Lake Atitlán is a gorgeous caldera lake nestled between volcanoes in the department of Sololá, Guatemala. It sits at 5,000 feet above sea level, is ringed by sections of sandy beach, cliffs, and tree-clad slopes, and is warmed by hot springs.
Mayan towns and villages dot the shore, each with its own cultural heritage, typical clothing, and maze of streets to explore.
Lake Atitlán has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in Mayan culture and artistry, savor high-elevation coffee, or strap into a paraglider and leap off of mountains.
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala Quick Guide
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Getting to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
If you’re flying into Guatemala, you’ll most likely arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA).
Tourist shuttles run from the airport to Lake Atitlán daily. You can take either a shared shuttle or a private shuttle. Unless you’re on a tight budget and traveling solo, I recommend taking this private shuttle (for up to four passengers) and with a much better experience.
Money & ATMS
Guatemala’s national currency is the quetzal (GTQ). The exchange rate is typically 7.5ish per 1 USD.
Credit cards are becoming more common but there are still many places that only accept cash, such as the market, most street vendors, small restaurants, and municipal tourist destinations.
Some places do accept credit card payments but charge an extra 5% fee. Feel free to ask ahead if there is a “recarga” for using a card.
Thankfully, it shouldn’t be too hard to get cash in Lake Atitlán because there are ATMs at most of the large towns.
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Getting Around Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
If you’re trying to get around town, I recommend walking, renting a bicycle, or taking a Tuc-Tuc.
For getting between Panajachel, San Antonio Palopó, Santa Catarina Palopó, you can take a mini bus van or pickup. This option is also available for getting between San Pedro, San Juan, and Santa Clara.
If you need to cross the lake, I recommend going by boat, unless you want to drive all the way around Lake Atitlán (which is a fun option if you like road trips).
Buses & Microbuses:
The cost depends on the length of the route but generally ranges from Q5-15 (For example, going from Sololá to Panajachel costs Q5 per person)
Q5 per person for in-town trips
Boats to another town:
Q25 for foreigners from Panajachel to San Pedro/San Juan (one-way)
Most towns around Lake Atitlán have hotels and hostels with internet. It might not be the fastest and most reliable, but you can get work done. Coworking is available at Selina in Panajachel, though there are plenty of great cafés to choose from for that purpose as well.
Budget in Lake Atitlán Guatemala
Lake Atitlán has been called a backpackers paradise, so it’s possible to travel here on the cheap. However, there are also many wonderful mid-range and luxury options for those with bigger budgets.
According to Champion Traveler, a solo traveler will likely spend $32 to $75 on sightseeing, food, and travel. Hostels range from $10 to $38, with most in the $20 to $25 range. Two to three stay hotels typically cost $44-85 per night, while 4 and 5 star hotels range from $57 to over $338, with most in the $150 to $200 range.
Don’t drink the tap water in Lake Atitlán. Instead, buy purified water (agua purificada) at any corner store. You can also ask for pure water by the glass at any restaurant.