Where to stay at Lake Atitlan: best villages and hotels

The best places to stay at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala include cozy hostels, beautiful luxury hotels and stunning resorts with a view over the lake. As one of the most popular destinations in Guatemala, you have plenty of options to choose from, the first question being which Atitlan village you want to stay in. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by several charming villages and there are also some great hotels and resorts in more remote locations on the lake outside the villages. The range is huge and in this blog we help you to make a choice. Where to stay around Lake Atitlan? What are the best villages to stay? And which hostels, resorts and hotels near Atitlan will give you the best travel experience?


How to get to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Lake Atitlan is located in western Guatemala. Its location makes Atitlan easy to fit into any Guatemala travel itinerary with other popular destinations like the colonial town Antigua also located in this part of the country.

How to get to Atitlan

The easiest way to travel around Guatemala is with the minivans that run like shuttle buses for travelers between the most visited destinations. You can easily book these vans at your hotel or any travel organization. Even easier and often not even much more expensive if you travel with two or more people is the Uber.  If you don’t have an Uber account yet, we recommend signing up with this Uber link for a discount on your first ride. There is also the option of using the cheap, local chicken bus for an authentic experience. These buses are a great option for short distances, as they travel very slowly and you often have to change buses several times for longer distances.

Most visitors travel from Antigua or Semuy Champey to Lake Atitlan. The lesser-known destination Quetzaltenango, worth a visit for its authentic Guatemalan experience and volcanoes, is located in this part of the country and is close to Lake Atitlan. There is even a three-day guided hike that you can do to get from Atitlan to Quetzaltenango – or vice versa. Quetzaltenango is definitely worth visiting because of the non-touristy atmosphere and the beautiful natural surroundings with volcanoes.

How to get around at Atitlan

Almost all travelers arrive at Lake Atitlan at the main village of Panajachel. Some transport companies might have other villages around the lake as their final destinations, but we believe it has its charm to arrive at Panajachel and then cross the lake by the boat ferry to the village where you’re staying.

Although the villages around Lake Atitlan can be reached by car, the boat is the fastest and most fun mode of transportation around Atitlan. They work like a kind of bus connection across the lake. Almost all villages are visited several times an hour by one of these bus boats and you will be taken to the next village for 10 to 20 Quetzal. You can simply walk to the jetties at Panajachel (or the other villages) and ask which boat is the first to leave for your destination.

Why Lake Atitlan is worth visiting

Lake Atitlan is one of the most popular places to visit in Guatemala because of the clear blue lake, surrounded by volcanoes, mountains and charming villages. This beautiful landscape offers fun activities on the lake, unique and beautiful hotels and hostels, and great places to relax by the water.

Read more: hippie village San Marcos La Laguna and the best things to do at Lake Atitlan.

As Atitlan is extremely popular with travelers, it offers many great restaurants, fun excursions on the lake and beautiful places to stay. The best things to do at Lake Atitlan include exploring the villages, hiking to beautiful viewpoints, shopping at local markets, kayaking on the lake and enjoying the great restaurant scene. The easiest and most fun way to get around is by the boat that connects most Atitlan villages like a bus would do.

Where to stay at Lake Atitlan

Most travelers choose the villages of Panajachel, San Pedro or San Marcos as a base to explore the famous lake, as these villages are packed with great restaurants and hotels. But there are also smaller villages around the like, such as Santa Clara or San Juan, for a more local experience and even more great places to stay at Lake Atitlan. We chose to spend some nights in San Marcos, which we think is the best village on Lake Atitlan to stay, and then picked a stunning hotel in a more remote location to experience both.

Where to stay in Panajachel

Panajachel is the largest and busiest town on the lake. Most buses and minivans arrive in this village. Especially during the weekend, it is pleasantly busy in town and the main street is packed with souvenir stalls. To us, the village is a bit too busy and lacks the charm other villages have. Panajachel doesn’t have the picturesque atmosphere you’ll find in other places around the lake, so we wouldn’t recommend using Panajachel as a base to explore Atitlan. Panajachel also lacks those special, beautiful places to stay that Atitlan is known for. A good alternative? Right next to Panajachel is the cozy and incredibly colorful village of Santa Catarina Palopó, where you can experience a quieter atmosphere and beautiful places to stay.

The best hostels and hotels in Panajachel:

#1 Selina Atitlan (Panajachel) for a trendy and stylish hotel on the waterfront of Panajachel. The hotel has everything guests could wish for with its own swimming pool, restaurant and garden. There are both dormitories for a hostel atmosphere and private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.

#2 Balam Ya (between Panajachel and Santa Catarina Palopó) for beautiful lodges right on the lake. You can grab kayaks and SUPs for free and with an on-site jetty you can get straight into the lake from Balam Ya.

#3 Villa Santa Catherine (Santa Catarina Palopó) for a charming hotel with a heated swimming pool and beautiful gardens in the heart of Santa Catarina Palopó. With high guest ratings, this is one of the most popular properties on the eastern shore of the lake.

#4 Tzampoc Resort (Santa Catarina Palopó) for a beautiful resort on the shores of the lake. With an outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, gardens and terraces, sauna, restaurant and bar, this is the perfect place to unwind by the lake.

Where to stay in San Pedro La Laguna

San Pedro is known for affordable hostels and backpackers’ parties, attracting mainly young backpackers. The village has a relaxed atmosphere and is packed with restaurants and bars. San Pedro is also the best base if you want to climb the San Pedro volcano which is located directly next to the village. Although the village is often referred to as the best village in Atitlan, we ourselves are not big fans of the backpacker and party atmosphere of San Pedro. We therefore prefer to visit it for the day instead of choosing it as a base for Atitlan. Right next to San Pedro – and a short walk away – is the smaller San Juan, known for its colorful main street lined with umbrellas.

The best hostels and hotels in San Pedro:

#5 Saba Resort (San Pedro) for a luxury hostel with dorms and private rooms. The light tones and natural materials make Sababa a picture-perfect place to stay. The breathtaking view, beautiful swimming pool with walkway and swings and its on-site restaurant are just perfect.

#6 Eco Hotel Uxlabil (San Juan) for a great eco-hotel on the lake with a swimming pool and beautiful gardens. Free kayaks are available at the private dock for guests to take out on the water. All rooms have a balcony overlooking the lake.

Where to stay in San Marcos La Laguna

San Marcos is a relaxed, tiny village that is often described as the ultimate hippie village of Guatemala. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed. Although the village is very small, it is packed with great restaurants and things to do. Yoga, massages, reiki and sound healing are offered. There are vegetarian restaurants with hip, Western dishes and the souvenir shops sell handmade jewelry and colorful sarongs.

The best hostels and hotels in San Marcos:

#7 Lush Atitlan (San Marcos) for one of the most beautiful hotel options at Atitlan. The hotel offers a phenomenal view of the lake and is beautifully built from natural materials and with calm tones.

#8 Eagle’s Nest Atitlan (outskirts of San Marcos) for a hippy-style eco-resort located just outside San Marcos, built against the rocks like an eagle’s nest. The view over the lake and the volcanoes is phenomenal. There are mountain huts, dormitories and apartments. A booking is always all-inclusive, so with three meals a day, yoga classes and a sauna.

#9 Anzan Atitlan (outskirts of San Marcos) for a modern luxury hotel with a sun terrace, a private beach, yoga, massages and a terrace on the water. Anzan is located a little outside of San Marcos, but is a short walk from all the restaurants and shops of the village.

#10 Kula Maya Boutique Hotel (San Marcos) for a beautiful, relatively new boutique hotel near the San Marcos jetty and the Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve. Each suite and design dome with a thatched roof has a patio overlooking the lake. There is a spa, outdoor pool and terrace.

Where to stay outside the famous villages of Atitlan

You can also spend your days at Lake Atitlan outside the three well-known and popular villages. You can either opt for one of the smaller and less-visited villages such as Santa Cruz, but you can also book a stay outside the villages in a beautiful and remote location on the lake shore.

#11 Laguna Lodge (Santa Cruz) for a classic luxury hotel with beautiful rooms with a patio overlooking the lake. There is a swimming pool, a great restaurant, a private hiking trail and two living rooms. Our time at Laguna Lodge felt like a honeymoon!

#12 Atitlan Sunset Lodge (near Santa Cruz) for one of the most famous hotels on Lake Atitlan. You can only get to Atitlan Sunset Lodge by boat and that remote location adds to the magic of this special place to stay. There are free kayaks to go out on the lake.

#13 Hotel La Casa del Mundo (near Jaibalito) for a popular hotel built against the cliffs along the lake. It is an idyllic combination of hotel rooms, patios, hammocks, a restaurant and a private jetty.

#14 El Picnic Atitlan (Tzununa) for luxury glamping on the lake. The exotic gardens, phenomenal views, delicious food, secluded location and wonderful staff make El Picnic get the highest review ratings of any lakeside lodging.

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