hike Volcanos

Of course one of the best things to do at Lake Atitlan is to hike volcanos. Three of the volcanos that you can climb that surround the lake are Atitlan Volcano, Toliman Volcano, and San Pedro Volcano.

Volcán San Pedro is the easiest and most accessible volcano to hike on Lake Atitlan. This volcano separates the towns of San Pedro La Laguna and Santiago and peaks at 9,908 feet.

Volcán Atitlan is a difficult hike and the tallest peak sitting at 11,598 feet. This is the perfect volcano hike in Guatemala if you like a challenge and enjoy bird watching.

Lastly, Volcán Tolimán is the volcano in between the prior mentioned, sitting at 10,361 feet.

It’s usually advisable to have a local guide show you the way on all of these volcano hikes. The guides are extremely reasonably priced, and their expertise of the terrain and weather is well worth the cost.

In order to see the dawn and sunset from the summit of the volcanoes, the majority of hiking programs involve an overnight camping stay.

Coffee Farm Lucmambamba
Coffee Farm Lucmambamba

Tour a Coffee Plantation

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.

Book a Coffee Tour →

Views of San Marcos from the air

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.

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.

Paragliding in Guatemala

Go Paragliding

One of the most adventurous things to do on Lake Atitlan is to go paragliding. As you soar high above the azure waters and verdant landscapes, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the volcanoes, quaint lakeside villages, and lush mountains that surround the lake.

While it does require some bravery, paragliding is not as terrifying as skydiving or bungee jumping. After taking off, flying is a calm and moderately paced experience as you take in Lake Atitlan from a bird’s eye point of view.

Book a Tour →

Go Paddle Boarding on the Lake

Paddle boarding on the lake is another active way to explore this stunning destination. 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, making it difficult to paddle.

I'm Jess Traveling in Lake Atitlan

Yoga Overlooking the Lake

One of the most popular things to do in Lake Atitlan is to practice yoga. This is a soul-nourishing experience amidst the tranquil beauty of Guatemala’s most iconic lake.

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 a sister hotel that does.

Book a Beginners Yoga Class →

Study Spanish

Lake Atitlan is one of the best places to brush up on your espanol and finally learn Spanish. 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 and connect with the locals.

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Kayak Lake Atitlan

Another active thing to do on Lake Atitlan is to go kayaking. Explore hidden coves and get to see Lake Atitlan from a different viewpoint.

Book a Kayaking Tour →

Cliff Jumping in Lake Atitlan

Numerous cliffs and rocks can be found all across Lake Atitlan, providing an exciting landscape to spend an afternoon cliff jumping. On a hot day, scale the rocks and jump into the cool waters of Lake Atitlán; I promise you’ll feel refreshed.

The two best places to jump off cliffs are on the rocks adjacent to San Antonio and the nature reserve in San Marcos. The little cove where the settlement of San Antonio is situated is lined with young local boys who are either swimming or leaping in from the rocks.

Reserva Natural del Cerro Tzankujil is the natural reserve in San Marcos. One of the best places to visit in San Marcos and Lake Atitlan is this Nature Reserve, which also has a fun jump.

It is referred to by the locals as the “trampoline” and consists essentially of a 12-meter-high wooden platform where people can jump into the lake.

Hike Rostro Maya aka Indian’s Nose

A little mountain called Indian’s Nose lies between San Juan and San Marcos and this is one of the greatest places in Lake Atitlan to see the sunrise. The best part is that the climb normally takes less than an hour.

The mountain’s moniker “Indian’s Nose” derives from the way it is shaped; according to some, it resembles a guy who is faceup and sleeping on his back. The nose of the man is shaped like the tallest peak.

You will ascend one of the chins, you’ll lookout from the upper lip, and watch sunrise from the nose. If you’re lucky, you’ll see Volcan Fuego erupting with a puff of smoke in the distance.

For people who want to get some elevation in but don’t want to commit to hiking, this is a great day hike. Any tour operator in any town can arrange a guided hike; however, San Pedro, San Juan, and San Marcos make for an easier day of hiking.

Book a Sunrise Hiking Tour →

Go Zip-Lining

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, zip-lining over the jungle is another excellent activity near Lake Atitlan. Feel like a bird as you soar above lush jungle and coffee plantations while safely fastened to a harness!

Along with hiking routes and suspension bridges, you can partake in zip-lining at the Atitlán Nature Reserve, located just outside Panajachel. The Nature Reserve is also home to a variety of species, including coatis, hummingbirds, and monkeys.

Book a Zip-Lining Tour →

Where to stay in San Marcos Guatemala
San Marcos Guatemala a place to visit

Where to Stay in Lake Atitlan

There are plenty of places to stay in Lake Atitlan ranging from backpacker hostels to upscale boutique hotels. These are the best hotels in Lake Atitlan.

  • Lush Atitlan – $$ This is one of the best places to stay in San Marcos, known for the views and yoga retreats.
  • Hotel Atitlan – $$$ Beautiful and expansive grounds with a stunning infinity pool overlooking the lake in Panajachel.
  • Eco Hotel Uxlabil Atitlan – $$ Located in San Juan, this lakeside accommodation has bright rooms, infinity pool, and good price point.
  • Porta Hotel del Lago – $$$ Right on the water, this hotel in Panajachel has a pool and great views of the volcanoes.
  • Mikaso Hotel – $$ A quiet spot on the lake in San Pedro that offers beautiful views from the terrace.
  • Del Lago Hotel – $ A budget friendly hostel in San Marcos with private and dorm rooms available. Delicious restaurant and lake front.

☕️ Read Full Post: Best Places to Stay in Lake Atitlan

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

Where to Eat in Lake Atitlán 

  • Sababa – $$ Hip & trendy brunch spot in San Pedro.
  • El Clover – $ Budget friendly joint in San Pedro.
  • La Antigua – $$ Burgers, wraps, & breakfast near the main plaza in Santiago Atitlan.
  • Restaurante Cafe Arte – $ Variety of fusion food located near the docks in Santiago Atitlan.
  • Del Lago Hotel Restaurant – $ Fresh and convenient (since we stayed here) with huge portions.
Coffee shops in Lake Atitlan

Best Places for Coffee around Lago de Atitlan

  • Cafe Loco Coffee Roasters – Located in Pananachel, this cozy spot will allure travelers with its rich espressos and creamy lattes.
  • Cafe Chuasinayi – A San Pedro La Laguna coffee spot that roasts their own beans.
  • Coffee Eiffel Le Crepe – You can find this charming coffee and crepe spot in Santiago Atitlan.
  • Cafe Las Cristalinas – Excellent coffee, fruit bowls, & sandwiches.
  • Cetcafe – Casual cafe with great coffee, sandwiches, and homemade donuts.
  • Circles Cafe & Bakery – Delightful bakery and San Marcos town notice board is located just outside its doors.
San Marcos sunrise Lake Atitlan

How Many Days in Lake Atitlán

Most travelers find that spending at least 3-5 days on Lake Atitlan allows enough time to explore the area’s natural beauty, see a few of Lake Atitlan’s charming towns, and partake in a healing ceremony or practice of some sort.

During this time, you can visit different lakeside towns, take boat tours to explore the lake’s attractions, hike volcanoes, participate in cultural activities such as weaving workshops or traditional ceremonies, and relax by the lakeshore.

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

Best Time to Visit Lake Atitlan

The best time to visit Lake Atitlán is during the dry season, which typically runs from November to April. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, making it ideal for outdoor activities like hiking.

The dry season also coincides with the cooler months in Guatemala, offering more comfortable temperatures for exploring the lake.

However, Lake Atitlan is a year-round destination. The rainy season occurs from May to October and brings lush green landscapes and fewer tourists.

So if you are looking for a quieter and more affordable experience, traveling to Lake Atitlan during rainy season may not be a bad idea. Just be prepared for occasional rain showers and potential muddy trails.

Is Lake Atitlan Safe

A common question when traveling Guatemala is about safety, so you may be wondering, is Lake Atitlán safe? Lake Atitlán is generally considered safe for travelers, but like any destination, it’s essential to take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

A common scam you can encounter when you travel to Lake Atitlan is on the trail to the lookout on Indian Nose Trail. There are locals who will “hold you up” and demand money.

Apparently these are private lands, so they are charging you for access. This is why it’s best to hiring a guide when attempting to go hiking in Lake Atitlan. The guides will be able to help you navigate these waters or shall i say trails.

How to Get to Lake Atitlan

Since Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular destinations in Guatemala, it’s easy to arrange transportation to Lake Atitlan and its surrounding towns.

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 arrive at your accommodations or have to take a water taxi to a town on the lake.

For example, a water taxi should take 30 minutes and cost 25Q one way to San Marcos and you can pay cash directly to the boat captain. Book your transportation to Lake Atitlan in advance to save time and hassle.

Book Transportation to Lake Atitlan →

🚐 Read Full Post: How to Get to Lake Atitlan 

Lake Atitlan Travel Vlog

Would you rather see what visiting one of Guatemala’s most stunning natural attractions is like? We filmed a video about how we decompressed during our 5 days in San Marcos Lake Atitlan.

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 🙂.

Hiking Pacaya Volcano a beautiful place in Guatemala
Santa Catalina in Antigua Guatemala

Onward Travel from 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. 

Guatemala Travel Guides ↓

📍 Planning a trip to Guatemala? Check out the guides below for inspiration and tips to help plan your trip to this epic country in Central America.

15 Epic Places to Visit in Guatemala 

Flores, Guatemala | What to Do, Where to Stay Eat & Day Trips 

El Paredon Travel Guide | Where to Eat, Sleep, & Do

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things to do in Lake Atitlan
Things to do in Lake Atitlan Guatemala
Lake Atitlan things to do
10 Adventurous Things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala10 Adventurous Things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala10 Adventurous Things to do in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
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