San Marcos in Guatemala was our favorite village at the popular Lake Atitlan. San Marcos de Laguna has the same beautiful lake views as other villages, but its laidback atmosphere attracts most visitors. It’s known as the ‘hippie village’ of Lake Atitlan, known for its yoga, reiki, sound healings and vegetarian hotspots. We’ll tell you about the best places to stay, how to get around and best things to do at San Marcos in Guatemala.
Food and drinks in San Marcos: best restaurants at Lake Atitlan
San Marcos de Laguna is small. Very small. It consists roughly of two long, parallel streets from the pier to the main road. One of the two is little more than a narrow alley, but the other street is the hip center of San Marcos. The walls are filled with colorful street art and souvenirs. The tiny, cozy village is also full of nice eateries and you will find almost all of them on this street.
You can find the best places on our hotspot map at the top and bottom of this blog. Our favorite hotspots in San Marcos:
- Maloca (just opened) for vegetarian meals on reclining pillows. Tip: choose the buddhabowl.
- Capitano for local food for a very small price.
- Circles Cafe & Bakery for the best coffee, cookies and sandwiches.
- Pita Gordita for pita bread with hummus and falafel.
- Shambala for healthy breakfasts.
The nice eateries are interspersed with hippie shops with long dresses, knitted tops and colorful scarves. San Marcos even breathes such a hippie atmosphere that even the usual little tiendas here sell soy milk and goji berries in addition to their marches, bottles of cola and chips.
Tip: in San Marcos there is only one ATM, namely in such a tienda on the edge of the village.
Because of that hippie atmosphere, San Marcos does look western. There are also many American and European hippies who work in the restaurants and shops. You won’t have a real local experience here, but Lake Atitlan might not be the best destination for that.
The best things to do in San Marcos, Guatemala
We stayed for two nights in San Marcos, but we also spoke to travelers who linger here for weeks. Although it is very small, you can really enjoy it for a long time.
# 1 Enjoy all the San Marcos restaurant scene
We already mentioned the cool hotspots that you find in San Marcos. From an ice cream to espresso, from buddhabowl to falafel bread, from local food to cocktails. You can find everything here.
# 2 Watch the sunset by the lake
The end of the day is the time to walk to the lake. The sun sets behind the mountains around the lake and gives everything a golden shine. Tul y Sol is a good place to have a drink during golden hour. You can also visit one of the many jetties on the water to enjoy this beautiful moment in peace.
# 3 Take a massage, do yoga or uncover your spiritual side
In a hippie village like San Marcos de Laguna, there is a relaxation massage, reiki, yoga, meditation, sound healing or a spiritual session on every street corner. One of the most popular places is The Yoga Forest, where you can also spend the night. Take your chance and discover your spiritual side!
# 4 Take the boat to other Atitlan villages
San Marcos is not the only village on the large Lake Atitlan. Panajachel and San Pedro are also well-known. Panajachel is the largest and busiest place on the lake. Especially on weekends it is pleasantly busy here and the main street is full of souvenir stalls. San Pedro is known for the affordable hostels and parties. This is why you will mainly find younger backpackers here. But other travelers also like to come here to explore the village for a day. The easiest way to get to other villages around the lake is by boat. The price of a single ticket is between 10 and 20Q.
Tip: most buses leave and arrive in Panajachel, but you can also book shuttles to all possible destinations from San Marcos.
# 5 Climb to the viewpoints of Cerro Tzankujil
Directly on San Marcos lies the Cerro Tzankujil park with beautiful views over the lake. The park is set against the rocks and has several platforms and jetties on the lake.
# 6 Enjoy the sunrise from the Indian Nose
We have skipped this hike to all volcano bikes the days before, but it seems to be beautiful. Still in pitch darkness you hike with your guide to the Indian Nose to see the sun rise slowly. Beautiful vistas are guaranteed.
# 7 Souvenir shopping in San Marcos and Panajachel
The hippy shops of San Marcos and the souvenir stalls in Panajachel are the perfect place to stock up on souvenirs. But you can also make a day trip from San Marcos to the famous market of Chichastenango.
Tip: it can cool down considerably in San Marcos in the evening and it is even a bit cold at night. So also pack a warm sweater.
Where to stay in San Marcos de Laguna
We’ve written down our favorite hotels and hostels in San Marcos for every budget. From impressive cabins in the rocks with lake view to colorful hostels and everything in between.
# 1 The Yoga Forest at Lake Atitlan
Current prices and availability | I already mentioned The Yoga Forest as the most popular place to stay. It is high in the mountains, so you still have to walk quite a bit uphill from the jetty to get there. This yoga spot is not cheap.
# 2 Buddy Bear Hostel
Current pcies and availability | A more budget-friendly option is Buddy Bear Hostels. There are both private rooms and dormitories. The colorful hostel has a view of the lake.
# 3 Baba Yaga
Current prices and availability | For a beautiful view over the lake you have to go to Baba Yaga. This unique lodge is located on the edge of the city and against the rocks around the lake. The outdoor shower is beautiful. You pay a hefty price for that.
# 4 Lush Atitlan
Current prices and availability | Another place with phenomenal lake view, but at a more affordable price. Everything about the decoration of this hotel on the lake is beautiful. From the natural materials to the calm tones.
# 5 Eagle’s Nest Atitlan
Current prices and availability | Just outside San Marcos and against the rocks is this eagle’s nest. The view over the lake and the volcanoes is phenomenal. There are mountain huts, dorms and apartments.
The My Maps map above summarizes all our tips. The menu on the menu has separate layers that mark the best coffee spots, sleeping places and highlights. Click on the star to save the map to your own Google Maps or open the map in a new window for a larger version. Enjoy!